A new year is a great time to reevaluate a business. For many lawyers and law firms, reviewing the previous years financial numbers—revenue, expenses, client acquisition, etc—can be quite frustrating. The unfortunate reality is that a significant number of law firms fail to meet their yearly business objectives. One report from the American Bar Association (ABA) found half of law firms surveyed were falling short of annual billable hour targets—let alone other business objectives.
The good news is that it does not have to be this way. Many law firms, small and large, miss their yearly business goals for similar reasons. By addressing some of the most common problems and developing a more comprehensive overall strategy, lawyers and law firms can put themselves in the best position to thrive. In this article, you will find a list of eight of the most common reasons why law firms fail to reach their annual business objectives.
Does your law firm have a CRM tool in place? CRM (customer relationship management) is a term of art in the marketing industry. As simply defined by Investopedia, the term CRM refers broadly to the overall “principles, practices, and guidelines that an organization follows when interacting with its customers.” Put another way, your law firm’s ‘CRM’ is everything that it presents to customers—from the search results to the website to the person that they speak to on the phone when they reach. CRM tools (CRM software) can be used to make the process more accommodating to current and potential clients. Additionally, it can make things more efficient for your law firm.
How does your law firm reach potential clients? As of 2020, the American Bar Association (ABA) reports that one in three people who hire a lawyer initially reach out to them through a law firm website. For some practice areas (personal injury law, immigration law, small business law, etc), the share of people finding an attorney through a website is even higher than that. If your firm’s website is poorly designed or otherwise difficult to navigate it could be driving good clients away.
Beyond merely having well-designed, easy-to-use websites, law firms need a website that consumers can actually find. What happens when you Google your city and your practice area when signed out of your accounts? Does your law firm’s website come up near the top? Is it even on the first page? If not, there is a very good chance that your website’s SEO is lacking. SEO (search engine optimization) is essential to ensuring that your website actually appears in results.
All businesses can benefit from a comprehensive overall marketing strategy. Law firms are no exception. What is the strategy for getting new clients? Is your law firm looking for individual clients (direct-to-consumer) or business/organization clients (business-to-business). Your firm’s strategy should be well-crafted for its overall goals.
Notably, in 2022, different legal practices areas need different legal strategies. For example, pay-per-click advertising (PPC advertising) is very important for personal injury law firms. In contrast, immigration law firms can often benefit from relying more heavily on a content marketing strategy.
Content is king on the internet in 2022. One reason why many law firms fail to meet their business goals is that they are simply not following through with an in depth content strategy. Is fresh (useful) content ever posted on your firm’s website? If not, you are likely missing out on key business opportunities. To start, new and relevant content will dramatically help your SEO rankings. It will help to ensure that your website actually gets in front of potential clients. Additionally, people respond far more favorably to websites that are frequently updated with new and useful content.
Does your law firm make effective use of all of the latest legal technologies? If not, that could be one of the main reasons why it is failing to meet its yearly business expectations. While adapting to new legal tech—from document/case management software to CRM tools—can sometimes be challenging, it can make a big difference in the long run. Law firms that are effective in using the most advanced legal technology can increase productivity, decrease costs, and obtain more clients.
Google dominates the search engine market. According to data provided by Statista, Google accounts for the overwhelming majority of search engine traffic in the United States—so much so that the term “Google it” is essentially synonymous with looking something up online. What happens when a client looks up the name of your law firm? Do they find an accurate, updated business profile? If there is nothing there, a lot of people will just simply click away and look for another attorney. Losing clients because of something relatively simple like creating a business —and a strong web presence overall—is a common reason why law firms fail to meet their goals.
Finally, many law firms fail to meet their business objectives because they do not have anyone in charge of the marketing and client management strategy. Attorneys practice law. Their focus is best spent doing what they were trained to do—not on marketing matters. Depending on the specific circumstances, a law firm may or may not benefit from hiring an employee as a full-time marketing professional. For many small and mid-sized firms, the most cost effective solution is to outsource some (or all) of their marketing strategy to an outside professional. With a well-crafted marketing and client management plan, lawyers and law firms can save time, save money, and meet their annual business objectives.