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Law firm marketing post-Covid: In-house or outsource?

Posted by Chris Davidson, a director at Legal Futures Associate Moore Legal Technology [1]

Davidson: Marketing roles can be very broad

We first wrote about this topic [2] in 2019. Back then, we noted that we were speaking to more law firms with in-house marketing staff than ever before. I have an in-house marketing background, and it was great to see law firms recognising the value and importance of specialist marketing support.

This article looks at the various marketing options available to your law firm. Whether that is hiring in-house marketing support, outsourcing or a blend of both.

During times of business stress – such as the 2008 recession and now Covid-19 – marketing budgets are usually among the first cut because they are often viewed as non-essential costs.

A recent Marketing Week survey suggested that more than two-thirds of UK marketers felt unable to achieve their goals because of business decisions made during the coronavirus outbreak.

This statistic is borne out by our recent experience. Several conversations with prospect firms stalled because they furloughed their marketing team, or because they viewed marketing spend as non-essential in these conditions.

Why you shouldn’t cut your marketing budget in 2020

For me, and for many of the law firms with which we work, lockdown has highlighted the value of specialist marketing support.

Cost-cutting when times are tough isn’t unreasonable. Everybody should do what they feel is right for their business, after all. But spending on marketing is vital for steadying the ship when the storm passes. So, I would suggest that it’s important not to pull the plug on your marketing budget.

For many firms, the right marketing support has enabled them to focus on practice areas and services that are more resilient to negative trading conditions. This has been key to bringing in new business at a time people and money aren’t moving.

Whether your firm is re-tooling its marketing post-Covid, or lockdown has made you realise that marketing is essential, here’s our guide on what to look for in a marketer.

How to hire a marketer for your law firm

Not every firm has the budget available to create an in-house marketing team covering all the bases. This often means that a team constituting one or two people is expected to keep many plates spinning.

Finding someone with in-depth and wide-ranging marketing ability can be difficult, meaning some of those plates will be harder to spin than others.

A quick search for “legal marketing jobs” shows that the modern legal marketing role has never been as broad or as varied. A straw poll of some in-house marketers and ex-colleagues backs this up.

Modern firms require their marketing support to bring expertise to many activities, including internet advertising, e-marketing, website development, content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), events, tenders, strategy development, publications, mailshots, social media marketing, and PR.

It can be feast or famine for the law firm marketer. When managing tenders and events, there isn’t much time to eat or sleep. There’s even less time to keep up with SEO, to analyse data, to develop a community or to manage advertising campaigns. And these are only a selection of the jobs expected of marketers.

While Jacks and Jills of all trades do exist, even agencies use specialists. Our team keep an awareness of marketing trends and best practice, but we also hire specialists. We have people skilled in distinct digital marketing disciplines, such as content marketing, pay per click advertising, analytics, and so on.

The reality is, when considering in-housing versus outsourcing your marketing, there is no right or wrong answer. You need what’s best for your law firm.

If this issue is currently on your radar, we’ve listed some pros and cons of each approach below:

Outsourcing your law firm’s marketing resource



In-house marketing resource



For many of the law firms we speak to, hiring one or two marketing professionals is usually the limit. But, given the wide-ranging remit of your average in-house law firm marketer, covering all of a law firm’s marketing needs can be a challenge.

In our experience, effective in-house marketing teams contain someone who can: lead projects; has solid marketing & business development expertise; set the strategy; hold people accountable; coordinate teams; remove obstacles; and communicate with stakeholders.

These people will often hire external agencies and build a team of people that can deliver different services tailored to their needs – rather than trying to be all things to all people.