Only 17% of solo law practitioners and 31% of firms with two to nine lawyers have a marketing budget. This is concerning for the legal industry. While you don’t need to have a large marketing budget, not having one at all implies that attorneys aren’t even thinking about marketing. Without legal marketing campaigns, you’re not going to grow your firm to its full potential.
To understand what law firm marketing and business development can do for your firm, it’s best to start with what a marketing department is. This guide will explain the legal marketing department structure and how the different roles come together to promote your business. With a solid marketing plan in place, you’ll set yourself up to have a successful law firm.
Do Law Firms Have Marketing Departments?
Yes and no. Larger law firms that typically have more than 100 attorneys will have an in-house law firm marketing department. They will handle everything, including printed materials, photography, paid advertising, content, and social media.
Smaller firms may have an in-house team, but it could also consist of a single coordinator or office manager that handles the basics instead of it being a large department. The majority of smaller firms outsource their marketing efforts to an agency or independent contractor, such as myself.
Merely asking, do law firms have marketing departments isn’t enough. Several marketing department solutions are available to online marketing savvy attorneys.
Traditional Legal Marketing Strategy
The traditional approach to legal marketing is to depend on referrals. The hope is that a client appreciates their attorney’s know-how so much that they recommend the firm to other potential clients. New clients then reach out to that recommended law firm for a consultation.
The problem with depending solely on referrals is that it doesn’t address the growing trend of digital marketing. Potential clients head online to Google for legal services. They’ll stumble upon a law practice and determine that firm’s legitimacy based on the law firm’s website.
Modern Digital Marketing Approach
Modern marketing tactics attract new business through digital marketing tactics. These include everything from having a law firm website to blogging, Google ads, local SEO, organic search, and social media. This means that prospective clients can seek out their own testimonials.
This lets you control your branding and messaging that potential clients see. It also allows you to develop your current client base by encouraging them to write testimonials. You can create highly targeted landing pages that are designed to deliver messaging that speaks directly to your audience. This optimizes your law firm’s website to perform better.
Law Firm Marketing Roles
As you can see, the question shouldn’t be, do law firms have marketing departments, but rather, what are the marketers’ roles within that department. By knowing the law firm marketing positions, you can assess your current marketing needs and how you can fulfill them.
Perhaps you have a skilled team that can take on new responsibilities. Or you may determine that you lack the knowledge and skills necessary. In this situation, it’s well worth outsourcing to an outside agency or independent contractor. You’ll save yourself time, effort, and energy that could be better spent on your clients’ representation. After all, skilled representation is what clients hire you for, and no amount of marketing can replace a job well done.
Law Firm Chief Marketing Officer
A chief marketing officer oversees the planning and development of all law firm marketing objectives. They typically report to the partners or a senior executive officer.
This person is responsible for steering the marketing ship for the law firm. They ensure your firm is represented across all marketing channels with a consistent message for uniform branding. this ensures that your firm’s first impression to prospective clients is one of professionalism and authority.
You can assign your CMO with these tasks:
- Creating marketing campaigns
- Promote profitable relationships
- Establish measurable benchmarks
- Develop and manage a budget
- Maximize client development
- Address public relations tasks and corporate communications
Law Firm Marketing Director
The marketing director is responsible for putting together an action plan for the CMO’s overall directives. If the CMO decides to include social media in the marketing effort, then the director is the one that decides which social media platforms and how to go about posting.
The director should also monitor the competitive landscape. They should know what other local comparable firms are doing. This includes online, TV, print, and any other marketing efforts the competition does.
Metrics and reporting should also be a part of their duties. There’s no point in dedicating a budget and time to marketing if it isn’t bringing results. The best way to do this is through estimated fee revenue. Trying to directly connect an increase in clients with certain marketing efforts is like guessing how many gumballs are in the machine.
You can assign your marketing director with these tasks:
- Social media campaign creation
- Website modifications and updates
- Content marketing
- Event planning and management
- Competitive analysis
- Media relations
- Online organic optimization
- Online paid campaigns
- Data analytics and reporting
Law Firm Marketing Manager
Outlining what a marketing manager does can be tricky. Many law firms only hire a manager, who is then responsible for everything. This can work if you find someone who’s experienced and skilled. They should have several years of experience in marketing and work for a law firm.
