Creating Your Law Firm Marketing Plan (Marketing 101)

Many law firm owners think that they don’t have time to serve existing clients and perform marketing activities to generate new clients. In this episode not only are we going to talk about how to do both sustainably but also how to set up your marketing so that it generates recurring revenue. 

In this episode we discuss:

  • How do you create a marketing plan and what is it?
  • The smoothing out of the marketing cycle to bring in consistent recurring revenue.
  • Identifying your ideal client avatar and where to find them.
  • Marketing funnels; from an impression to a closed sale.
  • Determining marketing cost of each funnel vs. economic value.
  • How knowing your numbers is vital in planning your marketing funnels.
  • Creating your own opportunities to make an impression.
  • Looking at marketing not as an expense, but as an investment.

Allison Williams: [00:00:11] Hi everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. 


Allison Williams: [00:00:26] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor, and today’s episode of the podcast is dedicated to a topic that I see bantered about a lot in the social media streets about how to grow law firms.


Allison Williams: [00:00:41] And I think a lot of us understand the conception that we need to be marketing. But I’ve had a lot of people ask me the question of how to create a marketing plan, and they don’t really know what a marketing plan is other than the general idea that they are going to be putting themselves in the public domain in some way to generate clients. And the way that that is often thought about is going out and buying leads through some form of online marketing. So when you hear the word marketing, it almost presupposes that we’re talking about online marketing. But marketing is a much broader topic, and there are many different ways for you to market yourself in order for you to generate revenue in a law firm.


Allison Williams: [00:01:20] But what’s most important for people to understand is not just what marketing is, but how to use it in a way that does not compete with delivering the legal services in your law firm so that when you start the process of marketing, you don’t try to decide, am I going to market or am I going to serve my clients? I can’t do both. Because a lot of soldiers get into this feast or famine sort of mode where as soon as we step away from serving clients, our client work falls behind, we start to get that pressure of, oh my God, clients are not going to be happy. It’s going to hurt my reputation. God forbid it’s going to result in a bar referral. So I’ve got to go over there and serve my clients and that means I can’t market. Oh, wait, I don’t have enough clients. Let me go out and market real quick. Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, generate some clients and then you come back and say, OK, I can generate clients now because I have time, but I’m broke. And I’m frustrated because I don’t have client revenue, because I don’t have clients. And then you start getting clients again, you get busy again, things start smoothing out. You feel like you’re succeeding, but yet you’re back in the energy of, all right, now I have to serve my clients. I don’t have time to market. So that up and down is what we want to try to help you avoid.


Allison Williams: [00:02:38] So today we’re going to talk about the topic of marketing and how to do it in a way that brings you consistent recurring revenue. Now, for those of you that have been following Law Firm Mentor for any length of time, you know that we have a signature retreat that is dedicated to this topic. It is called Marketing for the Masters. And our next marketing for the Masters retreat is in June of twenty twenty one. So this is not really about Marketing for the Masters, but I raise it because I want you to know that the core principles that we build upon and go into a great deal of detail in fleshing out for you, that actually happens at that particular retreat. OK, so first, what is marketing? OK, marketing, in essence, is, as I said earlier, putting yourself out into the public domain so that people who are in the market to need your service are aware that it exists and how it can help them. OK, that’s it in a nutshell. There are a lot of different, fluffy, more detailed descriptions of marketing than that. But that is a good core foundational definition. And in essence, when you are thinking about marketing, I want you to get into the mind frame of thinking, who are my people and where can I find them? That is, in essence what you are looking to do. Who are my people and where can I find them? OK, so the first question, who are my people?


Allison Williams: [00:04:01] Ok, this is about defining both your client base and your referral base so your client base can be any number of different types of people. And most people would say as long as you have a need in the general area where I am serving clients, as long as you need a divorce, if I am a family law attorney or as long as you need to acquire or disposition real estate and I’m a real estate attorney, or as long as you have some need for immigrating to the United States. If I’m located in the US and I’m an immigration attorney, I can help you. And that starts the process, right. Globally, we all know that there are certain legal services that we offer and certain ones that we don’t. But beyond just the basics of do you have a problem that I solve, who are who are my people? That principle question goes to more than just who are the people that could potentially hire me. But it goes deeper into who are the people that I want to serve. OK, wanting to serve the clients that you have is really important, especially when you’re super slow, because the fewer people that there are in your orbit to serve your clients, the more that serving any individual client is going to draw upon your resources. And by resources, I mean your energy, your efforts, your mindset. They’re going to influence you just as you’re going to influence them. So it’s really important that you not spend your time with people that you don’t enjoy helping on some level. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be in love with every client that you serve.


