I received a Technolawyer e-newsletter promoting an article, by Lee Rosen, revealing the secret to charging flat legal fees. The secret is to make your fixed expenses variable. One of the expenses suggested to be changed to variable is marketing and ostensibly, advertising.
The article stated: “Now we’ve achieved variability on our marketing expenses. We have no contracts related to marketing. We can start or stop our marketing on a moment’s notice with no penalty. It’s quick and easy.”
While it can be advantageous to have variable expenses, decreasing marketing expenses when revenue is going down is a disastrous idea. This will reduce revenue even further both now and in the future.
Reducing your advertising and marketing budget will cause your law firm (or any business) to fall further behind and allow your competitors to gain a substantial advantage. When revenue increases, you will have to start all over again. Additionally, all previous work and investment in branding will have been for nothing. In a bad economy, this is precisely the time to take advantage of lower marketing costs.
Fixing marketing costs can be a huge benefit. When entering into a large five figure advertising spend on TV, I committed to a 12 month budget to fix the cost of media. This allowed me to pay the same known cost for media every month. Otherwise, I would have faced huge increases, or have been forced to temporarily discontinue advertising, because of temporary changes in media demand such as elections.
A far better idea is to keep office overhead low by looking at every item in the expense budget to find less expensive alternatives; increase efficiency; and become more creative with marketing. It’s a good idea to look at what is actually being spent as well as looking at the budget because there are often expenditures not seen in the budget.
One area of both personal and business expenditures which rarely gets any attention are small expense items. Every so often, I look at my check register and find that I have been paying monthly fees for items as little as $20-$50 per month which can be reduced or completely eliminated with a newer, different or free service. Reducing small expenses can substantially help a small business. For a large business, the number of small expenses really gets forgotten and can add up to a substantial amount.
I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional to dictate everything for my law practice and all the content on approximately 300 websites including everything on LawyerAdvertisingBlog.com. Just using Dragon NaturallySpeaking has allowed me to save the cost of at least one employee. I switched from an expensive CRM software service to Zoho CRM which is almost identical, free for three or less users, and less expensive than the competition for more users. There are many great free open source software products which can substantially reduce costs such as OpenOffice.org which provides the functionality of the Microsoft Office suite.
In the early 1980s after law school, I went into my father’s business which was a diamond manufacturing (cutting) company. That was a very bad time for the diamond industry. At some point, my father decided to close the business. I took over the office and reduced the fixed expenses by 90%. For instance, I eliminated an expensive jewelers block insurance policy and one of the two expensive alarm contracts by moving the diamonds from our two office safes to an outside protected fault which was inexpensive. Additionally, we had an entire floor so I rented space to a television production company. As part of the rental agreement, I fired my receptionist and had the television production company hire her.
I have done the same thing with my law practice. In addition to reducing overhead costs, I have found many ways to run a more efficient law practice and spend less time accomplishing the same results which results in increased revenue. From conducting litigation to settling cases, I found ways to accomplish the same results with less time.
Instead of cutting your advertising and marketing budget, think of ways to cut other parts of your budget and increase your advertising and marketing budget to get more business.