The 3 Pillars of Growing Your Law Firm: Pillar 1

In this blog series (which was based on individual webinars originally released to our Facebook group audience that you can find here), Elliot Alicea, the co-founder of the legal marketing agency Empirical360, discusses the 3 pillars of law firm growth. This blog will focus on pillar 1: predictable lead source.

The 3 Pillars of Growing Your Law Firm: Pillar 1

In this blog series (which was based on individual webinars originally released to our Facebook group audience that you can find here), Elliot Alicea, the co-founder of the legal marketing agency Empirical360, discusses the 3 pillars of law firm growth. This blog will focus on pillar 1: predictable lead source.

Last year alone, we helped over 50 lawyers grow their businesses. We have found that there are three things that support every law firm’s growth - three pillars, if you will, that you absolutely must have in place if you are a lawyer looking to get better and grow your firm.

The first, which will be the subject of this blog and is arguably the most important pillar, is a predictable source of leads. The second is quality intake and follow-up (hopefully automated). The third is the ability to close business.

Let’s take a look at the first pillar and talk about it in more detail.

Most attorneys that we consult with start with referrals as their main or only lead source. This is probably the most common lead source, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there are some problems with referrals. For one thing, referrals aren’t always reliable or consistent. There is no way to control when you are getting them; while some lawyers have a steady stream of referrals coming in and don’t have to think about it, that could be taken away at any moment (say, if a pandemic hits, for example). For another, referrals don’t always bring in your ideal client, and because you have no control over that lead source, you can’t control the quality of leads. You’re then forced to take on people that you don’t necessarily like doing business with because that’s who is coming through the door. Depending on the type of law your practice, this can become emotionally or psychologically draining. Systems (specifically sales systems) are also harder to develop when you don’t have a consistent flow of leads. There are more issues with referrals, but these are the big ones.

Consider the implications of each of those problems. The lack of consistency with referrals makes it harder to hire support staff, like paralegals, or associate attorneys, because you never know when new business is coming in. Small firms or solo lawyers can’t justify the cost if they don’t know how many leads they’re going to get this week. The uncertainty of the referral quality makes it hard to say no to bad clients. You can’t afford to turn down new business, since you don’t know where your next client is coming from, and you need to make money, so you take on cases that you shouldn’t have to. The ease of closing referrals makes it hard to build dependable sales systems. You’re probably able to close referrals at 80% (or at least our lawyers are). When closing is that simple, you probably aren’t taking the time to develop your sales system, which is a major detriment to you when you start trying to close clients who aren’t referrals.

Imagine for a moment, instead of referrals, that you know that you are going to get 10 leads coming in every week and you will close 2 of them (don’t ask how - just roll with this idea for a moment).

Wouldn’t that completely change your processes & your attitude? You would feel confident about hiring new staff members, because you know that you will have enough cases for them to manage and you will be able to pay them without worrying about where the money from their salaries is coming from. You will be able to discern which clients are the right fit for your firm or which clients will just be a waste of your time and say no to the ones who aren’t what you want. And you will be forced (in a good way) to build a pipeline and funnel your leads through the pipeline in order to improve your closing rate and maximize your ROI.

So how do you find a predictable lead source that can get you that kind of certainty?

There are two components that make a lead source predictable: quality traffic, and high-converting web assets. If you’ve ever had a problem with lead generation marketing, diagnosing the issue is super simple - it’s because one of these two components (or both) isn’t working for you.

Quality traffic is the right visitors coming to your website. High-converting web assets are things like how fast and modern your website is, how easy it is to find the phone number and submit a form, etc. - think conversion-friendly user experience. You have to have both of these in order to run a successful marketing campaign.

Here are a few examples to demonstrate what we mean by this.

Suppose you paid an SEO company a premium price for an amazing new website. Websites can range from $200 a month to $20,000, depending on what company you’re working with (like FindLaw, Scorpion, etc.) You also hired them for SEO as part of the website deal or perhaps separately - they sold you on SEO because they are an SEO company. After one month, everything is still quiet. It’s crickets. You’re not getting any leads or any business from that source. That’s because you have a high-converting web asset, but you don’t have quality traffic yet. SEO takes at least six months (and can take a year or longer) to drive traffic to your site. You’re missing a key component in your marketing, which is a quality traffic source.

Suppose you started a couple Google Ads and Facebook Ads campaigns to drive traffic to your website, but you are sending all of the traffic to your home page. General pages aren’t best for converting leads. In some cases it might be relevant, but most of the time - especially for lawyers who dabble in different practice areas - it’s always better to send traffic to the specific page that’s relevant to the user. If someone’s interested in divorce, you should send them directly to a divorce page on your website or a divorce-specific landing page. In this case, you have quality traffic because people are searching for your services, but your home page is not equipped to convert those leads. You don’t have a high-converting web asset in place.

Both of these components have to work together in harmony when you’re marketing.

When it comes to the quality traffic side, you have a few options for traffic sources, and there are two categories these options fit into. There’s interruption-based traffic that comes from Facebook, YouTube, Google Display Network, and other social media channels, and there’s demand-based traffic that comes from SEO and search advertising.

Coming across an ad while you’re doing something else is an interruption. You scroll Facebook to see pictures of family and friends and memes, not to see ads. If an ad catches your attention, you may click on it or engage with it for a few seconds, but it is still an interruption to your original purpose. You’re not necessarily at the peak time to buy right at the moment the ad finds you.

Have you ever been to a mall where there were kiosks in the middle, and salespeople were constantly trying to catch your attention as you walked by on the way to your destination with free samples, incredible offers, and wanting you to buy what they were selling? Maybe you’ve stopped at one or two of those kiosks before, or accepted a sample, but you likely don’t make a habit of doing that, and you probably find it a little annoying. That’s interruption-based marketing in a nutshell.

This is a completely different marketing dynamic than advertising that meets a demand, and it’s the main type that we use for our clients. Think about what Google does - when people want something, what do they do? They Google it. When people are looking for the phone number of a divorce attorney, or want to compare firms, they use Google. People have a need - they use Google - your ads can satisfy that need. The traffic you’re going to get from demand-based marketing versus interruption-based marketing is much higher intent, which is one reason we use Google Ads for our lawyers. It’s also more effective. Think of advertising on Google as fishing in a pond where you know exactly where the fish are and what bait they like. Or, to continue the mall analogy, you use the mall directory to find the store you really want to go to. If you’re looking for the Build-a-Bear workshop, the mall directory will help you find it.

Have any questions about this first pillar? Watch the original webinar or book a call with us to learn more. Next week’s blog will discuss pillar 2!

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