Wednesday, December 3, 2014

So,... How Did You Do? 10 Questions to Ask about Your 2014 Business Development Efforts

In a few weeks, you will all be besieged by scores of emails, promotions, and invitations, etc. asking you to begin the new year “right” by purchasing whatever product or service is certain to make 2015 the “big” one in terms of revenue, new client generation, and cost efficiency.

But before you begin the 2015 planning process, this may also be a good time to take a step back and assess 2014, because all products and services aside, this is the best way to ensure that successful initiatives are duplicated or enhanced, and that any mistakes made are avoided.

So, that in mind, I offer you the 10 questions every managing partner/legal marketing professional should ask as 2014 winds to a close:
  1. How successful was 2014 in terms of new client generation?   Were increases in firm revenue a result of ongoing or repeat client business or the result of the firm’s business development initiatives?
  2. Where did new business come from?  Was new revenue concentrated amongst a relatively small group of clients or scattered across a wider range of new clients?
  3. Which marketing activities were most effective in generating new business?  This is a trick question, because not all marketing tools can be easily measured and most new business comes through exposure to a number of different types of business development efforts.  That being said, either quantitatively or qualitatively, is there a sense as to what worked this year and what did not?
  4. Which practice areas benefitted the most from business development initiatives?  Very important.  Different practice groups have different marketing needs. Did the firm ”do right” by each group in terms of implementing the most effective marketing strategies?
  5. Were human resources employed in the most profitable manner possible?  Let’s face it.  Not everyone is good at everything. Some individuals are natural salespeople while others are more comfortable sticking strictly to “lawyering.”  And even among those who are particularly good at generating new business, different people have different skills.  Some write brilliant articles.  Others are terrific presenters. And still others are just gifted when it comes to making small talk at a social or business function. Did the firm take all of this into account in implementing its 2014 plans? 
  6. How efficient was the business development function?  It’s great to have generated new revenue, but far less so, if the expense involved outweighed that revenue. Aside from obvious out-of-pocket costs, how did internal processes affect the business development function? Were marketing committee meetings productive? Did outside vendors get clear direction from the firm and did the various projects flow through the firm smoothly and swiftly?
  7. How was the firm perceived?  Did the firm get adequate feedback from current clients, new clients and prospective clients as to the perceived quality of a) the firm’s work product, b) the firm’s image and c) the firm’s sales “pitch.” 
  8.  How successful were firm competitors in 2014?  Did competitors make inroads into the firm’s business?  Steal any clients? Did any new competitors emerge? If so, what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  9.  What relevant issues, trends, news events were “hot” subjects during the past year?  Did the firm leverage its expertise in certain areas of the law? Did it keep an eye on happenings in the world, the community, the legal industry and its target industries?
  10.  How did the results of 2014 compare to what had been anticipated and planned for one year ago?  How good was the firm at forecasting its future and spotting opportunities and potential trouble spots?  What might the firm have done differently to better anticipate and meet its practice-building needs?

So, there you go.  Ten questions to ask yourself before the curtain drops on 2014.

But think, once you’ve answered them, you’ll truly be ready for the next big assignment – developing your attack plan for generating more business in 2015.

If you would like to discuss strategies for marketing your practice in 2015, contact us at (856) 810-0400.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Three Ways to Use LinkedIn to Build Your Law Practice

It hurts to admit this. And I never thought I would.
But I like LInkedIn.
I really do.
I think that’s because LinkedIn takes a lot of the “social” out of social media and gets down to business. And if you ‘re one of those people who doesn’t care about tweeting from every restaurant you go to, lamenting your latest relationship or sharing videos of your 2-year-old nephew’s latest antics, then Linkedin provides a great forum for you and your firm.
It does so in a number of ways.
First, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to highlight your professional accomplishments. But as, if not more important, it allows law firms a platform for “bragging” about the organization’s accomplishments. This can be as simple as just having a company page on the site or as detailed as adding “showcase” pages highlighting specific practice groups and/or legal services. Content relative to such groups or services can then be posted onto these showcase pages. If your organization is already developing content for other social media sites, a blog or the firm newsletter, then having something to post becomes relatively easy.
Second, in addition to its content publishing capabilities, as a social media site, LinkedIn obviously allows you to build personal networks of professional connections. Where it departs from other types of social media is in its ability to facilitate interaction with what it labels as second and third connections. Reaching out to friends and colleagues (i.e., first connections) is a no-brainer. But attempting to meet (online or off) second connections opens up a world of opportunity. And you do it by actually working off of your first connections. For example, in reviewing the connections of your connections, you notice that your friend Suzy is also connected to Joe, the head of that big bank you’ve been trying to get in to see for years. By reaching out to Suzy, you can ask for a “warm” introduction to Joe. And we all know that warm leads will top cold ones any day of the week.  There are actually systems you can put into place that allow you to explore the connections of your connections as based on very specific criteria on a regular and automated basis.
Finally, there are the LinkedIn groups which allow users to reach out to individuals in the same industry, from the same college, with similar interests or who may be potential clients of the firm.  I say “reaching out,” but I could just as easily say “targeting,” because that is what using the groups (and the aforementioned second degree connections) allows you to do – target. In some ways, it can even replace the renting of lists in your marketing arsenal. If your firm is marketing B2B services, then developing a program through Linkedin may actually be more effective (and less costly) than doing so through such lists of addresses, email addresses or telephone numbers.  That is because, on LinkedIn, the data is usually more up-to-date, the individuals have elected to be involved and the opportunity for warmer referrals is significantly greater.
There’s a lot more to it, but I believe LinkedIn has the potential to be a great marketing tool for law firms – particularly now when the number of individuals on board has reached a critical mass. Like anything else, it does require some elbow grease, but the results can be well worth it. 
If you would like more information on how we can help you publish content online and build your social media network, contact us at (856) 810-0400.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Managing Partner’s Marketing Lament: The Need for Greater Accountability

