As 2012 is winding down, many law firms are looking to how they will spend next years' marketing dollars. To get the most out of your marketing budget, some diversification is needed.
The Yellow Pages are obsolete. If you are currently paying for a full or half-page ad, consider downsizing to a quarter-page or eighth. Even demographics once loyal to phone books, such as low-income and senior citizens have shifted to the internet to search for services. If you get a measurable number of leads from your ad, you may not want to eliminate it completely, but reducing your ad space will free up some marketing dollars that you could invest in something more beneficial.
Television and Radio
If you are not already advertising on television, contact your local cable company to review ad rates. Most local markets are very inexpensive, and by targeting less expensive time slots, you can get exposure to the audience most likely to yield new cases. Television advertising may not work for all law firms, but it is worth looking into. Plus, television advertising can help your online marketing efforts.
Radio is most effective for overall name recognition, as most people will not have a pen and paper ready to record your phone number. If possible, look to local radio shows that may want an attorney to periodically bring you on as a guest.
The umbrella of online marketing covers various strategies, which we will talk about below. At least 50 percent of your marketing dollars should be spent online.
Design and Search Engine Optimization
If you have an older website, update your design. It is important to keep a fresh look and have a conversion-friendly layout. Once the new website is completed, search engine optimization efforts should begin immediately.
Your search engine optimization strategy should include press release marketing, blogging, social networking, and content-based link building. If your current SEO plan does not include all of those elements, its time to find a new partner.
Search engine optimization elements – like press releases and social networking – will provide immediate web traffic, but your actual search engine ranking will take a little time. For some lesser competitive markets, that time could be just a few months, whereas highly competitive markets may take over a year to see high, page 1 rankings in Google and other search engines. Look to a company that is going to provide realistic expectations. Hype and “too good to be true” scenarios will only lead to frustration and disappointment.
Pay-Per-Click Search Marketing
If you are looking for immediate results, pay-per-click marketing can deliver. With the right strategy, you can target a searching audience in your city (or surrounding cities). Pay-Per-Click is something you should do along with search engine optimization. Keep in mind, search engine optimization is 24/7, your pay-per-click ads will disappear every day when your daily budget is spent. You need to have at least $1,500 per month to commit to pay-per-click just for click charges. Personal injury and criminal defense (the two most competitive markets) will require a higher budget, as some areas demand click charges upwards of $40 per click. A management fee of 15-20 percent is usually assessed by the marketing company managing the campaign.
Pay-Per-Click Social Marketing
Social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook offer pay-per-click marketing solutions that display ads to a targeted audience. We are not quite ready to endorse Facebook ads for lawyers as of yet, but will probably do so later in 2013. However, for attorneys looking for professionals (business attorneys, intellectual property, estate planning, etc), LinkedIn ads may be a helpful addition to your marketing plan. Advertising on social networks is not as expensive as pay-per-click in search engines, so it's an affordable addition to your overall marketing plan.
As we approach a new year, work out a marketing budget for your firm that allows you to diversify your advertising and reach your target clientèle.
Together, we can build a bigger law firm in 2013.
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