Should I Hire A Legal Marketing Consultant? I Just Want to Practice Law!
By Susan Cartier Liebel
Someone once famously said, “a consultant is someone who knows how to make love 99 ways but has no one to make love with.” Consultants need to help you achieve your goals because, with rare exceptions, lawyers hate marketing. But lawyers need the profit-generating results of effective marketing: Clients—lots and lots of clients. Also important is building brand and reputation awareness.
So, instead of beating around the bush, let’s finally accept that lawyers need someone who solely focuses on developing a marketing strategy—so they can practice law. If they have the resources, they should hire a marketing professional (lawyer or non-lawyer) to help them reach their goals. This person would be a law firm marketing consultant. But let’s be clear about one thing: A marketing consultant puts together a strategic marketing plan for your firm. They don’t actually implement the marketing strategies for you.
On the other hand, a law firm marketing agency fully implements the strategic marketing plan, leaving your hands completely free to practice law. Most solo/small firms will use a marketing consultant. However, if you have the financial resources, choose a quality marketing agency by all means.
Before you begin your search for the ideal marketing consultant, do your homework.
Decide what you want to achieve. You might desire to build your brand or redefine how law is practiced in your practice area, offering a new approach. You may want to amplify and integrate all your social media, rank on the first page of Google, or get your firm on coveted lists.
The choices are endless, but you need to create and prioritize your checklist. While most marketing consultants can execute many strategies adequately, some have exceptional strengths in key areas, and you want to match their strengths to your priorities.
You want to hire a law firm marketing consultant who can get the work done. Look for legal marketing experts who are well-versed with legal rules and regulations. They don’t have to be lawyers; they just have to understand lawyers have unique requirements as professionals. Also, they must demonstrate the ability to solve your firm’s challenges and identify challenges you didn’t even know you had!
Additionally, your legal marketing consultant must have experience specific to your practice area. You don’t want them burning up hours learning about the legal profession or your practice area. They need to come in fully knowledgeable and experienced.
Consultants who have worked with large firms may not fully understand the dynamics of a solo/small firm or the constraints on your resources, both time and money. They may misspend your resources, doing more harm than good.
Like lawyers who focus on one or two substantive areas of law, marketing consultants also have strengths and areas of passion. Find a consultant with the skills and passions that matches your needs. Also, consider their track record of success.
For example, if you want to expand your firm, find a consultant who excels at growth strategies. Instead, if you want to run an extensive social media campaign that taps into platforms popular with your target audience, find a consultant with vast knowledge on how to do just that.
Don’t hesitate to ask how they will show you a great return on your investment through their services. Good consultants know they have to deliver measurable results and will offer references showcasing success.
Pro tip: Experienced marketing consultants always understand the importance of social proof. If they don’t have case studies and client testimonials available at your first meeting, it’s a big red flag.
Today, a good law firm marketing consultant must be a virtuoso in digital marketing. Where does this marketing consultant land when you search for ‘marketing consultants in my area’ on Google? First page, second, tenth?
Does their car accident from 15 years ago show up before their consultancy? What about their LinkedIn page? Does it have compelling writing along with worthy credentials that speak to you? References? Testimonials? Does their website draw you in? Do they have an educational blog? Do they offer a contemporary, interactive way for potential clients to connect? Is it also worth signing up for their email newsletter?
Email is a perfect blend of sales and content and will give you an insightful look into their marketing techniques.
Pro tip: What the marketing consultant does to promote their own business is what you can expect them to do for you. Can’t find them? Feel uninspired by their prose? Is their presence on social media spotty, clunky, or disjointed? Then walk away no matter the honey pouring out of their mouth.
Your working partnership with your legal marketing consultant or law firm marketing agency is critical. Being aligned with your consultant/agency is just as important as their skill sets—because you will have disagreements along the way. So, don’t be shy and feel out the potential partnership.
Ask upfront how they will create your marketing plan and communicate with you during this process. Are they open to collaboration? What results can they achieve? How will they charge?
A thorough consultant may bear some risk (and reward) by agreeing to receive part of their fee based on measurable results. For instance, let’s say your goal is to drive traffic to your website based on a new social media campaign. The results in this scenario are measurable, and the consultant should have no hesitation in transparently sharing them with you.
Pro tip: A good marketing consultant or law firm marketing agency will be able to track traffic and other metrics. A good marketing consultant also understands the importance of a working partnership. The better you get along, the easier it will be for them to do their job effectively.
So, what are you waiting for? Start your checklist!
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Susan Cartier Liebel is a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of Solo Practice University®, the only online educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students who want to create and build their solo/small firm practices.