From the week of Thanksgiving through the end of the year, many lawyers begin thinking more about holidays and family time than work or litigation. The same holds true for potential clients. So – do we wait until mid-January to resume our business development? Or, do we take advantage of the holiday season downtime to evaluate, plan, and budget so that we can crush it in 2015?
Making a List and Checking it Twice
You could take the end of the year to relax, but when your competitors hit 2015 at a sprint, your law firm will be left behind. Where should you start? If your law firm does not currently keep a running budget, spreadsheet, or other document that shows all of your marketing and business development expenditures, now is the time to start one. The document should include these headings for each expenditure (i.e. pay-per-click campaign for trucking accidents):
- Campaign title
- Vendor name and contact information
- Campaign goal
- Valuable analytics (i.e. number of website clicks)
- Acquisition cost per lead
- Acquisition cost per qualified lead
- Acquisition cost per signed case
- Acquisition cost per qualified case
- Projected revenue
- Cost of campaign by month
- Total spent in 2014
Once you create this template and fill it in with your law firm’s data, you will use it as a way to measure your law firm’s return on investment by marketing expenditure. Once you look at the data, you should grade each campaign, for example rating them one-star to five-stars. While we hope that most of your marketing choices perform well and get four or five stars, commonly law firms will find that their investments range from bad to great. You will be tempted to rate everything toward the middle, but please don’t. Now is the time to give an honest assessment of your paid endeavors so that you can strategize how you want to spend your money in 2015.
Once you have your marketing expenditure list with rankings, what do you do with it?
If I had a list like this, my gut instinct would be to dive straight into the bottom and fix the worst rated items. I think that most people would be inclined to start fixing problems. If your law firm has serious financial problems or other imminent troubles, and you can do something about them, get these items taken care of first. If your law firm has a few one and two star items on the list that are not really causing you too much pain, you are just like everyone else, and you can ignore them for now.
Instead, look at what you did in 2014 that performed the best. Take a look at what’s working and make these items even better. Even though you are statistically doing well and having financial success at the five-star level, there is always room for improvement. Don’t settle for very good when you can have the best.
Start with your five-star campaigns and move downward. While projected revenue is a great source of measuring campaign success, you can and should look to the other sections of your law firm’s report, including acquisition costs, data from social media key performance indicators, and data from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. Analyze your report and ascertain your law firm action items for next year. Some potential data with action items, can include:
- I got my most valuable matters in 2014 from going to one-on-one lunches with professional acquaintances.
- ACTION ITEM: Schedule one lunch per week with an existing or potential referral source for the first quarter of 2015.
- My website got substantially more clicks from social advertising than it did from paid search advertising.
- ACTION ITEM: Adjust your budget to allow for an increased spend on social advertising.
Don’t Just Measure Marketing, Tackle Overhead
Most of us have no idea how much we spend on running our law practices. Now that we have time on our hands, we should spend some of it working through all of our business expenses. This will help the firm better understand where its money is being spent, and how to cut costs in 2015 so that you can spend more on your five-star marketing campaigns. Some of these potential overhead expenditures are included in my recent blog post “Checklist for Starting Your Own Law Firm.”