“How will I know whether the marketing is working?”

“Why don’t (or can’t) my attorneys bring in more business?”

“Why do I need to market when most of our business comes through word-of-mouth?”

In our 20+ years of marketing law firms, these are by far, the questions we have had to address most often.  Attorneys are by nature, evidence-based individuals. They want data, facts, anything that can take the perceived risk out of a function that has traditionally not been so easily calculated for service businesses.

The difficulty in predicting results of business development efforts rests in a faulty linear mindset that wishes to see things from a “cause and effect” perspective.  Certainly a direct mail campaign, a pay-per-click initiative, a seminar can all be accurately tracked for the revenue they generate versus the costs required for their implementation. But in reality, this only offers a limited picture of what is working and what is not.  A truer understanding is generated when one takes a longer, more holistic perspective. For example, even a direct mail or seminar’s success or failure will, in large part, be determined by more image-oriented or branding efforts the firm will have implemented. How many individuals attend a seminar may well be determined by the pre-existing reputation of the firm; and the number of website clicks that turn into live inquiries is, in part, a function of the efficacy and quality of the website itself.   Marketing tools do not exist in a vacuum. To a greater or lesser degree, they serve to support and underscore one another. It is the wise law firm that looks to ascertain results by examining not only the linear relationships of specific vehicles and revenue generated (e.g., “How did that ad pull?”), but also the relationship between the marketing component as a whole with the revenue data.

This is not always an easy thing to do. For one, it means often relying on qualitative versus quantitative “data” for determining success. It may be difficult to assess (though not impossible as will be discussed later on) the value of an image-oriented campaign or that new firm brochure, but if one learns that “everyone is talking about it,” that’s a pretty good indication that something is going on. Similarly, a sudden spike in business may likewise be attributed to a new business development  initiative. Second, it means understanding how each element of a marketing program fits in with all the others. Pulling back support for an image-oriented campaign may, in fact, make that seminar, that pay-per-click program, or individual attorney networking that much less effective. 

The question of accountability in terms of attorneys’ rainmaking capabilities likewise must take the longer view. Not all attorneys are meant to be developers of new business. And some attorneys who are good at bringing in the rain may not even be the best of attorneys. Smart law firm management means smart use of firm assets – the bulk of which comes in the form of attorney talent.  Far too often, we have heard managing partners lament the paucity in their associates’ business development abilities.  And far too often, we have heard those same managing partners issue a directive that all associates must join a civic, religious or non-profit organization for the purposes of “mixing” with potential clients. The truth of the matter is that even among the best of business-generating attorneys, not all are proficient at networking. Yes, some are natural “schmoozers,” but others are better at writing articles or giving presentations or working with agency and marketing folks in a group. Proper allocation of human resources means utilizing the skills of the attorneys where they are most beneficial to the firm.  How does one measure that?  Much as one measures the effectiveness of marketing programs noted above.

Finally, we come to the concept of “word-of-mouth.” Business professionals utilize that phrase as justification for not investing in other forms of business development. Yet the truth of the matter is that “word-of-mouth” comes through two sources – a) interacting with people and b) doing good work.  Both require significant investments of time and money. “Word-of-mouth” doesn’t just happen.”  It happens because something is going on. Understanding who is generating that “word-of-mouth” revenue, how it is being generated and how the investment in it relates to other types of business development can help the smart law practice allocate its resources more prudently. Not all successful law firms may be marketing aggressively in the traditional sense.  But all successful law firms are consistently developing business aggressively through one means or another.

I mentioned earlier that traditionally, law firm management has had to rely on qualitative data to make decisions regarding their business development initiatives. For a long time, this has, in fact, been the case. However, Etiometrix, LLC recently developed an application called RainGauge which allows law firms to track results at the most granular (e.g., individual or departmental)  as well as at the most holistic levels. It also provides data regarding the amount of revenue that the firm (and individual attorneys) is generating through “word-of-mouth.’  This is particularly helpful as it gives a good indication as to the perceived quality of the firm as well as facilitates better decisions regarding which practices groups and individuals require or are justified in receiving greater financial support for their marketing initiatives.  You can check it out at

“Accountability” has become one of those catch-words thrown about by just about everyone. But true accountability requires understanding at what level results can and/or should be measured and how those results relate to all the different activities and players in the firm’s business development arsenal.

