A Guide to Creating Your Law Firm Marketing Budget
If you're a lawyer, I think you'll agree when I say:
Setting the law firm marketing budget can feel like you are just throwing darts.
Marketing is an essential part of any business, especially in an industry as competitive as law. Despite the importance of marketing, some firms don't set aside enough money in their marketing budget to make a real impact. While you may benefit from word-of-mouth advertising and recommendations, if you truly want to expand your law practice, you need to start spending money on marketing!
One of the most important parts of developing a marketing strategy is deciding on a budget. In fact, you should set your budget before you begin exploring different marketing strategies.
Here is a straightforward guide for creating a marketing budget for your law firm.
What Impacts A Law Firm Marketing Budget?
There are a lot of things that will affect your marketing budget. Some (most it seems) are unforseen.
In addition to the goals that you set, you will need to consider the current success of your business, the size of your market area, your revenue goals, and many other things.
Here is an overview of these primary factors:
- The current success of your business
- Your current online presence
- The size of your market
- The level of competition that you face
- Your goals
The Current Success of Your Business
Consider the current success of your business. The more established your law practice is, you may not need to spend as much to continue growing your presence.
In an ideal world, marketing provides a snowball effect. The more traffic your website receives, the easier it is to continue building backlinks and increasing traffic to your site. The more followers you have on social media, the easier it is to gain more followers.
Why? Because you have more exposure. You're seen by more people, thereby giving you a better chance of a potential client seeing you.
Now this is the 'best case' scenario.
Sometimes the bigger players need to spend even more because their top competitors seem to have unlimited budgets.
The Size of Your Market
A large portion of your potential clients will be located in the same geographical region as your law practice. You need to factor the size of your market into your marketing budget. If you set up your law practice in a town of 40,000 residents, you will not need to spend as much as a law practice in a major city with over a million residents.
Determining the size of your market can require research and planning. You need to look at the number of criminal proceedings in the region where you practice law, along with the number of civil cases each year. However, this will only give you an indication of a portion of the market. Consider hiring a consulting firm if you need to further research your market area.
The Level of Competition That You Face
Also, consider the level of competition that you face. In a major city, you will likely have a number of well-established law practices to compete with. Determine how many other law practices already serve the same market as you, search engine rankings for important keywords, and how many social media followers they have. Use this research to help adjust your marketing budget.
Then, look at the marketing efforts of your competition. Do they actively release posts on social media? Do they have an email newsletter? Do they post blogs to their website? Consider the forms of marketing that they rely on to ensure you are using the proper marketing channels. You may find that they overlooked a particular source of reaching clients.
You may want to even set up Google Alerts so you can see when and were and how often your competitors are mentioned.
I wrote a post about Google Alerts that you can read here.
Determine Your Marketing Goals
You also need to decide what you want to get out of your marketing campaign. What are the marketing goals for your law firm? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Are you trying to increase social media awareness? Perhaps your main goal is to simply improve your online presence.
There are a myriad of way to attack your goals, but determining your goals early will give you benchmarks to rate the effectiveness of your marketing strategy.
In order to set achievable goals, you need to evaluate your current position.
In order to set achievable goals, you need to evaluate your current position.
For example, if you are not currently appearing in search engine results for your target keywords, you shouldn't expect to reach the first position during your first year (though it certainly is possible).
However, if you are currently appearing on the second page of search engine results, you could realistically set a goal of reaching the first page by the end of the year, and possibly even the #1 spot would be within reach (depending on your market).
Remember to prioritize your goals.
Set one or two primary goals and several supporting the goals.
The primary goals should have a direct impact on your bottom line.
Your primary goals should have measurable metrics that impact your law practice. This could include improving your conversion rates or increasing the number of inquiries you receive.
Putting It All Together
After looking at these different factors, you can begin coming up with a budget that meets your needs. A law firm that is already well-established may only need to spend between 5-10% of their earnings on marketing, while, a younger law practice might need to spend as much as 15-25% of their earnings to notice a major impact.
Based on the current success of your business, the size of your available market, the amount of competition in the area, and your marketing goals, you can create a budget that helps your law practice grow.
There are two more steps that can help you put all of this information together to determine your marketing budget – looking at your financial information and deciding how to spend your marketing budget.
Looking at Your Financial Information
First, you need to organize your financial data and understand how much your law firm is bringing in each month.
