You’ve been on your marketing game: communicate consistently, follow through, execute with purpose.
And it works. New things are coming in, and your team is at (or over) capacity for the foreseeable future.
You’re busy, so…you can stop marketing now, right?
Not so fast. (And we’re not just saying that because that’s what we do.)
Statistics from academic research show that marketing must be consistent, or the awareness of your company’s brand and the quality of the services it offers will disappear.
A study by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Sciences, titled “When Brands Go Dark,” found the following:
- If brands stop broad-based advertising for a year or longer, sales will likely decrease: 16 percent after one year without advertising, 25 percent after two years, and 36 percent after three years.
- Sales declined faster for small brands that stopped marketing.
- Larger, growing brands were often observed to continue to grow after advertising was stopped, but almost all smaller growing brands immediately began to decline.
Although this study refers to a stop in advertising spending, the effect of stopping marketing is the same: awareness of your law firm, your lawyers, your services, your brand will decrease.
Out of sight and out of mind is possible for even seemingly well-known brands. It once happened to an entire state after it decided to stop marketing.
In 1993, Colorado eliminated its $12 million tourism marketing budget. According to a presentation by the state’s former tourism marketing agency, Colorado’s domestic market share fell 30 percent in two years after the cuts, representing a Loss of over $1.4 billion and annual tourism revenue. And in the summer resort segment, Colorado went from first place among the states to 17th.
Even aware of these facts, it can still be tempting to rationalize a pause, cut or elimination of marketing spend. Here are some common reasons why law firms may want to stop marketing:
We just paid for a new website. Can’t we just let that speak for itself?
A new website is an important tool for law firms and legal services firms to attract new business. It is your virtual receptionist or waiting room, and the image it projects is designed to convince clients that they should work with you.
Referrals are the top driver of business development for lawyers. But after a potential client receives a word-of-mouth recommendation, they will research who to work with. That’s when they find your website.
But do you just want to show your potential clients new draperies and furniture? While you have published practice area descriptions, thought leadership articles, testimonials and attorney biographies on your website, are they updated? To make the best impression on potential clients, you want to present the best evidence, just like in court.
When potential clients search your company’s name on Google or LinkedIn, do they find relevant articles about their legal issue in the top results? Not if you stopped marketing. Projecting an image that your company has experience is only half the battle. You need marketing to make the case that you continue to show authority and provide great service.
But what about a recession? Can I pause and resume marketing later?
With predictions of a recession making headlines in the final months of 2022, it can be tempting to temporarily cut back on marketing with the idea of taking it on the road.
But a Harvard Business Review article calls cyclical marketing (increasing spending during good times and cutting during bad) “today’s equivalent of hemorrhaging—an old-fashioned but once-widespread treatment that actually reduces a patient’s ability to fight disease.” Companies that didn’t cut their marketing spending rebounded the most from previous recessions, according to a study by the International Journal of Research in Marketing.
We have already paid for the content. Why do we need more?
The best lawyers are true subject matter experts in their niches. Maybe you’ve paid for content marketing, and your website features several articles that demonstrate your authority on specific areas of the law.
According to BTI Consulting, almost 60 percent of law firm clients said they use online resources to compare their lawyers with the other side. If your competition is spending on marketing and publishing new content about your legal niche and you are not, how do you fare in this matchup?