Basic Sustenance: When Growing Your Law Firm Isn’t Your Goal
Not every business wants to grow. Some small businesses (like solo law firms, or those with just two or three attorneys) are exactly the size they want to be. And there are some excellent reasons to stay that way.
After all, taking on more partners or employees can result in a lot of trouble and expense. And you might operate in a smaller market where you’d need to travel farther afield to attract new clients. You might simply be good at what you do – you have a deep knowledge of your clients, your specialty and your locale. You’ve built a solid reputation in one area and expanding could bring your firm more risk than you need.
In short, you might be one of those attorneys who looks at his or her practice and thinks: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
So what do you do when growth isn’t your main objective? How does your view of marketing shift when all you really want is to sustain the level of business you already have?
The easiest approach is simply not to do any marketing at all, outside of a basic online business listing. And depending on your market, that listing might be all you need.
But that could also be a good way to lose business. And that’s probably not what you mean by not growing. In short, the trick is to sustain the level of work you have without allowing any potential clients to fall off.
In fact, there are several strategies you can use to do just that.
Strategies for Sustaining
Iron out the rough spots. You might have the type of practice where business is seasonal and reliable. Or you might find that there are ups and downs throughout the year that can make cash flow erratic, perhaps nerve-wrackingly so.
If your firm’s caseload tends to have notably sharp peaks and valleys from month to month, it might be time to consider some form of advertising – something beyond a standard directory profile, that is. Advertising can help potential clients recall your firm’s name when they encounter legal issues. It also can help spur people to action when they might not realize the urgency of addressing their particular legal needs.
We’ve talked about the various kinds of advertising law firms can use. If you have a modest but successful business, you probably don’t want to shell out big bucks for billboards and broadcast. Old-school advertising like this isn’t just expensive, it’s very broad by modern standards.
That’s where online advertising can be a big help. One particularly useful option is pay-per-click. PPC ads appear above and below the nonpaid, “organic” search results on search engines. Your PPC ad is tied to keywords and topics that prospective clients are most likely to search for.
PPC advertising is relatively inexpensive – you pay only when the legal consumer clicks on your ad. And you can time your ad to appear during slow periods when you need to attract new clients. Though firms can and do use PPC to boost their business, you can also use it if you want to make your practice predictable rather than bigger.
If lower costs and even more specific targeting is what you’re after, consider promoting your firm on Facebook. This is particularly useful for a firm that isn’t counting on immediate results or short-term gains. Rather, Facebook advertising allows you to positively position your firm in your local community for the long haul – a great approach to sustaining your law firm’s current business success.
Build a strong content base on your website. Speaking of online: Your firm’s website should be more than just a place where you list your firm’s name, address, services and qualifications. It’s also a place where you can demonstrate your expertise. Yes, good content can help your firm appear higher in search engine results. But for successful law firms looking to hold steady, great content that stands the test of time reinforces your brand to legal consumers when they come looking.
Content can take several forms. But the most useful, both for potential clients and for your firm, are blog posts. Legal consumers find informational posts extremely useful. If your specialty is, say, bankruptcy, a post like “Five Things to Know Before You File” can deliver value to legal consumers while highlighting your expertise.
Know thy customers. If your law firm is working perfectly, it behooves you to understand why. Start by taking a look at your best customers. What traits did they have in common? The most successful businesses know where to place their bets. Knowing your customers can help you optimize your marketing and targeting to the point of sustaining your firm with less effort and more confidence.
Don’t overdo it. Not every new marketing idea is a good idea – or at least one that will work for your firm. Know what’s worked for you in the past. Don’t chase rainbows. If your firm has a sustainable practice that you’ve built to just the right size, don’t be afraid to stick with the tried and true as long as it’s continuing to deliver. There will be times when that changes, or when a newer approach brings success to other firms like yours. When times change, having a trusted advisor in your corner can smooth out the necessary transitions for your law firm.
The point here is: If you want to sustain a practice that you’re perfectly happy with, you shouldn’t put your marketing efforts on autopilot. Sustaining a law firm can be just as challenging as growing one. You know your business goals better than anyone else but tread carefully to keep “no-growth” from turning into a decline.