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Small law firms have a lot of growth pains. Maybe you’re already promoting yourself as an attorney. But you need a sustainable lead generation engine to unlock the next level of business growth. 

It doesn’t help that you’re on a tight budget and can’t fathom the combination of marketing channels that will land you that elusive growth.

Here are twenty three cost-effective marketing tips — spread across traditional, digital, and advertising tactics — to help your small firm start rocking. First let’s look at some basics of marketing every law firm needs to focus on. 

3 Legal Marketing Tips (For Law Firms of Any Size!)

Whether you’re just starting marketing for your legal practice or have a massive online presence, you need the three things below in order to reach your target clients effectively. 

1. Research Your Target Audience

Every marketing campaign starts with extensive audience research, regardless of your law firm’s size. 

In a nutshell, audience research is all about understanding your prospects’ needs, questions, challenges, and goals. Such know how helps with more targeted content, local promotion strategies, and clearer value propositions.

There are tons of audience research methods you can use to get to know potential clients. Here are a few to get you started: 

  • Read market research reports. There’s a handful of market research reports you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience. In the legal industry, some of the trusted publishers include Thomson Reuters, Georgetown Law, and Clio.  
  • Conduct phone interviews. Reach out to prospects, including those who have gone cold, and ask follow-up questions to build your ideal audience profile. Prioritize prospects who already called or walked into your office but haven’t taken your consultation yet. 
  • Crowdsource audience data from events. Attend legal conferences, seminars, workshops, or any other event to absorb information about the local market. You can also “borrow” local marketing ideas from other firms that attended. 
  • Analyze social media platforms and online communities. Observe social media groups and online message boards to discover questions your prospective clients are asking. You may also use social media listening tools to investigate the broader market’s views on relevant legal matters.

For digital marketing, maximize the efficiency of your audience research by “niching down” or targeting a narrower audience segment. For example, rather than researching a broad keyword like “lawyer in Michigan,” focus on a more specific keyword like “family law attorney in Detroit, Michigan.”

2. Create a Sound Marketing Strategy

As per the 2023 CallRail Marketing Outlook For Law Firms, while most law firms are confident of their strategies, they struggle to attribute a good return on investment of their non-billable marketing hours spent.

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Below are components of what a solid marketing strategy constitutes.

  • Target audience. How well do you know your ideal customers?
  • Clear goals and associated KPIs. What are the business results and marketing goals you want to achieve? Which key performance indicators (KPIs) will indicate success?
  • Marketing tactics. How will you accomplish your marketing goals? Which marketing channels can work the best?
  • Unique value proposition. Why should clients choose your law firm’s brand over competitors?
  • Legal services details and pricing. Which practice areas will you serve and how will you price your services?

All of the above components should be documented as your law firm marketing plan to keep you accountable before you move forward.

3. Determine Your Marketing Budget

Your marketing budget is another aspect of your plan above. It prevents you from overspending on strategies with diminishing returns. At the same time, it ensures you have enough funds to achieve the full potential of other marketing activities. 

As a rule of thumb, allocate a small percentage of your law firm’s revenue to your marketing. This lets you calculate the amount that you can spread across different marketing strategies, depending on priority. 

Let’s say your firm’s annual revenue is $400,000 and you can invest 10% into your marketing. Using the formula below, calculate your law firm’s monthly marketing budget. 

Monthly Budget = (Revenue x Marketing Percentage) / 12 months = (400,000 x 0.10) / 12

Monthly Budget = $3,333 

To make the most out of your budget, follow the 70-20-10 rule set out by Coca-Cola

  • 70% of your budget goes to strategies with consistent results
  • 20% goes to new strategies and channels
  • 10% goes to experimental campaigns

You can never be too careful with your marketing budget. But remember that lack of it is also one of the major reasons law firms aren’t happy with their marketing. Arrive at a number that’s comfortably challenging for you.

5 Traditional Law Firm Marketing Strategies

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the nitty-gritty of good old marketing strategies. Here’s the first traditional one:

1. Request Referrals From Past Clients

Past, happy clients may be the number one source of getting you new clients — at least initially. All you need is to nail the timing. Once you’ve successfully onboarded them, provided a stellar experience, and gotten them desired results, only then would it make sense to request a referral. 

Pro Tip: You can also put together a referral template and encourage your successful clients to drop positive reviews online. 

2. Network at The Courthouse

Promoting your firm at the courthouse is another cost-effective strategy for connecting with potential partners and getting yourself out there. Respecting the busy schedules of people working there, you can find opportune times to engage with your peers, court staff, and even offer help to establish your goodwill.

Social media requests and business cards are all fair game once you’ve made a connection.

