Marketing firms, like law firms, vary widely in expertise, capabilities and strategic vision. Ask these questions before hiring a digital marketing agency.
Elevating your firm’s reputation requires a compelling online presence, but it also requires the ability to keep a step ahead of ever-changing social platforms and search engine optimization requirements. A digital marketing firm can be worth its weight in gold, lifting the marketing burden from you and your team. But, just like law firms, marketing agencies vary widely in expertise, capabilities and strategic vision. You need to vet them carefully to ensure an ideal fit.
Here are factors to consider as you evaluate digital marketing agencies for your law firm.
Look for Capabilities, Commitment and Focus
When you’re hiring a marketing agency, it’s wise to interview multiple vendors. Look for an agency with experience in the legal industry, but don’t limit yourself to those that market law firms exclusively: A broader scope of experience can fuel creativity and insight. Instead, look for a fit in terms of the agency’s approach, capabilities, people and personality.
You can learn a lot from your initial conversation, starting with how prepared they were for the call.
Questions to Ask Before Agreeing to Hire a Digital Marketing Agency
Have they familiarized themselves with your practice and your marketing? Did they come to the call with recommendations on specific areas where they may be able to help? Did they listen to your wants and needs? Make sure the agency is focused on developing solutions to fit your specific needs rather than just trying to sell you the services they provide. For example, if they’re pushing a new website on you, but you know you really need help with SEO, they probably aren’t equipped to support you.
A reputable digital marketing agency will be honest about what they can and can’t do, and help you find appropriate solutions in areas that fall beyond their scope of services. So, ask to see examples of the agency’s services and capabilities for sure, but also ask what happens if you need to bring in another resource — a PR agency, for example. Are they willing to help you vet and secure that resource?
Here are some specific questions to ask the digital marketing agency representative on that first call:
- What are your company’s core values?
- What kind of responsiveness should we expect from your firm? (Be sure to ask if they operate in your time zone: When a matter is urgent, you need immediate access to your marketing team.)
- Will we have a dedicated team and point of contact?
- Who (functionally) will be on our team? What resources will we have access to?
- What is our role in the marketing process? How much of the lift will be left to us?
- When issues arise, what does the resolution process look like?
Look for answers that reflect a collaborative team, efficient processes and high-touch service. Look for them to ask you the right questions, too — questions that show they are committed to getting to the heart of what you need and delivering it:
- What prompted you to reach out?
- How satisfied are you with the marketing you’ve been doing?
- What’s working? What’s not? What do you feel is missing?
- What are your marketing goals?
- How do you envision an ideal working relationship?
The Pricing Model
Marketing agencies may price their services any number of ways and may give you a choice as to how you’d like your pricing structured. Getting the best value depends on the type and scope of services you need.
Monthly retainers can be wonderful in that you know you have a team on deck and there are no invoice surprises. If you choose this pricing structure, make sure that your contract clearly states the monthly retainer amount and the scope of work it covers. Ask what will happen if you have a need beyond that scope. Will your team be available to pivot quickly to accommodate that need? How will you be charged for the additional work?
Hourly or Project Pricing
If you don’t need that level of support, the agency may offer project pricing or charge only for hours worked. In this type of arrangement, find out what constitutes a billable hour and what any minimums may be. If it doesn’t make sense for you to keep people sitting on the bench, then why pay a retainer?
After the complimentary introductory call with a digital marketing agency, you may want to invest in a small discovery or audit fee so they can take a look under the hood and identify projects and estimate work more accurately. If your intent is to achieve better results than you’ve been getting with your existing marketing, they will need to examine your analytics. They will want to identify where your marketing has and hasn’t been performing well, and then chart a strategic path forward.
If you’re asking them to support a new legal practice, they will need to understand your goals, evaluate the competitive market, and choose from a range of available marketing tools to help you reach those goals.
Related: “Conducting a Client-Focused Website Audit” by Mark Homer
ROI: Reporting Frequency and Content
It is surprisingly common for lawyers to say that they don’t know if their marketing is working. This should never be the case! Your marketing firm should be proactive about keeping you apprised of performance as well as new opportunities.
Ideally, a marketing firm should provide regular (at least monthly) updates and proactive check-ins. Ask what you can expect in terms of frequency, content and format (written reports, calls or in-person meetings). These updates should not be a regurgitation of analytics you can look at yourself. They should zoom in on the highlights, including high-performing and low-performing efforts, and then look at potential pivots, optimization opportunities, and fresh ideas.
How Does It Feel?
Once you’ve met with a digital marketing firm, you should come away with a good feeling as to whether it’s the right fit for your practice. Evaluate how they answered your questions, whether they asked you the right questions and how genuinely interested they seemed to be in your success. If you get a good vibe and they can deliver the services and support you need, this might be the start of a productive and successful relationship.
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