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Marketing: great marketing – mid-level budgets

Every Issue

Cite as: (2008) 82(12) LIJ, p.88

While there are a number of free or next-to-nothing marketing activities firms can try,1 marketing generally costs money. However, budgets do not need to be blown. Focused, targeted activities can be rolled out at a reasonable cost to the firm.

The following looks at what can be achieved for a middle-of-the-road budget or about 5 per cent of total revenue to marketing.

Some activities that can be very effective for law firms include:

Inhouse seminars

Seminars are an excellent way to bring clients into your firm, and give a little back to them. The types of themes, topics and speakers you have (such as a lawyer from your firm with expertise in a hot topic of the moment that strikes a chord with your clients – or potential clients) will display your organisation’s intelligence, educated viewpoint and forward thinking. As the seminars are run internally, costs can be minimal too. The only real costs are the food, drinks and the invitations.

Client service interviews

Talking – formally or informally – to your clients and asking them if they are happy with the service is an effective way firms can gauge their clients’ “customer satisfaction”. This is an important business and marketing activity for your firm. Conducted face-to-face, through an online survey or even by an external consultant, knowing the way your clients “buy” your services is an important piece of information.

Understanding these facets of your clients is a “driver” of the business and is an affordable way your firm can add potential value to what you can offer your clients. However, a client evaluation program is only worthwhile if a firm is willing or able to take on negative feedback.

Community involvement and pro bono

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a given in most industry sectors today – particularly law firms.

It is not surprising to find clients and potential employees (especially Generation Y) wanting to see what policies or programs you have in place that give back to the community – from charities you support to the pro bono work you do and options for employees to get involved in the firm’s CSR activities.

Getting your firm involved in the greater good is an excellent and worthy way for you to give back to the community, motivate staff and show that you truly are a socially responsible organisation.

Blogs, newsletters, direct mail

Communication with clients and potential clients is critical so you are top of mind with them. However, with the amount of emails, brochures and updates they receive, they are definitely candidates for marketing collateral fatigue. It is important that all contact with your clients is targeted and relevant to them.

The moment you start bombarding them with pointless information, they are likely to feel a bit spammed out or worse, think you and your firm are out of touch with their needs.

Looking at different ways to communicate with them, such as blogs, specific newsletters and interesting direct mail, is a way to stand out from the crowd, and give your firm a personality and a visible image in the market.

Go to lunch

Often when dealing with the issues and legal requirements at hand, the relationship between lawyers and their clients can be business-focused (good) and one dimensional or one-way (not so good). A client relationship with a firm is one that has the potential to be of lifetime value.

Maintaining the relationship, even when you are not working directly together, is a great thing to do. Take them to lunch. This is a nice way to thank them for their loyalty, is something special they will remember and a great way to uncover other opportunities.

Trade associations

There are countless trade associations and industry groups out there, some better than others. Spend some time researching; see what your competitors are involved in and what interests your clients. Joining a key selection of groups puts you in touch with a network that is relevant to your business and opens up opportunities for the firm, from networking functions and sponsorship opportunities to speaking prospects.


... or research and development. This is generally poorly understood or done in law firms. It can apply to client or competitor research, which all organisations should engage in regularly. The act of doing this research can lead to the “development” aspect where new service lines are introduced to make sure your organisation keeps up with competitors and clients.

Thought leadership

Sounds Orwellian but generally means a piece of research, or a discussion paper, that provokes thought and showcases your organisation’s intelligence, broader perspective or forward thinking.

With massive reservoirs of intelligence, law firms have unlimited potential in this area that is rarely drawn on. The end product needs to be written and presented in a way which appeals to clients and media.

Begin by looking at all the hot button issues that affect your clients and work on how your firm and its expertise can relate or respond to them.

Any of the above are proven successful tools – you just need to be clear on what you want to achieve. l

JANE FOLEY is a consultant with House Communications and can be contacted on ph 8611 8188 or

1. “Budget immaterial”, November 2008 LIJ, p96.


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