This is the final installment of a 5-part series on the business development concerns we have heard most often by managing partners and legal marketers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Market “Positioning” and What it Means For Branding Your Firm

Last week in this blog, we spoke about law firm branding and its relevancy in the information age.

But exactly what is the firm brand? What does it really mean?

We’ve always looked at law firm branding as the outward manifestation of the firm positioning. By this I mean that the brand and all the logos, web sites, ads, blogs, articles and slogans that go with it are, or at least should be, a reflection of the essence of the firm. And by essence, I am referring to what the firm stands for, its point of difference versus competitors, its reason for being.

To ascertain all of this can be a difficult challenge when different personalities, egos, and practice groups all have disparate needs for how they want to be presented to their target markets.

For example, consider the firm with multiple practice groups that seeks to establish a new or revised identity. The folks in the family law group suggest that the “positioning” of the firm should revolve around a history of showing care and compassion. “Not so,” says the head of the corporate litigation practice group. “We need to convey that this firm is powerful and has a ‘take no prisoners’ approach to its services.” “Wait a minute,” says the guy from IP. “This firm should promote the fact that we are cutting edge and utilize the latest technological resources.” Finally, the most senior partner in the room, smiles and attempts to put closure on the debate by stating, “This law practice has been around for over 100 years. We are well known by just about everyone and the smartest approach is to simply tout our longevity.”

Who is right? And where do you think this debate will ultimately lead? Chances are that one of two things will happen. Either the “strongest” member (be it the Managing Partner, the Senior Partner, etc.) will dictate the positioning or, more likely, nothing will happen at all. In the latter case, the firm will just proceed as it always has and will continue to communicate the same disparate messages to its target markets.

How might this scenario be altered?

The key here lies in finding the underlying qualities that tie the various individuals and practice groups together. What is it common throughout the firm? There’s a reason why attorneys in these departments work at this firm at this given point in time. Is it the culture of the firm? Is there a similar approach to the practice of law or to the servicing of clients?  For example, we worked with one law firm that after intense discussions, realized that each individual in the firm took immense pride in finding “innovative” solutions to their clients’ problems. Thus “innovativeness” became the positioning from which the brand was created. In another case, the firm leveraged its knowledge and experience in working with governmental agencies as a means for underscoring its ability to help individuals and businesses.

In discovering the firm positioning, it is critical to uncover that which sets the firm apart (what is it about the firm that one would be hard-pressed to say the same thing about a competitor). Too often, firms make the mistake of developing a “me too” positioning that does little to enhance the firm’s standing.  For example, “Big City Know-How, but with Lower Fees” is an all too familiar positioning employed by so many firms that work outside the city.  

In short, smart law firms know who they are and then develop the brand from that. The hard part is knowing who you are, but once that is accomplished, the developed brand (and hence the firm) is that much stronger for it.

This is the fourth in a 5-part series on the business development concerns we have heard most often by managing partners and legal marketers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Is Law Firm Branding Still Relevant in the Information Age?

Of all the things we do at our marketing agency – everything from creating plans to executing PR campaigns, online initiatives, special events, etc., by far the activity I’ve always enjoyed the most has been “branding” organizations.  There is something special about taking an entity (be it a law firm, a service or a product) and concepting how to make it relevant to a target audience – or in some cases, to several diverse target groups.

Yet today, as with everything else, the whole concept of branding has changed dramatically.  Much of this is due to the emergence of all kinds of on-line media options. Whereas before, marketing messages competed for your attention by jumping out at you (whether you wanted them to or not), today it is we, the consumer of legal services, who seek out the message.

This alters the ways in which law firms can and should brand themselves. Unless they are blessed with the financial resources to stay the course with traditional media alternatives, they must find a way to get an integrated, single-themed message out to their prospects through multiple channels and by multiple sources.

The difficulty in this is that most of those sources are the individual attorneys themselves who now have the ability to a) create their own individual web site and b) post to numerous professional and personal social media outlets. While there are many, many positives to being able to publish without any third party (i.e. editors, producers, etc.) vetting, it also means that firm management and legal marketers no longer have control over the “cumulative” message that is being disseminated. I’m not talking here about the misguided attorney who may post disparaging or unethical content about the firm, a client, a judge, etc.  Rather, I am talking about how the style and language (and even the content) used by an individual may run counter to the manner in which the firm wishes to be portrayed.   In short, the question is how can the law firm speak with one voice?

The answer, I believe, is three-fold. 

First, now more than ever, the firm’s staff (all of whom are ambassadors for the firm) must be made aware of and buy into the firm brand. This, of course assumes that the firm has, in fact, determined what its core message in and the positioning it wishes to have in the market.

