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Marketing Gold in Your Data

Three Simple Steps to Smarter Advertising Decisions

By Steve Di Pietro

Information sitting in your law firm’s case management software can help you make better-informed marketing decisions — including where and when to advertise. Most firms have the information they need. It’s just a matter of making a priority of getting at it, and actually following through. Here are three steps you can take to fine-tune your marketing with a little basic data.

1. Mine the Gold in Your Data

Two of the most basic and useful pieces of information your case management software will contain are:

  • Dates cases were opened
  • Client ZIP codes

If you don’t have the time or inclination to ferret these out, talk to your case management vendor or reseller. For one client — a midsize full-service law firm — a reseller exported data for the previous two years to an Excel file. From there, two things were charted:

  • Average cases by month
  • ZIP codes by county

2. Knowing When to Advertise: Peak Seasons

After charting the data from the firm’s case management system, we learned they have three two-month peak seasons. One of those is June to July — but the prevailing wisdom during marketing meetings had been that the summer was slow!

Surprise, surprise.

Figure 1 Chart-AvgCasesByMonth

A simple bar chart will show your peak months.

More efficient decisions. This firm uses cable TV in its advertising mix. Their media buys had always been about the same — each year their spending was pretty much equally distributed month to month. Now, the TV schedule is based on facts. For example, the frequency of ads begins to build one week prior to the start of a two-month peak period. It reaches a crescendo, then tapers off toward the end of that two-month period.

Other media helped by peak season data. Paid search — Google AdWords, Bing ads, pay-per-click (PPC) — can be scheduled based on peak season data, too. Print advertising is another obvious candidate, as are content marketing plans and social media campaigns.

3. ZIP Code Analysis Can Reveal Little-Known Facts

ZIP codes can be tallied and visualized either in list form or using a heat map.

Figure 2 ZipCodeHeatMap

A ZIP code heat map can reveal opportunities for growth.

An example of the usefulness: One law firm had always believed that its second-greatest percentage of clients came from the county north of its home base. Not so. The data revealed that the second-largest group of clients came from the south. This influenced a number of advertising decisions, including:

  • Choosing which magazines to include in the publication ad space buy
  • Fine-tuning of geographic settings for PPC and remarketing campaigns
  • Choosing which cable TV zones to include in the TV buy
  • Targeting which towns to use for locally optimized web pages for local search purposes (for example, a web page with the key phrase “bankruptcy lawyer Charleston”).

Bigger Issue: Where Will Growth Come From?

An even larger issue spurred by this ZIP code reporting had to do with future growth. Did the firm wish growth to come from the north or south or both? The counties to its north are more heavily populated, media is more expensive and there is more competition. To the south lie less populated counties with greater population growth potential. In addition, there are fewer competitors and the media costs are less.

What to do?

Date and ZIP code information is easy to get and worth its weight in gold. As with all small and midsize businesses, law firms are constantly being hounded by advertising entities to spend, spend, spend. Simple Excel charts showing case dates and client ZIP codes can help you determine when and where to invest.

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Categories: Daily Dispatch, Law Firm Marketing, Lawyer Advertising
Originally published May 3, 2016
Last updated October 18, 2018
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Steve Di Pietro

Steve Di Pietro is Managing Partner of Di Pietro Marketing Group LLC, an award-winning, full-service marketing agency. An ad agency veteran experienced in all traditional media, Steve began applying the same strategic thinking to the digital side in 1998. Steve helps firms develop growth, creative and media strategies, execution and measurement in a holistic, cost-effective manner.

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