If you’re struggling to market your legal practice, you’re not alone.
Between client meetings and court visits, attorneys have to deal with a lot on a day-to-day basis. They simply don’t have enough time to create marketing plans for their firms, let alone execute one.
Luckily, there’s a better option: hiring a law firm marketing agency.
You can outsource your marketing needs (including strategy, execution, and reporting) to these companies. However, hiring a law firm marketing company can be tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before.
In this guide, we’ll go over all the ins and outs of this decision, including:
- Why You Should Hire a Law Firm Marketing Agency
- Tips for Hiring the Perfect Law Firm Marketing Agency
- Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Law Firm Marketing Company
Why Should You Hire a Law Firm Marketing Agency?
It’s natural to be on the fence about hiring a marketing agency, especially if you’re a relatively new firm.
Why care about marketing in the first place? Aren’t referrals enough to scale your practice? Should you just hire an in-house marketing specialist instead?
Below, we’ve answered those questions, and more, by sharing some compelling benefits of seeking external help for legal marketing.
1. Let Experts Handle the Marketing (More Time to Do What You Do Best)
Even if they somehow find the time, most attorneys struggle to understand how law firm marketing works.
That’s because it isn’t exactly something that’s taught in law school.
As a result, they’re forced to seek help from marketing experts. However, not every firm or attorney has the luxury to build an in-house marketing team.
In fact, according to the American Bar Association, only 33% of small law firms (with 10-49 attorneys) have internal marketing staff.
Whatever the case, by hiring an agency, you can let experts handle marketing, so you can focus on helping your clients succeed in court.
2. Work on Actively Getting Leads (As Opposed to Only Relying on Referrals)
In the legal industry, referrals are gold. That’s how most established firms get new clients.
However, as the legal vertical becomes increasingly competitive (which is saying something), it’s not enough to passively wait for clients to come to you.
According to a survey conducted by Clio, 54% of law firms actively market to acquire new clients.
Seeking the marketing services of an agency — one that can set up and own a lead generation engine for your practice — can help.
3. Get Yourself Noticed
Considering how competitive the legal landscape is, law firms and attorneys have no choice but to establish a solid online presence for themselves.
The only way to do that is through a robust digital marketing strategy that includes plans for:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- Email marketing
And that barely scratches the surface.
Marketing agencies have professionals on their payrolls that can take care of everything and help your firm grow its brand and online presence.
4. Potentially Greater Value Than Hiring In-House
The average compensation package for an in-house law firm marketing specialist in the US is $65,356.
Even if you build a team of 2 or 3 in-house specialists, they won’t be able to handle everything on their own. If you go by the average, that will amount to anywhere from roughly $130,000 to nearly $200,000 per year on salaries alone.
At most, that team would be able to sustain email marketing, content, and maybe a Facebook ads strategy for your law firm…but sooner or later, they will require the services of an agency (or two) for SEO, search engine marketing, video production, and/or anything else.
Getting outside help will certainly get you more bang for your buck than trying to do everything internally.
10 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Law Firm Marketing Agency
Making even the most trivial decision that has implications for your legal practice can be nerve-wracking.
Here are some tips on effectively delegating your law firm’s marketing to an agency.
1. Make Sure They’re Industry Experts
There are thousands of advertising and digital marketing agencies in the US alone.
While a few of them cater to only a handful of verticals, most offer their services to a wide range of industries.
When evaluating an agency, the first thing you should do is check if they’re experts at marketing in the legal space.
If the agency has little or no experience with marketing lawyers, you’d be better served continuing yoru search and finding someone who does.
Here are some tips to check if they know their stuff:
- Visit their website and skim through their web copy to see if they specifically serve law firms. Here’s an example:
- Check out their blogs and see if they’ve written anything on legal marketing.
- See their list of clients on their website.
- Ask them a few technical questions about the industry, such as the intake process.
Ideally, the team you hire should be familiar with how the legal vertical works, industry terminology, and which law firm marketing strategies produce the results you want.
