How to Create A Simple But Effective Marketing Plan

Jun 6, 2024

Patrick Carver

Hi, I’m Patrick Carver / CEO, Constellation Marketing

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Main takeaways: 

  1. Start with one marketing campaign to understand and master the fundamentals before expanding.
  2. Set clear goals focused on client acquisition, avoiding vanity metrics.
  3. Execute and review your marketing efforts regularly to ensure they produce real results.

Welcome to The Optimized Law Firm, where we equip you with the necessary tools and insights to enhance your law firm’s marketing strategies. Today’s episode will break down the steps to develop a marketing plan that is not only simple but also impactful for law firms.


Laying the Foundation
Timestamp: 00:01:15 – 00:02:14

Setting Clear Goals
Timestamp: 00:02:14 – 00:03:01

Choosing a Strategy
Timestamp: 00:03:01 – 00:06:24

Formulating a Strategy
Timestamp: 00:06:24 – 00:10:11

Implementation and Review
Timestamp: 00:10:11 – 00:14:01

Finding the Right Providers
Timestamp: 00:14:01 – 00:18:14


00:00:05:18 – 00:00:28:03

Patrick Carver

Welcome to another episode of the Optimized Law Firm. I’m Patrick Carver and I’m the owner of Constellation Marketing. This podcast is all about actionable insights that you can take away and implement right away with or without us in your law firm. So today we’re going to be talking about a cool topic that I think can provide a lot of value without actually doing a lot of work.


00:00:28:03 – 00:00:48:29

Patrick Carver

So we’re going to be talking about how to create a marketing plan today. And this episode is cool because I think it’s something that’s not only simple but can have a really big impact for law firms. So we’re going to break this down into three parts. First, we’re going to talk about how to think about this, how to set up that foundation.


00:00:49:01 – 00:01:15:29

Patrick Carver

Then we’re going to talk about picking the strategies that may make the most sense for you or strategy. And then finally, we’re going to talk about how to actually bring it all together, execute it, measure it, and make sure you’re on the right path. Let’s talk about laying the foundation for your let’s talk about laying the foundation for your marketing plan.


00:01:15:29 – 00:01:41:16

Patrick Carver

And I think I want to dispel a myth that I think is out there regarding marketing plans that they have to be these very well developed novel like type documents. And I think the opposite is actually true in terms of we want to start the whole process of creating a marketing plan by really working on just one marketing campaign.


00:01:41:19 – 00:02:14:19

Patrick Carver

And if you’re able to do that and set up the structure for a marketing campaign, then you can apply that and create a full plan that incorporates different marketing strategies. The the best way I think is, is this path where you’re taking it one piece at a time. Because if you don’t understand how to run a marketing campaign and how you develop it, the the measurement you’re going to use and how to execute it, then creating a document, full strategies is really not going to work for you.


00:02:14:21 – 00:02:39:26

Patrick Carver

So first you need to understand exactly what you need to do to run a successful marketing campaign. And it’s it’s very simple, really. There’s kind of two main three components to it. The first is picking a strategy excuse me. The first is to set some clear goals about what you want to accomplish with your marketing. Then you need to pick a strategy and then test it.


00:02:40:03 – 00:03:01:10

Patrick Carver

And by doing this, you’re going to be able to get results very quickly and scrutinize that until you actually are able to master it. Then you can start to scale up. So let’s talk about setting those clear goals about what they are. These really don’t have to be that complicated. And in fact, I would say for any marketing campaign, the goal for law firms is the same.


00:03:01:15 – 00:03:26:23

Patrick Carver

It’s about acquiring clients. So as an example, you could set a marketing goal that you want to acquire three new clients per month outside of referrals. So it doesn’t matter. The strategy could be doing ads, you could be doing organic social, but you’re going to set a basic strategy like that that you have three attributable clients who came from your marketing strategy.


00:03:26:23 – 00:03:47:29

Patrick Carver

You can start with one doesn’t really matter as long as you have a goal and you are able to then look back at it after the experiment or after the campaign has kind of run its course, you’ve given enough time. Then you can assess whether or not it it was successful or not, and it should always be about real client acquisition.


