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Marketing for Small Law Firms: A Little Guide for Big Decisions

Discover the most efficient and cost-effective marketing strategies for your small law firm that will increase your online visibility, attract potential clients, and help you stand out from the competition.

18 min


Jul 3, 2024
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Small law firms face unique challenges when it comes to marketing. With a limited marketing budget, fluctuating caseloads, and the daunting task of competing against larger firms, it's no wonder that many small firms struggle to acquire new business. It's not an impossible task and you don't even need a deep wallet to make it happen.

You just need to recognize that marketing is not just about spending money on ads or having a fancy website. Effective marketing helps you build your brand, establish thought leadership, and most importantly, connect with potential clients.

Join Sasha Berson as he speaks with Stuart Ratzan, the Founding Partner at Ratzan Weissman & Boldt

This guide aims to provide you with practical, cost-effective marketing methods that you can implement to grow your law firm. For additional insights, we recommend our latest Grow Law Firm podcast episode. Host Sasha Berson interviews Stuart Ratzan, founding partner of Ratzan Weissman & Boldt. Their discussion covers strategies for firm growth and developing effective rainmaking skills. This conversation offers valuable perspectives to complement the marketing strategies outlined in this guide.

Top 13 Best Small Law Firm Marketing Strategy Practices

1. Create a Small Law Firm Marketing Strategy

Developing a robust marketing strategy is absolutely essential for small law firms aiming to excel in a fiercely competitive legal landscape. Here’s why having a strategy is crucial:

  • Direction: A well-defined strategy provides a clear path to follow. It keeps your marketing efforts focused and aligned with your firm’s objectives, ensuring that you’re not wasting time and resources on ineffective tactics.
  • Efficiency: With a strategy in place, you can allocate your resources more efficiently. Whether it’s budget, time, or manpower, having a plan helps you make the most of what you have.
  • Competitive Advantage: A thought-out strategy enables you to differentiate your firm in the marketplace. By identifying your unique selling points and target audience, you can stand out in a crowded field.
  • Measurement and Adaptation: Strategies come with key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals. These metrics allow you to measure your progress and make necessary adjustments along the way. This data-driven approach enhances your marketing’s effectiveness.
  • Consistency: A strategy helps maintain consistency in your messaging and branding across all marketing channels, reinforcing your firm's identity and building trust with clients.

A well-crafted law firm marketing strategies are not just a roadmap; it’s the cornerstone of your law firm’s success. It provides direction, efficiency, a competitive edge, measurement tools, and consistency, all of which are essential for achieving your law firm’s marketing strategy objectives and growing your practice.

What's the difference between marketing strategy and marketing plan for small law firms?

It’s important to distinguish between a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. A marketing strategy outlines the overall approach and goals, providing a high-level view of how to achieve them. A law firm marketing plan details the specific actions needed to implement the strategy effectively. In contrast, a marketing plan delves into the specific actions, timelines, and budgets needed to implement the strategy.

Essentially, the strategy sets the "what" and "why," while the plan focuses on the "how" and "when" to execute the strategy effectively.
To learn more about Law Firm Marketing Strategy check out our latest guide!

2. Create a Robust Small Law Firm Marketing Budget

Small Law Firm Marketing Budget

Setting up a marketing budget for your small law firm is a fundamental step in creating a successful marketing strategy. While it may seem daunting, having a well-defined budget helps you allocate resources effectively and maximize your return on investment. Here's why it's crucial:

  1. Resource Allocation: A marketing budget allows you to allocate resources wisely. You can determine how much you're willing to spend on various marketing channels, such as online advertising, content creation, social media, or search engine optimization (SEO). This prevents overspending in one area and neglecting another, ensuring a balanced approach.
  2. ROI Tracking: Having a budget enables you to track the return on investment (ROI) for each marketing activity. By monitoring the performance of your marketing efforts, you can identify what's working and what isn't, making it easier to refine your strategy and optimize spending for better results.
  3. Financial Control: With a budget in place, you have better financial control. You can avoid unexpected expenses and stay within your financial limits, preventing financial strain on your small law firm.
  4. Goal Alignment: A budget helps align your marketing efforts with your firm's goals. Whether you aim to increase client inquiries, improve brand visibility, or expand into a new practice area, your budget can be tailored to support these objectives.

In summary, setting up a marketing budget is a vital step for small law firms. It empowers you to manage resources efficiently, track ROI, maintain financial control, and align your marketing efforts with your own sustainable law firm's goals.

