Yes, I have the answer. The definitive, 5-part answer to the one question we may be asked at the Academy more than any other: “Why isn’t my marketing working?” And you know what I love about the answer to that question? I have a solution to go along with it!
Marketing can be a tricky, slippery concept to understand and master, especially if you’ve extensively studied and been trained in something like, say, law which has some pretty heavy weight, bold-point black and white lines about what to do and what not to do. Many attorneys come to us expecting a rule book they can follow with outlined do’s and don’ts that make it easy for them to “set it and forget it” when it comes to implementing marketing strategies in their firm. Any of those attorneys who have been in our Membership for a while will tell you there is no such “silver bullet” to set and forget. There is, however, a strategy on which we coach all Academy Members who are concerned their marketing isn’t working: Integrated Marketing. While we don’t have a “get rich quick” answer for marketing your practice, here’s a 5-part list of the mistakes we see most often that cause marketing to fail:
- You Have Not Implemented Integrated Marketing.
By “integrated” I don’t simply mean some sort of marketing exists in your practice. By integrated, we mean “having many parts”. Public Seminar marketing tools such as newspaper and direct mail are great ways to get started building your database of clients and prospective clients. Go forth and conquer when it comes to using this type of advertising. However, be sure to also add additional marketing streams! It’s not enough to rely on your newspaper ad or direct mail pieces to bring in new clients every month. If you’re relying on one source of marketing to consistently bring in business, you will surely be disappointed. Even if, for example, you have a fantastic referral-based business, those referrals will come and go and your revenue will subsequently be unpredictable. Marketing doesn’t work when one effort has to carry all the weight.
- Your Marketing Calendar is Non-Existent or Not Followed.
You should plan your entire annual Marketing Calendar no later than September of the previous year. Yes, you read that right. Your 2018 Marketing Calendar should be planned no later than September of 2017. Every marketing activity should be cemented in your calendar at least 90 days in advance. We know certain opportunities will come up which you can’t plan for that far in advance, but your basic public seminars, client events, holiday or summer offer letters, etc., can all be calendared with plenty of notice. Having activities in place well in advance that are generating revenue allows you to be selective about opportunities that come up and have less than a 90-day lead time, and also save you from scrounging to come up with something to bring money in the door NOW because another activity didn’t perform as well as you had hoped.
You simply cannot operate a successful law firm without a plan in place ahead of time. Failing to create a Marketing Calendar or creating one and not following it will cause chaos, knee-jerk decisions, and a ton of lost time and money in your firm. It’s also not enough to plan only one or two types of marketing efforts on your calendar and decide that you’ll “work on some other activities” throughout the year. You know what that tells me? You’ll *think* about implementing some other marketing activities, but because they weren’t purposefully planned ahead of time on your calendar, you’ll never get them done. Add them to your calendar now so you can repeat those activities you do year after year, and also play around with some new ideas you’ve been wanting to implement for a while.
- You’re Mistaking PR Efforts for Direct Response Efforts.
A clarification on the difference between Public Relations efforts and Direct Response Efforts is imperative on this list. Many attorneys confuse Public Relations efforts for Direct Response efforts and think they have a marketing strategy working for them that really isn’t doing what they hope it will. Public Relations tools are those you use to build your image or get your name out in your community. Informational brochures, law firm schwag (pens, bags, notebooks, etc.), business cards, press releases, even books you author or co-author are all image building public relations tools. They are excellent tools to use to supplement your marketing, but don’t think because you published a book or left a brochure at a local nursing home, business will flood in the door.
Direct Response marketing pieces tell people what you want them to do. Things like holiday or summer offer letters, email offers, seminar invitations are all Direct Response marketing because they answer the question, “what do you want me to do?” and provide a deadline by which you want them to complete that thing. If you’re confused about whether your marketing effort is more on the public relations or direct response side, ask yourself this: “What specifically am I asking my audience to DO in this marketing piece?”
- You’re Not Tracking Results and Adjusting Accordingly.
The most important part of continued success with your various marketing efforts is to track results from all your efforts on at least a monthly basis so you can adjust your sails as needed. Equally as important, however, is the way you make changes. Often we see attorneys get frustrated with the way their marketing is (or isn’t) working, and start everything from scratch. It’s important to pin point which parts are working and which parts need some extra elbow grease before you make changes. Our COO, Jennifer Price, wrote an excellent blog about this. Check it out here: https://www.aaepa.com/2017/06/the-secret-ingredient.
- You’ve Got the Wrong Person in the Driver’s Seat.
We see this one all the time. Marketing can sometimes be the redheaded step child in a law firm – you know it’s there and needs to get taken care of, but nobody really wants to do it. If you don’t have the right person/persons in the driver’s seat planning, tracking, speaking up when things don’t look quite right, and feeling completely ON FIRE and excited about what they’re doing, then you’ve got the wrong team. Make sure you have someone in your Marketing Coordinator role who has some good experience, great ideas, fire in his or her belly, and who can really own that role. And for those of you who might be out there doing it all on your own – that means YOU. If you’re a party of one for the time being, consider the time invested in working on the planning and analysis of your marketing like planning to grow your business and eventually be able to bring in someone else to take it over 😊.
It’s not difficult to look at your marketing plan and quickly determine why it’s not working. But the good news is, it’s also not hard to come up with a solution. You’ll want to save this one for later. Click that “print” button up at the top of the page and come back to this when you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what went wrong.
Your Girl Friday
Practice Building Consultant
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128