Make the Most Out of Your Law Firm’s 2018 Tax Write-Off
Be honest. Have you started thinking about your 2019 marketing plan or are you more concerned with the final months of 2018? Hopefully, you answered yes to both. The holidays are around the corner and that means both closing the book on this year and preparing your firm for next year’s business objectives.If you’re planning for 2019, you may be waiting until January to start spending money on your business. But that might not be the best course of action, especially if there’s still money left on the table this year. Plenty of small businesses (like your law firm) use the end of the calendar year as an opportunity to invest in themselves rather than carry profits into January – and pay the increased taxes they bring.
If you and your law firm can afford it, investing in Q4 marketing is also a great opportunity to set your business up for success in the new year. Admittedly, that’s a big “if” for some firms. But, there’s no need to spend in excess. Below are a few ideas on how to use the waning days of 2018 as a head start.
Try something new
Marketing strategies are like plants. It takes patience and care for them to grow. If you want to branch out into a new medium like pay-per-click or directory advertising, use the tax-write off to start your campaigns now. The head start will allow your ads to mature and gain traction in time for the new year when you’re aiming to add new clients.
It’s especially true that PPC campaigns don’t happen overnight. If you don’t currently use Google AdWords, you’ll need to establish your quality score, Google’s rating system that determines how relevant your ads are to search engine users. While that takes time, there are a few things you can do now to prepare yourself for Google ads next year.
First, define the goals of your campaign. Answer questions like, “Do I want better brand recognition or more clients?” From there, you can set up keywords and location tags that will help define the search parameters. You should start with more specific, less expensive keywords that won’t break the bank. Focus on long-tail searches like “Personal injury lawyer in Raleigh that specializes in workplace accidents.” People who search with specific intent know exactly what they need and they’re probably ready to hire an attorney now.
“Boost” your social media
Google and Facebook have one very important thing in common: they have powerful targeting capabilities that place your ads in front of the people you’re looking for. For that reason, Facebook advertising is an excellent way to spend money and decrease your upcoming tax burden.
The holidays are all about merriment and cheer, especially on social media. They’re also the slowest time of the year for many practice areas. For those reasons, you can also spend some money on more “brand building” advertising.
Be prudent about what you’re spending money to promote. Posts about your office holiday party might show the lighter side of your firm, but they probably aren’t going to be worth the money when compared to something more practically helpful. But if your law firm sponsors a peewee hockey team every year, spending a little cash to wish the squad good luck on the upcoming season isn’t a bad way to promote your brand.
Another great area to invest in promoted social media is getting your best content to a broader audience, which leads us to:
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Maximize and diversify your content
Do you have an outstanding blog post that gets a lot of traffic? Or perhaps you find yourself frequently answering some of the same questions over and over again for clients. Popular content is valuable to you and your audience alike, and it doesn’t have to exist in just one form.
Take, for example, the process of filing articles of incorporation. If you’ve taken the time to document the steps involved and the value of working with an attorney, why not send that article off to a graphic designer? Creating an infographic or animated video of this process can bring new life to old content and reach audiences who might not have engaged with your written version already. And as mentioned above, visual or multimedia content like this is the stuff great social media posts are made of.
Update your look
Brand design standards are not set in stone. That’s why you see companies like McDonald’s or Pepsi subtly change their iconic brand images through the years. You still recognize the same Golden Arches that have been around since the 1950s, but the sharp edges around the fast food giant’s “M” have become softer and more rounded over time. As tastes evolved, so did McDonalds’ logo, all while maintaining the original brand identity.
It might be time for your law firm to do the same. Maybe your brand images were created when you first started out, perhaps with little money or input from professionals. If you have extra money to spend at the end of the year, it’s worth taking a second look at your law firm’s art and design.
Because tax write-offs extend to marketing contractors, the year’s end is an opportunity to meet with graphic designers and brand experts to assess your law firm’s image. Changes in artwork cost money and can take time. If you’re interested in a major (or even minor) brand redesign in 2019, it’s better to start now, especially if you’re paying the bill in 2018.
The holidays are a financially expedient time to take care of brand updates because you can write-off the expenses while preparing your 2019 marketing plan. If the holidays aren’t the busiest time of the year for your law firm, you can use your additional bandwidth to get the redesign just right.
Whether finishing this year strong or preparing for the new year, smart spending on things like marketing can be a great move for lawyers looking to reduce or manage their taxable income.
If you’re ready to start planning for next year, schedule a meeting with a FindLaw legal marketing expert to get your free 2019 Law Firm Business Planner.