Allison Williams: [00:05:40] This is not about creating consistent joy through every human that you touch because some people are just not going to be your kind of people. And that’s OK. But we’re talking about defining the people that you want to serve from the perspective of what it is that they want to achieve and who they are as people to the extent that that matters for your service. So if you are someone who deals in securities law, you might not want to serve smaller companies against larger Fortune 500 companies when they are looking to launch an IPO. Because maybe what your thought is, is that you could have a conflicting client base or perhaps maybe when it is if you are a criminal defense attorney, maybe you don’t want to take certain kinds of cases because your credibility in negotiating has a certain premium at this point. And if you start taking cases where there is less meritorious value behind whatever is the the crime being prosecuted there, there could be some erosion of that negotiating power that you otherwise have. Right. There are lots of reasons why we might opt into or opt out of taking a particular case. And this is not about a value judgment, but it is first and foremost asking yourself, who are the people that I want to serve? Now, we have created a nifty tool to help you with this. If you don’t know who the people are that you want to serve, you know, generally what problem they have, you know, what type of legal matter they have.


Allison Williams: [00:07:17] But you don’t necessarily know what type of person that they are or what type of motivators drive this person. We have a worksheet called the Avatar worksheet, and Avatar is that ideal person. If you could visualize who is the client that you would most like to work, like to work with, that would be your ideal client avatar. We have a worksheet that you can acquire to get that. It’s at Law Firm Mentor dot net forward slash avatar. And we are going to include that link in the show notes for those of you that want to download that resource. But I want you to think about who are my people from the perspective of not just what is their legal problem, but who are the people that I would most like to work with in my law firm, because those are the people that are going to be most appreciative of your service. They’re going to give you the least amount of pushback on the fee that you choose to charge them. And they’re going to be best suited to not just work with you and follow your legal advice, but also be great referrals for more of those people because like, like, like equals like. We’ll say, that was a lot of likes. It’s early in the morning. I haven’t had my coffee.


Allison Williams: [00:08:24] Like equals like in that birds of a feather flock together. Right. So we’ve all heard that before. OK, so the second question you have to ask yourself about your people is where can I find my people? OK, where can I find my people is a critically important piece of this. This is not just where do they live? Right. But this is where can you get yourself an audience in front of the people who are most likely to buy from you. So that could be how do I get in front of a stage or on a stage in front of the people who could buy from me? Right. How can I get myself online on a platform that is most likely to be filled with people who are able to, and in a need for the service that I offer? It could be as simple as what neighborhoods are they in? Right. If you are boots on the ground type lawyer and you can interact with people at trade shows or at county fairs or at networking events, where are you going to find your people? It’s a very different client avatar who’s going to be at a country club than who’s going to be at a swap meet and neither one is right or wrong. Again, I want you to get out of the frame of judgment and just ask yourself, where are the people that I want to serve? Where do they spend their time? Where are they most likely shopping? Where are they most likely doing their day to day activities? Where do they work? Where do they congregate socially? Are they parents? And if so, where do their children hang out? Where are their children getting education? Academics, you know, the social engagement, are they engaged in sports or are they engaged in music and dance? Where can I find the people that I want to serve? When you ask yourself that question, a lot of things open up for you. So the first thing that opens up is where should I be marketing? OK, where should I be putting my message out in a place where people can consume it?


Allison Williams: [00:10:26] So that could be anything from where do I buy print, advertise it or where do I buy a digital advertisement or where do I sponsor events? It could be where do I do one to one networking? Where do I host events so that people can see my firm logo and information? And if those things are in your mind, immediately goes to those things are outside of my budget. I want you to think about it this way.


Allison Williams: [00:10:52] There are oftentimes opportunities for you to create a barter arrangement with another business owner where you could get into what would otherwise be a paid engagement by simply dedicating your time in some meaningful fashion to that business owner or that entity. So it doesn’t always have to be cash out of hand for you to do marketing. Sometimes it is I give of my time the same way. If you were doing a one to one networking, let’s say you met a lawyer at a bar, then you might give them your time by going to their office and having a conversation with them. That’s one form of time exchange rate. You are giving your time in exchange for the opportunity to have that person get to know you so that he or she could refer you to a client. Similarly, you could do a time exchange. You’re going to give your time either representation wise, legal advice wise, or even simply doing a cross sharing arrangement where you can present an event and bring your respective audiences to an event with another business owner.


Allison Williams: [00:11:52] So lots of different ways to accomplish this without there being a fee, but I want you to first think at the very global level of where the people are, and then you can start to strategize how you’re going to get in front of those people at a price point that works for your budget if there is a budgetary concern. OK, and again, where can I find the people?


Allison Williams: [00:12:13] Very much a part of the Avatar worksheet. So there are three categories that you actually need to think about when defining your ideal client avatar. You think about demographics, which are the outside characteristics of things that we see their race, their gender, their age, their they’re able status. Right. Are they disabled or not? It might be things such as their household income, a whole lot of factors, but things that are quantifiable, yes or no, check the box type of data. Then there is the geographic component, which is where are they located? And again, that’s not just where they live, but where you find them. And then the most important characteristic about people, and this is really what’s going to drive behavior, especially if you are not marketing a service that is tied to race or gender or socioeconomic status.


