What is the ROI of legal directory submissions?The Grey Matter Team
One commonly asked question by law firms and lawyers is whether legal directories are a good return on investment.
Could lawyers be using their time doing something more productive instead of going through the mammoth task of making legal submissions? Is the value proposition offered by these submissions consistent with the time, effort and money that goes into making them year on year?
Before we get into explaining the returns, let us take a look at the investment a law firm makes each year in putting together the annual legal directory submissions.
The investment in the form of time, money and resources are as follows:
- Billable hours of lawyers including senior staff in collating and drafting deal information, amending and approving the drafts, reaching out to client and peer references, follow-ups with client and peer references to ensure they respond, attending interviews with researchers for all concerned practice areas and individual rankings.
- Hiring dedicated staff to correspond with legal directories, getting internal approvals, uploading referees, making submissions and scheduling interviews with researchers.
- Top Dollar spent on the paid listings feature that the legal directories offer to already ranked firms.
- Purchasing Plaques, certificates paying import duty (in some cases).
- Purchasing digital icons for email signatures.
Truth bomb – even though one may make the necessary investment of time and energy to make the submissions, there is no guarantee of receiving a ranking/recognition of preference!
Team TGM’s opinion
As a consulting firm for the legal community, we highly recommend making the submissions, annually. The ROI on legal directories is often difficult to quantify using the standard marketing ROI formula. While there is a challenge in measuring incremental increase to your legal practice, it pales in comparison to the intangible gains. A service industry is, after all based on exceptional story telling. Consumer behaviour for a service industry like legal, is built over years of marketing.
Here is why you stand to gain from Legal Directory Submissions –
- Recognition as an expert – getting ranked consistently and receiving client feedback provided by legal directories helps in branding oneself as a thought leader and industry specific expert with specialist skills and capabilities.
- Popular selection tool/Third Parties as your Cheerleaders– with the usual face-to-face networking coming to a standstill, there is a rapid increase in digital profiling and reputation. Third party endorsements such as those by legal directories validate your expertise in a particular practice area. When this is clubbed with comments from your delighted clients or encouraging peers, it only lends more credibility.
- Prospective clients – often refer to different legal directory rankings to create a shortlist, validate selection, and reassure a choice before engaging in any legal services. Directories also work as a great tool for foreign clients seeking a lawyer in unfamiliar jurisdictions and practices.
- Media and Press – are on a look out for experts in specific areas of law to become their ‘go-to’ people for latest legal developments. Quite a few of the publications are housed under media houses, which have their own journals, online blogs and legal guides.
- Foreign law firms – legal directories provide a great opportunity for law firms from foreign jurisdictions to validate your expertise and for you to receive cross-border referral work.
- Attract Talent – legal directories provide a valuable snapshot of the body of work, deal volume, deal size and marquee clients of law firms and lawyers. This in turn helps attract top talent for your legal practice.
- Online marketing vehicle – legal directories are one of the best ways to gain exposure in online search engines.
- Repurpose and utilize the content bank submissions help you develop for your practice
- Ascertain that the firm’s submission is shared internally with all requisite departments. There is plenty of useful information for members working on RFPs, practice area statements, pitches and marketing collateral.
- The annual submissions are a valuable source of content for your website and social media handles.
- Chambers & Partners is the first legal directory which announces the submission at the start of each year. The submissions made to this directory can be replicated for other legal directories.
Making submissions is a key cost of business development for law firms of all sizes. At the very minimum it entails making an investment of time and energy. A firm can make an informed decision about payment for the listing, plaques, trophies or thought leadership pieces.
The best way to answer how one could invest in this form of marketing to maximize ROI is subjective to each law firm basis where the firm is at, in their journey of marketing.
Pro-tip for those who prefer a ROI focused strategy
Conduct an internal audit for your legal directory submissions every year. This audit should track improvements in rankings and recognitions across different directories, evaluate directories based on what features they offer and accordingly determine the most suitable way to spend a fraction of your marketing budget. Legal directories can provide a strategic insight on what you are doing well, what needs improvement, what your clients really think of your service and how you are perceived externally.