This is a quick post on a common mistake I see from law firms. That mistake is taking an approach of “how can I get more phone calls today” as opposed to building a sustainable marketing program. This mistake places two big whammies on your practice. The first of these whammies is the fact that a short-term focus leads to bloated overhead and decreased profits. The second of these whammies, which this post will focus on, is the fact that a short-term approach takes control of your future out of your hands and puts you at risk of looking like this guy:

Man with no money

If, instead, you focus on an investment-based sustainable approach you will 1) keep your overhead down and 2) keep control of your future. In other words, you’ll wind up looking like this guy:

Man's hands holding dollar banknotes

I’m assuming you’d rather look like the latter. If you’d rather look like the former then,…….well,……..ok.

By “focusing on sustainable marketing” I mean that you should be putting your money into assets which you own and control. I’ve written at length as to why attorneys should own their marketing assets and won’t rehash those discussions here. Instead I’m going to point out three forms of marketing in which lawyers often place their money and, as it turns out, will not lead to sustainable profits.

The Error of pay-per-click marketing – This is the first non-sustainable approach where attorneys place their funds. Why do I say pay-per-click programs, such as Adwords, are unsustainable? The reason is their rising costs. In 2008 a Las Vegas family law lawyer would have paid $8-10 per click for most keywords. Today, those same attorneys would pay $25-30 per click. When you rent ad space, such as you do with pay-per-click, you ensure that your overhead is going to go up over time. More importantly, you can always be outbid for those keywords. You may build up a practice today but there’s no guarantee against someone coming along tomorrow, outspending you, and putting you out of business. A reliance on pay-per-click does not guarantee the future of your law firm.

The error of relying on social media alone – This is another non-sustainable approach. Is social media an important part of branding? Yep. Should it be the sole means for driving people to your practice? Nope. The reason why is simple. There’s no way of knowing which platforms will remain popular over time. Do you have a huge Facebook following? If so then rock on. Are you willing to bet your future on Facebook remaining the dominant social platform? If so then ask attorneys, who built up a good Myspace presence, how things worked out for them.

The problem with relying on directories – Many lawyers want to base their future on premium AVVO listings or listings in other legal directories. The argument for this is that “these directories do well in search.” Well, first of all, I dispute that for reasons I discussed in this video:

Perhaps more important is the fact that if you base your future on a directory then you are taking on multiple risks. First, you have no guarantee that listing prices won’t rise over time. Second, you’re gambling that another directory won’t come along and supplant the one you’ve based your future on. Third, your betting that the directory’s search position won’t be lost to a Google penalty. Ask attorneys who were relying on Thumbtack how they felt after that directory received a penalty from Google.

Want to ensure your future? Invest in YOUR website and YOUR content. Those are your assets. You own them, you control them, and you then insulate yourself against the issues described above.