Second, these same firm ambassadors must be encouraged to utilize all of the many media options that are now at their disposal – and to do so in a way that underscores and reinforces the firm brand.

And finally, given that it is, in fact, the accumulation of all messages (online and off) that ultimately reflects the firm brand, it is more important than ever that individual posts, tweets, and other types of contents be tied to an identifiable element of the overall firm – be that a logo, a tagline etc. Consumers of legal services are bombarded by information from so many sources that most become just “noise.”  In a world where disseminating quantity of messages seems to be more important than the quality of a message, it is the wise law practice that can brand itself through the sum of the content stemming from its own hallways.

This is the third in a 5-part series on the business development concerns we have heard most often by managing partners and legal marketers

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why Won’t Those ‘Darn’ Associates Make More Rain?

In my last post, I discussed the fear many managing partners hold, that the firm may be leaving money on the table by not effectively cross-promoting the full range of legal services and not encouraging internal referrals.

Today, I would like to discuss a little bit about a second concern that law firm management often express to us.  It is much less a fear than it is a frustration that associates in the firm do not generate the requisite new business activity necessary to move the firm forward.

This creates a conundrum that firms often find difficult to resolve. On the one hand, lower level attorneys offer the possibilities of greater profitability because they command lower rates of compensation.  Yet, in spending time on providing such legal services to the firm’s clients (i.e., billable hours), they are, by definition not rustling up new business.

To resolve this dilemma, smart law firms must ask themselves exactly what they see as the role of their associates.  Typically, most would say that the function of the firm’s lower level attorney’s requires a hybrid of both client-related work and new business initiatives. We have seen instances however, where firm management has determined that associates should focus on clients while management itself should be responsible for generating new revenues.  That is not necessarily a bad approach because, at the very least, it is clearly defined. Less positive are those situations in which firm management chastises attorneys for the lack of billable time while also lamenting the lack of energies towards acquiring new clients.  Hence, most important is developing a clear definition of roles and an articulate conveyance of them to the firm’s staff.

But it cannot really stop there. Generating business is a skill.  And as a skill, it requires proper training. Most young attorneys do not learn how to do bring in business in law school and depending on the firm in which they practice, they may not acquire such training at work either. Firm management must understand that generating new business (whether it be through social media, referrals, internal cross-promotion, more revenue from existing clients, etc.) all requires an investment – not just in marketing and business development activities, but in the people being counted on to build the practice as well.

And even there it cannot stop.  It is foolish to think that each individual possesses the same set of skills of every other. Some attorneys are particularly good at getting out and meeting the world; others at writing engaging legal articles. Similarly, some attorneys may be innately limited in their ability to create new revenue, but contribute to the firm through their legal brilliance and capacity to solve their clients’ problems. Identifying the specific talents and the deficiencies of each associate is a far better way to leverage the collective manpower of the firm than is to make general assumptions about associates as a whole. Much of this evaluation can be made qualitatively. Yet, believe it or not, there is a software application (RainGauge) which allows management to quantitatively assess the degree to which associates (and senior attorneys as well) contribute to the firm through different marketing and business development activities and even offers the potential to compare such versus their working on strictly client-related business.

The bottom line is that getting the most out of associates requires removing the label “associate” from the equation and instead, harnessing the talents of each individual towards the greater good of the firm.

This is the second in a 5-part series on the business development concerns we have heard most often by managing partners and legal marketers.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Managing Partner’s Nightmare: Leaving Money on the Table

In our over 20 years of marketing law firms, one of the most often expressed concerns by managing partners is a fear that they are leaving money on the table.  By this, they are usually referring to the fact that clients are associating the firm and/or individual attorneys with specific areas of focus, rather than as a resource for resolving any of a number of legal matters.  This is typically seen in the client who contracts with a law practice for one legal matter and then walks down the street to contract with another regarding a different legal concern.

Part of this may stem from compensation arrangements that do not reward internal cross-promotion and part may simply be a function of internal politics and territoriality.

So how does the growth-inclined law practice avoid the dreaded “’shoulda’s’ ‘woulda’s’ and coulda’s?’”

The answer lies first in creating a culture in which the firm moves from a practice area orientation to a problem-solving one. Such an orientation often requires re-educating personnel that the firm’s major focus really is on just helping people. Administrative and human resource matters should be approached with that mindset and compensation should, in large part, be based on each attorney’s capacity to do just that. That means rewarding individuals not just for the work they bring in or the work that they do, but also for the work, internal or external, that they can bring to another member of the firm’s staff. Further, in some cases, an interdisciplinary team approach to client problem-solving should be considered. And processes should be put into place that allow firm attorneys to regularly be made aware of the legal matters in which their brethren are involved. 