Creating a Law Firm Marketing Budget can be hard. See our tips to make it easier

What is a good small law firm marketing budget?

Determining an ideal small law firm's marketing budget can be a challenge. It often depends on factors like your firm's size, location, practice areas, and marketing goals.

As a general guideline, allocating 2% to 5% of your gross revenue to marketing is a good starting point.

However, it's essential to adjust this percentage based on your specific circumstances. If you're in a competitive market or expanding your practice, you might need to allocate a higher budget. Regularly assess your budget to ensure it aligns with your objectives and provides a healthy return on investment.

3. Register in Local Directories

You might not believe this, but legal directories are actually dominating lawyer websites in search engine results pages - they tend to pop up first. This is primarily because legal directories have established a strong presence in local SEO over time, earning considerable authority with search engines. Consequently, they typically secure higher rankings in search results compared to newer and less established websites.

Bearing this in mind, one of the first items on your agenda should be creating accounts on a few well-known lawyer directories such as Findlaw, AvvoJustia, Yelp, HG.org, and the Yellow Pages.

A proile on Yellow Pages
Register in local directories to improve your online visibility and attract potential clients in your specific geographic area
When it comes to selecting a lawyer directory and setting up accounts, there are certain nuances to consider. To assist you in navigating this process effectively, we have created a comprehensive guide on Best Lawyer Directories

4. Register a Google My Business Profile for Your Small Law Firm

If you remember what search engine results pages (SERPs) look like, then you know that Google Business Profile (GBP) can appear in a few different ways:

  • Local pack: When potential clients search for law firms and legal services in a specific location, GBP profiles can appear in the Local Pack, which is a box that appears at the top of the search results page.
  • Knowledge panel: When someone searches for legal services, GBP profiles can appear in the Knowledge Panel, which is a box that appears on the right-hand side of the search page.
  • Reviews: GBP reviews can appear on the search results page, alongside the GBP profile.
  • Google maps: GBP profiles can also appear in Google Maps, which is a popular navigation app.

Google determines which Google Business Profile to display based on factors like relevance, proximity, prominence, most positive reviews, client reviews, and additional personalized factors. These provide small law firms with four additional local SEO opportunities to appear before potential customers. You only have to follow these steps to create an outstanding GBP profile for your small law firm:

  • Always complete your profile and add pictures
Add pictures to build trust
GBP profile example
  • Choose the best business category for your law firm
  • Describe your business accurately
Add a good description
GBP reviews example
  • Add geotags to your photos
An example of photo with geotag
Local map example
  • Use keywords to optimize your Google My Business Page
Add relevant keywords
GBP description example
  • Include products and services in your listing
Add products
GBP products example
  • Add posts to your listing to give more details about your services
  • Include your URL in your GMB listing

Don't let your Google My Business (also known as Google Business Profile) go dormant. This profile is something you should keep regularly updated. Add new content and photos. Also, ensure that your hours and contact information are always accurate.

Google My Business is crucial for lawyers' growth. Read out the guide to learn how to set it up.

5. Create a Website to Be a Base for Your Small Law Firm Marketing

Building a law firm's website is a critical step in establishing a strong online presence and attracting potential clients. To ensure your website is effective, you should follow best practices that balance professionalism, user-friendliness, and a commitment to delivering valuable content.

First and foremost, your website’s design should exude professionalism. It should be clean, well-organized, and instill trust in visitors. A user-centric approach is key, ensuring that the site is easy to navigate and offers a seamless experience. Given the prevalence of mobile device usage, it’s essential that your website is fully responsive and adapts to different screen sizes.

Small Law Firm Web Design Example
Small Law Firm Web Design Example

Content is the heart of all sustainable law firm websites. It should be informative, engaging, and authoritative. Address common legal questions, showcase your expertise, and provide valuable resources to potential clients. Implement search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to improve your website’s visibility in search engine results. This involves strategic use of keywords, optimizing meta tags, and keeping content up to date.

Legal compliance is crucial. Make sure your website adheres to the legal standards and regulations of your jurisdiction. This includes incorporating necessary disclaimers and privacy policies.

Clear calls to action should encourage visitors to engage with your law firm. Whether it’s contacting your firm, scheduling consultations, or subscribing to updates, ensure that CTAs are prominently placed throughout your website.

By adhering to these best practices, you can create a website that effectively represents your small law firm and supports its growth.

However these are but the first steps in creating an effective law firm web design. To get more into the know-how read our comprehensive guide.