00:03:48:00 – 00:04:11:11

Patrick Carver

And in my opinion, because I think where the disconnect happens between law firms and marketers is often getting into what I call vanity metrics, talking about impressions, clicks, leads, even can in a way be considered vanity metrics from my point of view, because ultimately, if it’s not adding money to your bank account, then it really is not working.


00:04:11:13 – 00:04:42:19

Patrick Carver

You want to use those other metrics to see the progress of a campaign, but ultimately you can judge the success of a marketing campaign in a marketing plan by whether or not it’s producing actual real customers and for how much. Right? Is it a cost efficient investment for you? So if you know that and you want to just really reduce it down to a very black and white type of proposition, then my bet or my my suggestion here is to choose one strategy.


00:04:42:19 – 00:05:04:16

Patrick Carver

So this is especially geared towards folks who are kind of just starting out or, you know, they don’t have they’re not doing a lot of marketing already. Think about just one strategy. Right. And for us, that often means advertising. The reason we like that is because it’s very quick and we can test it extremely quickly and get results in a short amount of time.


00:05:04:18 – 00:05:26:23

Patrick Carver

And we’ve seen that this is typically the best way to get results quickly, get to get those cases in the door. And so that’s why we like ads a lot. But that may not be your choice. You may have other resources at your disposal and may want to do different things. And so that’s totally fine. But what you want to do is start that small and validate that that strategy works or does not work.


00:05:26:23 – 00:05:50:08

Patrick Carver

And so you want to set a goal, set a time period, some idea of a budget, what you need to basically clear to make sure that it’s profitable. And so if your case value is 1500 dollars, you want to set it your budget at much lower than that. So you can basically get at least a three ex return on your money and then validate whether or not that’s actually happening.


00:05:50:08 – 00:06:24:12

Patrick Carver

Right. So that is in a nutshell how you want to start and evaluate a single marketing campaign is pick the idea, pick a strategy and go with it and give it a period of time to actually test it. If you don’t apply that, then trying to incorporate multiple strategies, doing ads, doing SEO, doing social ads all at the same time is probably going to result in failure because you don’t have that good, sound, fundamental foundation about whether or not those things are working.


00:06:24:12 – 00:06:41:11

Patrick Carver

And so when you kind of pop around to the different channels, you’ll see these vanity metrics and on paper they’ll say, Oh, wow, I got these clicks and it only costs $2 a click or something like that. And so to your brain, you’re like, Oh, wow, this, you know, it kind of feels like it’s working, right? But those are vanity metrics, right?


00:06:41:13 – 00:07:18:27

Patrick Carver

And so you want to really scrutinize and focus on this very early on before you even think about starting to scale this out, to write a, quote, full marketing plan associated with this. Okay. Let’s move on to talking about how to formulate that strategy. You’re picking what type of a bet you want to make, right? What channel or ad strategy or just marketing strategy in general you want to do for your business.


00:07:18:27 – 00:07:51:12

Patrick Carver

And a couple of things I like to share with clients and folks who are getting into marketing is, number one, keep it simple. We often talk about something called the MVP or the minimum viable product model, and it’s a concept with startups and and software development that I think is very applicable to marketing as well. And the concept is basically what can you do with the least amount of effort to get a result that you want?


00:07:51:14 – 00:08:13:01

Patrick Carver

And it’s a little bit different in the context of of marketing, but the idea is kind of the same, right, is that we want to test and find something that works and get that one result to show that it actually has some validity as a as a strategy that that may have long term value for us and work for us in a sustainable way.


00:08:13:04 – 00:08:36:18

Patrick Carver

But we don’t want to throw in tons of money trying a bunch of different stuff without getting that initial feedback or that validity that, hey, this actually works and it was able to to get a client for me right? So an example of this in the context of marketing for law firm would be starting with an LSA ad.