Second, law firms must do a better job of educating both prospects and clients as to the full range of their legal services. This means developing the kinds of materials – both online and off, which easily convey the many ways in which the firm can be of service. Specific areas of the firm’s legal expertise that are buried deep inside a firm brochure or web site do little in communicating how the firm can help an individual or business in more ways than they might have otherwise thought. Instead, law practices – particularly those with disparate areas of focus, should consider development of collateral materials that highlight its portfolio of services upfront. Ditto for the firm web site.  Often, it is not enough for such content to be place under some “Practice Area” button. That’s because the individual looking for assistance on a family law matter may never even bother to see whether the firm can also help him on his pending bankruptcy. Ditto for the corporation seeking help with transactional matters, but not knowing (or bothering finding out) that the firm can also handle matters of litigation as well.

One way in which we have seen law firms address such issues is through the development and dissemination of e-newsletters. Here, what matters most is not the actual content (though it should still be well thought-out and well-written), but rather the subject line on the address and the title of the main article. Recipients may never actually even read the content, but even in rejecting it, will nonetheless still be exposed to other services the firm provides. The goal here is not to drum up business immediately (though its been known to happen), but to plant the seeds among the firm’s database for that day when the need for a particular service does arise.

Finally, in an age where everyone is (or should be) self-publishing, it is easy to communicate the individual skill sets of specific attorneys. What is mandated however, is ensuring that the ways in which such messages are disseminated, show a consistent regard for the firm at large. This means incorporating the firm’s logo, tag line, contact information (and possibly even practice areas) into individual  online communications. Ultimately, it is the sum of all communications that serves as the face (and even the essence) of the organization.

This is the first in a 5-part series on the concerns most often expressed by managing partners and legal marketers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Marrying IT with the Legal Marketing Function

Businesses of all kinds have historically had a difficult time reconciling the respective roles of those in the marketing and in the accounting/financial departments. It has always been understood that marketing should “pay out,” yet those who performed that function had difficulty articulating how each element of their program contributed (for better or for worse) to the company’s bottom line.

Now however, that “fuzziness” of respective roles has carried over into the IT department as well. Marketers of all kinds (and legal marketers in particular) might well ask where marketing begins and ends.   More often than not, in today’s information driven society, it begins and ends at the desk of the firm’s technical guru. 

For proof, one need look no further than the importance CRM software plays in the business development process.  If attorneys (particularly at larger firms) had to procure, understand, implement, train and then utilize such applications on their own, it is doubtful this technological advance would be as widespread as it is today. Same holds true for the marketing guys who may well understand how to develop a message, place an ad, disseminate a press release or even create a pay-per-click campaign, but who at the same time, would have difficulty recognizing the compatibility of one legal application with another.

So much of legal marketing today revolves around online activities. Yet it is the IT folks who understand the benefits (and limitations) of the various social media outlets, the changing algorithms involved in search engine optimization, the capabilities of online dissemination services, and the potential of the firm’s web site to convey everything the firm wishes to convey.

The law firm that places too great a distinction between marketing and information technologies runs the very real risk of inefficiency, but even more important, is almost certain to miss out on opportunity.  A much wiser approach is to promote the full integration of the IT folks into the marketing decision making process.

By doing so, law firms are almost certain to discover ways in which to efficiently stand out from competitors through both substance and style. And even in the information age, “standing out” is still what marketing is all about.

Don’t agree? Or maybe you do. Either way, I’d like to hear from you. Very interested to hear how your firm has or hasn’t integrated the IT and marketing functions.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Legal Marketing: How to Engage Your Prospect

Years ago, legal marketers only had to concern themselves with communicating the firm message to as many qualified prospects as they could, as many times as they could.

My, how times have changed.

Today, simply reaching prospects is no longer enough. Law firms now need to interact with them. By interaction, we mean any activity that begins to establish a relationship between the firm and the potential new client, thereby reducing the individual’s perceived risk. There are any of a number of ways in which to promote such interaction, among them:

  • Personal Networking
  • Posting on Social Media Sites
  • Participating in Online Groups
  • Offering Free White Papers
  • Webinars
  • Offering E-Newsletter Subscriptions
  • Requesting Survey Input
  • Offering Survey Results
  • Seminars

Each of these activities has inherent advantages and drawbacks depending on the type of practice area and the unique situation of the firm itself. For example, personal networking is probably the most effective, but requires a great deal of time and limits the number of prospects one can reach.  Similarly, a seminar provides a terrific means for conveying expertise and gaining the trust of potential clients, but usually costs considerably more than its webinar counterpart. In implementing the latter, most of the logistical issues of time, place and location are moot. Yet webinars lack the opportunity for face-to-face interaction that a seminar provides.

Determining which method or methods for promoting interactivity is best for a firm is not difficult.  Much more challenging is making the actual commitment towards some type of such initiative – particularly when each carries with it inherent costs of time and/or dollars. Nevertheless, today, where we live in such a cynical age, it is important that legal marketers do all they can to minimize that perceived risk and thereby lower the hurdles of turning prospect into a real, live, paying clients.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Leveraging The Media Coverage You’ve Already Received: How To Keep It Going

Last week we discussed how to recognize whether the new case that has come across your desk is “PR-worthy” -- whether it offers a story that might interest editors and producers, thus generating publicity for you and your firm?

