I am the owner of a 5 attorney estate planning/elder law firm in Boston. Our business volume is been stagnant for the past several years and down substantially this past year. We try to do all the marketing that we can. I do at least one seminar a month, we are in key directories, have a good website, send out paper and print newsletters, etc. In the past we have experimented with TV and radio advertising where we used professional narrators/actors. The results were dismal at best. Frankly, I feel we need to spend more on advertising but we are undercapitalized and funds are tight. I would appreciate your thoughts.
I am working with several firms that are facing similar challenges. Here are a few comments and thoughts:
- A different strategy is required for firms marketing to smaller wealth clients than larger "well-healed" wealthier clients.
- Advertising can be effective for the smaller wealth clients that have never had a relationship with an attorney. However referrals from referral sources and past clients are still the primary source that generates the majority of new client business.
- Advertising is less effective in generating business from wealthier clients. A majority of business from these clients is typically generated from referrals from referral sources, past clients, and relationship marketing activities.
- Some of my most successful estate planning firms, especially those that represent wealthier clients, spend almost nothing on advertising and their major marketing investment is on relationship nurturing.
- You might want to look into a cable TV ad or Radio Program but proceed with caution, only if you can afford to have a sustained program, only if you are in the ad and the ad is done in a way that creates a relationship with the client (not perceived as a commercial), the results and effectiveness are measured, and an effective system is put in place for responding to inquiries on a 24/7 basis.
- Before investing in radio or TV ads - do all that you can with the website. Insure that it enables your clients to get to know you (personally and professionally) and feel that they have a relationship with you. Consider educational FAQ videos and a video center on the website. You might use these as "baby-steps" to TV advertising.
- Create a marketing plan and budget to focus your activities and help you avoid random acts of marketing.
- Insure that your client services are top notch and actually measure client satisfaction. Since referrals is often the major source of new business, you cannot afford to have unhappy clients or referral sources.
John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC