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smart goals for attorneys

SMART Goals: Marketing for Law Firms

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SMART Goals for Legal Marketing

There is a common trap in marketing with law firms. The trap is the assumption that everyone is on board and our goals are simple in what we are looking to accomplish. We want to generate leads. Right?


Well yes and no.


We do want to generate leads, but what is really the goal here. Are we generating law firm leads for short-term gain? Do we want to grow our firm by a certain number of lawyers over the next year or two?


There is a reason these questions are important. The answers will set the expectation, tone and direction of your leadership team and marketing working together.


For instance, if your goal is to bring in two additional Family Law attorneys in the next 6 months, your marketing team can tell you if the leads are actually there with data instead of guessing or worst yet, assuming that the leads are there.


Now, would your marketing team know to start getting you this data with the intention of it being utilized to assist your leadership team in making growth decisions for your firm? Maybe, maybe not.


The point is that we must identify our goals clearly from the beginning.


When done correctly, having an integrated and data driven approach to marketing can work wonders and form habits for continued growth of your law firm.



Identify Your Goals Clearly

There are many methodologies utilized for goal setting. For me, SMART goals work the best. Over the years I have utilized SMART goals for personal and professional development.


I truly did not understand the impact of SMART goals until being mentored by the creator himself, Dr. George Duran, during my Master’s program in Business before his passing in 2011.


I was so focused on sales and leading my sales teams at the time that I never stepped back and looked at how I could have applied this methodology to my own marketing and the marketing of others.


The number one reason I believe that marketers shy away from a methodology like SMART is that accountability and expectation go through the roof. Before I started working with lawyers, I was told that the last thing you would think you want is a piece of paper stating a Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant goal with Timeframe of completion written all over it and in a lawyer’s hands.


It can be intimidating.


I did not believe that then, and I do not believe that now.


Marketers already know that they are the first fired if performance standards are not met. Oddly enough though, having this written out for ANY team is important, but having it for a team of lawyers brings more value in the long run in my experience.


I have learned that the last thing most lawyers want to be are marketers. They understand the importance, and yes, they will listen to you, but most of all they would like to make sure their law firm marketing agency is competent enough to do the job.


Although I appreciate that trust from lawyers that we work with, my advice is that law firms start utilizing SMART methodology in their marketing. Confident marketers understand that there will always be something of value to add. There will always be adjustments and benchmarking to measure against.


It is easier to build more trust with goals that are specific, as opposed to the vague approach to marketing that has eroded trust over the years in the marketing profession.


For example, our team has achieved over an 80% decrease in cost-per-click advertising campaigns. Although that is great for us, my question becomes, what in the hell were the other guys doing?


80% decrease?


That means that in no way were goals set previously. No freaking way.


If they were set, then someone is dropping the ball in a major way, and it’s not just one person.


So why are drops like this so prevalent in working with law firms? Easy. You went to school for law and salesmen and marketers know it. Yes, marketers know you’re smart, highly educated, etc.


They also know that you don’t know, what you don’t know.


I am in no way asking you to stop your day job and jump into marketing. I am asking that you start taking better care of your marketing budget by setting SMART goals. Let’s look at an example of how one will be used in your overall strategy session.



SMART Goals in Law Firm Marketing

I alluded to SMART definitions earlier.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time(frame)


Yes, that’s really it. This is not rocket science.


In marketing, there can be some apprehension when getting into how specific a goal should be, but this is exactly why your team needs a strategy session that uncovers real goals in your marketing.

Here is one that I always hear: “Let’s lower marketing costs.”


That’s great, but where? What number are we using to create this baseline?


What if we changed that to, “Let’s lower our cost-per-click marketing budget?”


Now we are a step in the right direction. But I do not see a number. Remember this is not rocket science, but we are looking for Specificity and Measurability to be in direct correlation with one another.


Let’s use a benchmark.


If you have historical marketing data, pull it up and look back over the last year. Were some months lower than others? Can anyone explain why there may be dips lower than others or peaks higher than others?


If you do not have historical data from your own firms’ efforts, see if you can find insights by searching for Google Adwords Benchmarks by Industry. Keep in mind though, by utilizing these benchmarks, they will be general in nature.


smart goals for attorneys


The point is that we have a number to start with. Even if we have to come back and readjust the goal, that’s not a problem. So let’s try this one last time.


Let’s see how this next one works.


We know from looking at our data that the current cost-per-click is $40 per click. We also looked at benchmarks from the industry that show general legal cost-per-click came in around $5.65 per click (Wordstream, 2017).


Let’s try, “We will have cost-per-click in AdWords down from $40 to $20 per click within the next 45 days.”


Now let’s look at how this matches up in SMART:

  • Specific – Is this specific? Yes. We know that we want to target our AdWords CPC.
  • Measurable – What are we measuring? We want to see a decrease from $40 to $20 per click.
  • Attainable – I am going to say yes here. If we know the national benchmark is around $5.65, we can reasonable assume we can come down from $40 per click. Since we do not have too much of our own data to utilize, this is our starting point.
  • Relevant – Yes, this is relevant to our PPC marketing within our overall marketing goals.
  • Time(frame) – Yes, we have a clear time that we want to see this goal achieved. Within the next 45 days.


Yes, it should be that simple. The toughest part, in some cases, is going to be your specificity and how it is going to tie directly into measurability. After that, the other steps write themselves.



Short-term vs Long-Term Marketing Goals

Now that we have looked at SMART goals for marketing, let’s go back and address short-term vs long-term goals.


I mentioned earlier that we may have a goal that we grow our marketing needs to assist us in growing our firm. This may sound like we are crossing the line into business development, and you would be exactly right, we are.


Your marketing will help you create a more focused roadmap for growth, if that is a goal.


Your marketing team should know from the beginning that a long-term goal is to grow the company by three lawyers, but does that sound specific enough to you as a goal? I am going to say no, that’s not specific enough.


What if that long-term goal is, “Adding three new lawyers in Family Law in a satellite office on X side of town. We want these lawyers in place 10 months from today.”


Now your marketing team has something to look out for and beta test for you. If they know you want a specific side of town, or a state even, your team can now dig deeper into the data and see exactly where the calls come from and the actual value in conversion data.


Now you have more informed system in place.


The numbers will be what they are, but if you and your marketing team are clear on your goals, the data will be there, communication will improve and you will see the results you expect from your marketing team.


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