But what happens after that case has made the news? What happens after you’ve been interviewed, filmed or videoed, and asked every silly question under the sun?  How do you leverage that experience to enhance your visibility?

The answer lies in understanding the very nature of public relations. When it comes to publicity, the more you have, the more you’ll get. And when you think about it, that actually makes a lot of sense. Just as your legal credentials allow potential clients to feel comfortable in your ability to represent them, so do your media credentials allow producers, editors and reporters to feel comfortable using you as a source for a story or as a respected “expert.” If you have been a central figure in a major event, have been articulate in presenting facts or opinions and have proven to be credible, the perceived risk of using you for future stories is dramatically reduced.  That is why we always suggest that our law firm clients be willing to speak to anyone, anywhere – even if that media outpost is a small hometown paper or radio station. They provide the foundation for bigger and better media “hits” in the future. The strategy is to build up enough of such hits so that, just like a resume, the reader is persuaded about your knowledge in a particular subject area. Keep in mind also, that the media watches the media. There is nothing that prevents them from reaching out to an individual that they have seen interviewed or written about elsewhere.

The notion of “particular subject area” is also important. Yes, you are an attorney, but that does not make you the ideal person to speak with on every aspect of the law.  You know your niche. Focus on it.  If, for example, you previously handled a big pharmaceutical liability case that generated a large amount of media attention, then anything that involves similar matters (be they new cases, new statutes, new research, etc.) becomes an opportunity to further highlight your expertise. Send pitch letters to the media that describe your story idea or opinion. And be sure to highlight your involvement in that previous “big case” along with the associated media coverage you received.

Once you have established substantive media credentials, (i.e., you’ve garnered quite a few articles, interviews, stories, etc.) it is not a bad idea to trumpet such in ongoing media pitch letters, on the firm’s web site and/or in online or offline media kits disseminated to a carefully developed list of media contacts.

In summary then, the notoriety you’ve gained on the “big case,” should be augmented with whatever additional exposure you can create – big or small.  Eventually, you will have enough mass to become the media’s “go to” guy on a particular subject.  And at that point, you won’t have to worry too much about reaching out to the media. They’ll be chasing after you!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Recognizing PR Opportunities

It happened! It finally happened!

It’s the “big” case… the one you always dreamed about when you imagined yourself as part of L.A. Law or if you’re a bit older, when you pictured yourself out-litigating Perry Mason.

The “big” case can be great for the ego and it can potentially be even better for the pocketbook. But as important, the “big” case represents a unique opportunity to shout to the world all that’s great about yourself and/or your firm.  Unfortunately, the “big” case doesn’t come around all that often, so when it does, it is critical that the growth-conscious law practice be prepared for how best to leverage this moment in the spotlight.

The first step in this process is to recognize if and when you are or are about to be working on the “big” case. Sometimes, this is done for you. When hordes of media folk are knocking down your door, you can be sure you’ve landed the big one. For anything less than the “sexiest” of stories, it will probably be you reaching out to the media, not the other way around.

There are times however, when the opportunity in front of you may not be as obvious. This requires a careful assessment of every case that comes across your desk. Try to think like a producer or editor. Will this case excite their viewers or readers? Some things to consider:

  • Is the case breaking new legal ground? 
  • If it’s not setting new legal precedent, is it the kind of case that’s setting “cultural” precedent? For example, we recently got one of our attorney clients on the Today show for a case she was handling that involved cyber-bullying via social media. 
  • If it’s not setting “cultural” precedent, can it perhaps play off another case that’s already in the news?  If, for example, a new pharmaceutical made the news because it was recently found to be responsible for consumer deaths, then case involving other dangerous drugs may also make for a good augment to this story.

Other ideas?  Obviously, sex always sells. As do cases involving celebrities.  During the manslaughter trial of basketball star Jayson Williams, one of our attorney clients was interviewed on a regional radio station for his take on the proceedings. This would not be so unusual were it not for the fact that this attorney was a family law practitioner who did not practice criminal law.  Yet he was the “go to” guy because he had been in the news many times before and had established a reputation for himself as an articulate subject for interview and a credible “expert.”

That example then begs some further questions… Once you have obtained that big case, how do you leverage it? How do you use that experience to boost up your media credentials?  And how does this exposure help your practice’s bottom line?

And those are exactly the questions we’ll address in our next issue.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Practical Application of “The History of Client Origin.”

Since the beginning of the year, we have focused on a new, and we believe, more accurate way of assessing the effects of disparate marketing vehicles and strategic approaches. By tracing the origin of its clients, today’s law firm can harness a wealth of information on the effectiveness of each and all of its marketing initiatives. By accessing this data, it can thus make informed decisions as to the short and long- term benefits future marketing endeavors may or may not provide. Application of this model can also help marketing decision makers determine which practice areas to emphasize in promotional efforts and which attorneys to assign the task of business generation. Tracking this history allows firm decision makers to compare non-linear marketing activities (e.g., image advertising, brochures, web sites) with more direct and more easily measurable activities. Finally, this methodology takes into account the powerful role referrals have in the overall health of a law firm and thereby also provides a gauge as to the perceived quality of the firm itself.

