Marketing budgets vary by sector, and nowhere is that difference more evident than in law firm vs. consumer packaged goods marketing budgets. One survey showed that consumer packaged goods devote 24% of their total company budget on marketing. That number includes national companies who spend millions on television, print ads and promotions. By comparison, law firms spend about 2-4% of gross revenues on marketing.
Law firms don’t necessarily need to spend nearly a quarter of their revenue on marketing, but the difference in spending is a dramatic one, and is worth a closer look. Product companies think of their marketing as an integral part of doing business. In the face of massive competition, the on-going battle for shelf space in retail brick and mortar stores and top-of-mind consumer awareness, they have no choice.
Competition among law firms and online legal services and the rise of legal marketing has transformed the legal services sector. It is no longer sufficient to be a highly skilled and caring practitioner, just as being the tastiest sirloin alone does not sell a steak. You know what’s coming next: the sizzle.
Does your budget have room for sizzle? Digital marketing means that legal marketers can do more with limited resources, but there comes a point where budget size has a negative impact on results. Try running a law firm without billing software. It can be done, but the cost in time and staff resources becomes a losing proposition.
Where are law firms spending their marketing budgets?
- Website development and maintenance
- Marketing software—E2-CRM, CLIPSM
- Social media—your time, staff time or outside agency
- Creative—branding, graphic design
- Digital advertising—AdWords, Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns
- SEO—Search Engine Optimization
- Print advertising
- Public relations
- Special events
- Promotional imprinted items
- Collateral materials (brochures, client materials binders/folders)
- Stationary, labels, business cards
When conducting a mid-year review of the law firm’s financial performance, look at the budget for marketing in relation to the firm’s six month revenues. It won’t be 24%, but if it’s too low, perhaps it’s time to consider what opportunities are being missed. Go back three or four years and be sure to compare apples to apples. Is there a connection between your marketing spend and the firm’s performance? What events occurred that spurred more income for the firm?