6. Consider PPC for Small Law Firms

An example of PPC
Paid search results example

Yes, pay-per-click is something small law firms can actually set up themselves. PPC is powerful marketing tool that offers the advantage of delivering rapid results in comparison to other marketing methods. However, it is important to bear in mind that there are certain nuances to this:

  • Budget: Your budget is one of the most important factors that will determine the success of your campaigns. It's important to set a budget that you're comfortable with and that will allow you to reach your target audience.
  • Bids: Your bids are how much you're willing to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. It's important to set bids that are competitive, but not too high. Otherwise, you could end up spending more money than you need to.
  • Conversion rate: Your conversion rate is the percentage of people who click on your ad and then take a desired action, such as visiting your website or making a purchase. It's important to track your conversion rate so that you can see how effective your campaigns are.
  • Keyword research: Keyword research is the process of finding the right keywords to target with your ads. It's important to choose keywords that are relevant to your business and that people are actually searching for.
Competitor analysis in Semrush
Relevant keywords with a high search volume can help you increase the chances of your ads being shown to potential customers

Relevant keywords with a high search volume can help you increase the chances of your ads being shown to potential customers

Even if you plan to focus on organic content marketing in the long term, don't avoid investing in paid ads right now. Your search engine marketing campaign will take time. Make room for paid advertising in your legal marketing budget now to achieve some short-term goals.

Take your time learning more about how you can set up your first advertising campaign with our Guide on PPC for lawyers. The beauty of PPC ad budgeting lies in its flexibility, allowing you to make adjustments as your other campaigns begin to yield positive results.

Want to make PPC for Lawyers easy? Check our our post!

7. Create Converting Landing Pages on Your Small Law Firm Website

Creating converting landing pages on a small law firm website is of paramount importance. These specialized pages serve as the entry points for potential clients, guiding them towards taking a specific action, such as scheduling a consultation or requesting legal services.

First and foremost, well-designed landing pages streamline the user experience, providing a focused and clear path to action. They remove distractions and provide compelling content that speaks directly to the visitor's needs, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Converting Landing Pages
Small Law firm Landing Page Example

Additionally, landing pages enable precise tracking of visitor behavior, helping you understand what works and what needs improvement. You can analyze data such as click-through rates and conversion rates to refine your marketing efforts and achieve a higher return on investment.

In the competitive legal industry, creating landing pages that convert is an effective strategy to capture potential clients and grow your practice. These pages optimize your marketing efforts, making them a valuable asset for any small law firm.

Here are some extra tips and tricks on creating converting landing pages for lawyers

8. Leverage SEO for Your Law Firm Website

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving the ranking of a website or a web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). There are a number of benefits to using law firm SEO for your well-designed law firm website, including:

  • Increased website traffic: When your website ranks higher in search engine results pages, you will get more traffic to your website. This means that more potential clients will be able to find you online.
  • Increased brand awareness: When your website ranks higher in SERP, it will also increase your brand awareness. This means that more people will be aware of your law firm and what you do.
  • Increased lead generation: When potential clients find your website through search engines, they are more likely to contact you. This means that SEO can help you generate more leads for your law firm.
  • Increased sales: When you have more leads, you will also have more sales. This means that SEO can help you increase your revenue.

Overall, SEO can be a very effective way to improve your law firm's website and attract new clients. If you are looking for a way to continue improving your law firm's online presence, SEO is a great option.

seo for lawyers
Want to know more about Law firm SEO? We've got you!

9. Manage Your Small Law Firm Content Marketing Process

Content marketing involves creating articles, videos, or blogs that will drive potential leads to your law firm. Before actually hiring a lawyer, the majority of potential legal clients typically turn to Google as their first step, seeking information about their specific issue.

If a client lands on your blog page and sees valuable material, chances are he will contact you, and not your competitor.

As a lawyer, you'll be pleased to know that there are numerous blogging opportunities available to you beyond your own website:

  • Legal blogging platforms: Many legal-specific blogging platforms exist, offering lawyers the opportunity to create and publish content without the need for a personal website. Examples include Lawyerist, LexBlog, and Justia.
  • Legal directories: Some legal directories provide the option for lawyers to contribute blog posts within their listings. This allows lawyers to share their insights and expertise with a targeted audience without maintaining a separate website.
  • Guest blogging: Lawyers can explore guest blogging opportunities on established legal websites or industry publications. By contributing high-quality articles as a guest author, lawyers can showcase their knowledge and expand their online presence.
  • Social media platforms: While not a traditional blog, lawyers can utilize social media marketing platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Medium to share informative content to demonstrate expertise. These platforms provide a built-in audience and require minimal technical setup.

