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Thoughts on keeping your legal marketing overhead fixed and low through recessions and boom times

By: Dan Jaffe

Published: 03.26.2020

Today we learned that there were roughly 3.3 million new jobless claims and that the United States now has the most cases of COVID-19. And the evidence points to the probability that both reported numbers fall short (potentially drastically short) of reality. Having grown small firms during every recession and downturn so far this century, and having helped many other attorneys do it for their firms, I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on a topic that I’ve spend a good portion of my career thinking about — the economics of online legal marketing for solos and small law firms.

With the fear, uncertainty and upheaval created by the COVID-19 pandemic, many solo practitioners and small firm owners are worried about their marketing. And some are needlessly hurting because of it. My hope is that this post will give you, the solo or small firm owner, a perspective and an alternative path for your marketing that will lead to peace of mind and steadiness of business.

Now is a great time to understand economics and to and take control of your firm’s online marketing.

Through all economic cycles, some attorneys never worry about their online legal marketing because their overhead is fixed, low and flexible, and they have the information and tools they need to survive and thrive. I want to briefly talk about marketing overhead before explaining how you can shift your online marketing to do what these successful and stable legal marketing practitioners (who are also law firm owners) do.

Most lawyers associate the word overhead with expenses, or the money that they spend on marketing. This is part of the equation. The other part is effort.

Effort is participation by you, the law firm owner. If, as the owner, you are personally booked to capacity and therefore must choose between revenue-producing work on active matters and spending time on your marketing, then the cost of an hour you spend on marketing equals the net profits after taxes that you would have generated if you spent that hour on a client matter. But if you can find spare time to participate in your marketing without sacrificing revenue (and most firm owners can, especially right now), then the spare time you spend working on your marketing costs you nothing.

The key to keeping your legal marketing overhead fixed, low and flexible is to make smarter investments of your money and your efforts. To navigate this, it’s imperative to understand the following about marketing agencies and about website software that is not built for lawyers.

Marketing agencies create instability and risk for solos and small firm owners.

When you hire a marketing agency, you pay a premium (in dollars, ROI, control and stability) to delegate to a middleman things that, with the right tools and information, you can easily (and more effectively) do yourself. The agency becomes a gatekeeper between you and your potential clients, eroding your control and increasing your risk.

Even when the agency fails you, it still has leverage over you. It has your money, your data, and often your contractually enforceable future payments. If you complain, common responses may include:

  1. Telling you to spend more money with them.
  2. Ignoring you or communicating slowly.
  3. Ceasing to make efforts on your behalf.

I founded LawLytics after, as a small firm owner, I got burned by a marketing agency. It was awful to have paid an agency to compromise my practice. And I realized that I was not alone.

So I created a platform so lawyers can bypass agencies and more easily generate better profits by keeping their marketing costs fixed and low while connecting with their clients and potential clients through their websites using LawLytics. This creates business stability in good times as well as bad. It never requires your firm to spend more. And it never leaves your firm waiting helplessly for an agency to care or take action.

But avoiding the agency trap is only one side of the equation.

General website software wastes time and causes law firms to miss opportunities.

As a law firm owner, not all marketing activities are worth your time. You shouldn’t need to worry about the technical and design aspects of your website, and shouldn’t waste time trying to figure out the best strategies by yourself. But if you use a general website builder, that’s exactly what you’ll have to do.

With LawLytics, you’ll spend a bit more money than you would with general website software and you’ll get an experience that saves you from wasting a lot of your time spinning your wheels and missing opportunities. LawLytics takes care of all of the technical and design chores for you, and gives you the support needed to succeed without having to reinvent the wheel through trial and error.

Now is a great time to flip the script and take control of your firm’s online marketing.

I’ve been in your shoes. I know from experience that if you want your marketing to work predictably, and if you want to avoid the drama of having to suddenly increase your budget, chase agencies, apply emergency software patches to your website, or adjust your practice because your marketing isn’t working, you need to take control. I want to invite you to schedule a 20 minute demo so you can see for yourself how LawLytics empowers you and eliminates the risks and headaches I discussed above.

I believe that LawLytics is best positioned to get you through the bust times, and set you up to thrive during boom times. I hope that you, your family and your practice are getting through this in good health and with as little stress as possible. I’ll continue to blog through this crisis. In my next post I’ll talk about the unemployment numbers that came out today and propose some ideas about how attorney can insulate themselves from unemployment and underemployment while at the same time helping businesses and individuals in the community that are hurting.

About Dan Jaffe

Attorney Dan Jaffe is the CEO of LawLytics. He tried over 100 cases to verdict while building thriving law practices in Seattle and Phoenix in the 1990s and 2000s. After getting burned by a marketing agency, Dan learned how the internet and search engines really work. He used this knowledge to effectively market his own law practices over the course of a decade, and founded LawLytics in 2011 to make it easy for lawyers to have successful websites without paying a marketing agency or struggling with DIY website builders.

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