I’m often brought into law firms by GM’s, COO’s, Lead Administrators or Office Managers.  They tend to call me when they become frustrated by endless lawyer requests to do what I lovingly refer to as “random acts of marketing.”

“We should be spending $6K/month on SEO.  Get on that, will you?”

“We should be putting regular adds in (publication name).  Our competitors have ads in there all the time.”

“We should be on one of those really big billboards on the highway.”

“We need to create a website dedicated to (area of law).”

When I arrive, the first question I ask the lawyer or practice group is, “Well, what is your business goal for doing this marketing?  What are you hoping to achieve?”   Their responses are usually general in nature. They may have specific ideas about the marketing they want to do, but they seldom have specific goals in mind to accomplish. So, at that point, we usually start the process at the beginning and work our way toward marketing as a logical extension of intent.

There are three levels of marketing to consider:

  1. Institutional Marketing: this is focused on establishing awareness of the firm name, perhaps something about its values or vision, and an explanation of its areas of service.
  2. Practice Area Marketing: this focusses on providing a group’s target marketing with messages that are compelling to them, delivered where they receive such messages, at a time that is appropriate for that target market.
  3. Individual Lawyer Marketing: this is focused on promoting a single lawyer, often for a particular area of law.

Despite the adage, any marketing is not good marketing.  In fact, it’s my belief that most law firm marketing is a waste of time.  The purpose of marketing is to accomplish business goals.  The type of marketing you do depends on what those goals are.   Generally, it’s easier to develop successful marketing plans when the goals are targeted.  “We just want to increase business” is hard to market for.  “We want to increase revenues for our Environmental Law practice in Alberta” is easier to market for.  We know the target client location, the area of law, and the general intent of the marketing.   From there, you just need to align the marketing with the task at hand.

  • If you want to expand business in a particular practice area by 20%, you wouldn’t marketing to clients who don’t need that area of law.
  • If you want to promote a practice group, you wouldn’t spend more money on institutional marketing, hoping that somehow, this will cause your target market to gravitate toward that particular area of law.
  • If you wanted to promote the existence of a team of lawyers in a given area, you wouldn’t place ads featuring a single lawyer.

Before any marketing is done, you want to consider carefully what you are trying to achieve, so that the most appropriate marketing can be selected to accomplish that goal.  But as I tell my coaching clients, goals are seldom achieved through a single action.  It usually requires a number of action items.  Similarly, pursuing a goal through marketing often requires a marketing campaign of sorts: several things happening in concert, each supporting each other, to get the message across successfully.  Ads might be accompanied by blog posts, bio updates, speaking engagements, client presentations, SEO/ad words, etc.

And this brings me to my final point.  Telling your marketer what marketing you want to do is a bit like going to your doctor and telling them what drugs or surgery you want.  They can be an expert on your personal healthy, but only if you tell them the symptoms that are getting in the way of that health.  Then they can decide, based on their expertise, what course of treatment to recommend.

Regardless of how much you think you know about marketing, I’d be willing to be your marketer knows more.  Trust them. Work with them.  Tell them what you want to achieve, and let them work with you to determine the best way to achieve it.

Heather Gray-Grant is a business strategist, marketing expert and executive coach for law firms and lawyers.  She can be reached at heather@heathergraygrant.com