How to get started with a law firm marketing plan; all right, so first of all you have to identify what stage of growth your law firm is in.  The first stage of growth is from revenues of zero to about $250,000.  We call that creating a successful law practice.  We’re not worrying about a business, we’re not worrying about it being sustainable, we’re not worrying about you being able to step away for a month at a time and have it keep going, we just want it to be successful, get your head above water, get revenues to about $250,000 gross.

Second stage is $250 to about $500,000, that’s where you start to bring in staff, you start to bring in other people to do things to delegate things, you need processes and policies and systems and procedures.

The third stage is $500,000 to about a million, that’s really all about the financial controls using the metrics and the financial controls to make better, quicker, more objective decisions and over a million dollars.

The point I’m making is, you’ve got to know what stage you’re in because the things that are going to be great, if your revenues are between zero and $250,000 are going to act like an anchor if you try to do the same kind of marketing when your revenues are $500,000 and you’re working your ass off and you wonder why can’t I get to a million dollars, well, it’s because you’re doing the same things that you were doing when your revenues were between zero and $250,000.

I like to say that tricycles are great for toddlers and mountain bikes are great for teenagers.  The only problem is, when you put the toddler on the mountain bike or the teenager or the tricycle then things go wrong.  So step number one of getting your marketing under control for your law firm is understand what stage you’re in.

So let’s just talk about Stage 1 for a minute.  Stage 1 marketing is very simple.  It’s everything you’re going to do to bring prospective clients to your firm and that’s another thing you’ve got to know is the definition of marketing.

The definition of marketing is everything that you do to bring the right kind of prospective clients to find the right kind of prospective clients to the right place, I don’t mean geographically but where do you want them to go first?  Do you want them to just pick up the phone and call you the minute they have a question or do you want to do some pre-education, some prescreening, some preconditioning at the right time.  Do you want them calling you right when you’re getting to go to trial?  Do you want them scheduling an appointment right before you’re getting ready to go on vacation or do you want to modulate and turn the dial up and down so that you have a steady flow of business and don’t overwhelm your factory.

You want the marketing to also precondition the prospective clients so that they arrive with the right expectations, answer their frequently asked questions, try to help them make an educated decision about whether or not you’re the right law firm for them.  At three in the morning while they’re watching a video or reading a checklist or reading a letter or reading an email or whatever they’re doing so they don’t show up the next day or the next week for their appointment and waste their time and waste your time to discover that you’re not the right firm for them and then you also want them to (arise) with the right frame of mind.  The idea is you want them to be in a frame of mind where they’re coming to you looking for a solution and not looking for someone to just vent or unload their woes to.

All right, marketing is very simple; it’s everything you do to bring prospective clients to the door then sales takes over to convert the prospective client into paying clients.  Marketing can be as simple as old fashioned advertising.  It could be as simple as networking, it could be as simple as picking up the phone and calling prospective clients to find out what they’ve got going on that you can help them with.

It can be as simple as writing articles, a website, a blog, a newsletter, an old fashioned paper newsletter is a great solution for marketing.  It doesn’t need to be high-tech.  If your revenues are between zero and $250,000 stay away from things that are expensive.  Stay away from things that are going to take a long time to pay off, stay away from things that are very complicated.  Stick to the simple stuff, stick to the stuff that lawyers have been doing for thousands of years, yes, lawyers have been doing this stuff for thousands of years to market their law firm, to bring prospective clients to the door stick to the low tech stuff.

Once your revenues get over $250,000 your marketing has to begin to communicate the value of doing business with your firm and not just the value of doing business with you because if your marketing is all about you and your personality and how great you are and how you’re the most brilliant lawyer in the world and your revenues are over $250,000, $500,000 and you start bringing in paralegals and you start bringing in assistance and you start bringing in associates which is what you should be trying to do to build your business.  If your marketing is all about how you’re Superman or you’re Superwoman there’s going to be a disconnect between the clients expectations and how your business is set up to deliver those services so your marketing when your revenues are over $250,000 needs to shift from your personal message and your personal brand and your personal how great you are and has to start communicating the value of your business.

Once your revenues are over $500,000 then you can start to expand your marketing further back in time from the place where the client knows they have a problem, they’re actively looking for a solution.  Once your revenues are over $500,000 you can start to communicate earlier in the buying process to the point where the client may not even be actively looking for a solution yet and you start educating them that maybe they have an opportunity to make their lives better and then of course once you get over a million dollars then it starts to get really fun because now you’ve got the time and the money and the resources and the platform to share your message with the world and communicate how you want to make the world a better place; that’s when marketing starts to be really fun and really profitable.  That’s probably why you went to law school in the first place.