My 2016 legal marketing game plan

It is hard to believe that 2015 is almost over! Only 2 months remain. As we wrap up 2015, it is time to begin planning for 2016. My game plan for next year is to increase local market share and develop a competitive advantage through niche marketing. As I’ve written previously, our legal practices face increased competition on two fronts: the rapid rate at which new attorneys are entering the marketplace and the emergence of non-regulated legal services. To adjust to this changing landscape and remain competitive and profitable, we must “stake our claim” in our local market and target areas that are more difficult for these companies to penetrate.

Increase local market share

To build a local market share, you must engage with your audience. To quote legal marketing expert Stephen Fairley, CEO of The Rainmaker Institute, you must “build your list!” If you are not sending out e-newsletters on a monthly basis, you are missing out on a significant amount of revenue and residual income. 3 years ago, I began sending monthly newsletters to clients and prospective clients. Since then, my dependence on new business has dramatically decreased. Without fail, with every newsletter I send, I receive legal work from former clients or individuals who contacted our firm in the past. Constant communication with your list yields results.

Local advertising—both online and off—is a good way to increase your presence in local markets. Seek out unique and creative opportunities. Depending on your area of practice, consider advertising in local sports bars, gas station video ads, and community magazines. In many cases, you’ll discover that your competition is not advertising in these venues, and, as a result, you’ll easily stand out. Keep in mind, however, that these creative methods should be done in addition to traditional methods, such as advertising in highly targeted legal directories like Avvo. Also, remember to check your business listings in Google, Yahoo Local, and Bing Places.

Charities are another unlikely channel that present a tremendous opportunity for exposure. Find a cause that is important to you and purchase an ad in their program. For example, an organization with a 5K fundraising race might allow you to include material in their runner’s package.

Find your Niche

A niche marketing strategy can be executed in a variety of ways. You can focus, for example, on a particular practice area, industry, or ethnic group. Last year, I was fortunate to represent a number of Hispanic clients who were seeking a business attorney fluent in Spanish. This is just one example of many. As time goes one, it will become more and more important to find creative ways to set ourselves apart from the competition.

To be successful, these 2 strategies require time and a financial commitment. And, although these strategies may not yield immediate results, consistent branding will establish depth and a solid presence in your local market—an achievement your competitors will have a hard time following.