At some time, you’ve probably been told that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog (especially you litigators!). So while big firms do have some advantages over small to mid-size firms when it comes to resources available for law firm marketing, my experience in working with more than 18,000 attorneys over the past two decades has shown me that size does not have to matter when it comes to out-marketing your competition.
That said, I think there are four critical factors where the size of the firm does matter when it comes to law firm marketing — but these can be overcome if you have the right tools:
Usually in a big firm, there is a staff member or a team of people responsible for managing the firm, preparing documents, marketing the firm, and collecting overdue invoices. All the attorneys need to do is practice law and build great relationships with their clients. Most of our clients in smaller firms have to wear 5 to 10 hats every day — from business development, to building relationships with potential referral sources, to meeting with prospects, fulfillment of services, managing a practice, collecting fees and operating the firm.
When it comes to learning how to market and grow their law firm, smaller firms must do it in a compressed time frame and then get back to work. 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 and medium sized firms. It covers over 65 different strategies in a step-by-step fashion that focuses on implementation and taking rapid action to achieve maximum results.
Many large law firms have a marketing budget bigger than the annual revenues of small law firms whose 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 a monthly e-newsletter. Our clients tell us that almost every time they send out their newsletter, referrals start coming in.
Number of decision makers.
Committees make most marketing decisions at many large firms. 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 indecision) I’ve seen have come from committees.
I understand that being the decision maker puts significantly more pressure on the attorney in a smaller 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 law firm 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. Smaller 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 at a Rainmaker Retreat 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. Building a lifestyle law firm is a long-term commitment that has massive dividends down the road.