republished with permission of BlumbergExcelsior, Inc., Marketing Tools for Lawyers, 800 Law Mart
Marketing is a process that you can use to grow your practice. This article provides an overview of the four Ps of marketing plans - product, price, place and promotion.
Product - For lawyers, product is the service offered to clients (e.g. estate planning, collecting past due accounts, pursuing personal injury claims, etc.). Careful analysis of product is an important first step in marketing for lawyers.
Price - The second P of marketing is the price that your firm charges clients for services rendered. Pricing involves setting hourly rates for your lawyers and support staff to optimize your revenues. Pricing also includes offering billing alternatives to attract clients like contingent fees and fixed fee arrangements.
Place - The third P of marketing is the place where you deliver your product to clients. Considerations in setting an attractive place include the location, layout, dicor, and office systems.
Promotion - The final P of marketing is promotion and it is settled after the other Ps have been determined. Promotional activities communicate your firm's product, price, and place of business to clients and prospects. Personal promotional activities include networking, speaking engagements, and publishing articles. Promotional tactics for firms include brochures, web sites, newsletters, seminars, advertising, and public relations activities.
Public Relations - Public relations are the marketing activities that influence public awareness and support of your firm. Your publics include your clients, bar, and community. The aim of public relations is to attain positive feelings for yourself and your firm. Public relations does not create an image for your firm, but it does communicate the image that already exists. Public relations activities include monitoring client satisfaction, volunteering to serve community organizations, and working on bar association projects.
Advertising - Advertising is an expensive marketing activity that has been successful for some small and large firms. Advertising alternatives include newspaper, radio, and television ads, yellow page and directory listings, and sponsorship of community events.
Research - Marketing research is essential to preparing a marketing plan. Market research enables you to promote your practice by identifying services needed by clients and prospects. For example, you can obtain background information on prospective corporate clients by reading their annual reports and marketing brochures or conducting Internet research. And you can conduct a survey of existing clients to determine new areas in which your firm can serve their needs.
Budget - Your marketing plan should include an estimate of the cost of the marketing activities and the billable time that will be lost. A good benchmark for firms is to plan on spending about 4% of revenues on marketing activities and encouraging lawyers to spend about 12 hours a month on marketing activities.
Ethical Constraints - Ethical considerations govern the extent to which lawyers can engage in public relations and marketing activities to promote their practice. For example, Florida attorneys must submit their advertisements to The Florida Bar and they may not contact potential clients during a 30-day period following an accident that results in personal injury or death. You'll need to check the rules of professional responsibility for each state in which you practice before implementing your marketing plan.
Consultants - Marketing consultants and public relations professionals can help with preparation and implementation of marketing plans. They can help you avoid pitfalls and find alternatives for reducing the cost of marketing activities.
Marketing Tools - Blumberg/Excelsior offers several inexpensive products and services for lawyer marketing, including client pamphlets, customized presentation folders, law firm brochures, business cards, announcement cards, and engraved stationary for a professional image. Blumberg/Excelsior associates can help you design printed marketing tools, develop a professional identity, and create a firm logo. To order free samples or learn more about these products and services, call 800-221-2972, extension 692, or visit http://www.blumberg.com.
Marketing Training - The American Bar Association's Law Practice Management Section, http://www.abanet.org/lpm (312/988-5619) and the Legal Marketing Association, http://www.legalmarketing.org (312/321-5194) have published numerous books on marketing that can be used to provide marketing training for lawyers and support staff.
Conclusion - To formulate a marketing plan you'll need to identify the 4 Ps of your practice. As a first step list your goals for product, pricing, place and promotional activities. Next prepare an action plan detailing the marketing and public relations activities you propose to accomplish your goals. A carefully designed marketing plan will increase billings to existing clients and attract new clients for the firm. The time and expense invested in marketing will be justified by the goodwill and legal fees that can be generated.
Michael L. Goldblatt is Associate General Counsel of Tidewater Inc., http://www.tdw.com, and author of 15 client marketing pamphlets available from Blumberg/Excelsior, http://www.blumberg.com/marketing/pamphlet.html. Mr. Goldblatt has also written several marketing books and articles, and lectured on marketing.