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When Lawyer Marketing Goes Wrong

Investing in lawyer marketing is like any other business initiative. If it’s done right, and there’s (actually) an investment, that initiative will work.

I just used two important words there. Business. And Investment.

 If you're just calling it an "investment" because it sounds good - not because it's actually a well-planned spend of time and money - you’re just building on a foundation of sand. It could vanish at any moment.

If it's not business-focused, then we can lull ourselves into the too-common fallacy of confusing activity with accomplishment.

Most lawyers we talk to are marketing in spurts and focusing completely on short-term gains. They’re spending money, but they’re not making an investment. It’s an investment when you commit time, effort, and dollars with a business case for a long-term payoff.

Making it up every day based on what sounds good, versus sound business planning is the classic misunderstanding between strategy and tactics.

Strategy vs. Tactics

A lawyer marketing strategy is based on a long-term goal that says, “This is what I want my firm to look like in three years, and this is the path I'm to follow to get there, because I have reasonably certainty it will work.”

A tactic is something you’re just trying. It may work today, but it may stop working tomorrow.

For example, you’ve heard me talk about search engine optimization (SEO). SEO can have “long-ish”-term value, but it’s far from guaranteed. Especially for the 70 percent of law firm websites that don’t have a call-to-action on their home page, and the 90 percent that don’t deliver any personalized content to visitors.

Sure, you can optimize your site, rank highly on Google and get traffic. It can last for months. Sometimes years.

On the other hand, it just takes one Google algorithm update to wipe out your SEO strategy and take your marketing investment to zero.

When it comes to investments, it’s a good idea to avoid the ones that can quickly go to zero.

To look at it another way: if my house burns down, I’m covered by insurance. If my SEO strategy burns down, I'm not insured. Yes, it kept me warm and dry for a long time. Until it didn't. All of a sudden.

Going to networking events is another tactic, not a lawyer marketing strategy. More often than not, it’s a one-off affair.

What happens when most attorneys go to network events? They shake a few hands and collect a bunch of business cards. They have no system for maximizing how many clients and how much influence are extracted from that networking event.

The time and energy spent on networking, in this case, is not an investment. In fact, (based on a survey of all our paying members) it’s just a big fat waste of time - at best, a lottery. Yeah, you may win. But odds are, you won't.

But if you have a follow-up system, which is something we help put in place for our members, you can turn both of these things - SEO and networking - into an investment.

Because every time you meet someone, you’re ensuring that if this person has a business opportunity for you, now or down the road, they’ll actually send it to you.

And the combination of relationships you own (and which nobody can take away from you), plus educating them on how to send ideal clients, plus making sure they do ... that's an investment.

That’s the fundamental difference between an investment in lawyer marketing and tactical spend.

3 Questions to Ask before you Dive into Lawyer Marketing

Next time you think about doing anything marketing-related, ask yourself:

Is this a tactic or is it a strategy?

Is this an investment that will deliver a long-term payoff?

What kind of system do I need to put in place to make sure my marketing doesn’t fail?

If you’re having trouble understanding and differentiating between a tactic and a strategy, speak with our Practice Growth team and we’ll be happy to walk you through it, whether or not you're interested in working with us.

Raj Jha