00:08:36:20 – 00:08:59:22

Patrick Carver

So Google offers their local service ads and if you’re just kind of dipping your toe into marketing and advertising, this is a great way to start because your hypothesis here is that if I advertise, I can get clients, I can use that to acquire clients and love LSA for this purpose because it doesn’t require a lot of expertise, fees or any really.


00:08:59:22 – 00:09:19:13

Patrick Carver

You can basically sign up and Google is going to do the hard work for you. Now there are drawbacks and pros and cons, like with any marketing strategy, but what I like about this is that you as a lawyer can just do this yourself. Really. We of course help with this and can can offer some guidance on some specifics with it.


00:09:19:19 – 00:09:46:01

Patrick Carver

But ultimately, this is a really low energy, low commitment type of test where you can just put in money on a campaign, let it run for a month, and then go back and see, hey, did I actually acquire any clients from this specific channel and have some other material in other videos about how to properly do attribution from by installing software and using tracking numbers and stuff like that?


00:09:46:01 – 00:10:11:20

Patrick Carver

I’m not going to get into that now, but if you’re literally just starting out and you want to try one thing to get your your marketing going, I would do something like this and then basically just ask every person that calls into your office, Hey, how’d you hear about us? Where did you where’d you find this? Right. And it may not be perfect, but at least you have a better idea of whether or not this is actually working, whether or not you’re getting leads, qualified leads that will potentially end up being clients.


00:10:11:22 – 00:10:44:00

Patrick Carver

So the thing I want to make clear with this is that a good marketing plan is not a novel or overly complex. Right? And so you want to start with just a single campaign. So your marketing plan could actually just be one one strategy, right? One strategy or one campaign? Really, at its core, a marketing plan is just a test and you are just communicating what you are testing and how you will know if it’s successful or not.


00:10:44:03 – 00:11:08:24

Patrick Carver

This is the best way to do it because ultimately your marketing, you should be nimble with it. Because if you don’t see the results with something, you want to be able to pivot and move away from that quickly. And so that’s why I really stress focus on kind of finding that one thing and fail quickly, right? If you don’t see results with it, you can start to move on to the next one or look at other opportunities there.


00:11:08:26 – 00:11:41:28

Patrick Carver

Now, the other thing I would keep in mind when choosing this and figuring out what what do you want that one strategy to be take to get things started. Because once you master that, you can then start to layer on other strategies. And I’ll talk about that in the next part of this. But what you want and should require as a law firm owner, if you are working with marketing agency, is finding an agency who has proven winners and then relying on them to utilize those proven winners in your marketing.


00:11:41:28 – 00:12:09:04

Patrick Carver

And so what I mean by this is there are if you have a good marketing agency, they will have specific things that they do, specific ad campaigns, SEO campaigns that are going to work. They’re going to have good repeatable results from that. You want to take advantage of that, right? You want to tap into what they are already doing and not try to reinvent the wheel yourself.


00:12:09:04 – 00:12:50:06

Patrick Carver

Because realistically, you went to school for law, right? And maybe you have some marketing expertise, but I can just tell you a lot of the stuff that we try doesn’t end up working right, And we focus on this stuff every single day and, you know, and have arguably a lot more training on it than someone like yourself. However, you are going to really exhaust your energy and you’re gonna have a really difficult time doing it if you have no background because there’s so many things that can go wrong with this type of of activity that don’t even concern yourself with it and instead rely on the providers that you choose.


00:12:50:09 – 00:13:12:27

Patrick Carver

Right? And so there’s a whole selection process for that. But, you know, using some common sense, you want to find somebody who has proven results. Right? And so if you’re a immigration firm in Kentucky, you want to see do they have other immigration firms that they’ve gotten the results you’re looking for? How did they do it? What what sort of approach did they take?


00:13:12:29 – 00:13:40:15

Patrick Carver

That’s really what you want to focus on. And instead of trying to come up with ideas or implement things you’ve heard from other people or be on YouTube late at night trying to become a marketing expert, put them on the spotlight, right? Give them the opportunity to go out there and prove that they can actually create the campaign for you and I understand it’s hard to let that go, especially if it’s your business.