Allison Williams: [00:13:03] If your characteristics are more global, I want to serve anyone who needs representation in a personal injury matter. And I don’t care if they are male or female, old, young, disabled, not disabled. Right. Well, personal injury. I would imagine it would be better to represent someone disabled as a result of the injury that affects the outcome. But a whole separate discussion here. But if it doesn’t really matter if a person… Excuse me, the person fits within a certain demographic, what is always going to matter is the psychographic component of the person that you’re trying to reach. And the psychographic component is what is it about this person that makes them tick? Right. Who are they at their core? Are they socially conservative or socially liberal. Are they are they the type of people who are civic minded?


Allison Williams: [00:13:55] Are they charitable? You know, or are they not, you know, are they if they are parents, are they the type of parent that is at every PTA meeting, at parent teacher night. They’re setting up the raffle. They’re selling those damn cookies once a year or peanut brittle or, or popcorn. Whatever the thing is that the kid is fundraising for, they’re kind of spearheading it. Do you have those kind of parents or do you have the kind of parents that put their child in boarding school and say, we will be over here living our life and child is going to be at school and child comes home at defined times? Are they the kind of parent that has a nanny?


Allison Williams: [00:14:32] Ok, nothing wrong with having a nanny, but the type of parent who has a nanny and believes in the concept of having help to assist them with raising a child… Very different than a stay at home parent who believes that it is their responsibility to be the primary, if not sole force of influence in the child’s life. Right. And those people think differently. So the psycho dynamic component of your Avatar worksheet really goes to who the person is underneath the hood. OK, so again, you can get that worksheet at Law Firm Mentor Dot Net forward slash Avatar. Now, once you have defined your avatar, you know who you’re speaking to and you know where to find them. The next thing that’s going to that’s going to help you in creating consistent revenue is going after those people in a variety of different ways. And those different ways are going to be what comprises your marketing plan. So let’s talk about what a marketing plan is, OK? A marketing plan is a series of marketing funnels.


Allison Williams: [00:15:37] Ok, so I want you to first envision a funnel. If you ever put oil in a car, you know what a funnel is, it’s an upside down triangle, open at the top, close at the bottom or nearing to close at the bottom. Much wider at the top, ultimately scaling down to narrow or at the bottom. OK, and there are six different components of a marketing funnel that I’m going to talk to you about. OK, so you’re going to have at the very top of your marketing funnel. This is the broadest reach of the funnel. What we refer to as impressions. Impressions are the number of eyeballs that are going to see your message. OK, this is any and every person that could conceivably encounter your message. So think about a billboard, OK? The number of impressions for a billboard is the number of people that drive by the highway where your billboard is located. You can have people that drive by your billboard that have no need for legal services whatsoever.


Allison Williams: [00:16:40] You can have people that drive by your highway, that drive by your billboard on the highway, who don’t have a need for your service, don’t have the ability to pay for your service, don’t have the wherewithal to even know that there is such a service that you provide.


Allison Williams: [00:16:54] But they had the opportunity. OK, that’s what an impression is. It’s an opportunity. They have the opportunity to consume your marketing message. OK, by the way, if you ever encounter a marketer who says to you, I can get you ten thousand impressions, tell them that completely that that information is completely irrelevant. Why? Because, again, it is simply an opportunity if if that opportunity does not correlate with the people who could actually hire you because those people are not in the market for your service, then the fact that they saw it doesn’t really help you.


Allison Williams: [00:17:30] Now, could there be some negligible benefit? Yes. One day I drove past a billboard and I saw John Doe’s Law Firm Mentor John Doe’s Law Firm helps people to sell real estate. And, you know, six months from now, a friend of mine is in the market to sell her house. I could very easily have a conversation with her, with my friend. She says, I’ve got to sell my house sooner rather than later. I could I could remember. Oh, yes, I passed a billboard where John Doe’s Law Firm was advertised. That is possible. Is it probable? No.


Allison Williams: [00:18:03] OK, so when you start thinking about the value of an impression, I want you to give that a very, very, very low value in the grand scheme of things, OK, until you get to the next layer down the funnel, which is your leads, OK? So the very top of the funnel we have impression’s underneath it, we have leads. Leads are people who are in the need of your service, OK, now they’re not yet viable. That’s the next step down. But I want to just talk to you about the idea of a lead at an opportunity to see your marketing message. Might be any random person whatsoever. A lead is somebody who needs the service that you offer. So if you’re a personal injury attorney, it is someone who has been injured in a car accident and needs representation. If you are an immigration attorney, it is someone who is here in the United States without legal authorization and needs to become a naturalized citizen. If you are a family law attorney, it is someone who is in a marriage that is not serving them anymore and they need a divorce. OK, the opportunity happened to also be the lead. But every opportunity, i.e. every impression is not a lead. Every lead at some point had to be an impression because, of course, you had to have consumed the message in order to know that that the service provider that is marketing themselves has a service that you require.


