rabbit

“Focus!  If you chase two rabbits, both will escape” (ancient Chinese proverb)

This article is for you if –

  • You own a small accounting or law firm
  • You understand the need to market your services (if you don’t, have a look at “Six reasons to market your firm” on GhostDigest – what we say there applies to accountancy firm marketing as much as it does to law firm marketing)
  • Your problem is that the marketing rabbit just never seems to make it to the top of your priority list. You’re always too busy chasing billable hour rabbits.

Why is it so difficult to focus on marketing?  The root cause I believe is loss aversion – the tendency (deeply ingrained in all of us) to put more effort into avoiding loss than we do into acquiring the same gain.

“If I spend two hours on a marketing plan to acquire new clients” you think to yourself “I lose two billable hours.  I’ll find the time to do marketing later”.  “Later”, of course, never comes.  For most accountants and lawyers, marketing takes them right out of their comfort zone, so it’s something to be tackled in the hazy “never-never land” of the future.

The solution: 4 steps to Focus

  1. First, set your own personal goals
    • Your income goal: Ask yourself “How much do I want my firm to put in my pocket every month?”  Don’t be afraid to go high here – keep it real but motivating!
    • Your lifestyle goals: What sort of work/leisure balance are you after?  How much family time?  What sort of working conditions?  And so on.  Indulge in a bit of day-dreaming here; visualisation is a proven path to achievement.
    • Your personal development goals: What do you want to get out of practicing your profession?  How do you want to grow as a person?  What new competencies would you like to acquire? What reputation are you aiming for?  What will be your legacy?
  2. Next, set your firm’s business goals. Base them on the answers to these questions –
    • “What profit must we achieve for me to reach my personal income goal?”
    • “What is our average profit per new instruction and how can we grow that?”
    • “How many quality new instructions do we need every month to reach that profit goal?”
  3. So now you know exactly how many new instructions you need every month and achieving them becomes your core business goal. Build your marketing plan around that goal.
  4. Most important of all: Chase one rabbit at a time! Set aside time to focus on marketing, and nothing else.  Stay focused and motivated with a daily reminder of your goals and of your plans to achieve them.

© DotNews (adapted from an article which first appeared on GhostDigest)

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law, accountancy and financial advisory firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

In today’s digital world everyone, no matter your industry, has a small mountain of online accounts that you use. With accounts ranging from email and social media through to your banking and work, often convenience and security are at odds.

Passwords – mistakes to avoid

There are two very common mistakes users make when choosing passwords. The first is having a weak password and the other is using a single password across multiple accounts.

Making sure that your password is strong is essential, as hackers use a wide variety of methods relying upon dictionaries and common characters to brute-force attack passwords (i.e. using computers to try out a huge number of variations of words and characters to try to guess the password by chance). Security experts recommend that your password should be at least 12 characters long and use letters, capitals and punctuation and not rely on any form of word – i.e. “[email protected]” won’t make the grade. My favourite technique in coming up with a secure password that is memorable is to use the first letter of a phrase and swap out the letters with other characters. Thus the phrase “Mary had a little lamb, its fleece as white as snow” becomes “[email protected],[email protected]@5” – a super-secure, but unique password that is easy to remember.

The other issue I mentioned was that users often have a go-to regular password that is used across multiple accounts. NEVER DO THIS! Why? If you get hacked, it gives the hacker an opportunity to try this “master password” across a wide range of common websites. Using one password across all of your sites puts them all at risk.

Have you been hacked?

Have a look at https://haveibeenpwned.com/. This site is a repository of hacked account details publicly available on the web. Search for your email address – chances are if you’re on LinkedIn you’ll be listed from an attack back in 2012 (the data was only released by hackers in May 2016). Don’t panic if you’re on this list! It’s not entirely clear what data was stolen and the vast majority of the hacked details have not yet been taken advantage of. However, I strongly recommend you change your password if you are listed for any site, so go check it out.

