I often say legal marketing is like having children. With children, you always have one more than you can handle. In legal marketing departments, there’s always more work than any person or team can handle.
As a result, increasingly, law firms are turning to outsourced legal marketing services (OLMS) teams to accomplish a range of services — from discrete graphic design projects up to and including strategic marketing planning and execution.
Because OLMS is like having a fully staffed department at your fingertips, for a fraction of the cost. Typically spearheaded by an outsourced CMO or client strategy head, your “department” will include a designer, marketing technologist, content strategist, and the infrastructure and support required to execute the strategies you identify.
If you don’t have a dedicated marketing support person or team in place, or your solo marketer or lean marketing team is stuck in execution mode and unable to get beyond the day-to-day and drive strategy, you likely need outsourced legal marketing services to supplement your team or help you bridge the gap as your firm grows.
Imagining you’ve read this far and agree with everything I’ve said, now it’s time to understand the critical components of OLMS.
Diving into marketing activities without a well-researched and developed strategy is about as good as throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. Therefore, the first step of a worthwhile OLMS is strategy development.
This starts with taking inventory of your firm’s current marketing efforts and how they are (or are not) working:
- Evaluate your firm’s presence in the market:
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Website performance
- Events and industry relations
- Awards and rankings
- Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (a SWOT analysis).
- Uncover how the market views the firm.
Using this data, your OLMS team will design a bespoke marketing plan tailored to your target clients, prospects, and referral sources.
The strategic marketing plan must outline your:
- top goals (we recommend between three and five at most);
- the strategic objectives of each goal;
- the tactics to accomplish each strategic objective; and
- the measurements of success.
Goal: Grow brand awareness; develop messaging and content to effectively promote the value of services.
Strategic Objective: Increase engagement with clients through the appropriate use of owned, earned, and paid communications channels.
Tactic: Develop and distribute content consistently, including a quarterly newsletter, and other thought leadership content, supplementing the existing production schedule.
Measurement: Email click-thru-rate — Maintain above-average open rates as frequency and content increases.
It may be true that you have to spend money to make money, but OLMS focuses on strategic spending.
So often law firms and lawyers participate in an event or buy the ad in the journal book because they’re “expected to.” The benefit of starting with strategy and having a fresh perspective is the ability to evaluate how meaningful and successful those activities actually are.
Your OLMS team will need to get elbows deep in your budgeting and approval process, evaluating where you’re spending money and the effectiveness of those expenditures. This includes:
- reviewing your firm’s process for evaluating marketing expense requests;
- recommending a comprehensive and closed-circuit budget, requisition, approval, and ROI evaluation process; and
- proposing investments in strategic marketing and business development initiatives that align with the strategy developed in step one.
Over time, your OLMS team will analyze the budgeted spending compared to the actual spending and make data-driven recommendations. Ultimately, together you and your OLMS team will focus on return on marketing investment.
To effectively market your firm, you need a strong foundation designed to efficiently execute your strategies. This means a fully configured and implemented client relationship management (CRM) tool, marketing automation tool, and the processes and communication plans to effectively operate.
Marketing operations isn’t a fluff term for how the work gets done. It is the bedrock upon which any successful marketing efforts are built.
Ideally, your OLMS team will have significant marketing operations and technology experience and be able to recommend systems and processes that work for your firm’s specific and unique needs, and that allows your initiatives to have the maximum impact.
Now it is time to get down to brass tacks. You’ve got the strategy, the budget, the operational foundation — it’s party time! And by party, I mean well-developed OLMS campaigns that are intended to reach your desired audience of clients, prospects, and referral sources.
What does this mean in a real-world context?
You have a goal of expanding brand recognition, with a strategic objective of increasing LinkedIn followers by 10% over the next 12 months. Your OLMS team develops a campaign to increase readership, subscription, and follow rates by encouraging engagement with the firm and attorney’s content, as well as facilitates follower invitations on LinkedIn.
It’s Chambers season! You have 27 submissions to write over the next six months and need someone to help organize the process, track matters and the corresponding write-ups, and aggregate everything into the submission document and prepare for remittance.
Live events are back and you are starting at ground zero. It’s time to build the invitation list, create a direct outreach and follow-up plan, engagement strategy, content development, and manage all the venue logistics, menus, audiovisual requirements, guest speakers, and day-of particulars.
OLMS is the solution for this and so much more, including:
- Social media optimization and management
- Content strategy and development
- E-marketing and marketing automation
- Surveys and rankings
- Event design and execution
- Graphic design
Execution isn’t the end. In some ways, it is merely the beginning. After taking the time and energy to create a marketing plan, invest in systems, and execute the strategies, it is crucial to evaluate the outcomes.
Analyzing the outcomes of your OLMS efforts is a never-ending process and one that cannot be ignored. Understanding the outcomes of components 1-4 above is only possible by analyzing the results. You set up a strategy with clear measures of success. How’d we do?
OLMS is a growing component of marketing for firms of all sizes. Knowing how to get the OLMS services you need and that will work for you means understanding these five components and when you see them in action.
Interested in growing your team with OLMS? Contact us to learn more.