As a small firm lawyer, if you knew the clients you wanted would come to your door, what would you do? Or, more importantly, what would you do differently?
- Hone in on a niche?
- Expand into other areas?
- Hire support staff to handle the day-to-day tedium?
- Find a partner, bring in other lawyers, or expand into a firm?
This is a question Brendan Chard, founder of The Modern Firm, thinks about and discusses often with clients.
"Every business has problems," he points out. "That's just a law of nature. But when you have a more robust marketing plan in place you go from having bad problems to good problems. When there’s no more stress about where the next client is coming from, you open options that allow you to grow your firm and improve your lifestyle in a way that works for you. You can decide to be more selective about the clients and matters you say yes to. Or you can scale up with processes and staff to make things more efficient and minimize the things you don’t enjoy. Once you start having that reliable pipeline of clients, there’s a shift in your whole life."
But it can be extremely difficult—and time consuming—to build that reliable pipeline using traditional marketing for lawyers, which leans so heavily on personal connections and in-person events. Online marketing for lawyers reduces that burden while delivering results. Even for small firms, it's not unusual for a well-run digital marketing campaign to yield multiple quality leads each week.
"This makes investing in digital marketing sort of a double win for lawyers" Brendan explains. "Obviously, more good, qualified leads is great. But almost more importantly, digital marketing makes very little demand on attorney time. It starts to relieve this pressure so many lawyers feel, to do all of everything all the time.”
Hesitant to Dive Into Digital Marketing?
Nonetheless, many lawyers are hesitant to experiment with digital marketing. But it's important to understand that, regardless of whether you've even considered running a Google Ad, digital marketing is already part of your business. Even if 99% of your work comes strictly from word-of-mouth referrals, those potential clients are still going to search your name in Google or Bing before calling. The digital world is the water we're all swimming in whether we like it or not (and whether or not we are even aware that this is water).
As such, our choice isn't between jumping into the stream or staying on the shore. Rather, we get to choose how we navigate that raging digital river we live in.
Investing in digital marketing is the difference between going tubing and going rafting in that roiling data river. If you're alone in an inner tube, you get dragged wherever the current decides. If you are white-water rafting with friends and a guide and paddles in the water, you can choose where you go, when you get there, and how exciting the trip is.
This level of control allows small firm owners to be much more intentional and self-directed in their business. A reliable pipeline of new, promising leads gives you room to shift your entire mindset about your practice in a healthier direction. You can get your head up above the noisy, distracting grind of personal "networking" to drum up clients, and see the bigger picture of your business.
A More Productive Work Mindset
Brendan has noticed that many solo and small firm practitioners go through an evolution similar to what he experienced as he built The Modern Firm.
“A big thing for me," he explains "was decoupling the sales process from the getting-things-done process. When you're the primary person in charge of both, there's this conflicting interest. Part of you wants to earn new clients, but another part can't help but wince and say 'Now I’m piling more work on my plate!'”
This, Brendan says, is a key difference between Making a Job for Yourself and Making a Business for Yourself.
"When you're doing it all, that daily scrambling can really feel like a J O B. There's that sense of always being in a rush, living hand-to-mouth. But once you get the influx and momentum that comes from good marketing efforts, that's the time to step back and start to really build your business."
Building a business means different things for different practices. One Modern Firm client had a solo family law practice, but wanted to be able to focus on complex family formation cases (instead of being perpetually swamped in divorces and child custody). By investing in digital marketing, she was able to grow her practice, adding attorneys and staff to handle the more mundane bread-and-butter family law cases so that she could focus on that area where she was most passionate.
But that kind of growth—new staff, new lawyers, new names on the door—isn't mandatory. Many lawyers invest in digital marketing to increase leads with no intention of growing their firm. Their goal is to be able to be more selective about the clients and matters they take. Still others use digital marketing to change their practice areas, tightening their focus on specific areas of interest or drawing in new clients to broaden what they do.
Afraid to Dive In—or Fear of Success?
That said, many lawyers are still hesitant to dip into digital marketing. In part, this is a species of Fear of Success (aka Maslow's "Jonah Complex"). But more often, Brendan thinks it's that same old "I have to do everything all of the time!" panic so many solos and small firm attorneys feel. If you’re already constantly scrambling to return calls and stay on top of cases, getting more calls feels a little like shouting "SPEED IT UP!" in the chocolate factory.
Brendan is quick to point out that digital marketing, while powerful, isn't a high-pressure firehouse that's either on or off.
“Investing in digital marketing is always about putting you in control of what happens with your practice. Digital marketing is powerful, but also so nuanced; it can be a scalpel, or it can be a chainsaw: it can go slow or it can go fast; it can hone in on a niche or go broad; it can totally reshape your practice.”
Are you ready to give digital marketing a try? Contact us to get the ball rolling. We’ll talk with you about your current practice, who you serve, and where you’d like to go. Then, when you’re ready, we’ll develop an integrated digital marketing plan to meet your goals.