3. Experiment With Direct Mail

Direct mail is a targeted strategy to reach out to prospects in your locality and raise awareness of your legal expertise. You can start with either creating a mailing list yourself by relying on existing client data or purchase lists from reputable providers. Personalizing mail to specific types of prospects here — for instance, new home owners — could make your campaign shine. 

Next put together a compelling direct mail detailing your legal services, client success stories and testimonials, and maybe some helpful legal tips. Don’t forget to adhere to lawyer advertising rules. And end the mail with a clear CTA to schedule a free consultation with you or visit an event you’re hosting. Wait for results, iterate your campaign, and repeat.

4. Sponsor Relevant Local Events

Local event marketing doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective. One way to guarantee the success of your event is to partner with another local organization that shares your vision. Doing so lets you leverage the existing reach and credibility of the other organization to gain more exposure — as well as share the budgetary, logistical, and “creative” load of hosting your event. 

A good example would be charity events, including sports, fun runs, scavenger hunts, and other fundraising activities. You can also host events that award free legal representation to those in need.

For more ideas, take inspiration from law firms like Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers.

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5. Speak at Legal Conferences

Speaking engagement opportunities can springboard your small law firm into thought leadership. 

You can seek out speaking engagement opportunities yourself on social media, particularly in Linkedin Groups, X (formerly “Twitter”), and through CLE associations and similar organizations. One example would be the Association of Legal Administrators, which accepts presentation proposals at specific times each year. 

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11 Budget-Friendly Digital Marketing Tactics

Traditional marketing strategies usually yield results proportional to the amount of work and money you put in. They can spur rapid growth in your small law firm, but you still need other marketing tactics to support your business in between campaigns. 

1. Create a Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)

A Google Business Profile combined with local SEO tactics can make your law firm visible in local Google search, specifically in the “Local Pack.” Your profile should highlight essential business information like your phone number, business hours, and address. And you’ve to ensure it’s consistent across the web.

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Setting up your profile also lets you garner reviews and star ratings from past clients. Just be sure to observe the important optimization best practices for Google Business Profile, like: 

  • Implement a keyword strategy, but keep it subtle. 
  • Upload photos and videos that reflect your firm’s culture.
  • Tracking analytics to enhance your decision-making. 
  • Using Google Posts to promote content. 

Best of all, it’s all free. You simply need to complete a business verification process to be officially listed.  

2. Get on More Relevant Lawyer Directories

Let’s face it: most clients will be hard-pressed to trust law firms that they can only find on Yelp or TripAdvisor. 

To make the right impression, focus on relevant legal directories like Avvo, FindLaw, Justia, and Super Lawyers. These platforms will put your firm right in front of prospective clients who need your expertise. 

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3. Encourage More Client Reviews on Your GBP

A well-optimized Google Business Profile will make you visible to potential leads — but your star ratings, reviews, and testimonials will capture their attention. 

There are several tactics to encourage clients to leave a review, like asking clients directly or embedding a review form on your website. You can also generate a Google review link and get creative with sharing it. Here are some ideas: 

  • Share your review link to your client base via SMS or email
  • Turn your review link into a QR code and print it
  • Share your review link on social media

4. Build a Professional Law Firm Website

You don’t need considerable capital to publish essential pages on your law firm’s website. This includes your attorney bios, “Contact Us” page, homepage, and “About” page. 

Feel free to check out our list of some of the best attorney websites and refer to the listed sites for ideas. 

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You can get decent results using DIY website builders like Clio Grow, Squarespace, and Wix. But if you have the budget, you can consider hiring a professional lawyer website design agency like On The Map Marketing.

5. Craft Dedicated Practice Area Landing Pages

In a law firm website, landing pages can make the difference between visitors and paying clients. Their purpose is to capture your visitors’ attention, address their concerns, promote your services, and urge prospects to take action — all on one page. 

To be more effective, law firms should create dedicated landing pages for each practice area. This will help visitors find the information they need, as well as streamline your messaging and page optimization efforts. 

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Don’t forget to include essential landing page elements, like your contact information, booking form, and other Call-To-Action (CTA) buttons. 

6. Offer Free Consultations

The internet loves free stuff, and the same goes for people who are looking for legal services online. 

For law firms, one of the most valuable and effective offers you can use to attract clients is a free legal consultation. Notice how a lot of law firm websites use it as the primary CTA on their home pages. 

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Of course, free consultations are far from legal advice, but they’re a huge help to the client’s buying journey. It also costs practically nothing to provide consultations either via phone, video call, or in-person. 

7. Kick Off Organic Search Engine Optimization

Law firm SEO may take a long time to produce results, but it will support your law firm’s growth by passively pulling in new leads. Indeed it’s probably one of the highest ROI driving activities for attorneys that we’ve seen as a marketing agency.

A SEO strategy starts with keyword research to find the subjects your prospects are searching. Then building high-quality backlinks (or mentions) from other websites to yours to improve its authority and credibility in the eyes of search engines like Google.