Allison Williams: [00:19:36] So I want you to be thinking about the fact that, again, the impressions start at the top of the funnel and then we work our way down to leads now even better than leads. This is where it becomes even more tailored for you. Even better than the lead is a viable lead. OK, a viable lead is someone who doesn’t just have a need for your service, but they have the wherewithal to acquire you to provide the service, that wherewithal can be defined in any number of way. Some people will define what is viable versus not viable based on price. They will say, I sell a high end service, a viable lead for me as somebody who has the economic ability to afford my service. Now, I generally don’t like to qualify or disqualify someone as viable based on whether or not they can, quote unquote afford a service. And the reason I say that is that there were a whole lot of people that if I were to have screened them out of the possibility to work with me based on what their mind told them was affordable or not, then I would have had a much smaller business and it would have been much harder for me to get to the point of having a multimillion dollar business that I created in three and a half years. I was able to get to that point of having a much larger business because I was able to serve more people.


Allison Williams: [00:20:57] And a lot of that was about taking people who did not perceive that they had the ability to afford my service and educating them on how it was possible. Whether that is talking, talking to them about use of credit or talking to them about ways that they could sell property to acquire the funds, or it could be something as simple as getting a guarantor, right. They might not even know that that’s possible or they might not have the motivation to talk to a relative who has the funds to help them with their legal fees because they were in their emotions about whatever relationship they had with the person. But as soon as I acquainted them with how serious their problem is, they were able to overcome that resistance through a sales conversation. So it really is about taking a person deeper into what is possible for them than they see for themselves. And that then oftentimes will get people that, quote, can’t afford, to realize that they can’t afford not to hire you. But some people, even once we get past the financial criteria, there are some things that will make someone not viable at all. So, for instance, let’s say someone has been accused of murder and they have a murder trial that’s going to start in a week. They might have lost their attorney, maybe their attorney quit.


Allison Williams: [00:22:14] Let’s say the court allowed that to happen, or let’s say that they fired their attorney and the state that they’re in allowed them to fire their attorney without a shadow counsel. And so now they’re contemplating going into a murder trial on their own. And they’re like, oh, crap, I think I want an attorney for this. And they call your office and schedule a consultation, pay the fee, meet with you and then say, all right, I’ve got a murder trial starting a week from today. Can I hire you? Well, that person is a lead because they need the service that you offer. You offer criminal defense representation. They are accused of a crime. However, they’re not viable in that instance because for you, being able to prepare for a murder trial on short notice would require you to drop everything else. And you may or may not be inclined to do that. You may not be able to move your calendar around so that you can all of a sudden get into what could be extensive discovery and preparing for a case that has been in the media. Right. That might not be something that you’re able to do or you might have made a decision. You simply don’t want to do that. You don’t want that level of stress or a viable lead relative to a lead could be someone who has a position that you are not willing to assert.


Allison Williams: [00:23:32] So let’s say that you are an immigration attorney. Well, let me not use immigration attorney, because immigration, I think is man versus government or David versus Goliath that has its own little overtones. That excites some of us. But I think oftentimes there’s limitations for this particular discussion. So let’s talk about maybe family law, OK? Let’s say that you are representing a party or you have the opportunity to represent a party.


Allison Williams: [00:24:00] They’re a lead. So they first were an impression. They saw your marketing message. They realized that they had a need for your service. And then ultimately the question is whether or not they were a viable lead. They may be of the mind that they want to take their child away from the other parent. They may say that the other parent is a harmful human being because they cheated during the course of the marriage. And even though that didn’t have a direct impact on the child, they find that behavior to be morally repugnant and therefore they want you to do any and everything possible to eliminate the other parent from the child’s life. You may not agree with that position, and that might be something that you say, I’m not willing to assert that position. I recognize that you have a legal right to pursue that. Even though the law might not support your legal position. You have a good faith argument for an extension of the law in your in your view, or at least a lawyer could make that claim. I personally don’t want to make that claim. I personally don’t want to assert that position. So therefore, I am not going to consider this person viable to work with me, because any person who comes in with what I consider to be a morally repugnant position, I’m not willing to assert, OK, now that does not mean that you, in your judgment, are correct.


Allison Williams: [00:25:20] There could be another lawyer who’s right next door who sees merit in what the client has to say. Or at least is less offended by what the client wants to assert than you are. OK, so this is not about the righteousness or wrongness of your position. It is simply whatever the criteria is that you define for your law firm that you are willing to accept as a client, makes them viable, versus not viable. OK, so we start again at the top of our funnel. We have our impressions, then we move down to our leads and then we have viable leads. OK, now the viable leads are the ones who are eligible to continue down the funnel to our next three criteria, which really deal with the sales portion of our marketing funnel. So the sales portion is first that we have to get them scheduled for a consultation. Now, some people the scheduling is I, I assess you as a viable lead and I go get you on the phone and go right into selling you.