To develop an effective content marketing strategy, remember key search engine optimization practices. Consider user intent, keyword research, and content relevance to rank highly in search results. You can also check out our ultimate guide on Content Marketing for Lawyers to dive deeper and learn more details.

Content is king! Learn how content marketing for lawyers will help you grow online

10. Start an Email Marketing Campaign

One of the easiest (and most affordable) ways for law firms to attract future clients is through email marketing. If you don't already have a subscriber list, you can build one by collecting email addresses from your existing and past clients', contacts, and potential leads. You can do this through networking events, professional associations, or even by offering valuable resources in exchange for email sign-ups.

Here are some ways that small law firms can use email marketing:

  • Provide educational content: Send content about legal topics related to your practice area. This could include information about filing a lawsuit, navigating the legal system, or understanding your rights.
  • Encourage reviews: Ask to leave positive client reviews for your law firm on your website or with Google. This helps to build social proof and attract new clients.
  • Manage appointments: Send confirmation emails to clients who schedule appointments with you. This helps to ensure that appointments are kept and that clients know what to expect.

Law firm email marketing campaigns are simple to implement, affordable, and cost-effective. They also ensure your law firm remains top of mind to your subscribers. If people on your list need your services, they'll likely contact you first since they'll see you as a credible authority in your practice area.

Finally, you'll develop a stronger bond with your current clients through your email marketing activities. The truth about marketing tactic, is that few other marketing strategies deliver such a strong ROI as email can.

Email marketing for lawyers is not the first strategy you think about, but it's super effective. Read our guide to learn more

11. Actively Engage in Social Media Marketing for Small Law Firms

Social media marketing holds significant importance for small law firms. It offers most law firms a platform to connect with your audience, build brand awareness, and enhance your online presence:

  1. Client Engagement: Social media enables direct interaction with clients and potential clients. Engaging content, such as legal tips, news, and success stories, can foster relationships and trust.
  2. Enhanced Visibility: Regular social media activity keeps your firm on the radar of potential clients. It allows you to share valuable content and stay top-of-mind when they require legal services.
  3. Community Building: Building a community around your law firm fosters a sense of belonging. You can provide a platform for discussions, share insights, and offer support to your audience.
  4. Content Dissemination: Social media platforms are excellent for sharing your blog posts, articles, and other content. This amplifies your reach and drives traffic to your website.
  5. Online Reputation Management: Actively managing your social media presence helps control your online reputation. Responding to reviews, comments, and questions demonstrates professionalism and responsiveness.
  6. Targeted Advertising: Social media platforms offer targeted advertising options, allowing you to reach specific demographics and interests, potentially bringing in more qualified leads.

Social media marketing is an essential component of a small law firm's digital strategy. It helps you engage with prospective clients more, improve visibility, build a community, disseminate content, manage your online reputation, and efficiently reach your target audience, ultimately supporting the growth and success of your practice.

Nowadays Social media for lawyers is a good source of new clients. Learn how to use it right

12. Make Use of Offline Marketing to Grow Your Small Law Firm

Your legal marketing plan shouldn't stop with digital marketing strategies. You can often broaden your approach to include traditional marketing strategies to target clients in your area.

Thankfully, there are several strategies you can use to deploy offline advertising through various marketing channels. Here are just a few ways to augment your marketing plan:

  • Build relationships with other professionals in your area who can refer clients to you. For example, if you practice property law, partner with realtors.
  • Ask other lawyers in your area for referrals. You can also ask your existing clients for referrals.
  • Ask your existing clients for testimonials and reviews. You can post these on your website and social media pages.
Refferals and other offline marketing strategy for lawyers are a good source of new clients and leads. Always find new ways to grow!

13. Take Time to Measure Progress

It's important that your law firm has access to tools that allow you to track your results so that you can be confident that your legal marketing strategies are working.

There are analytics tools that you can use to track traffic to your page from search and your Google My Business account. You can even use analytics to ensure you are getting the most out of your marketing dollars for your email campaigns.

It is important that your law firm uses marketing tools so you know what is truly effective. Otherwise, you will base your decisions on emotion and assumptions. Neither is good for your ongoing business development goals.

Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools there is for this purpose. If you plan to market your law firm with a social media presence, platforms like Facebook and Instagram have built-in analytics tools to better understand the impact of your social media activity.