Use a password manager

Password managers have been around for a while now, and they have grown in sophistication and complexity. There are a variety of password managers to choose from such as LastPass, Dashline, KeePass and 1Password. My personal favourite is the market leader, LastPass. With browser extensions, form filling, auto login options and a built in secure password generator; keeping unique, secure passwords for every one of your accounts is a breeze. While LastPass does store your passwords in the Cloud, the methods that it uses are recognised as being incredibly secure and when combined with its two-factor authentication (i.e. requiring your phone to confirm any logins, similar to the one-time PINs used by banking services) makes it just about as secure as you can get. Naturally a service like this is often under attack by hackers, and whilst they seem to have taken every precaution there have been a couple of partially successful attacks on LastPass. No data has ever been lost and so long as you are using two-factor authentication correctly, even if a hacker got your master password for LastPass they would still not be able to access your account. The blogging website Lifehacker addresses this concern in this Q&A post.

Eggs and Baskets

basketofeggs
Now, being the overly paranoid security conscious person I am, I’m thinking about eggs and baskets, and LastPass is a pretty big basket regardless of the very high level of security measures they put in place. Thus my advice is to not rely solely on it to manage all of your accounts. Keep all of your very sensitive accounts such as banking and Google or Apple outside of LastPass and use LastPass to manage everything else. It means you’ll have a few super-secure unique passwords to remember, but if anything (albeit very, very unlikely) were to happen to your LastPass account, your sensitive accounts are still secure.

At the end of the day it is important to bear in mind that nothing is truly ever 100% secure in this age of digital criminals and hackers. The real trick is being as secure as you can be by minimising the risk without compromising convenience, thus allowing your security strategy to be comprehensive across all of your accounts. The methods and software mentioned in this article will keep you far safer than your average Internet user and thus far less likely to be compromised.eggs

Always remember:

“Safety first!”

Paddy Crook
Paddy Crook
Digital Marketing Manager at DotNews
Paddy completed his BSc at Rhodes University and has specialised in email marketing, social media, ppc, ad-serving and other online marketing mediums. Having returned from working with a UK-based multi-national company where he analysed the effectiveness of online campaigns, Paddy has a broad knowledge of the channels and techniques used within the digital space and how best to apply them to professional practices.

Speeding up SME-friendly reform

Online SurveyAs you know, the small and medium business sector is held out to be the only sector that can produce the growth and job creation that our country so sorely needs.

The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) has once again commissioned a study into how SMEs see their businesses and their challenges, and where support will be most meaningful.  It will identify how SAICA can intercede with government to make it easier for you to do business and to create jobs.

Specifically:

  • They want to understand what it is that will help small and medium sized businesses to be more successful, so that they can lobby on your and your clients’ behalf with both Government and Big Business
  • They are interested to know what products and services the Accounting Profession can produce that will stimulate the growth of SMEs or make their lives easier and more profitable.

 

Small businesses should tell government and big business what they need

For the research to be successful a strong level of participation from SMEs is needed.

It won’t take your clients long – they just click on this link “2016 SMME Insights Survey” to get started.

Don’t delay, there is a deadline here – the survey closes on 15 July 2016.

 

CA(SA)DotNews subscribers

As a service to you, to your SME clients, and to the South African economy as a whole, your July issue of CA(SA)DotNews will carry a special article encouraging your clients to participate.

Help South Africa prosper by telling Government and Big Business how they can – and must – help SMEs!

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law, accountancy and financial advisory firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Today I’d like to talk about one of Google’s most underrated creations, something thGPlusat is often overlooked when creating a website or looking at a firm’s web presence. It’s an easy and free way to improve your visibility on Google. I am speaking about Google+.

Google’s social venture

Originally created back in 2011, Google launched itself as a competitor to the most prolific social media platform on the web – Facebook. This direct head-to-head matchup between the two giants created quite a stir online and Google+ saw a meteoric rise in popularity – the fastest of any social network in history. This was of course fueled not only by the publicity of its launch, but also by Google pushing many users of its other services onto Google+, sometimes even forcibly so.