Allison Williams: [00:26:19] There are a whole host of reasons why I don’t recommend that. And in fact, I was recently on another podcast called Sales Pop that was all about legal intake. And I went into a whole host of factors, including why there is a nurturing process of your lead to warm them up from being a stranger who’s unaware of you, calls your law firm is assessed as viable and then moves right into the scheduling process. That scheduling process has a value that ultimately can impact the sale process. So I don’t believe that you should go straight from getting on the phone with them to selling them. But I recognized for a whole host of reasons, there are people that do that. OK, so I’m actually going to link to that that podcast episode for those of you that are interested in intake, because we’ve covered a lot of things on the value and the how to of structuring your intake so that you can increase the number of people that hire you at the sales process.


Allison Williams: [00:27:13] But just as the point of moving from buyable lead down the funnel, the first thing you have to do is get them scheduled for an appointment. The next thing that has to happen is that they actually have to show up for the appointment. And we talk a lot on in Law Firm Mentor about the value and necessity of having a consultation fee where you are incentivizing a person to show up simply by virtue of the fact that they are paying for some value of meeting with an attorney or another professional in your office. People appreciate things that they pay for more than things that they don’t. And, little tip here. They tend to appreciate things more, when they are paying more.


Allison Williams: [00:27:53] Ok, now, having said that, that means that you have some ability to influence the ability of a person to show up. But we have charged as high as a six hundred dollar consultation fee and had the person not show up. OK. How you choose to handle that, in keeping those fees versus not having cancelation notices versus not, refunds of consultation fees, that’s a whole other discussion.


Allison Williams: [00:28:15] But for today, just know that having that scheduled appointment, the next step of assessment is whether or not that person shows up. And then finally, we get all the way down to the bottom of the funnel, which is of the people who were viable leads. Who showed up, who were scheduled for an appointment and showed up for the appointment? What percentage of those people actually converted to being paying clients? Very, very, very important. Obviously, it doesn’t matter how many people saw your marketing message if you can’t get them to hire you. We’re not going to go very far in this process.


Allison Williams: [00:28:53] Ok, so we have now created a marketing funnel, we have our impressions, our leads are viable leads, our scheduled appointments that show up and become clients. OK, six steps, impression’s leads, viable leads scheduled show up, close. So I want you to think about your funnel. And I want to, I want you to think about a marketing funnel for every type of marketing activity that you are going to do in the course of your law firm. OK, your marketing plan is going to be a series of funnels. So the various different marketing activities, you’re going to have a funnel for each one of those. So, for instance, you could have a funnel for legal or illegal marketing. Networking, right. So one lawyer, you, to another lawyer or to another group of lawyers. Right. That’s one funnel. You could have a funnel for networking with non legal professionals, business owners, community leaders, former clients, whomever is not a legal professional, but put them into that category. Then you might have a marketing funnel for SEO or as we know it, search engine optimization. What are we going to put on our website that’s going to draw people to our website based on the number of key words that are being searched in the marketplace and our domain. Our our our website ranking as authoritative as a source of that information that’s being sought. We might have SEO as a part of our marketing funnel. Then let’s say you’re going to have a marketing funnel for speaking engagements, the number of people who schedule themselves or that are coming to your presentations where you are giving out information and ultimately creating a speaking arrangement or speaking a framework whereby people are inclined to say, yes, I either want to refer somebody to that person or I want to work with that person because they have the ability to solve a problem that I have or that a client of mine has. Right. So you can have a funnel for speaking engagements for each of these funnels.


Allison Williams: [00:31:10] You are going to go through the six steps of evaluating the number of impressions at the top, all the way down to the number of clients at the bottom. OK, so again, you’re going to ask yourself for each of those different marketing activities, for networking with legal professionals, networking with non legal professionals, search engine optimization, public speaking engagements. Each of those characters, each of those activities is going to have its own funnel.


Allison Williams: [00:31:40] And then each of those funnels, you’re going to ask yourself how many impressions, how many opportunities exist of that particular type. So how many opportunities do I have to network with legal professionals? How many opportunities do I have to network with non legal professionals? How many opportunities do I have for people to see my marketing messages online? How many opportunities do I have for myself to get in front of a stage? Right, get on the stage in front of people. How many people are going to going to hear and see my my message from stage? Once you have asked yourself that question and ascertain the answer to that question, right, you know your impressions, then you start making projections down the funnel. So at the very top, you have opportunities. Then you from those opportunities, you have to project the number of leads that you’re going to generate and how many of those leads are going to be viable. Now, with networking, we tend to have a greater likelihood of pulling viable leads from all of the leads that are generated because you are having more of an interpersonal connection with a referral source and the people who are sending your your potential clients your way, you’re going to have a greater opportunity for those people ultimately to be vetted, but with things that are a broader reach, like search engine optimization or pay per click marketing. Those activities tend to not universally, but they tend to have a much broader reach for the number of impressions of whom become leads becomes a significant drop off.