Nevertheless, to conduct such an analysis by hand is neither practical nor realistic. Consider for example the law practice that has been in business for over a century, that has served thousands of clients, hundreds of which have come through referrals and all of which have helped to build the firm to its current state. The pathways and permutations thereof could well venture into the millions -- not the kind of analysis of which even the most ambitious of marketing decision makers would most likely be willing to undertake.

The problem of practicality is easily addressed however, through technology that can track the path by which every client came to the firm and thus the relative ROI and Aggregate ROI for any marketing activity over any period of time. Hence, the problem is not with having the capability of obtaining the output for such analyses, but with obtaining the proper input.

Etiometrix, LLC just announced the launch of RainGauge, the first application that utilizes the History of Client Origin methodology to track law firm marketing ROI. (Full disclosure:  We have been working with the technical software people to develop this application.) It limits the intake process to a single question, asking new clients to select from a list of activities by which they have read, seen, heard or learned about the firm. It even captures referrals. Most important, the program provides legal marketers with the opportunity to view their firm’s marketing and business development initiatives from the most detailed to the most holistic perspective possible.

If you would like more information on the RainGauge application, visit or call 856-810-2127.

And we certainly welcome your comments, questions and general feedback on this recent series of posts regarding the proprietary methodology History of Client Origin.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Which Marketing Activities Are Most Influential in the Decision to Hire an Attorney or Law Firm?

At A.L.T. Legal Professionals Marketing Group, we wanted to know what types of marketing activities (including referrals and personal networking) influenced the people who, in the past, have actually had to decide on which attorney or law firm to hire.

Hence, we conducted an online survey, the objectives of which were two-fold:
  1. To determine which marketing and business development activities played a role in individuals’ decision to hire or contract with a particular attorney/law firm
  2. To ascertain the level of influence each of these activities had in the decision-making process


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Measuring Return on Legal Marketing Investment: The Implications of Tracking the History of Client Origin

Over the past several weeks, we have outlined what we feel to be a more holistic and thereby more accurate methodology for tracking the results of law firm marketing. At first blush, employment of the History of Client Origin methodology described in these postings might appear to be just another way of calculating, analyzing, predicting return on investment, and ultimately for making decisions pertaining to the marketing activities of the firm.

But this would not be true.

The data gained through the utilization of an approach that tracks client origin is both vast and rich in detail. Among the information to be gleaned are answers to questions such as:

Which marketing tools offer the greatest potential for short-term ROI? For long-term ROI?
Because the History of Client Origin Methodology can be traced over any period of time, firm decision makers can easily ascertain which activities are most likely to pay out over the short or the long haul.

What is the relative cost vs. benefit in having specific attorneys spend time on client work vs. on business development efforts?
Let’s face it. Some attorneys are better at drumming up new business and others are better at lawyering. This can be analyzed by taking the History of Client Origin model and applying it at the attorney level. This involves tracking the touchpoints to which the individual attorney allocated his or her time. The hours spent is then multiplied by the attorney’s rate of compensation to arrive at ROI and Aggregate ROI figures for his or her efforts. These numbers can then be compared to the revenue that might have been earned had the attorney spent this time on billable work. By doing so, it is easy to ascertain whether an individual attorney’s time is better spent on originating work versus on generating more billable hours.

Which practice areas offer the best potential for short or long term revenue growth?
As with individual attorneys, this requires applying the history of client origin methodology to the practice group level. From this analysis, marketing decision makers can determine to which practice groups firm resources are best allocated. 

Should business development resources be spent on hard marketing costs (e.g., advertising) or on personalized prospecting/networking?
The History of client origin model provides a straight-forward methodology for comparing the ROI of the interpersonal efforts of firm attorneys (e.g. networking, prospecting, entertaining) to other touchpoints such as the firm website, advertising, collateral materials, PR, on-line media, etc.

Should marketing resources be spent on very direct marketing activities (e.g., direct mail, seminars, pay-per-click, etc.,) versus on “softer” image-oriented ones such as the firm’s web site, image advertising, brochures, etc?
Unlike other ROI methodologies, the history of client origin paradigm levels the playing field in terms of allowing marketing decision-makers to ascertain the relative contribution of these two different “types” of touchpoints. And it can do so, without the need for implementing testing scenarios.

What is the short and/or long term value of a specific client? What kind of exponential potential do they offer?
ROI and Aggregate ROI analyses can be run against different client segments as based upon revenue, industry, etc.