However despite this surge in new users, Google+ failed to make headway against the already-established Facebook and within a matter of months Google+ acquired a reputation as a social media ghost town. Although that’s not strictly true as the platform still manages to keep a tight nucleus of “tech evangelicals”, particularly in the USA, many marketers today will suggest that Google+ is not a good platform to invest in. However, we are talking about Google here – the world’s biggest search engine – and naturally there are some very significant SEO (search engine optimisation) benefits to being on the platform.

SEO – it’s vital in the Internet Age

In today’s tech-savvy age, the first point of contact for anyone looking for new professional services is likely to be the Internet. Even if you come recommended, it is very likely that before potential new clients even contact you, they will do a Google search on you or your firm. This has led to one of the most intricate and complicated niches in Internet marketing – search engine optimisation (SEO).

Getting your website to rank high and be more noticeable on search engines can be an expensive process, mainly due to frequent changes in the algorithms that determine your ranking– but there is a way to achieve good results at zero cost. In the South African market Google had a mammoth 93% of all search traffic in 2015, and thus Google search results tend to be the main focus locally. Google+ is often neglected due to its low level of user engagement, but it is a free and easy-to-implement solution that dramatically improves your visibility on Google search.

So here’s my recommendation:  Stand out from the crowd and get your firm onto Google+ now.

Google+ joins the Dots

Your Google+ profile acts as the core around which Google’s information about you and your firm is centered – your website, location, contact details, reviews and also your social media activity is all linked by this one profile. Now Google+ is not the only way Google gets all this information, but it is the easiest way to bring it all together. As a result when you register your firm on Google+, it provides you with the following benefits:

  • You get to verify your business and its location on Google. Google will send a postcard to your address to confirm your location as authentic.
  • Any reviews, comments and other Google+ activity can show up with the search results, and the results are personalised for the searcher, based partially on their own Google+ profile.
  • Your contact details, location and branding are all immediately more prominent whenever someone searches for your business on Google.

Your visibility will surge – for free

Larger firms spend a fortune on increasing their online visibility – for good reason.

Take a look for example at these screenshots of what pops up when you search for “dotnews” on Google:

dn_seo_desktop

Figure 1: The information in the right hand column next to the search results are all drawn automatically from your Google+ profile. Potential clients have instant access to your website and to Google Maps directions to your office.

dns_seo_mobile

Figure 2: On mobile the advantages are even more pronounced. Your profile displays at the top of the search results – Viewing your website, calling or getting directions to your Firm is just one click away for potential clients.

 

Tips for keeping your Google+ Page engaging

So how do you drive engagement on a platform so few people actively use? Firstly by including links to your Google+ business page on your website, your newsletter, your email signatures and anywhere else you can think of – making it easy for people to access it is very important. Another great idea is to reuse your client newsletter or blog posts on social media. If you are like most small to medium firms and struggle with the cost and resources it takes to produce good content, you might want to look at our client newsletter services. If you are managing multiple social media accounts there are tools that will automatically post to Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn with one click. My personal favourite is Buffer, but there are a wide variety of tools to choose from.

The Upshot for Independent Firms

Where this is great for small to medium sized professional firms is it’s all for free. You don’t have to pay thousands of Rands to make sure that your website is stacked with thousands of keywords to rise in the rankings.

Instantly when someone searches for your business they see your brand, they see where you are and you have visibility – immediately giving your firm credibility in the potential client’s eyes and giving you visibility equal to (or possibly greater, if they are not on Google+) to larger firms who have traditionally spent thousands on their SEO strategy.

Contact DotNews for your free DotNewsConnect Brand consultation and learn about these and other marketing essentials for legal and accounting firms.