Allison Williams: [00:33:24] So it’s not uncommon that from impressions all the way down to clients, you can have a three to four to five, maybe even 10 percent rate. They’re right, 10 percent of the people that are impressions for your marketing message online could ultimately become your clients. And those numbers are going to be greatly different from digital marketing relative to your face to face person to person marketing. So you have to be looking at each of them separately. If… What I’ve seen some people do is say, how many people do I get in front of in the course of a year in everything that I do in online and offline, in person to person marketing and marketing with lawyers, marketing with non lawyers and former clients. How do I… How many of those are there total and how many clients do we get a year?


Allison Williams: [00:34:19] When you when you lump it all together, it becomes very, very challenging for you to target your message using that ideal client avatar. And it becomes very challenging for you to make accurate projections. Because what you can expect off of search engine optimization, very different than what you can expect off a person to person marketing or person to person networking. OK, so I want you to envision that series of funnels, right? This is what our marketing plan is. You’re going to have that series of funnels for each marketing activity that you do, and then you’re going to start applying some numbers. OK. So the first number that you have to apply to this is the number of clients that you project from each of those activities. Right? Top of the funnel, you’re going to have a really big number. Bottom of the funnel, not so much.


Allison Williams: [00:35:10] So if you assume that networking is going to get you five clients in the course of a year, that is one key number that you have to know. Then the next key number that you have to know is the average case value of the cases that you are going to generate. OK, so I want you to think about it this way. If I am marketing a high end service, let’s say I am marketing business subscription services and I charge five thousand dollars a month for every business that I that I bring into my subscription service right in the course of a year, if I generate one client that is sixty thousand dollars for the year because that’s five thousand dollars a month. OK, that has a different economic value than if in the exact same law firm, I also service estate planning clients. And if I sell an estate plan for five thousand dollars, then one client is five thousand dollars of value. So if my one to one networking is the way that I generate my business clients, I’m going to have to factor in how much time it is worth to me to invest in networking when one client equates to sixty thousand dollars, I probably am not willing to spend the same amount of time in one to one networking to generate estate planning clients because a client that is worth sixty thousand dollars is worth a lot more economically than a client who is valued at five thousand dollars.


Allison Williams: [00:36:43] OK, so you have to both consider how much time you’re going to invest and how much money you’re going to invest. Right? If a client is worth sixty thousand dollars to you, one client equals sixty thousand. You might be willing to spend five thousand dollars to secure that client. Right. Five thousand dollars to secure a sixty thousand dollar client. Right. You’ve got a 12 times return on your investment versus how much you’re willing to spend to get that estate planning client. That estate planning client is economically worth five thousand dollars. You’re obviously not going to spend five thousand dollars to acquire a five thousand dollar client because then you’re out of money. So there’s a different economic metric in terms of what you are going to be willing to get to those impressions that are going to lead to your leads and your viable leads. That top of the funnel. Right. The value of the top of the funnel is going to have to be evaluated. Now, in addition to knowing the number of clients that you’re going to project from each of those activities, you are also going to have to consider at a granular level the average case value from each of the different marketing activities.


Allison Williams: [00:37:53] OK, and let’s assume for purposes of this discussion that each of these funnels that you are creating to generate clients is going to be geared toward generating the same type of client. So if you are a criminal defense attorney and on average, pretrial cases get you five thousand dollars, trials get you twenty thousand dollars, and there’s a question mark of what’s going to be in between, then you know that if you get in at the pretrial stage, you’re assured five thousand dollars. The balance is a question mark. Right. And the balance, whenever you have a balance, there’s a question mark. You also have to start applying things like reasonable hypotheticals and and some projections on the statistical number of people that get you to that second part of the funnel. Right. That’s a little bit more in depth than we’re going to talk about today. But just know that that’s out there. But let’s let’s kind of stay with the first part where we have some level of security of knowing pretrial case, five thousand dollars. OK. and by the way, these numbers are completely made up. I know that there’s a lot of variability in terms of what we charge for different services across the country. So I’m just using flat numbers to make it easy math.


Allison Williams: [00:39:06] OK, so if we know in a particular case that an average case is five thousand dollars and we have lots of different marketing activity, that’s going to lead us to that same five thousand dollar value case, we might have one to one networking that could lead to a case. We might have public speaking engagements that could lead to a certain type of case, search engine optimization that could lead to a certain type of case. We have to be thinking about the total number of cases that we can project from an activity in order to create a budget for what’s appropriate. And we have to be thinking both short term and long term, because there are some short term activity that is a lot of investment up front, but it pays dividends for years. So public speaking tends to fall into that category. If you are somebody that really enjoys being on stage and you have a lot of opportunities, or you can make yourself a lot of opportunities, because I firmly believe that if you don’t have opportunities, you can create them.


Allison Williams: [00:40:05] But you can create for yourself opportunities to be speaking. It may be that you can immediately from the first speaking engagement, if you if you structure it in a certain way, you can drive people into your funnel and ultimately be marketing to them through email marketing, text marketing, social media marketing, because they’re in your line of sight and they’re following you, you might be able to cultivate people to become clients of yours.


