Law Firm Marketing

Law firm marketing is not simply about advertising legal services, but is a comprehensive plan to raise awareness about the agency and convince individuals and businesses to choose its services. Every legal services company needs a continual stream of clients. Marketing doesn't accomplish this with a one-shot campaign. Efforts must continue weekly, monthly and yearly to keep new clients and cases coming in. But firms shouldn't limit plans to just targeting prospects. One of the most influential audiences for a legal services company is its current client base. Lawyers and attorneys have a prime opportunity to get to know their clients better and develop an ongoing relationship with them. In doing this, they are able to discover other possible legal needs that require professional services. By keeping clients satisfied, firms get more referrals. Solid law firm marketing plans target a specific prospect base, develop methods to turn prospects into clients, and implement a plan to educate and communicate with each client as their needs change.

In order to build a successful agency, lawyers and attorneys need to find a niche, a very narrow field in which to specialize. With the vast legal knowledge required today, professionals do not have time to become experts in every area of the law. People do not trust those who claim to know it all. They don't want lawyers who experiment in various fields. Instead, clients expect and look for counsel who has the specific expertise to handle their problem and have had success with similar cases. Developing a law firm marketing plan with a targeted audience is much easier than shooting in the dark and hoping prospects will walk in the door. Finding a niche will not only help lawyers and attorneys master a particular field, but will help firms define and communicate a specific strategy to that audience.

"Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it." (Habakkuk 2:2) Even in Bible times, vision was crucial to the success of any effort. Today is no different. Law firm marketing strategies begin with a detailed plan of action that will identify and guide all efforts. Legal service companies first identify goals and objectives. Deciding how many new accounts or dollars to bring in will provide the rule to measure success. Then, marketers research where to find prospects and hone efforts into those areas. A comprehensive plan will include a variety of communication vehicles including networking events, seminars, websites, publications, direct mail, print materials, and sponsorships. Which methods utilized will highly depend on the niche audience and marketing budget. Firms should also evaluate the competition and create a unique advantage that sets them apart. This unique selling position should be clearly identified in all communication pieces. Each step of the law firm marketing plan should have established, measurable benchmarks to help the firm evaluate success and demonstrate a positive return on investment.

Every aspect of law firm marketing must support the brand of the entire practice. Branding is simply the core message and feel that is weaved through all marketing pieces. Most law firms are faced with a difficult choice. Do they promote the agency or the individual attorneys? Many times, agencies with several different niche lawyers will promote each as a different entity, sacrificing the core message in the process. But this doesn't promote either very well. Although an agency may have several different departments, each focusing on its own specialty, the promotion of each area should support the overall image of the firm. This is usually a struggle with larger agencies that need to not only communicate with potential clients, but also send messages out to the local community and other litigators. Smaller practices tend to focus solely on being accessible to people within a specific community or zip code and don't worry about reaching multiple niche audiences.

Legal websites are a key element of law firm marketing. With today's automated and convenient technology, there is no excuse not to have a website. Most people can build one with little or no technical training. Services are available for agencies that would like to add special features or have the assurance of knowledgeable technical support. Tracking software makes it easy to evaluate the success of online campaigns almost instantly. Reports usually include how many individuals have visited the site, how long they stayed, pages viewed and which websites referred them. Websites are an integral part of the marketing plan and should compliment, not work independent of, other offline efforts. The goal of a legal web page is not just to attract visitors but also to convert them to clients. To do this, websites provide information about the firm and convince them to respond by making a purchase, downloading more information or signing up for a newsletter. Be clear and upfront about why and how people's personal information will be used. Design websites that are easy to navigate with content that is informative, simple and clear to follow. Most people look for legal counsel search for a specific area of specialty in a geographical location. Make sure that the site includes the unique selling position of the firm, contact phone number and an online form to collect information.

Online, print and broadcast methods, new and traditional media, all play important roles in law firm marketing. Some of the best avenues of reaching new clients don't cost anything. Networking is the best promotional method around. Meet people. Talk to them about their needs. Chances are, they will either need legal services or know someone who does. Another effective method is publishing books and professional articles. Publication gives credibility to the writer and is a form of promotion that doesn't look overtly like advertising. It also opens the door for further free promotion like book signings, interviews, and reviews. Publishing can take the form of articles in legal periodicals or trade journals, non-legal magazines, or letters to the editor of local newspapers. Getting the word out and educating people is ultimate goal.