2. Consider Hiring a Niche Agency if Possible
After shortlisting agencies familiar with the legal industry, you may consider going one step further to narrow down your options.
See if they cater to law firms specializing in the same practice area as you.
For example, if you specialize in personal injury law, a law firm marketing company that only serves clients from, say, family law won’t be able to provide high-quality, custom services for your firm. A quick look at their website will help reveal their niche.
On the other hand, an agency that knows the personal injury space — where it stands, the target audience, the marketing and selling tactics, etc. — won’t offer cookie-cutter services and is therefore much more likely to consistently achieve your marketing goals.
Depending on your practice area, requirements, and budget, finding a niche agency may not be possible…but if you do, we recommend giving them priority consideration.
3. Look for Great Case Studies and Reviews
When doing research, you’ll come across many “award-winning” agencies.
While those achievements are nice, they don’t always tell you the complete story.
You need to be extra thorough when evaluating these law firm marketing agencies. There shouldn’t be any shred of doubt regarding their expertise.
To that end, we recommend browsing their website to see if they’ve published any case studies.
A handful that break down the successful marketing campaigns the agency ran for their clients is always a good sign. If you’re unable to find any case studies, check out the testimonials on their websites. You can also go one step further and try to find those people online to ensure that they aren’t fake.
Additionally, you can check honest reviews from clients on a third-party platform where the agencies have no control. The most popular option is Google Maps.
To check reviews on Google Maps, launch it and type in the exact name of the marketing agency you’re considering in the search bar. On desktop, it should be in the top-left corner. On mobile, it should be in the middle, at the top.
If you type in the exact name of the agency, you’ll end up on their Google Maps page. Otherwise, you’ll have to find it manually from the list of options after searching.
After you find the business, click on where it says “X reviews” (where “X” is the total number of reviews) in the left panel. It should be right below the agency’s name, like so:
If you see a lot of negative reviews (or suspicious positive ones), you’ll probably be better off with another agency.
Keep in mind that it’s also possible for a company to have no reviews, which may suggest that they’re new to the game.
4. Look for an Agency That’s Transparent
Another thing you want to make sure is that the law firm marketing agency you’re thinking of hiring is transparent with their clients. After all, you have the right to know if the money you’re spending on marketing is bringing tangible results.
Even so, some agencies keep their clients in the dark about the performance of their marketing efforts.
This could be due to a number of reasons, including not having to be accountable for underperformance, having a broken reporting process, etc.
The agency you choose should be willing to provide a dedicated account manager that consistently keeps you in the loop about everything pertaining to your campaign. Ideally, you should be able to contact that person at any time during business hours and get a quick update.
They should also share performance reports on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
You may contact the agency directly to question them about this, but a sure-fire way to find out if they’ll deliver is to check out their reviews on Google Maps.
5. Look for Agencies That Don’t Require Long-Term Contracts
There’s no guarantee that the agency you hire today will be able to deliver a few months from now.
Consequently, agencies requiring long-term contracts should be a major red flag, as some use them to lock down their clients.
You should have the freedom to switch your law firm marketing agency whenever you want, so you don’t potentially waste tens of thousands of dollars on nothing.
Try finding an agency that offers month-to-month contracts. If you don’t feel satisfied (even after a month), you can simply choose not to renew the contract, part ways, and look for another agency.
A quick chat with a salesperson from the company will tell you if that’s the case, as it’s somewhat uncommon for agencies to share that information on their websites.
6. Ask About Specific Service Offerings
“Marketing agency” is honestly a pretty broad term.
There’s a litany of things that go into what we generally call marketing, including SEO, social media marketing, and PPC, just to name a few.
Some agencies offer only a select handful of services. Some specialize in just one area, such as law firm PPC, law firm website design, SEO, blogging/link building, etc.
However, there are agencies that offer end-to-end marketing solutions and custom services based on the needs of their clients.