Google Analytics helps you to measure progress
Google Analytics provides valuable insights into website performance and user behavior, helping businesses make data-driven decisions
Do not repeat other people mistakes: Law firm Analytics is the great way to know what you do right and what you do wrong. Learn to use them correctly!

3 Most Common Small Law Firm Marketing Mistakes

There may be an abundance of legal expertise in your firm, but you probably lack some marketing tips for smaller firms required to earn new business through marketing. That's understandable as you have focused your skill set on assisting your clients. However, the gaps in your understanding could lead to these common mistakes.

— Lack of Patience

Optimizing for local search and other SEO services may take a few months to generate results. When law firms expect things to happen too quickly, they may turn to tactics that promise immediate results but could harm their online presence in the future.

— Doing Everything Yourself

It's rare that a lawyer would have the knowledge to engage in successful online and social media marketing efforts without any outside help. And it's even more unlikely that they would have time to do so effectively without it impacting the quality of services they deliver to their clients.

"Learning how to be the best I can be is something that I've never stopped doing."
— Stuart Ratzan

— Choosing the Easiest Path

When faced with the task of determining how and where to engage in marketing, many attorneys will choose the options that are easiest and most familiar to them. Intuitive heuristics often cause us to see the easiest solution as the best one when we are presented with a complex problem.

For example, you might convince yourself that lawyer Facebook ads are ideal for marketing your law office because it's familiar to you when you should really be focusing on LinkedIn attorney marketing.

— Lacking Professional Integrity

Many small law firms make the mistake of compromising their ethics for quick gains. They might overpromise to clients, bend the rules, or cut corners to save time or money. Some lawyers take on cases they're not qualified for, just to increase their caseload. Others might misrepresent their experience or success rates in marketing materials. This lack of integrity can lead to malpractice issues, damaged reputations, and loss of client trust.

— Not Building Entrepreneurial Skills

Being a great lawyer isn't just about knowing the law. You need business smarts too. Learn to network, make connections, and bring in new clients. It's about finding a way to mix the business side of law with things you enjoy personally. Furthermore, keep sharpening your skills and expanding your knowledge. Read up on new cases, attend seminars, and learn from your peers. This isn't just about legal know-how - work on your people skills too. Being a lifelong learner helps you adapt to changes, serve your clients better, and stay ahead in a competitive field. Remember, the best lawyers are always students of their craft.

Building a Fulfilling Law Practice with Stuart Ratzan, the Founding Partner at Ratzan Weissman & Boldt, in the Podcast Series

In this podcast, Stuart Ratzan discusses the importance of balancing the professional and business sides of law practice. He emphasizes the need for continuous self-improvement in legal skills and emotional intelligence to best serve clients. Ratzan also stresses finding harmony between a lawyer's personal integrity, community connections, and family responsibilities with the demands of operating a successful firm over the long term. The podcast offers a thoughtful perspective on maintaining excellence and fulfillment within the legal profession.

"I started this with the goal of becoming the best tactical lawyer I could possibly be. I wanted to be the best trial lawyer I could be. When I was a young lawyer, it was all about developing skills and learning from other lawyers, those older and more experienced than me."
— Stuart Ratzan
Stuart Ratzan

Stuart Ratzan

Founder of Ratzan Weissman & Boldt

Stuart Ratzan is the founding partner of Ratzan Weissman & Boldt, a Miami personal injury law firm. As a renowned trial lawyer, he has secured multimillion-dollar settlements in high-profile medical malpractice and catastrophic injury cases.

Ratzan believes strongly in bringing wrongdoers to account through impactful jury verdicts. He is committed to public safety and ensuring access to healthcare. Ratzan has earned many accolades, including recognition as one of Florida's top attorneys by Best Lawyers.

Final Advice: Hire a Professional Law Firm Marketing Team

Small law firm owners don't need a massive marketing budget and dedicated team to see results from their efforts in the form of paying clients. It's possible to incorporate law firm's marketing strategies and marketing tactics on your own or with the assistance of an employee or two.

However, as your firm continues to grow, you'll see the most significant impact from marketing activities and get more clients when you work with a professional marketing company for small law firms.

At Grow Law Firm, we help small and larger law firms build a marketing strategy that fits their needs and goals. As a law firm SEO agency, we can help develop your marketing plan for your law practice, ensuring you spend your money on the marketing tactics most likely to bring you more qualified leads and for your law firm's website.

To get started, contact Grow Law Firm today. We'll alleviate your digital marketing concerns and design a holistic digital marketing strategy suitable for your law firm's brand name.

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