this product is unavailable for purchase using a firm account, please log in with a personal account to make this purchase.

Marketing: Just the [big] ticket

Every Issue

Cite as: (2009) 83(02) LIJ, p.86

In the third and final of the series on achieving value marketing, this column looks at activities and campaigns that require a larger financial commitment.

In the current economic climate, you might wonder if there’s any room left to spend big on marketing – or to spend on marketing at all. But there are a couple of things to think about before you commit your firm to death by lack of marketing (it does exist).

The traditional effect of economic downturns is to slash marketing budgets. Law firms can be traditional places . . . and all marketing people in firms know it. The problem with this “traditional” approach is that right at the time your firm needs to shore up business, keep clients and get aggressive about finding new business, the resources to do those things is squeezed.

Economic downturns are not the time to slash marketing budgets. It is the time to refocus, revise your messages to the market and reposition. While other firms are slashing, you’re consolidating your position in the market. That’s the long-term approach.

Some marketing activities are more technical and involved than others and require more time and resources. While this may seem counter-intuitive, given the economic times, it just might be that your firm decides to invest in blue chip and do away with rats and mice as part of its strategy to weather the current climate.

Big investment, big reward

Thought leadership. A piece of research, or a discussion paper, that provokes thought and showcases your organisation’s intelligence, broader perspective or forward thinking. Thought leadership projects demonstrate your firm’s expertise, so a half-hearted job is not an option. They need to be written and presented in a way that appeals to clients and media. Time should be invested and a collaboration of skills called on. Costs include the time and energy of those contributing to the research, to the cost of design, printing and distribution.

Upgrade website. If you’re not listed online, does anyone know you actually exist? The less complicated, the more effective a firm’s website can be. Think of it as an electronic version of your organisation’s brochure. While getting a website right in the first place means an outlay of a lot of cash, it can save you money in your marketing budget ultimately as rather than printing or re-printing when a change is needed, you can refer to your site instead. Ensure the copy is exactly right for you; it must be current, clear and reflect what you say your firm stands for.

Print, radio and TV ads. Paid advertising is expensive, which is why it needs to be well thought out. The more targeted, the better. If you are considering the advertising route, your ad needs to different and “speak” to those you want to reach. Avoid look-alike or generic ideas such as clichéd taglines or the favoured icons of law firms generally – like globes, handshakes, light bulbs and water drops.

Firm collateral. While we are heading towards a paperless, online society, brochures – particularly in law firms – still have their place for showcasing the firm and its brand. This includes everything from annual reports and corporate brochures, practice brochures, bios, websites, letterhead and envelopes, artwork and design. Getting them right is the key to establishing the image you want. Give them a uniform look and feel and remember to ensure they gel with the way you write – language and tone. But remember, short, sharp and succinct is always the best option.

Incentive programs. Not everyone is born with the skills and confidence to pick up the phone and tout for business. Therefore, it definitely pays for law firms to take a unique, creative (and fun) approach to motivating or encouraging staff to do their own bit of marketing or develop their own business. Creating an activity, program or even a competition for people to participate in is a proven winner when enticing people to go that extra length for business. Give people reasons to make that call, visit someone or chase an opportunity through incentives such as points, prizes or recognition.

Sponsorships. Sponsorships are one way a firm can spend another firm’s entire marketing budget in one hit, but done correctly a firm can reap the benefits – often long-term. Aligning yourself with another event, initiative, activity or charity that links to your business or interests your clients (or the market you want to target) can be a successful path to take. However, it is important that what you choose to sponsor matches your firm and is not chosen on a whim or just because one partner has, for instance, an interest in the sponsored organisation.

Brand your own conference. Industry or specialist conferences are a perfect opportunity to get your target market in one place. They are great for networking or speaking opportunities, but why not sponsor one and have your name in the title? With sponsorship, other opportunities normally arise, for instance signage, speaking, free tickets, not to mention being very visible in front of your ultimate market.

ALICIA PATTERSON is the director of House Communications. She was previously the LIV Head of Marketing and can be contacted on ph 8611 8188 or


Finally, for effective marketing, it’s crucial you review your marketing plans and budget regularly. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • where are you spending your money?;
  • is that actually marketing? Or did someone just put it there rather than charge a client?;
  • are your traditional investments benefitting you? (i.e. are you sponsoring something that is no longer valid? Is the partner who introduced a sponsorship still with you?);
  • are you getting added value from your vendors – i.e. advertising, design and printing? Can you get a better deal or package?;
  • have you cut unnecessary listings?; and
  • have you cut unnecessary vanity marketing such as tickets or tables of 10?


Leave message

 Security code
LIV Social