If you have more than one person in your legal marketing department, then the manager would be below your CMO and director. The manager would perform all of the day-to-day tasks and manage the coordinator beneath them. You can also hire a manager that oversees the hiring of independent contractors and their work product production.
You can assign your manager with these tasks:
- Content creation
- Data analytics reporting
- Support personnel management
- Internal communications
- Website management
- Individual attorney support
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Law Firm Marketing Coordinator
As the least experienced member of the team, the marketing coordinator doesn’t have major responsibilities. They are the newest to marketing and tend to be individuals who have recently graduated from college.
Many law firms make the mistake of hiring a marketing coordinator and none of the other positions. In an effort to save money, you are hiring someone with little to no real world experience and expecting them to do all of the tasks we’ve described in each of these roles. That’s the equivalent of hiring a fresh out of law school attorney and expecting them to represent the most notorious serial killer in the country for their first case. Or throwing them a massive class-action lawsuit against a national corporation and expecting them to provide effective representation all on their own.
Your marketing coordinator will provide task support to the other positions here. They may be the ones actually writing your blog posts or creating social media posts.
They may perform the bulk of the research needed and create user-friendly reports for the other marketing team members.
You can assign your coordinator with these tasks:
- Content creation and scheduling
- Report preparation
- Presentation creation
- Print material creation
- Expense reporting
“I Can Do This Myself”
No, you can’t. Stop trying. Seriously, it’s painfully obvious when attorneys try to do their own marketing. You think your efforts are good enough. However, the rest of the world sees inconsistent effort and hard to read writing. In today’s world, you need to be online, which means understanding online marketing strategy, both organic and paid. You have a full-time job as an attorney; you don’t have time to learn the internet’s intricacies.
Even if you do take the time to learn, you are signing yourself up for a whole new set of responsibilities. You’ll need to consistently create social media content, regularly write blog posts, manage paid advertising campaigns, do research, and pull data analytics. Doing all of this will either take time away from your role as a lawyer or from your personal time.
Let’s assume you’re alright with all of this, and you still want to take on these tasks. There’s still one last hurdle. Writing for law and writing for content creation are not the same thing. As an attorney, you’re skilled at writing briefs and court-ready documents. However, this is the exact opposite style of writing that you need for content. Many lawyers struggle to achieve a simpler and more informal style of writing.
Now that you’re ready to accept you need help, you have a decision to make. You can either hire in-house employees, work with an outside marketing agency, or hire an independent contractor. Each option has its pros and cons, and the option you select needs to fit with your marketing needs and budget.
This is the most expensive option. Even if you only hire one or two marketing employees, your overall costs will be the highest with this option. You’ll also face the task of finding, hiring, and managing your new team.
The advantage is that you can be more agile with your marketing efforts. You can have more control and a larger say in the day to day activities.
Digital Marketing Agency
Hiring a marketing firm requires you to give up a fair amount of control and lose touch with day-to-day planning and activities. It also reduces your ability to communicate and collaborate by creating more red tape and policies to navigate. You may find yourself talking to a different person each time you call, which can be frustrating.
The advantage of a full-service agency is that you have access to a full range of marketing services. Larger agencies can create a service plan that’s tailored to your budget and needs. You could also increase or decrease your services as your firm grows and your needs or budget change.
Working with an independent contractor can be the most affordable option. You’ll have a dedicated person working on your firm’s marketing efforts. This gives you the ability to form a collaborative relationship and retain the agility you would have with an in-house team.
The drawback of an independent contractor is that they’re limited in services. Many specialize in specific practice areas, such as paid search (PPC), content creation, blogging, case studies, email marketing, or social media. Those that specialize in many areas may not do all of them well. This can result in you working with multiple contractors.
Plan Your Law Firm Marketing Efforts for 2021
Hopefully, I have given you the full answer to, do law firms have marketing departments? The answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no. However, I’ve given you the information you need to understand your law firm’s marketing options. Investing in legal marketing will bring in new business and you’ll see a solid return on investment.
If you’re ready to take the next step, I can assist. As a law school graduate myself, I understand the unique needs of law firms. I also have several years of experience writing content for attorneys and firms.n This ensures you have high-quality content for your law firm website.