00:13:40:15 – 00:14:01:15

Patrick Carver

You may not have a lot of money coming in. And so every dollar really counts. And I totally get that. But there are providers out there who will work with you on smaller budgets and in a more of a kind of testing type capacity. And I think that’s really what we try to do with or with our clients because we get clients coming in at various stages.


00:14:01:17 – 00:14:20:05

Patrick Carver

And so we want clients for the long term. And so it doesn’t bother me if you’re only going to start out doing a little bit of advertising and you kind of want to test, test the waters before you you jump in. So look for people like that who are who have working approaches and they’re going to put you in the best position to win.


00:14:20:05 – 00:14:49:06

Patrick Carver

And then ultimately we want to judge them based on the success of our initial goals. Right. How many clients did we actually acquire? How much did we spend to get them? Okay, so now we’re going to get into the the third part of this, which is implementation and review the first part of this. And I would argue obviously the most important part of any marketing plan or campaign is in the execution, right.


00:14:49:08 – 00:15:14:22

Patrick Carver

So what I’ve tried to kind of communicate throughout this throughout this discussion is that you need to be testing, you need to be really focused on the actual results that are getting getting in there. I’m really trying to draw a line here between that and kind of this idea of creating a a theoretical document. We all know that you’re you’re a great writer.


00:15:14:24 – 00:15:43:15

Patrick Carver

You got through law school, you write briefs all the time, things like that. Writing a great document for your marketing plan really doesn’t matter. You know, you do not need anything fancy and that is not going to be your key to success. You do not need to develop some giant document that lists out multiple strategies and every single detail, because really at it at the core, you need to be nimble to test that and move on quickly.


00:15:43:15 – 00:16:14:20

Patrick Carver

And so writing it out like that is just really not practical. And it’s it’s going to give you no better result than if you just kind of, you know, keep tabs on it and have your marketing plan on the back of a napkin as long as you stick to it. And this is really where the you know, I want you to think about it and focus on the fact that, like execution is the most important part of this of the equation, because most successful law firms, they really don’t do anything groundbreaking or unique.


00:16:14:20 – 00:16:36:15

Patrick Carver

They often typically will do the same stuff. The SEO, they’re doing advertising. Maybe they’ve got a good organic social. There’s a couple of other marketing strategies as well that that folks do with success. But the point I’m trying to make here is that, you know, there is is no real competitive advantage in terms of the strategies that people are picking.


00:16:36:15 – 00:16:59:14

Patrick Carver

The biggest difference between a good successful law firm and somebody who relies on referrals and isn’t really getting to their revenue goals is that they are not executing as well. Right? They are all doing SEO, but there’s only room for ten people on the first page of Google. And so you really need someone who’s going to be able to execute the plan.


00:16:59:14 – 00:17:18:05

Patrick Carver

And if that’s not you and you don’t want that as part of your job as a lawyer, which I argue you shouldn’t and don’t want to do, you’ve got to find good providers. You got to find people that have repeatable results that you can trust, You can let go and and do their job. And it’s the same thing as if the shoe is on the other foot.


00:17:18:05 – 00:17:49:09

Patrick Carver

If I’m coming to you to get a business contract created, you don’t want me in the middle of writing the contract. You don’t want me scrutinizing every line because it’s not my expertise, right? Same thing with with marketing. You need to find people that can execute the plan, right? And so it’s important to set those trials up so that you can actually get that type of feedback in a in A in a reasonable time period so that you’re not spending tons of money on failed efforts and stuck in a one year contract or something like that.


00:17:49:12 – 00:18:14:27

Patrick Carver

So when you you find those people who can actually execute the plan, you want to then be an active participant in it, right? You don’t need to be in the weeds evaluating the individual campaign, but you want to keep tabs on your core metrics, right? And so your core metric, I continue to argue is is going to be clients acquired, Right?


00:18:15:00 – 00:18:43:00

Patrick Carver

You should be focusing on that. And at every end and every period that you do a review, that’s what you want to look at, right? Don’t get bogged down in the vanity metrics or the individual stuff that they’re talking about to show the progress of a campaign, focus on that high level top line metric. Right? And if they’re not, they’re not producing cases for you at that point, then what leads them to believe that they are about to start?


