Marketing: It's what more of my friends, who run their own shops, have the most trouble with (besides troublesome clients).
Some choose to go it alone, relying on their own know-how and cheap online service providers to handle their own marketing strategy. Others hand it off to an intern, a clerk, or a recent graduate, while the biggest of the big firms are hiring full-time staff members.
What's your best move? Let's take a look.
A La Carte and DIY Marketing
This is where most new solos start -- the do-it-yourself and budget marketing efforts that end up as fodder for sarcastic bloggers' "What Were They Thinking?" posts. We've seen everything from mildly confusing to hilariously inept and unethical.
We're not saying that all DIY efforts are doomed, or bad ideas from the start, it's just a lot easier to fail miserably when you're learning how to run a business, manage clients, and market your firm, all while actually practicing law.
For those choosing to take the DIY route, remember ethical considerations (required disclaimers, truthful advertising) and at least consider hiring an experienced hand to double-check your work for technical and stylistic gaffes.
Full-Time Marketing Manager
This is the route many big firms are taking: the full-time staff member (or members). These full-time employees do everything from communications (press releases, blogs, social media, staff member bios, website and marketing material design) to business development (selling the firm to potential clients, especially businesses, freeing up the attorneys to handle legal work).
Marketing staff have become so important in the legal industry that Adobe's CMO blog recently wrote about the rise of the Chief Marketing Officer as an increasingly regular role within law firm executive ranks. While many other professional industries, such as accounting firms, have long-since had CMOs and other marketing professionals on staff, law firms have been slow to follow, thinking that they would do the best job at selling themselves with their expertise and professionalism.
Crain's Chicago Business talks about why that change of heart is occurring: smarter clients, ones who seek flat fees and issue RFPs (Request for Proposals) in order to lower costs.
Of course, a full-time marketing manager is quite the expense, one that many small firms and solos simply cannot afford. And generally, those that they can afford, the recent graduates who spend their lives on Twitter, may lack the experience and familiarity with ethics rules to make them worth their salaries.
FindLaw Lawyer Marketing
You didn't think we'd forget ourselves, did you? We suppose this is why FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing division exists: Most attorneys would rather do a superb job practicing law and running their business than fiddling with website design tools and filming a local TV spot with your smartphone. And hiring full-time employee isn't in the budget.
If you need to step up your marketing game, and are tired of DIY half-measures, check out what our Lawyer Marketing folks can do for you.