SEO is complex but you can begin targeting a few relevant keywords that aren’t as high competition and can land you high quality prospects. Then probably hire a specialized marketing services provider once you’ve a few thousand dollars of budget to spend on the channel.

8. Start Content Marketing

Content marketing involves a variety of activities that will help promote your legal services, raise brand awareness, build trust, and establish your reputation as an information source.

Remember, content such as blog posts, case studies, videos, and even attorney bios make the user experience on your website more meaningful. 

While law firm content marketing works best with a professional team and a reasonable budget, you can always leverage your legal expertise to produce quality content. You just need the perfect law firm content ideas and a little patience to get started. 

9. Leverage Social Media Marketing

Social media makes it possible for small law firms to gain traction quickly with little to no cost. 

Not only are websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram perfect for distributing content, they also unlock opportunities for you to directly engage and communicate with your audience. Some networks also provide tools for showcasing your background, expertise, and accomplishments in the law practice. 

LinkedIn, for instance, lets you highlight your work experience, certifications, skill endorsements, and awards.

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10. Start an Email Marketing Campaign

Email marketing is an excellent way to get returning website visitors and nurture leads until they become paying clients. 

With a drag-and-drop email marketing tool like Mailchimp, it’s also more accessible and less expensive now than ever. Take advantage of features like automated emails, templates, and list management without spending a single cent. 

Just remember the following email marketing best practices for lawyers

  • Weed out inactive and invalid subscribers from your list every few months
  • Send valuable content that’s not accessible outside of your email newsletter
  • Keep track of your analytics (but look beyond open rates!)

11. Measure Your Results And Iterate Your Marketing Strategy 

Attribution is a big challenge for law firms. The CallRail survey that we referred to earlier, specifically found that many marketers are in the dark because of lack of it.

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Well for starters you need to install Google Analytics. It’s is a free web analytics software designed to track website performance and user behavior. 

Here are ways to use Google Analytics to iterate your marketing strategy:

  • Refine your content strategy. Track the performance of your content to better understand your audience’s preferences. Double down on topics and content strategies that work while dialing down on poor performers. 
  • Reveal your most effective traffic sources. Identify which traffic sources bring in the most visitors and leads. This lets you spot areas of improvement in your strategy, be it podcasts, Facebook ads, or SEO. 
  • Monitor your advertising campaigns. Ensure you’re getting a positive ROI from your paid advertising efforts. Highlight ads that lead to the most conversions and use them as a benchmark for future campaigns. 

4 Advertising Ideas to Ramp Up Your Marketing Efforts

Finally, let’s talk about advertising strategies that can give your firm a short-term boost in website traffic: 

1. Invest in Google Ads

Google Ads can give your firm a shortcut to the top of search engine results pages. 

As a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising platform, Google Ads charges a certain amount each time someone clicks on your ad. It can be a slippery slope if you’re unsure how PPC for law firms work. But with the right planning and budget management, paid search advertising is a surefire way to win new business. 

2. Buy Leads

If you need quick and reliable results, don’t forget that you can always buy leads from trusted Pay Per Lead (PPL) services. 

The key challenges with this strategy are setting your budget and choosing a reputable company that offers reasonable prices per lead. Remember, PPL websites charge different prices per lead type. The price of bankruptcy leads, for instance, can be hundreds of dollars cheaper than personal injury leads.

Below are a few other lead generation services you can explore: 

  • Live Law Leads 
  • Best Case Leads
  • Nolo
  • Walker Advertising

3. Partner With Other Attorneys to Start a Referral Program

You can forge partnerships with other attorneys to form your own referral program. 

The game plan is simple: they agree to send over leads who need your expertise, and you’re obliged to reciprocate the favor. 

This collaboration only makes sense if the participating parties have different practice areas. After all, why would you send criminal defense clients to another attorney when you, yourself, practice criminal defense? 

Your referral program may dispense cash benefits to the party that generates leads. Just be sure to thoroughly review the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct to avoid referral practices that are prohibited from using monetary payments.   

4. Try Local Services Ads

Local Services Ads is another product of Google that helps promote any local business that matches the needs of search users. It offers the same perks as Google Ads, but follows a PPL model as opposed to PPC. 

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Setting up local services ads for lawyers is a simple process with just three steps: checking your eligibility, verifying your business details, and getting “Google Screened.” 

Need a Helping Hand With Law Firm Marketing?

As a small law firm, you can leverage online marketing and good old offline networking tactics to “affordably” start generating leads. I recommend you pick one or two marketing strategies and master them. And once you’ve sufficiently grown to afford an external consultant, it’s probably time to move out of non-billable work.

On The Map Marketing is a results-driven lawyer marketing agency. Contact us if you need help with executing a digital marketing strategy for your practice.