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Why “Free” Legal Marketing Can Bankrupt Your Law Firm

When it comes to law firm marketing, most attorneys don’t think about return on investment. They just decide to “do some marketing” and dump everything into one big bucket. Marketing is marketing, right? Right? (please, make it so...)

Of course, many practices don’t have a marketing budget. They figure, “Why should I pay for it when I can just do it myself?”

That’s how they end up at random mixers, networking events, lunches and coffee talks with people who will never be clients and will never send them business.

But here’s the killer.

When you decide to take the DIY approach to marketing, you waste your most precious and most expensive resource – your time – on things that are incredibly low yield.

Understand Your ROI

Any business owner needs to understand Return On Investment. Period.

They also need to understand that ROI doesn’t just apply to money. It applies to time, especially when you’re talking about a law firm.

When you’re making a decision between two marketing initiatives, it can be easy to say, “If I invest $5,000 in this campaign, I think I’ll get a $10,000 return” or “If I’m willing to invest $10,000 in this campaign, I may get a $75,000 return.”

Seems straightforward, right?

But attorneys don’t realize how valuable their own time is. Time can be flushed down the toilet by doing marketing that’s completely ineffective. It’s not as simple as taking your billable rate, multiplying it by the hours you spend marketing, and calling that the expense.

The expense is actually much higher if you do untargeted in-person networking. Because you're spending low-yield time today that could be spent creating a long-term marketing asset. Something that gets you clients not once, but again and again.

Instead of sitting in a dead-end coffee meeting with someone who will never refer business to you, do something much more productive with that hour of your time. Develop a law firm marketing system, or work with someone who can set it up for you, so you can create hundreds of hours of opportunity from a small investment.

Your opportunity cost isn’t just the $300 you spent in that hour. It's the thousands of dollars that you’ve lost because you weren’t strategic.

That’s the kind of approach you need to take when calculating return on investment.

(Now, to be clear, it is possible that an in person meeting is that valuable - if you've very specifically targeted a referral source who you know can send you lots of business... But in my experience, that's a rare bird. Most coffees and lunches are a fraction of the yield of proactive, planned marketing time.)

“Free Is Good” Is Almost Always a Fallacy

I know of very few law practices capable of growing and thriving with the mentality that cheap is the way to go. The longer you think you can grow without investment – investment in yourself or in marketing your law firm – the longer it will take to build your business.

Do you think it’s realistic to think you can get something for nothing?

Do you think that other business, non-legal businesses, work that way? That they can exist without an investment in inventory, machines, delivery ... That you could get your law degree without an investment?

Rewards don't come for free. They come from considered thought, creating plans, and investing. In yourself.

Raj Jha