How To Budget For Marketing When Starting Your Own Law Firm, Part 2

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.43.52 PMToday’s guest post was written by Stacey Burke, a lawyer who consults on marketing, business development, and law firm efficiency for small to medium sized firms. In Part 1 of this blog post series, she discussed budgeting for your new law firm’s marketing initiatives. Today she covers the top marketing necessities for new firms. You can learn more about her at the end of the post.

Top 5 Marketing Necessities For A New Law Firm

After you determine your financial situation, a few other things you need to consider when determining your law firm’s marketing budget include: target market, practice areas, competition, geographical region, and average case value. When you are launching a brand new entity, you will have to allocate marketing funds to both branding your entity and generating new business. Brand building will be an ongoing effort, with an energetic kickoff. Your total estimated budget, as detailed below, will be approximately $14,000.00.

  1. Logo – A law firm logo is a crucial and foundational component of law firm marketing and branding. Your logo, along with its corresponding colors and fonts, will be used on all other firm marketing items. While your law firm logo will not automatically bring hundreds of clients your way, a poorly designed logo can be a hindrance. A logo should make a memorable and important statement about who you are. While professionalism is important, unless your firm has an unlimited marketing budget and is in the AmLaw 100, you do not need to spend thousands of dollars on your logo. Find a small local designer or use an online service such as Elance to cut down on costs. You can keep the cost of your law firm logo under $1,000.00.
  2. Business cards and letterhead – Despite the importance of digital marketing, business cards remain an important part of the networking process. Just some of the reasons that business cards still matter include: a) demonstrating you are prepared and professional, b) providing people with the ability to follow up, c) making you easily referable to another person (someone can pass your card along), and d) directing people to your best digital assets, including your website. A business card requires design. Often, you can email a printer your logo design file, and they can design a corresponding business card for a low cost of $250.00 or so. You can also use the same options referenced above in Item 1. The cost of printing your business cards will be dictated by the type and weight of paper stock you use and how many you print at once, but a safe printing cost estimate is $500.00 per 1,000 business cards for one lawyer. A good way to save money here is to use digital letterhead only. You can buy bond paper and print out the letterhead on an as-needed basis instead of paying for boxes of pre-printed letterhead.
  3. Website – Every law firm in today’s competitive marketplace must have a website. There are bargain options, but they will not last and are often vulnerable to viruses and other attacks. You will be best served to develop a website in open source technology (like WordPress), and host your website with a reputable vendor that will keep your site up to date and protected against malware. Upon hearing of a new business, most consumers Google it. Since your potential client pool will look for you online, your law firm should be there and look good. Unless you have a marketing background or a lot of time on your hands and plan to learn how to make websites, you will be hiring and working with a vendor on your website design. Be sure to read your contract carefully, as you will want to make sure you are getting website design with at least a few rounds of edits, website development, and copywriting. Prices for websites will vary widely, but I would neither spend less than $5,000.00 nor more than $20,000.00 for any law firm website, top to bottom.
  4. Continuing legal education – Lawyers must take a set number of continuing legal education hours per year; your law firm will have to pay for CLE in order to keep its attorneys licensed and its malpractice insurance carrier happy. Since CLEs are required, you should be strategic about which ones you attend and make sure to go for events that will provide you with the maximum possible exposure to networking and mentoring opportunities. The costs of CLE courses vary, but budget about $2,000.00 minimum per lawyer for the year.
  5. Social media – YouTube is the second most used search engine on the Internet. A large segment of the public uses Facebook as a search engine as well. Social media has become so woven into our mainstream lives that all businesses should have not just a social media presence, but a presence that is meaningful. Every law firm should have a Facebook Page and a LinkedIn Company Page with the individual attorneys having LinkedIn Individual Profiles. The only caveat is that if you have social networks, you have to check them or you run the risk of failing to communicate with a client. It is neither hard nor expensive to make your social media channels look professional. Websites like Canva provide appropriately sized, free templates to use. Social media channels are free to set up and if you use a site like Canva, they can also be designed and branded for free.

Your New Law Firm Needs To Make Marketing Count

Above all, your new law firm must be strategic with its marketing budget. You should not spend marketing money without a reason and without tracking your return on investment. Your law firm should have established systems in place for new case intake, lead nurturing, and tracking costs versus return. All of these metrics will help to determine not only the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, but also where your firm should focus next.

Stacey is a 14-year personal injury trial lawyer and the sole owner of Stacey E. Burke, P.C. Based in her hometown of Houston, Texas, Stacey consults on marketing, business development, and law firm efficiency for small to medium sized firms across the country. Stacey E. Burke, P.C. handles projects ranging from database implementation and cleanup to social media marketing and setting up new case intake departments. You can find out more about Stacey at here.

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