Paddy Crook
Paddy Crook
Digital Marketing Manager at DotNews
Paddy completed his BSc at Rhodes University and has specialised in email marketing, social media, ppc, ad-serving and other online marketing mediums. Having returned from working with a UK-based multi-national company where he analysed the effectiveness of online campaigns, Paddy has a broad knowledge of the channels and techniques used within the digital space and how best to apply them to professional practices.

metrics-graphic-2011

Image courtesy of MailerMailer

We at DotNews have always maintained that email marketing – in particular client newsletters – are the most effective and low-cost form of marketing your firm can do.

Whether you have the resources to produce your own, or whether you draw content from a professional service such as LawDotNews or CA(SA)DotNews, the impact of monthly correspondence is huge. Your newsletter is the best way to stay in touch with your target market and to stay top of mind. For a great article demonstrating how important being top of mind is, take a look at this great article by Practice Boomers.

MailerMailer recently published their 2015 Benchmarks Report, which provided some great insight as to newsletter performance across a variety of industries. DotNews is very happy to announce that our open rates were substantially above industry averages.

According to the report, Legal Newsletters averaged an open rate of 14.6% and Accounting and Financial Services had a dismal open rate of only 5.2% – apparently Joe Bloggs doesn’t want to read about your detailed analysis on the recent changes to the IFRS accounting standards! We’re blowing our own trumpet somewhat, but DotNews is happy to say that both our LawDotNews and our CA(SA)DotNews open rates are well over 20%.

Why is this? 

  • Quality of content – We always write for the client, not for the firm by keeping things simple and topical whilst remaining engaging and useful. It is through quality of content that you get a loyal readership and achieve real engagement with its content.
  • Have subject lines that drive engagement – the subject line is the first thing a recipient sees when they receive a newsletter. We peak their interest by having something topical or asking them a question. An email entitled “Monthly Newsletter” will not interest the user, and will most probably not be opened regardless of its content.
  • We send your newsletters at the right time – our research has shown that weekdays between 10:00 and 14:00 are on average the best times to send out your newsletter. The real key is to find a time when you think your target market will be most receptive to reading the newsletter – preferably when they are in office, but not snowed under with work.
  • Keeping your lists targeted – We always recommend that you personally manage your list. Rather narrow your focus to a targeted list of quality clients than a huge list of a recipients who wouldn’t be interested in its content. Not only is this cheaper, but it helps ward off any potential spam complaints and improves your delivery rates.

All-in-all we are very proud of how our DotNews client newsletters stack up when compared to industry standards. Proof positive that the DotNews model works, outperforming run-of-the-mill newsletters at a fraction of the cost.

Paddy Crook
Paddy Crook
Digital Marketing Manager at DotNews
Paddy completed his BSc at Rhodes University and has specialised in email marketing, social media, ppc, ad-serving and other online marketing mediums. Having returned from working with a UK-based multi-national company where he analysed the effectiveness of online campaigns, Paddy has a broad knowledge of the channels and techniques used within the digital space and how best to apply them to professional practices.

HAPPY NEW YEAR in festive handdrawn font

“Out with the old, in with the new, may you be happy the whole year through. Happy New Year!”

We wish all our subscribers a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2016.

Watch this space!

We look forward to assisting you with all your marketing needs throughout the year, and will be announcing the launch of several exciting new services in this regard shortly.

Our offices re-open on Monday 4th January and your client newsletters will be transmitted to your clients on Wednesday 6th (LawDotNews) or Thursday 7th (CA(SA)DotNews).

Regards,

Jack Crook and the DotNews team

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law, accountancy and financial advisory firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

10yearWe are really proud to announce that we are celebrating our 10th anniversary this month. We celebrated the occasion with some sparking wine and a sunny Friday lunch.

Firstly, our sincere thanks to all our loyal subscribers.  Without your support and input over the last decade, we could not have grown DotNews into the successful marketing service that it is today.

Secondly, as you can see we have launched our new website – let us know what you think.

Last, but certainly not least, we have loads of exciting new things planned for you in the pipeline.  More on that as they develop.

The DotNews Team celebrated in style!

party

Here’s to the next 10 years!