00:18:43:00 – 00:19:04:29

Patrick Carver

Right? And so you can then look a little bit deeper at those other metrics, but really you want to focus on working with these providers and spend a lot of time interviewing them, talking with them, really get to understand them. And that’s going to be so much time and pain and frustration down the line. But just making that that one initial selection right off the bat.


00:19:04:29 – 00:19:28:26

Patrick Carver

And then as you go, keep working to ask them for opportunities to increase your investment. Right. If you’re getting a good return on your investment, they will likely have other ideas to scale up your current efforts or add on additional different strategies and could help evolve the campaigns for better results. And so now we’re going to talk about kind of the the final part.


00:19:28:26 – 00:19:53:08

Patrick Carver

And really this is where I think it brings it all together in terms of an actual marketing plan itself. Right. And so watching this video, you may be thinking, well, you haven’t maybe given me an actual marketing plan, but I would disagree. Right. Because I think the the foundation or the what makes a good marketing plan, regardless is just a collection of working strategies.


00:19:53:08 – 00:20:14:12

Patrick Carver

Right. And finding that balance between which ones you want to focus on, how much you want to invest in those, and how much you want to invest in in the others. Right? And so the approach I would take is start with one area, start with one strategy. I often recommend ads because it’s quick. You can see it in real time.


00:20:14:12 – 00:20:37:20

Patrick Carver

You can validate whether or not you’re actually getting calls, whether or not you’re actually getting clients. Then once you have some repeatable success there and you kind of understand the cost dynamics and the that it’s actually proving that it’s giving results, then you start to layer on the others, you start to layer in SEO, then maybe email marketing, then social.


00:20:37:27 – 00:20:58:04

Patrick Carver

And a big problem that I see with law firms is that they they hear about all of this stuff and they they then think that all of these different strategies that they’ve heard about on YouTube or or in ads that they all need to be dealt with on an even basis. They need to be invested in on an even level.


00:20:58:04 – 00:21:23:15

Patrick Carver

And that’s absolutely not the case, because what we often see is that you will have one or two proven winners in your fleet of marketing strategies. And so that’s really where you can then implement that into a true marketing plan, where you see a good allocation, a proportional allocation from the ones that are contributing to 80% of your revenue down to 5%.


00:21:23:15 – 00:21:51:02

Patrick Carver

Right? Because we see in our work that email marketing is effective, but is it producing the same type of numbers as ads and SEO? Absolutely not. Right. And so you do not want to give all of those things equal amounts of investment and energy for it. So as you start to understand what works best for you, you can then start to incorporate that into a bigger overall marketing plan.


00:21:51:04 – 00:22:14:19

Patrick Carver

So let’s talk about a couple of the key takeaways, and that’s where we’re going to end it today. Let’s talk about a couple of the key takeaways from this discussion on how to create a marketing plan. So don’t think of your marketing plan as this big document that’s really complicated and you need to write it out like a true legal document.


00:22:14:21 – 00:22:44:26

Patrick Carver

Start simple, go in and pick one goal. I would argue that you want to focus on how many clients you’ve acquired. Absolutely. Keep it simple. Don’t try to start that second strategy until you have a good sense about comfortability with the first strategy and then ultimately focus on those results. Make sure that you put those those review periods on your calendar so that you’re not just giving a marketing company a blank check and then letting them run with it, right?


00:22:44:26 – 00:23:08:16

Patrick Carver

Or your own advertising efforts, you’re just putting it on and then getting too busy to actually check on those results, right? Because the most important part with all of this is evaluating the actual performance and then making those smart tactical decisions and adjustments based on that. So stay focused on the prize and focus on those results and don’t be afraid to pivot quickly.


00:23:08:16 – 00:23:24:02

Patrick Carver

But hopefully this all gave you some good insight and you can go out to create something like like this for your own business and start to add more repeatable revenue for you so you can meet your profit goals. Thanks so much and have a great day.

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