Direct Marketing Software

A successful email campaign depends on direct marketing software to send, track, and manage electronic messages. Public or private corporations, faith-based organizations, educational institutions, network marketers, and retailers may all take advantage of electronic consumer-direct selling via the Internet. Advertisers compile or buy listings of potential customers according to age, income, gender, socio-economic status, or geographical area. Promotional and informative email messages can be designed which enable recipients to opt in, or become subscribers. Corporations may also send out emails to individuals who may already subscribe to other industry-specific companies.

When an individual opts in to receive electronic messages from a company, their email address may become part of a shared database which can be distributed to other merchants. Businesses which buy consumer email lists begin mailing potential customers in hopes that they will allow messages to continue coming into their in boxes without being marked as SPAM. Some direct marketing software prevents emails from being rejected. Once recipients become subscribers, merchants have an open door to promote products and services, provide information, and conduct consumer surveys. But in order to efficiently manage electronic marketing campaigns, companies must utilize some sort of interactive software. When the Holy Spirit knocks on the door to our hearts, our response should be an acceptance of Jesus Christ. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20).

Designing and sending email newsletters, new product announcements, and promotional offers to a permission-based list is simple when companies use high-tech automated software programs. Web-based systems allow Internet advertisers, affiliates, and network marketers the ability to monitor how well email marketing campaigns are faring, based on recipient responses, subscriptions, and un-subscriptions. High-tech direct marketing software utilizes efficient mail merging based on plain text or hypertext markup language (HTML), which can be downloaded from online forms or typed in manually. Corporations can send out bulk mail without worrying about delays or undeliverables. Software programs also enable companies to send out e-newsletters based on a weekly, monthly or bimonthly schedule to a vast number of subscribers, which could amount to several million potential customers. Some programs also offer templates from which small business owners on a budget can design professional looking e-newsletters, track visitor activity or click-throughs, and generate reports to assess the program's overall effectiveness and response rate.

Business owners in search of direct marketing software should check to make sure that programs are compatible with existing operating systems and database servers. Newer software programs support most popular Windows-based platforms, including earlier versions and more recent applications. Software which interacts with popular mail merge programs enables businesses to utilize existing lists without the time-consuming task of compiling and typing new address fields into another application. Highly efficient programs also store subscriber information into a database and handle bounces and recipient options for unsubscribing from permission-based emails. Bulk email marketing programs enable owners to purge lists, avoid redundancy, update addresses and contact information, and send electronic messages to all or part of a bulk listing.

The advantage of using direct marketing software versus conventional bulk mail methods is convenience, cost savings, and efficiency. In order to manage millions of addresses, it would take the entire United States Post Office personnel. Most companies simply are not set up to handle a volume of bulk mail that large! Updating and tracking information would be nearly impossible, especially when customers move away. Not only would it take a large number of workers dedicated to managing addresses and making updates, but the expense of mailing to millions would be cost-prohibitive, even at bulk-rate postage. By developing and implementing an effective and efficient email marketing campaign and employing high-tech direct marketing software, business owners are able to save hundreds of thousands of dollars, reach several targeted niche markets, and schedule electronic mailings to coincide with other traditional multimedia promotions. Combining an effective e-mail campaign with conventional direct mail, an interactive website, television, and web-based audio and video promotional offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to reach targeted audiences, increase website traffic, and boost revenues.

User-friendly direct marketing software also enables affiliate programs, network marketers, and web-based advertisers the opportunity to build a large customer database which has potential to reach around the globe. Thanks to the versatility of the Internet, advertisers are not limited by time or space. An e-newsletter or promotion can be mailed simultaneously to subscribers in the United States, Europe, and Asia and receive responses from all over the world regardless of time zones. Software may have the capability of translating messages from English to Spanish, Italian, or Japanese; therefore foreign subscribers can share the same information as domestic recipients. Programmed options may include viewing emails in an alternate language at the discretion of the recipient. A Windows-based platform also enables groups from coast to coast and continent to continent to download photos, text, and flash animation graphics without sacrificing the integrity of digital data.

In today's global marketplace, the competition for foreign and domestic dollars is tough. Only those businesses which can keep pace with changing technology and employ innovative and efficient marketing methods can vie for the lion's share of the consumer's pocketbook. By utilizing direct marketing software to send, track, monitor and assess interactive permission-based email campaigns, large and small corporations, public and private institutions, and foreign and domestic retailers can exercise greater control over promotional efforts while realizing potentially greater returns. The Internet and cyberspace innovations in electronic delivery methods are eliminating time and space between suppliers of goods and services and those who buy them. In spite of the challenge of global economic woes, astute advertisers can still remain profitable by taking advantage of today's high-tech electronic marketing systems and software.

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