To what degree is word-of-mouth marketing working for the firm?
By considering “referrals” to be touchpoints, we can ascertain the percentage of revenue attributed to word-of-mouth versus revenue generated through other means. Because referrals are an indication of client satisfaction, it can be inferred that the greater the percentage of revenue attributed to referrals, the greater is the perceived quality of legal services that the firm is providing. This can have further implications as the greater the level of referral revenue, the less there is a need to invest firm dollars into traditional marketing channels. Of course, the converse of this is true as well.

Yet, despite the value in tracking client origin, to do so by hand would be inefficient at best and impossible at worst.  Instead, the process must be automated, with reports and analyses available instantaneously.  Next week, we will wrap up this series with some thoughts on how The History of Client Origin methodology can be applied… Yes, there’s an app. for that!

Next Week: The Practical Application of “The History of Client Origin.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Measuring Return on Legal Marketing Investment: The Relative Levels of Influence of Different Marketing Vehicles

To date, we have talked about the fact that most prospects do not become clients of a law firm through a single exposure to the firm’s marketing or business development efforts. More often than not, such prospects will have been exposed to a multiplicity of “touchpoints,” that may include the firm’s web site, advertising, referrals, meeting firm attorneys, etc. We have discussed how each touchpoint merits some credit for its role in garnering that new client. But is it reasonable to assume that each touchpoint deserves equal credit? Is an exposure to an ad equal in value to meeting a friend who highly recommends a particular attorney.

We recently conducted a pilot research study in which we asked participants to rate the degree of influence different touchpoints had had in their decision to contract with a law practice. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest), a friend’s referral averaged a score of 4.47 in contrast to seeing an advertisement for the firm which averaged a 1.86. Does this suggest one shouldn’t advertising or that one should rely solely on word-of-mouth for business generation?  Hardly.  After all, an ad will reach many, many more potential clients than could any attorney or group of attorneys.  But that being said, it does suggest that when a new client is obtained, credit must be allocated proportionately to each of the contributing touchpoints.

For most return-on-investment models, this matters little because they seldom are looking at marketing holistically, focusing instead on how each initiative (i.e., the ad, networking, etc.) performed individually, rather than how they performed in tandem. A History of Client Origin (of which the past few weeks’ blog posts have been all about) allows legal marketers the opportunity to ascertain exactly how they are generating new business, what activities are generating it, and to what degree.

All of this, of course, leads to next week’s post in which we will discuss the implications of the HCO methodology and what it means for law firms in determining the best marketing and business development strategies and tactics to pursue.

Next Week: The History of Client Origin Methodology – Implications for Legal Marketers

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Measuring Return on Legal Marketing Investment: Understanding Direct Revenue, Aggregate Revenue and Revenue Generated Through Word-of-Mouth

As the last handful of blog postings have outlined what we see as some of the problems with current ROI models, allow me now to describe a real world implications of the assumptions made in utilizing some of these more traditional approaches. They can be seen in what I would consider to be in the fairly typical scenario in which a law firm decides to hold a seminar for the purpose of attracting new business. For this example, let us say that the total expense for all aspects of the seminar comes to $15,000.

Unfortunately, much to the firm’s chagrin, “only” 20 people show up of which three become actual clients of the firm.  Client A generates revenue of $2,500, Client B’s revenue is $4,000 and Client C represents $3,500 of new revenue for the firm.  Hence, the total revenue generated by the seminar is $10,000.  Utilizing the standard ROI formula {(Revenue – Expense)/Expense}, we would state that the ROI for this effort is negative 50%. If this firm is like most, the result of this effort is then reported to management who determine that the seminar was a “failure,” because the revenue generated did not cover the investment costs. 

But would this be correct ?  

The truth is that we don’t know.  And we don’t know because we cannot yet fully realize what the impact of obtaining clients A, B and C really is. 

For example, we all understand the role that word-of-mouth plays in the building of a law practice. So if even one of the clients (Client C) refers another client (D) to the firm, additional revenue is realized. If Client D generates an additional $15,000 in new revenue, the seminar’s ROI is now a positive 67%!  What’s more, what originally amounted to just $10,000 in new revenue is now $25,000. Had Client C not attended the seminar, Client D would have never entered the fold.  Taken even a step further, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that Client D now refers yet another new client to the firm. That revenue must, in some way also be credited to the investment the firm made in the seminar.

Most ROI models and calculations take none of this into account.  This is because they are only measuring the direct return on the marketing investment – that revenue that can be directly attributed to the seminar.  What they fail to measure is the word-of-mouth revenue that was also generated as a result of the seminar. Over time, this revenue may actually far exceed that which was garnered directly.

The fact that there are two types of revenue (Direct and Word-of-Mouth) leads to a third – Aggregate Revenue or the total of both direct and word-of-mouth revenue.  This is the full result of the marketing effort and reflects both the effectiveness of the original marketing initiative as well as the perceived quality of the work the firm has performed.

As we will see in ensuing posts, these are powerful metrics that offer enormous insight into how each law firm might improve the ways in which it goes about business generation at the firm, practice group and even individual attorney levels.

Next Week:  The Relative Levels of Influence of Different Marketing Vehicles