4 Tips for Creating Your 2019 Legal Marketing Budget
Budgeting. Whether personal or professional, creating a budget is one of the more stressful moments of the year. For businesses, there’s the question of growing revenues vs. the cost of finding new business and the balance of funds between marketing, salary and everyday expenses. But budgeting is a necessary evil, and now’s the time to decide on next year’s business objectives and how your marketing spend will support your goals in 2019.
Marketing is an essential component of any law firm’s budget. Where it gets complicated is deciding how much money to spend and where to spend it. The answers are complicated and different from one law firm to another. But the following tips are starting points for attorneys, no matter what growth goals your firm has in mind.
Define your 2019 goals
You probably want more clients in 2019, but do you know how many? To create an effective marketing budget, you must first identify the amount you need to grow next year. Don’t think in the abstract here. You need to set a specific goal like, “I want to increase revenue by 10 percent over last year.” A hard number will help organize your thoughts and make it easier to set a concrete budget.
There are industry trends you can follow when deciding how much money to spend. According to Mention, that number can range between five and 15 percent of your total revenue with small businesses spending about nine percent on average. Given how people search for an attorney online, digital marketing should count for around 50 to 60 percent of the final marketing budget.
From there, decide the marketing channels that take priority. The goal is to bring in more clients, but how you do so may depend on your ideal prospects. Estate planning attorneys that court older clients may have a direct mailing budget that family or criminal attorneys don’t need. Similarly, paid digital ad campaigns may be more or less expensive depending on the targeted demographics, keywords or scope of your campaign. Again, specific goals will help keep you on track in the face of these variables.
Analyze last year’s performance
John Wanamaker, one of the pioneers of marketing, once said, “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Luckily, times have changed since the late 19th century. You now have analytics tools to help measure the performance of your individual marketing efforts that Mr. Wanamaker never dreamed of. And they’re not as difficult to use as you may imagine.
Google Analytics can examine your website traffic and the popularity of each page, providing a holistic view of your mobile and desktop site performance. The information you learn from Google Analytics can help you understand what sections of your site you need to focus on next year. FindLaw customers have access to a dashboard that measures how legal consumers interact with their ads and website. The information reveals performance metrics aligned to each stage of the buyer’s journey. Both tools will help you analyze your firm’s marketing performance and provide information on where you could improve next year.
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Build your plan
Your website is one pillar of a strong digital marketing plan. However, legal consumers now look beyond your URL, researching an attorney through directories, social media and reviews. Define the goals of each digital marketing channel you’ll use next year. From there, you can decide the strategies, objectives and tactics you’ll take to reach each goal. These goals will help define your budget. For example, you may decide to put more money behind a better content strategy or invest in paid advertising on Google or Facebook to drive more qualified traffic to your contact page.
Talk to a marketing firm
A budget isn’t just about money. Time is also a factor. You could probably do everything it takes to find more clients on your own—run your social media accounts, check dozens of review sites per day and experiment with pay-per-click and paid Facebook promotions. But acting as your own marketing firm while maintaining your other responsibilities may mean skipping more family dinners than you’d like. Budgeting for a digital marketing company that can organize and implement your marketing plan will allow you more time to focus on the other needs of your law firm—or yourself.
Remember, no two marketing budgets are alike. You will need to tailor your marketing spend to next year’s defined goals and distribute that money in the right places. No matter how you prepare for 2019, planning now will help make your new year’s goals more manageable.
What are you waiting for? Request your copy of FindLaw’s 2019 law firm business planner today.