This is the next post in my series on starting a law firm in 2015. My last article focused on which software to use when starting a law practice. In this discussion I’m going to look at an issue where attorneys focus too much time, follow poor strategies, waste too much money, and, yet, consider themselves proficient – let’s talk marketing.

You’re hanging out your shingle. Congrats. You’re also worrying about where you’re going to get clients from. Don’t. In a minute we’ll look at tried and true methods for getting you where you want to be. More importantly, we’ll get there in a way that ensures your financial well-being and puts you ahead of the competition. The key is going to be to invest in marketing assets you own and control rather than spending money for the use of other people’s assets. If you follow an “investing” approach you’ll wind up raking in money just like this guy:

Raking Money

If you choose to spend, rather than investing, then you’re well on the way to looking like this guy:

Man with empty pocketsHopefully you would rather look more like the former than the latter. Let’s get to it.

Attorneys starting a law firm should focus on investing in content rather than spending money on advertising

I wrote why attorneys should invest in their firm rather than spending money on it as part of our 30 Days To A Better Law Firm series. This is so important to the beginning of a new law office that it’s worth looking at again.

It’s important to distinguish in the difference between investing in assets you own and control as opposed to spending for the use of assets which others control. Let’s start with spending. Say you spend $1,000 on Google Adwords at a cost of $25 per click. You would get 40 clicks for your $1,000. Let’s say those 40 clicks result in $10,000 of revenue. It’s easy to look at that and say “I spent a thousand and brought in ten times that amount! I made money!” Here’s the problem – that $1,000 you spend is now gone and is not going to generate any additional income. You have to spend another $1,000 the next month to get the next $10,000. This puts you in a trap of constantly paying out money to bring in new business. Now let’s look at what happens when you invest.

Investing in your firm consists of putting your money into marketing assets and content which you own, control, and will not be taken away from you after you pay for them. An example of this is blog content. A client of our attorney website design services paid $125 for a blog post, which we drafted on her behalf, in 2013. She owns it, controls it, and it will remain hers forever at no additional cost. In the last two months of 2013 that post received 38 organic clicks. In 2014 that same post received another 125 organic clicks. So far in 2015 that post has received 88 organic clicks. This means that from November of 2013 through May 11th, 2015, that blog post has received 251 organic clicks for a cost of $125 (an average cost of 50 cents per click). More importantly – this post will keep getting clicks. It goes without saying that she is getting a better deal than the spender who is paying $25 per click with Adwords. Ready to invest rather than spend? I hope so.

In case your not ready to take an “investing” approach, let’s take a look at what spending does to your new practice. Say you’re the poor sap above who is paying Adwords – this means you have $1,000 going out every month in order to generate $10,000 of revenue. At the end of the month you have to pay office rent, a runner service, legal research expenses, and other fees associated with your office. You only have $9,000 to pay these items because you already have $1,000 going out the door for advertising. Now you’re a little short (because of that advertising budget) so you decide to get more clients. You do so by spending more money on advertising! Now you have an even larger number of cases which aren’t as profitable than they could otherwise be and, to handle that larger caseload, you need to hire support staff. Now you have salaries going out the door and your overhead continues to spiral upwards. All the while the person who is investing is making a higher profit than you, with fewer cases, and has far less stress. Ready to start investing? I hope so. Let’s talk about how to do it.

Attorneys starting a practice should invest their time and money into blogging and video

What should I invest my resources into? It’s a fair question. If you want to do well then focus on two areas, blogging and video.

Most attorneys don’t take the time to blog and many of the one’s who do don’t do it correctly.

Here are my favorite excuses from law firms on the subject of blogging:

  • “I don’t have time to blog.” Well, ok. If you don’t have time to write a blog post then you obviously don’t have time to handle any additional cases (which would take way more time than writing a post) so what are you complaining about?
  • “I can’t figure out what to write about.” Well, ok. Check out my blogging basics for lawyers series for tips on that one.

Life’s about choices. If you want to be successful then choose to blog. If you choose to not update your blog then, well, that’s your choice too and you’ll live with the consequences.

Attorney bloggingSay you invest two hours of your time in writing a blog post (which is way longer than it should take). Now lets say that post receives 225 clicks over the next three years. You just received the equivalent of $5,625 of pay-per-click advertising (assuming a price of $25 per click). I think that’s a) worth taking the time to do and b) worth taking the time to figure out what one should write about. When one of your peers tell you they don’t blog then this can be translated to mean that they choose to spend thousands for advertising instead. Those same peers will wonder why you’re doing so much better than them because you choose to invest in content you own.

The next area you should invest your money and time in is video, which you own and control. If you handle video correctly (which most attorneys don’t) then you’ll see a rate of return similar to your blogging. I’ll be writing a in-depth post soon on how to do well with video.

It’s not that attorneys can’t invest in their firms. They choose not to. This choice means that they elect to spend instead. Which choice are you going to make in your new law firm? It’s up to you.

On a side note – this manifesto blog post took one hour and forty eight minutes to write. Not a bad investment of my time.