In most cases, your revenue varies from month to month. When looking at your revenue over a period of time, always use the lowest available figure. For example, if your firm makes between $6,000 and $10,000 per month in revenue, you would use $6,000 as your figure. Spending between 20-25% of this amount on marketing will help grow your young law practice.
Remember, you are setting a groundwork.
You are building a foundation, and you need to have a strong foundation.
The more you can invest now, (assuming you hire the right company), the more you will reap the benefits later.
Make sure that you properly analyze your financial data. The figures that you are working with should come after you have subtracted operating expenses like salaries, your lease, and other expenditures.
Deciding How to Spend Your Marketing Budget
Not only do you need to determine how much money to put into your marketing campaign, you need to use your budget wisely. Develop a solid marketing plan that makes the best use of the money you have set aside.
You need to decide which marketing channels to use to promote your law practice. This could include social media marketing, video marketing, SEO spending, an awesome-user friendly website, mobile application development, email marketing, PPC advertising, and other online marketing solutions.
Create a list of all the different types of marketing that you want to utilize as a part of your overall marketing strategy, and be exploring the different costs related each marketing channel. From there, start allocating your budget based on your previously set goals.
Here are some of the most effective forms of online marketing for attorneys you can use to build brand awareness and generate new clients:
- Social media marketing
- Video marketing
- PPC advertising
- Search engine optimization
Social media marketing is a great way to promote your law firm. You can share beneficial information or link to blog posts from your website. This can help your website build backlinks, which can have an impact on your search engine rankings.
The law firm pictured below includes links to all social media sites on the website homepage, and has an active following on Facebook and Twitter.
You can use video marketing to create customer testimonials, business introductions, and informative content.
You can provide an overview of your legal services or offer answers to commonly asked legal questions.
Post these videos YouTube, which is the second most visited site on the internet, and then share the videos on social media or embed them on your website.
PPC advertising and search engine optimization should also be included in your marketing budget. Some people feel that PPC advertising is no longer effective.
While there is some truth to this, the cost can be minimal. If you choose to include PPC ads in your budget, find a PPC network that includes targeted ad networks. This can increase click-through rates for your ads, making them more effective.
The ultimate goal of most marketing strategies are to improve your search engine rankings. In addition to the methods mentioned, on-site and off-site SEO has the largest impact on rankings. Additionally, organic search results provide the biggest benefit to local businesses, including a law practice. The majority of internet users will perform a search when they are in need to a particular service or product.
Evaluate the Performance of Your Marketing Strategies
After you have begun deploying your marketing strategy, you need to evaluate its performance. Remember that you need to be flexible with your marketing efforts and that some strategies require time before you begin noticing a good return on your initial investment.
If you feel that you are not getting enough of a benefit from a particular marketing channel, you may want to limit your budget in that area and reallocate the money towards other parts of your marketing campaign.
For example, after several months, if you do not feel that you are benefitting from PPC advertising, you might want to place your PPC budget into one of your other marketing efforts.
Or, if you have the budget, keep at it, but bring in an experienced professional to give a second opinion and give you some ideas where you could improve your performance.
Remain flexible in your approach to marketing and make adjustments. But, avoid making adjustments too often. Give your marketing efforts time before you revise them.
Generally, you should give any strategy at least 3 months to properly gauge its effectiveness. (Sometimes more, as in the case with content marketing and SEO.)
Final Thoughts on Creating a Marketing Budget for Your Law Firm
Setting a budget is an important part of creating an effective marketing campaign. Without a budget, you may end up spending too much or not spending enough.
It's easy to assume that creating a website and spending a little bit of money on social media marketing will be enough to increase the online presence of your law practice. Unfortunately, to remain competitive and reach as many potential clients as possible, you really need to develop a diversified marketing strategy. This all starts with the marketing budget that you set.
You can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars per month on advertising or several thousand dollars. This will all depend on the factors listed above, including your market size, competition, current success, and your goals.
Keep these tips and suggestions in mind as you start planning your marketing strategy. Whether you have a large law firm or are one of the 'little guys', the ability to gain new clients depends on your marketing strategies, and the effectiveness of them. Continue researching marketing strategies and reviewing the performance of your marketing campaign. Remain flexible, but give these strategies time to work.
Always consider your marketing budget before developing your complete marketing plan.
What do you think? How are you developing your marketing budget?