Practice Management

The proof of the pudding

In our last GhostMarketer Series article we discussed some common marketing mistakes.

Let’s end off 2015 (where did the year go?) with a look at –

  • How to measure the results of your marketing campaigns, 
  • Staying “top-of-mind” with your target market,
  • 3 practical ways to maximise the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

The End Result – that’s what counts
“Marketing exists to find, service and keep customers” (Gower Handbook of Marketing)

So, does marketing your law firm work? Will it help retain existing clients? Will it help increase your client base? Is it worth the cost?

As the wise old adage has it: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating”. In other words it’s the end result that counts, which means that the true value of marketing your firm and its services can only be judged when you have actually tried it out.

But how do I measure those end results?”
“Return on investment (ROI) is the benefit to the investor resulting from an investment of some resource” (Wikipedia)

Don’t get too hung up on what the ROI of a particular marketing campaign is, it’s easy to get bogged down in detail and to lose sight of the overall objective – increasing your firm’s profitability. But ROI can certainly give you a feel for how worthwhile a proposed marketing venture will be in comparison with other possibilities, and calculating it can be a valuable planning exercise. To establish it you will need to quantify two components –

1. What the campaign has cost or is costing you
It’s easy to measure actual expenditure – the cost of having a new website developed for example, or the monthly cost of outsourcing your client newsletter, or entertainment costs for the year and so on. But what about hidden costs? Most often overlooked is the “time and effort” component. That’s a big mistake – lost time is frequently your biggest drain on resources, particularly in smaller firms. So ask yourself – how much billable time did our professionals spend on this project? What about support staff time?

2. What return the campaign has given or is giving you
Note: Take into account here returns from client retention, not just from client acquisition. Retention is arguably the more important of the two, yet it’s often ignored.

For a professional services firm, measuring marketing return is never going to be an exact science. It’s particularly tricky to measure the benefit of remaining top-of-mind with your clients and prospective clients, yet, for conveyancers in particular, that’s often the core benefit of regular marketing.

Sometimes it’s easy to link a new instruction directly to say a newsletter article or an email banner announcement, but often you will have to rely on “gut feel” based on a whole range of factors, such as perhaps –

  1. Your overall perception of how your campaign has been received in the marketplace. 
  2. Anecdotal reports from your professionals and support staff on levels and types of engagement.
  3. Direct client feedback.
  4. If you host seminars/webinars and the like, compare attendance rates with actual engagement. Ditto with networking functions, your corporate suite at the local rugby stadium etc.
  5. Response tracking tools like “Contact Us” forms, “advertisement only” phone numbers, QR codes (it seems that reports of their imminent death have, as the saying goes, been greatly exaggerated) may or may not be worth investigating for particular projects. You can always look at the hard stats from impressions and clicks to conversion actions using tools such as Google Analytics – bear in mind that whilst such tools can help measure online engagement, by themselves they don’t show the full impact on your audience.
  6. Newsletter open rates. Note that the benchmark open rate for “Legal Services” newsletters is 14,6% (see the “Open rates by industry” graphic here) so anything over 20% puts you well ahead of the pack; but something needs fixing if you drop below 10%.

That should all give you a feel for the level of engagement generated by your campaign. Stage 2 of course is to track your conversion rate, which will enable you to project your actual return in Rands from your campaign.

Your ROI then is the percentage you get from this formula –

ROI = (Your projected return – Your projected Cost) x 100
                               Your Projected Cost

To take a simplistic example, if outsourcing your client newsletter costs you say R285 p.m. (R3,420 p.a.) and you anticipate generating transfer matters with a projected annual return of say R40,000, your ROI will be 1,069% calculated as follows –

R36,580 (Return R40,000 – Cost R3,420) x 100 = 1,069% ROI
                              Cost R3,420

Just remember that ROI can only measure part of the impact on your audience and that it cannot account for the long-term benefits inherent in Brand Awareness marketing, so use it as a planning and comparison tool, not as a decision maker in itself.

Remaining top-of-mind with Brand Awareness: It’s critical, but not easily measured
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” (Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon)

For conveyancers, the whole point of your marketing of course is to remain top-of-mind at all times with your target market by (a) establishing and (b) maintaining your firm’s “brand awareness”.

Your brand is more than just a striking logo; it’s your reputation as a whole. So make “brand awareness” the keystone of every bit of marketing you do. Use everything you can - your client newsletters, your website, your letterheads, your email signatures, your office signage, your corporate gifts and your Social Media posts – to keep reminding your clients and prospective clients who you are and what you can do for them.

Gauging the true effectiveness of a general brand awareness campaign takes time. The relationship-driven nature of a law firm’s business, and the fact that it typically takes many months or years to convert initial interest into a new instruction, mean that instantly quantifiable and recognisable results will be very much the exception.

Remember that most ROI can only measure direct, immediate, quantifiable results – you will still have to take a stab at the all-important longer term and harder-to-measure benefits.

3 practical ways to increase your ROI
“You have to spend money to make money” (Plautus, a Roman playwright and philosopher who clearly also knew a thing or two about marketing)

Let’s end off with 3 thoughts on maximising your ROI -

  1. Control your costs but don’t penny-pinch: Common sense this, although often downplayed. Walk the line here between counterproductive penny-pinching on the one hand, and being seduced into buying expensive marketing “solutions” that you don’t actually need (there are a lot of them around) on the other.
  2. Focus on your Target Market: Make every cent count. Communicate directly with your best sources of repeat and new instructions. Avoid expensive (and therefore low ROI) “spray and pray” advertising unless it works for your particular field of expertise.
  3. Pick your hunting grounds with care: Choose marketing channels appropriate to your particular target market. Every firm will be different here, but your most productive hunting grounds in the Internet Age are likely to be online. Most worthwhile clients want to find and research you in cyberspace. And they remember firms that keep in touch with them via regular, quality electronic communication.

Conveyancers: This is for you
Let us help you maximise your ROI with our free DotNewsConnect Consultation service. Remember also that GhostMarketer comes free with your GhostConvey. We’ll get you started on it – for more, see Are you using GhostMarketer yet?

Well, that’s it from us for this year. Have a great Festive Season and enjoy the break!

More articles in the GhostMarketer series by LawDotNews -

Article 1:  Are you using GhostMarketer yet?
Article 2:  Six reasons to market your firm
Article 3:  Targeted Marketing: Choosing your tools
Article 4:  Shoestring Marketing
Article 5:  GhostMarketer - Getting started
Article 6:  Client Newsletter - A practical guide
Article 7:  Branding: The basics
Article 8:  Marketing Mistakes

Contact us on 086 110 5904 (or email for more on your free set up on the GhostMarketer platform and other LawDotNews services.

Jack Crook, Director at DotNews is well known to law firms as the author of LawDotNews since 2005. Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping other small and medium sized professional firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

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