P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook 🙂

Paddy Crook
Paddy Crook
Digital Marketing Manager at DotNews
Paddy completed his BSc at Rhodes University and has specialised in email marketing, social media, ppc, ad-serving and other online marketing mediums. Having returned from working with a UK-based multi-national company where he analysed the effectiveness of online campaigns, Paddy has a broad knowledge of the channels and techniques used within the digital space and how best to apply them to professional practices.

 Study the past, if you would divine the future” (Confucius)robots

Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, but as Confucius pointed out 2,500 years ago, what’s happened in the past can certainly help point us in the right direction.

 

The Past: A Foreign Country

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” (author L.P. Hartley)

Think back to 2000.  What did you do differently back then? What new technologies have been the game-changers?   Consider these –

  • Exponentially increased computing power and ease/speed/ubiquity of Internet access giving professional firms –
    • Instant, up to date, easy and free access to legal and accounting information resources online, with paid-for services supplementing these free resources.
    • Online, instant access to other sources of information relevant to professionals like news services, legal/accounting and other blogs, Social Media information and online communities etc.
    • Online interaction with other role-players in legal and accounting processes like SARS, municipalities, Cipro etc.
    • Online immediacy (often real time) and low cost of interaction with clients and colleagues via email, instant messaging platforms, Skype, web based conferencing services, website portals, Social Media etc.
    • Opportunities, where enabled by new legislation, for using electronic communication to record correspondence, to contract, to serve/file documents, and the like.
    • Cost-effective, secure online storage of documentation.
    • Powerful online marketing opportunities, at a fraction of the cost of print, via e-newsletters, Social Media etc.
  • Increased availability of software (increasingly in the Cloud) for practice and data management, document creation, CRM, and automation of office, legal and accounting processes. Combined, they have boosted efficiency, lowered operating costs and increased the time available to attorneys and accountants for billable activities.
  • The rise in power and ubiquity of cell phones and other mobile devices giving firms and their clients instant accessibility to each other both within and outside office hours.

 

The Future: Threats and Opportunities

 “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat” (Steve Jobs)

Prepare now for 2025.  Expect rampant growth in all the technologies listed above, hopefully boosted by a quantum leap in South African broadband speeds.  Plan for some significant opportunities and threats –

  • Trends like the “Web of Things”, hands-free interfacing, the moves to mobile and the Cloud, and increasingly versatile voice recognition suggest that smart offices, homes and cars – and perhaps most importantly your new smartwatch and other wearable tech – will connect you, your colleagues and your clients in cyberspace anywhere, anytime.
  • These and other vastly expanded opportunities for real time, online collaboration mean that smaller firms will increasingly communicate and work with each other in ways similar to their large-firm competitors. Referral networks between small specialised practices will mushroom and they will succeed in presenting themselves to the public as matching larger firms in both depth and range of specialties, but at lower fee rates and with more personalised service.
  • Similarly, the location of your office will become less and less important as your ability to service clients regardless of where they are, opens up a whole new opportunity – a national (even an international) footprint, all without getting up from your desk or opening up a branch office.  Of course down the line our concept of office-based practices may give way to networks of home-based individuals, able to work, consult, meet and collaborate from wherever they happen to be at any time.  In 20 years the very concept of “firms” may be obsolete.  Lower (or zero) office expenses, staff and travel costs will follow.
  • Automation of staff functions, virtual assistants, and an increase in online, freelancing professionals will boost this trend.
  • Rapid growth in Big Data suggests that the resources of information and data analysis, available on demand and instantly to even the smallest firm, will increase sharply.
  • Expect increased competition from online services of the sort that give subscribers instant and low cost access to standardised services, documents and tutorials, underpinned by access to online advice from a range of participating professional firms.
  • Rapid evolution in Artificial Intelligence systems has given rise to much speculation that many professional service functions will be replaced by much cheaper software options. Whether the threats and opportunities inherent in this scenario could manifest as early as 2025 is debatable, but it is certainly a consideration that lawyers and accountants should start working into their longer-term planning.  Science Fiction’s RoboLawyer and RoboAccountant may take 5 years to reach us or 25 – but they are coming!