Allison Williams: [00:40:29] That way you might even get clients in the first communication. You know, at one point in time, I had a certain stage that I knew if I got myself onto the certain stage in New Jersey where my law firm is located, that if I was on a stage for the state, our state has an institute of continuing legal education. I could reasonably predict thirty thousand dollars over the next 90 days would come into my office and client revenue. I’ve had it be as high as fifty thousand, but it had averaged out to about thirty thousand dollars. So getting on to that particular stage at a certain time, I could say if I want a certain amount of money in my law firm, one stage equals thirty thousand dollars becomes a planning mechanism. Right. So if one stage gets me thirty thousand dollars in varying different ways, if I’m selling some services or high end divorce services, very different than one and done post judgment services, or child abuse representation services, which can be priced variable depending on complexity. If I have that type of model and I can project what types of clients I’m going to generate through the referrals that come in through that particular stage, and I know it has a dollar amount that over the course of time averages thirty thousand dollars. I can say great. Through that particular marketing activity. I’ll get on stage four times. That, over the course of a year is one hundred and twenty thousand dollars. That is planning that comes from knowing your numbers, knowing what the value is from that particular funnel. It’s just that one funnel.


Allison Williams: [00:42:07] Now, I would never recommend that you build your law firm on one funnel. You have to know again the impressions of a particular funnel leading down to the clients. And you’re going to be hypothesizing, at least at the beginning, until you have done the marketing activity with regularity and consistency, enough to know that on the balance you can project reasonably. This particular funnel leads to a certain amount of clients and you need to know what types of cases are being generated from each funnel so that you can do that math as well. Right. So the example I gave you earlier, public speaking, one stage equals thirty thousand dollars. That thirty thousand dollars wasn’t one thirty thousand dollar case. It might be on average six five thousand cases or it might be twelve twenty five hundred dollar cases. But if you don’t know the difference, you don’t know how to prepare for the work that’s going to come in from your marketing.


Allison Williams: [00:43:06] Now of course, this is a very integrated process. This is what we talk about globally. This is what we help people with in our annual programs at Law Firm Mentor. But, you know, because there’s no way for you to market and grow your business without considering things such as generating all these leads, I want to make sure I know how to sell them. I got to get them not just to the door, but over the threshold.


Allison Williams: [00:43:28] As a paying client, I also have to know who I’m staffing my firm up with because if I’m generating a whole high volume of lower economic cost clients. I’m going to have to pay someone to do that volume, versus a higher volume or pardon me, a lower volume of higher cost clients. I need fewer people, but the metrics may be different. What I compensate the people may be different because of the skill that’s required.


Allison Williams: [00:43:54] I might have more infrastructure needs for a particular type of case to service versus servicing a case that requires essentially just legal representation or advice and consultation to a to a client. So you have to know what goes into actually delivering the service that you are marketing for. But in your marketing plan, you just have to have the various different funnels, a projection of the number of clients that’s going to come out of each funnel and the knowledge of what the average case value is so that you can say funnel number one is going to generate me five clients. Each is worth ten thousand. That’s a fifty thousand dollar funnel. Funnel number two is going to generate for me 10 clients. And each of those is a thousand dollars. That’s a ten thousand dollar funnel. Funnel number three is going to generate for me twenty five clients at five thousand dollars each. That’s one hundred and twenty five thousand dollars funnel and so forth. OK, so again, you’re looking at clients times the average case value for each of your funnels and that’s going to tell you what your revenue is going to be. Now from your revenue, you’re going to be able to make some reasonable predictions about what you should be spending in terms of the marketing activity, and what you should be spending should be always contemplated and reviewed as an investment that generates a certain return. Marketing is never an expense. It is always an investment that has a return on the investment.


Allison Williams: [00:45:25] So if you’re spending a lot of money in a particular funnel, even though what you are generating from that funnel is low, you have a low return on your investment and sometimes not universally, but sometimes you might say, I’m willing to do that because what I’m generating today in dollars today is going to be building for my future. And I have more than enough return on investment in a funnel that is a low cost, low investment funnel where I get a high return on investment. So you might not get the same return on investment of each of your marketing funnels. But it’s really important to be aware that if you are getting a low return on your investment, that that is not simply happenstance because this marketing quote, does not work and it also might not be consistent with what others are doing. So you might need to do some research there to see how to optimize your funnel, but your funnel should always be something that you are very intentional about. It’s really, really important that you not simply have a mindset of I’ve got X dollars a year to generate Y dollars in revenue, each funnel has to have its own investment strategy so that when you are evaluating the return on investment, you know whether or not, A, you can afford it from a perspective of your law firm, what you have right now, and to whether or not what you are investing in a particular funnel has a return on investment that warrants the continued investment.


