big and smallOver 95% of our clients practice in a law firm with fewer than 20 attorneys in it. Here are four critical areas where the size of the firm seems to matter the most when it comes to marketing:

Attorneys in small firms and solo practitioners are extremely pressed for time.

From business development, to building relationships with potential referral sources, to meeting with prospects, fulfillment of services, working with demanding clients, document preparation, managing a practice, to collecting fees and operating the firm on a daily basis, attorneys in solo practice or a small firm find that time is their most valuable commodity.

Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough of it. Now I’m not saying that attorneys in large firms aren’t busy. But usually in a large firm, there is often a staff member or a team of people responsible for managing the firm, preparing documents, marketing the firm, and collecting overdue invoices. All the attorney needs to do is practice law and build great relationships with their clients. Most of our clients in small firms have to wear 5 to 10 hats every day!

The pressure to perform never seems to end. However, they cannot neglect learning the art and science of lead generation and conversion—how to generate more and better referrals and qualified leads who are interested in their services and convert them into paying clients. They just don’t have a lot of time to learn this critical skill.

This is why we developed our Rainmaker Retreat, an intensive, deep dive into practical techniques and proven strategies that are specifically designed to help attorneys in small firms and solo practices. It covers over 65 different strategies in a step-by-step fashion that focuses on implementation and taking rapid action to achieve maximum results.

When it comes to learning how to market and grow their law firm (or any other skill they must possess) they must do it in a compressed time frame and then get back to work.

Size of the marketing budget.

Many large law firms have a marketing budget bigger than the annual revenues of small law firms. Years ago, I stopped asking my clients for the size of their marketing budget because I grew tired of hearing, “Budget? We don’t have a budget.” I get it. Most small firms are proud if they review their P&L on a monthly basis, much less have a “budget for marketing.” Your marketing plans must be designed to be easily implemented on a low cost budget.

We teach our clients one of the best returns on investment a small firm can implement is to start a monthly e-newsletter. We recommend Constant Contact or another similar service to help them get started. Our clients tell us that almost every time they send out their newsletter, referrals start coming in.

Number of decision makers.

Most marketing decisions at many large firms are made by committees. I see committees as a waste of time because in order to make a decision, virtually all of them must say ‘yes,’ but it only takes one person to say ‘no’ and the whole deal falls through.

Here’s the advice I have followed for years and it’s the same advice I would give to all you attorneys who are looking to land more clients: don’t waste your time dealing with committees. I tell my potential clients, “I don’t work with committees and the moment you tell me that you need to go to a committee to get a decision is the moment this conversation is over. I only work with decision makers, not gatekeepers, which is another name for a committee, even if it’s a committee of one.”

Theoretically, I understand the benefit of committees (getting all the interested and vested parties together in the same room and thereby ultimately making a better decision). However, some of the worst decisions and indecisions come out of committee meetings.

I understand that being the decision maker puts significantly more pressure on the attorney in a solo practice to make the “right” decision, often based solely on their experience. When you are making a big decision about marketing your law firm, I recommend you assemble your people to get their input, but then take personal responsibility as the owner of the firm and make the best decision you can given the information you have at that time. Taking action immediately and consistently will cover a multitude of “sins” when it comes to marketing.

Need for immediate ROI.

Large firms can afford to be patient and wait months or even longer before they see a positive return on investment. Small law firms require a much shorter timeframe within which to measure their ROI. This may be weeks or a few months, but for most firms several months is simply too long to wait and see if a marketing strategy is going to pay off.

Many of the business development strategies we teach our clients are focused on a shorter timeframe. At the same time, you cannot expect instant results because the clients you get today come from the marketing you did three to six months ago. Law firm marketing is not magic and it’s not easy! It’s hard work, but part of the reason why some firms are so successful and others are still struggling is because only a relatively few are willing to do the hard work it takes to implement a truly effective marketing strategy… and that’s why we call our Rainmaker Retreat a “boot camp.” It’s for attorneys who understand they didn’t get where they are in a month and they certainly won’t turn their firm around in another month. Building a lifestyle law firm is a long-term commitment that has massive dividends down the road.

Here are the best three pieces of advice I can give you when it comes to marketing your small law firm this year:

  • Get a MAP! Write down your Marketing Action Plan. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does need to be written down and be as specific as possible.
  • Find someone to hold you accountable for achieving your goals.
  • Take consistent action. When it comes to marketing, done is better than perfect!

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