 

Marketing: A New Frontier

“Be quickest on the draw, or be dead” (Anon)

Last but certainly not least, expect to concentrate more of your resources on pro-active marketing as these trends accelerate –

  • Increasing competition, both from existing firms, and from nimble and hungry newcomers who will, enabled by cutting-edge technology, offer low fees and prompt, efficient service.
  • Increasing competition from online services, offering even lower fees and quite possibly also a greater service range than any single real-world firm is capable of producing.
  • More and more of your competitors – online and off – will be marketing their services aggressively via low-cost, easy-to-use marketing channels.
  • “Relationship marketing” – concentrating on building and strengthening long term relationships rather than short term client acquisition – will grow in importance. Interaction with target markets is likely to increase dramatically, although an overload tipping point may be reached sooner rather than later.
  • Other trends to watch for in the marketing space include marketing automation, “augmented reality”, virtual reality headsets and advanced Internet search options – the list goes on.
  • Your success or failure in retaining existing clients, and in acquiring new ones, will be increasingly proportional to your ability to market your firm and services successfully in a rapidly-changing environment.

 

Contact us now for a free brand consultation – we’ll show you how to stay ahead of the curve with all your marketing needs.

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law, accountancy and financial advisory firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Most lawyers and accountants these days know they need to market their practices to remain competitive, but some are still wary of client newsletters.

Some of the questions we are regularly asked are these –

Q:  Do client newsletters work?

email_dotThe concern most often expressed here is measuring ROI, and the fact is that it isn’t easily quantifiable.  Sure, clients will sometimes bring new queries and instructions to you by referring to a specific newsletter article, but the greater value of regular communication is in the “spaced repetition” of your name and branding to your target market.

You are always top-of-mind; always thought of first when a home owner decides to sell, when clients need help or advice, when your clients are asked to recommend a lawyer or accountant.

The fact is that all the big law and accountancy firms have been using client newsletters for many decades as their core marketing tool – proof positive that they work and are cost-effective.

Q:  Are client newsletters expensive?

They shouldn’t be, but they can be.  A high-quality, regular newsletter takes time, effort and expertise to create and transmit.  If you are handling that all in-house, you are probably sacrificing a lot of partner time and a lot of staff time in doing it properly.

If you outsource your newsletter, make sure you get value for money.  Be alert to hidden “extras” and always look at the total you are paying every month.  If you go for a low-cost service (such as a DotNews newsletter option), check for transparency of pricing, a track record of reliability, and quality of content and service.

Our philosophy at DotNews is that client newsletter services must be accessible to all professional firms, from the smallest to the largest.  By constantly connecting you “Direct to your Target Market” we ensure that every cent is well-spent.

Q:  Are client newsletters professional? 

The marketing component of your newsletter is subtle and professional so long as your clients and prospective clients perceive your newsletters as being not advertising, but rather a gift of useful and interesting information.  Always give something of value.

Q:  What about other marketing channels?

Our recommendation, even for the smallest of firms, is to have the strongest online presence your marketing budget will allow.

At the very least supplement your client newsletter with these two basics –

  1. Your own website. It needn’t be fancy or expensive, but it must project your professionalism.   Ideally, keep it effortlessly updated with monthly newsletters via RSS feeds (we’ll show you how)
  1. A LinkedIn presence for both your firm and all partners/directors/professionals. Keeping it updated with your client newsletters is a nice extra but less important here – it is your profile that clients and prospective clients most need to see.

There are many other marketing ideas we can help you with.  See our Marketing Services Page or Email Us for more.

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law, accountancy and financial advisory firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” (Albert Einstein)

Question:  “Should I market my small law firm?”

An August 2014 survey* by LexisNexis South Africa of 162 independent small law firms highlights once again the necessity for law firms – no matter how small – to remain competitive by:

  • Running their practices on strictly business lines
  • Pro-actively marketing themselves and their services to clients and prospective clients.

