Most SME law firms are using old-fashioned and ineffective marketing techniques and ignoring better ways to advertise that are already taking hold in other sectors.
The stark message, delivered by First4Lawyers, comes after the Huddersfield-based company carried out a survey on SME firms’ marketing strategies. Its research found that events, print advertising and word-of-mouth were three of the most popular marketing tactics used by SMEs, even though all of them were ranked among the least effective.
A large majority of those questioned use print advertising, but only 7% cited it as one of their most effective marketing tactics. First4Lawyers estimates that the legal sector has spent over £50 million on print advertising over the last five years.
The three tactics seen as the most effective marketing tools were not used by all the firms surveyed. Digital activity, such as website marketing and SEO, was viewed as the most effective and 92% of marketers are implementing it. Social media engagement and paid search were seen as the second and third most effective marketing tactics, yet less than half of those interviewed were using them on a regular basis.
First4Lawyers has also found what it calls a “major knowledge gap” in the legal profession when it comes to cutting edge marketing techniques such as artificial intelligence, voice search, programmatic marketing and mobile marketing. It said that these methods had already been embraced by various industries but that law firms were proving to be slow adopters of new marketing technology.
As an example, it pointed out that 74% of respondents branded voice search a fad and of no importance to them. Yet experts in the field have predicted that 50% of all searches will be done by voice by 2020.
The survey results also suggest that most decisions about where to invest marketing are made by senior management or the board without the marketing department’s input and that very few firms take the time to properly track the effectiveness of their marketing activity.
In addition, the median annual marketing budget of the firms surveyed as somewhere between £50,000 and £75,000. Just under a third (29%) have a budget of less than £20,000, which is a relatively modest amount in marketing terms. Nearly half (48%) set their budget at £50,000 and only 30% allocate £100,000 or more.
Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers, said: “The results of the survey make for sobering reading. At a time of ever-greater sophistication in marketing, too many law firms are relying on tactics that may have worked ten years ago but no longer deliver results in the digital age.
“However updating their approach need not cost a fortune – modern marketing technologies offer cost-effective ways of getting your message across in a targeted and personalised way that an advert in the local paper can never match.”