Before starting your search, make sure you have at least a rough idea of what you want to accomplish. When you approach any agency, you can ask them more about their specific service offerings to be sure everything aligns with your goals.
As a rule of thumb, be careful with agencies that claim to be experts at everything.
7. Find an Agency That Educates its Clients
Online marketing can be perplexing.
As a result, some folks might shy away from asking pretty basic questions, simply because they don’t know where to start or how to frame what it is that they’re asking.
All great law firm marketing companies understand where their clients are coming from and focus on educating about what it is that they do (along with offering high-quality services).
In broad terms, they should teach you about:
- What they’ll do
- How they’ll do it
- The significance of what they’re doing
- The results you can expect
For instance, if you contact an agency for help with SEO, they should go the extra mile to explain the concept (search engine algorithms, what goes into an SEO strategy, what efforts are needed, when you can realistically expect results, etc.), to you in layman’s terms.
You can then double-check whatever they told you from other third-party resources available on the web.
8. Prioritize Agencies with Better Processes
A team with broken, inefficient workflows won’t be able to deliver.
Considering that, ask them about their processes for:
- Collaborating with clients and other partners
- Executing tasks (a rough idea of some basic tasks from their field)
- Reporting to clients
If they don’t provide you with a clear answer, the chances are that they don’t have documented workflows in place.
You can expect miscommunication, missed deadlines, and subpar work, which is a recipe for disaster.
9. Ask for Their Pricing
Due to the dynamic nature of the work, marketing agencies usually don’t share fixed pricing plans on their websites.
To find out what their services will cost, you’ll need to either get in touch with their sales team or fill out a form on their website and wait for them to get back to you with a proposal.
Find out how much their competitors are charging. You might see a huge difference in pricing between the two agencies, which could be due to experience, achievements, and the kind of clientele they serve.
See who falls within your budget and brings the most value for your marketing dollars.
10. Ask Around
Before making your decision and signing that contract, try to find an existing client — your fellow attorneys — and get their opinion. This will give you a fresh perspective.
They could confirm the good feelings that you’ve had about the agency you’re considering…but you could hear the inverse: that they’re unhappy with this agency and thinking of switching. Either way, you’ll get valuable details from someone with “boots on the ground,” as it were.
Ask these existing clients anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable asking the agency directly.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Law Firm Marketing Company
In addition to the tips mentioned above, you should also take time to ask yourself the following questions before you seek marketing help.
What Exactly Are You Hoping to Accomplish with Marketing?
Before anything else, ask yourself the exact goals you want to accomplish with marketing.
Why do you want to invest in marketing in the first place?
“Because it’s the right/smart thing to do” is a good start, but it’s not a definitive or constructive answer.
In a nutshell, the marketing goals for a law firm (or any other service-based business, for that matter) can be broadly summarized into the following:
- Increase brand awareness and put your legal services on the map
- Attract quality leads that are likely to convert into paying clients
Work your way from there and get as specific as possible.
Read about how law firm marketing works, what you need, and where to get started.
How Closely Do You Want to be Involved with Your Agency?
Some attorneys prefer to collaborate closely with their law firm marketing agencies, while others pop up every few weeks (or less) to get quick updates.
This is a completely personal choice, which may also influence your selection process. For instance, if you’d prefer to meet in person with your agency, you should definitely look for a local business.
Whatever the case, make sure to set clear expectations with your agency right off the bat.
How Much Are You Willing to Spend on Your Firm’s Marketing?
Many law firms and attorneys never really decide how much they want to spend on marketing.
In fact, only 46% of law firms have a defined marketing budget.
This is a big mistake.
Having a fixed budget can not only help you with your search, but also give you an idea of what you can realistically expect.
Take Your Time to Research
Hiring a law firm marketing company is hard work and you won’t find your perfect agency overnight.
It’s supposed to be a slow process that involves a lot of research and back-and-forth questioning.
With careful evaluation, screening, and a little luck, you’ll find a marketing agency that’s perfect for your law firm.