Allison Williams: [00:46:55] Now, once you have all of your funnels and a projection of the number of clients that you have in each funnel, what’s going to come out of it, right, from impression’s at the top to clients at the bottom, and you multiply it times your average case value, that’s going to get you to dollars and cents, your value, right. Your what’s what’s coming out at the bottom of the funnel. And, you should also now be able to project out what you (have afford what you) can afford in terms of spending to get to that point. Now, I cover this very, very, very, very quickly in another podcast episode called On Legal Marketing 2.0. And I just recorded this episode. I’m not even sure when it’s going to be released, so I’m not going to put this in the show notes. I just want to tell you guys that that’s out there. I went into it in a little bit greater detail here because I wanted to give you more of a foundation of how to do this. But I will tell you that we cover the the varying different ways to create marketing funnels and how to do that in a course I created called More Money, More Free Time. And the More Money, More Free Time course is one of our signature offerings here at Law Firm Mentor.


Allison Williams: [00:48:02] But it really is foundational information on how you can start to get consistency and recurring revenue in your law firm. So we’re going to put the link to that. I believe right now we are offering it for four ninety seven. The price will be going up as of January one. So if you’re interested in learning how to create consistent revenue, the More Money, More Free Time course actually goes into a whole host of different things that covers marketing, sales, people, systems, finance, facilities and success mindset. Of course, we know everything that we do in business is about the mindset with which we approach it. But if you’re interested in that, that is going to be in the show notes as well. So I’m giving you today just a little bit of an overview of how you can create a marketing plan. Now, the most important thing that I can tell you about marketing plans is that it is very, very important that you have a plan for your law firm so that you can spend money in a way that is expansive and abundant, not retracted and and restrictive. The reason is that it becomes very challenging for you to be in business if you don’t have a prediction today of what’s going to happen three months, six months, nine months from now. A lot of us this year had predictions for our law firm that did not come into fruition because of the implications of the coronavirus and quarantine and all of the ramifications that come from that.


Allison Williams: [00:49:27] But those of us that had a plan that we had to pivot, oftentimes and for what I’m hearing in the marketplace, we did a lot better than those of us that were flying by the seat of our pants and hoping for the best. OK, so while it is generally true that failure to plan equals planning to fail, we also know that not having a plan typically will increase your stress level exponentially when things go awry. So it’s really important to have that plan so that you can have a certain level of confidence in what you’re doing and so that you can seize opportunities when the moment strikes because you’ll have the resources available to do that. OK, this has been Marketing Planning 101. I am Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. And I want to invite you for those of you that are still listening to the podcast after we launched in February of twenty twenty, I want to thank you for being a part of our audience. And I want to invite you if you’re enjoying the podcast, to leave us a review. We are on all the major platforms on Apple, on Google, on Stitcher, Spotify, IHeart radio. Wherever you get your podcasts, leave us a review. Let us know how you enjoy the show. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor, everyone. Have a great day!


Allison Williams: [00:50:48] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s guest and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement free Facebook group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours, enjoying the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firms and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day!


00:34:19  (50 Seconds)

When you when you lump it all together, it becomes very, very challenging for you to target your message using that ideal client avatar. And it becomes very challenging for you to make accurate projections. Because what you can expect off of search engine optimization, very different than what you can expect off a person to person marketing or person to person networking. OK, so I want you to envision that series of funnels, right? This is what our marketing plan is. You’re going to have that series of funnels for each marketing activity that you do, and then you’re going to start applying some numbers. OK. So the first number that you have to apply to this is the number of clients that you project from each of those activities. Right? Top of the funnel, you’re going to have a really big number. Bottom of the funnel, not so much.


00:42:07 (59 Seconds)

Now, I would never recommend that you build your law firm on one funnel. You have to know again the impressions of a particular funnel leading down to the clients. And you’re going to be hypothesizing, at least at the beginning, until you have done the marketing activity with regularity and consistency, enough to know that on the balance you can project reasonably. This particular funnel leads to a certain amount of clients and you need to know what types of cases are being generated from each funnel so that you can do that math as well. Right. So the example I gave you earlier, public speaking, one stage equals thirty thousand dollars. That thirty thousand dollars wasn’t one thirty thousand dollar case. It might be on average six five thousand cases or it might be twelve twenty five hundred dollar cases. But if you don’t know the difference, you don’t know how to prepare for the work that’s going to come in from your marketing.

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Allison Williams

Allison C. Williams, Esq., is Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Wall Township, New Jersey.  She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law. Ms. Williams is a member of the New Jersey Board on Attorney Certification (NJBAC) – Matrimonial Committee, a New Jersey Supreme Court committee that determines eligibility of candidates to be certified as a recognized practitioner in the field of matrimonial law.

Ms. Williams has been named a Rising Star Attorney by the New Jersey Super Lawyers franchise continuously from 2008 – 2013, and has been named a Super Lawyer by that organization for 2014 – 2019. In 2016, she was featured in the Super Lawyers publication (Williams v. The Rubber Stamp), she has been named one of the Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in New Jersey from 2017-2019 and in 2019, was voted in the Top 100 Super Lawyers in the State of New Jersey.

Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017.  In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.

In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers.  She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.  Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications and money management in law firms. 

She received her B.S., magna cum laude, and her M.S., summa cum laude, from Florida State University. She received her J.D., cum laude, from Syracuse University College of Law.