3 Phases of Law Firm Marketing System Adoption

April 18

Looking at the big picture of legal marketing and client relationship management, there are 3 major phases involved in adopting an enterprise marketing system.  These 3 phases that will be reviewed include:


Phase 1: Marketing Plan Development

Phase 2: Activity & Budget Schedule and Contact Organization

Phase 3: Automation Systems



Phase 1: Marketing Plan Development



Our last marketing blog post “5 Steps to Developing a Law Firm Marketing Plan” discussed Phase 1: Marketing Plan Development.  The planning workflow consists of 5 steps:

  1. Goal identification,
  2. Status analysis,
  3. Market segmentation & target client definition,
  4. Activity planning, and
  5. Implementation


At the end of Phase 1, the activity portfolio (step 4), consisting of relationship building, content development & contact management activities, is developed. Implementation, the final step of the plan development, consists of two major tasks and transitions into and comprises Phase 2.


Phase 2: Activity & Budget Schedule and Contact Organization


The first task, based on the activity portfolio, is developing a schedule for activity frequency and details (e.g. blog topics, conferences to attend, organizations to join, contacts to entertain). While the frequency of activities can be planned over a 12-month schedule, some of the details need to be added ad-hoc as things become more concrete over time.


A financial budget should be determined in accordance with the activity calendar for cost management purposes. Ideally, an hour budget will also be developed for time management purposes. This hour budget will be based on the previously determined hours allocated to marketing. While it may take some time to accurately determine the necessary amount of time to write an article, prepare a presentation or attend an industry event, etc., a high-level time allocation will help to accurately plan legal and non-legal hours (including marketing) for each week.


The second task of Phase 2 is organizing and listing all contacts. This initially entails allocating all contacts from sources like Outlook, LinkedIn, business card collections and any other contact databases. Next, it requires consolidating and categorizing all contacts. Categorization helps to manage frequency and points of contact.  We recommend the following categories:


  • client
  • former client
  • referral source
  • influencer
  • friends
  • acquaintances
  • colleague
  • client prospect
  • competitor


These groups can be divided into more detailed subgroups as well. When our clients get to this point of consolidating and categorizing contacts, we recommend the purchase of a contact relationship management (CRM) application. While there are many simple and affordable CRM solutions available, it is important to choose one that brings value to your practice and one that you will actually use on a consistent basis. 



CRM solutions that are cloud-based provide a central location for all contacts that can be accessed through the internet. This makes it easy for lawyers to access the information at any time and from any place.  We believe on such solution, Contactually, is one of the more effective platforms for lawyers and law firms. Using a “bucket” system to categorize a lawyer’s contacts, it helps to identify key relationships and set reminders for reaching out to clients. Contactually also integrates with email newsletter programs such as Mailchimp, allowing lawyers to send and track emails to clients and prospects.  Standing apart from many other CRM solutions, Contactually is more focused on building and maintaining relationships rather than just closing the next deal.


At the end of Phase 2, the two generated marketing tools include:

  • a marketing calendar and
  • a contact management application.


PHASE 3:   Automation Systems


At the completion of Phase 2, a functioning marketing system is in place with the tools to maintain it. At this point, it is up to the lawyers to use these tools on a continuous basis to effectively implement the marketing strategy.  


Phase 3 is for law firms that want to bring their marketing a step further by automating and centralizing their entire marketing and CRM system. This phase includes the implementation of a software or cloud-based system that not only handles contact management but now manages blogging, newsletters, social media and search engine optimization (SEO). Law firms who take this step must have the necessary human resources available as these systems require a certain degree of customization and expertise development. Examples of such systems include InterAction, Lexicata, Oneplace and Hubspot. The latter, for example, is an inbound marketing and CRM software that, depending on the plan, can function as a central cloud-based system to control all contact management activities, as well as all inbound (content-related) marketing activities.




Whether an individual attorney, a practice area or an entire firm wants to develop a comprehensive marketing process, they must take the necessary steps to be successful. A detailed plan and implementation schedule are  necessary.  To make sure the time and effort invested in developing a comprehensive marketing plan pays off, it is critical to plan activities ahead of time and to have all contacts in order.  With these steps in place and with the available resources, a law firm can introduce a full-scale automated marketing and CRM system that provides valuable analytical performance insights.



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