There’s different reasons to start your own firm.
For anyone starting a new law firm or business, the biggest fear is often finding the first few clients. Negative cash flow is scary. This is why the tactics you employ in the early phase of your firm may have to be different than in the years to follow.
This blog will help you develop a game plan and suggest a few options to help drive business your way in the early days of your new law firm.
Marketing and business development are the Achilles’ Heel for most of us. This is especially true for anyone who’s never worked in sales or marketing.
You probably don’t even like the words “sales” or “business development.” You may even feel a stigma with legal advertising.
STARTING YOUR MARKETING PLAN
For attorneys, networking has been a traditional source of business. It allows you to get to know your client on a personal level where you’re not a salesman but an advocate. Referrals and networking may be the best way for most of your colleagues, but it begs an obvious question: What do you do when you don’t know anybody?
Overtime, you can rely on your social network. In the beginning, let’s explore online advertising options.
Much of what you read online will encourage you to use blogging or social media. The reason is cost. Those two options are cheaper than Google AdWords.
However, they can take a while. Pay per click (PPC) advertising on Google brings you people with the greatest urgency and specific need.
To get started, we’ll focus on determining a goal, finding the right prospects, Google PPC, and then a brief overview of blogging and social media.
This step will influence your decisions more so than any of the others. You need a target so you can know who to approach, what questions to ask, and how to advertise.
1. AVERAGE SALE PRICE
As much as we hate thinking about clients in terms of dollar value, it’s necessary.
Start by collecting data. Ideally, you’ve handled enough cases to estimate their monetary worth. If not, try to gather data that show averages.
Whether you’re charging hourly, flat fee or different combinations, you’ll need to have rough estimates of the profit margin of each client you help. Again, it’s not an exact science, but you’ll need a starting point.
This first step is critical because without this, you won’t be able to set a marketing budget. You also won’t be able to determine if you’re spending too much or too little to generate business.
When time comes to advertise, you’ll want to consider not just the type of jobs you want to take on, but also target audiences. This influences everything from the online ad you write, to the blog you post, to the email you send and even the voicemail you leave.
Visualize the entire process of meeting a client, discussing their needs and then asking to be their advocate.
Who might look for you? If you’re looking to work on employment issues, who might type the words “employment contract lawyer near me” into Google? The CEO? The hiring manager? The HR department? It could be all of the above. But your blogs, Facebook presence and ads should take all this into account. Maybe draft a blog for HR departments that speak to their experience. Then, perhaps a Facebook post for CEO’s and business owners about new legislation that could harm their business.
These are called personas. They should be specific to the individual.
3. START WITH GOOGLE
Advertising online means different things.
Google AdWords (PPC), social media (mainly Facebook), and content marketing (blogging) are the main areas for an online presence we’ll discuss.
Investing in paid ads (PPC) is initially a great way to start, even if it can be expensive. Basically, when someone queries “car accident lawyer New York,” Google will serve advertisements at the top of the page. When someone clicks on the ad, you – the advertiser -pay for it.
For attorneys, those clicks can be high and AdWords has critics.
I just checked for estimates on the below clicks:
“Personal injury lawyer” is $123 per click.
“Mesothelioma lawyer” is $354 per click.
Those costs may be intimidating especially if you’re just getting started. Many websites will tell you to just blog and use social media.
They’re not totally wrong except that those two media take longer to produce results. You get what you pay for. What they’re also leaving out is that clicks vary considerably. Personal injury is pricey because the searcher has great urgency and distress. This click has greater likelihood of turning into business than that of a casual shopper.
Remember average sale price? There’s a reason we started there. If you do research on mesothelioma settlements, you understand why the clicks are so high. You also understand why attorneys pay for the clicks. While it may be difficult to come up with an “average settlement” amount, think about the value that one single click can bring.
However, law is much more than just personal injury and your clicks could be much lower.
4. BLOGGING AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Blogging and social media advertising each deserve their own posts. However, they work so well together that this article will cover them together in the context of starting a firm.
Many sites discuss the importance of good content and posting it through social media. Good content that is written to be informative boosts credibility and leads to better interactions. You can even use it as a selling tool.
For example, if you produced a blog on real estate closings, you could forward it to your client who has questions. It looks professional but most importantly, it helps your client.
Posting your blogs on social media is another art form. Writing the post, choosing the media, posting it for free (organically) or boosting it with money (paid ads) are all part of your social strategy.
Remember this though: Even if you pay for clicks on social media, they’re usually less money than Google. However, since there’s no search engine component, you’re not attracting searchers with the same urgency. Again, you get what you pay for.
A lesson I learned in sales is that everyone has their own “sale.” Some people can sell cars and others can sell medical devices. Some people prefer to advise on financial matters.
Find what works for you in terms of growing your new firm. But remember this blog and the options you have. Good luck.