Answer:  What the survey showed

Cash flow is, as always, king – 86.4% of small firms ranked it as “very significant” to their business, the other 13.6% as “significant”.  No surprises there.

Client retention and acquisition – equally unsurprisingly, 98.3% of firms ranked “Retaining clients/growing business” as “significant” or “very significant”.

Growth emerged as a primary concern for small practices, with 37% saying they are currently growing, and 77% having plans to grow during the next 5 years.

The need to change is clearly recognised, with concerns around increasing competition evident in several areas.  88.3 % of firms agreed that they have to up their game to survive, 87.5% that they need to constantly evolve to stay on top and 68.4% that “it is much harder these days to make a good living out of law”.

Agents of growth – Reputation, word of mouth and calibre of service are cited as important for retention and growth of client bases, with 90.7% of firms describing networking in particular as “important” or “very important” for growth.

Marketing is vital – the need to market practices was clearly recognised, with 83% ranking it as “important” or “very important” to the growth of their firms.  60% of firms use “word of mouth” to market their practices but only 11% outsource the marketing function.

Your competition is growing…..

What does all this mean for you?

Firstly, your competition is growing. 77% of small firms are either actively growing at the moment or planning to do so.  You need to grow as well.

Secondly, the survey results throw up some significant opportunities for growth in our changing landscape –

Marketing: Although 83% of firms recognise the need to market their firms, only 53.1% of them are actually increasing, or have short term plans to increase, their investment in marketing.  This is almost certainly because of a misperception that marketing needs to be both complicated and expensive.  The firm that understands the low-cost, simple marketing tools available to it has a significant competitive advantage.

Cash flow and outsourcing:  Only 11% of firms outsource their marketing, but with cash flow concerns central to small firm planning, it makes a lot more sense to use your billable time to do billable work.  89% of firms are missing out here; don’t be one of them, outsource your marketing to specialists.  Choose a marketing firm that knows how to keep your costs to a minimum by leveraging technology.

Reputation and calibre of service need to be communicated:  60% of firms say they rely on “word of mouth” marketing but one wonders how many of them realise that “word of mouth” only works as a referral-generator when you remain constantly top-of-mind with your existing clients.  Again, the firm that keeps in touch with all its clients – past as well as present – runs well ahead of the pack.

LinkedIn (and the rest):  Here’s another significant opportunity for you.  Only 40% of small firms are using Social Media in any form, with only 72% of those firms using LinkedIn.  Yet a basic LinkedIn presence for your firm and senior professionals is easily and inexpensively achieved.  Without it, you will increasingly lose prospective clients before they even pick up the phone to you.  Don’t be one of the 60% of firms losing out here.

Websites are powerful:  Amazingly, only 34.8% of small firms already have a website whilst a whopping 36.5% have no plans for one in the future.  Yet a good quality, affordable, basic website – one that projects your professionalism and credibility – is easily achieved.  It will certainly put you ahead of the 36.5% of firms still living in the pre-Internet Dark Ages!

An All-in-One Solution:  DotNews

Let us help you grow and prosper with our full range of marketing services –

  • competitionYour LawDotNews client newsletter keeps you effortlessly top-of-mind with all your clients and prospective clients professionally and cost-effectively.
  • Use our Internet Pages service to integrate your client newsletters automatically with all your other marketing channels.
  • Turn every email from your office into a marketing opportunity with our DotMailBranding email service.
  • Maximise your online presence at minimal cost with our Connector websites and Social Media pages.
  • Ask us about our Corporate Branding/Logo Design services, Email Security and Archiving, and general marketing and communication strategy

See our Marketing Services Page or Contact Us for more.

*The LexisNexis survey “The Changing landscape of Independent Law in SA” is available online here

 

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law, accountancy and financial advisory firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

DISCLAIMER

The articles contained herein are for general information only and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.