The 5 Essential Marketing Steps For Your Law Firm

April 28, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Jocelyn Brumbaugh

Jocelyn Brumbaugh is the Founder of Builden Partners, a company that helps law firms develop and execute marketing strategies to better engage with clients, prospects, and talent. The team at Builden Partners offers professional marketing solutions to firms of all sizes, with clients ranging from premier boutique Chicago law firms and other B2B companies to some of the best-known law firms in the world.

Jocelyn has over 20 years of experience in marketing and communications roles at top law and financial services firms. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Legal & Professional Services Council, a 500 member organization focused on best practices in business development and marketing at professional services firms.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Jocelyn Brumbaugh talks about the common mistakes law firms make when it comes to marketing.
  • The concept of “mining” what your firm is already doing well.
  • Where should you post news on your website?
  • How to post engaging content on LinkedIn.
  • Circulating a LinkedIn post internally — and what it can do for your firm.
  • The last step in leveraging your content: distribute a curated newsletter.
  • How can your law firm stand out from the competition through the Marketing Infrastructure Model?

In this episode…

Are your marketing strategies getting you the results you want? Is your law firm leveraging content efficiently and exponentially? If not, Jocelyn Brumbaugh has a tried-and-true marketing process to help your firm broadcast engaging content across multiple networks.

Jocelyn’s process is called the Marketing Infrastructure Model, made up of the five steps your firm needs to consistently take to grow your outreach network. These steps include expanding on what your firm is doing well, utilizing LinkedIn and internal communication effectively, and creating a continuous stream of news that will attract clients — and future clients — toward your business.

In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast, Matthew Laurin talks with Jocelyn Brumbaugh, Founder of Builden Partners, about the essential marketing steps your firm needs to take. Jocelyn shares all of the details behind the Marketing Infrastructure Model, how to curate and circulate appealing content, and the importance of putting thought leadership at the forefront of your firm. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Esq Marketing, your firm’s strategic search marketing partner. Esq Marketing helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing and helping them land on the first page on Google so that clients can find you right away. We help companies ranging from those with 10 or less members to those with over 50 in their team, essentially creating a marketing department for them to help them reach potential clients with ease.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, president of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin 0:22

Yeah, I’m Matthew Laurin, and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful entrepreneurs in the legal industry. This episode is brought to you by our sister publication, The Rankings Podcast with host Chris Dreyer. And speaking of successful entrepreneurs today I have the pleasure of speaking with Jocelyn Brumbaugh. Jocelyn is the founder of Builden Partners and legal marketing company that helps law firms turn their random acts of marketing into forward-looking strategies that will both strengthen their firm’s brand and keep them Top of Mind with their clients and prospects. Jocelyn and her team have built and worked exclusively with law firms from project work for a law 100 firms to serving as an outsourced marketing department for midsize firms. She is also the founder and executive director of the Legal & Professional Services Council, the 500 member, nonprofit organization focused on best practices in business development and marketing and professional services firms. Jocelyn, welcome to the show.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 1:14

Thanks so much, Matthew, great to be here.

Matthew Laurin 1:17

So yeah, let’s jump right in here. Tell me more about Builden Partners. What do you guys do?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 1:21

So we do marketing strategy for law firms exclusively, the senior team and I all grew up at some of the largest law firms in the world. And so we really have a handle on how to raise profile in a way that that allows the lawyers to focus on what they want to focus on, we’re a little bit different than other consultants in our space. Because we tell the lawyers that they don’t have to sell more or speak more or write more in order to raise their profile, they just need to fully leverage the good work that they already do.

Matthew Laurin 1:53

So what are what are some common mistakes you see law firms making when it comes to their marketing?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 1:58

So you know that this random acts of marketing is real, um, lawyers need to understand that they’re, that marketing is a process and it is very process-driven, and that they need to do a handful of things consistently, even when they’re busy. And so you know, there’s, we have a five-step model that we’ll go into in a couple minutes. And the mistakes I see them making a lot of times is they will, for example, take some news about some good good work that they’ve done or award or something in the community that they’ve done. And they put it on their website. And they say, I’ve marketed and they think like they’re done for the day. And and that’s a real problem, because they’re doing great work, but not always taking the steps to get it in front of their clients and prospects. And just putting on it on your website does not do that.

Matthew Laurin 2:45

Where else would they leverage something like that? I’m curious. So yeah, I see that two of them putting, you know, they had a big case, or they do something helpful in the community, and they put it on the blog. And maybe that’s it, but where else could they leverage that.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 2:58

So that’s a great segue into this five-step model that we that we do, because it really is not just about putting it somewhere there. There’s a process that they need to go through. And I can tell you a little bit about like how this process came about, you know, I grew up in in large law firms. Um, you know, I was at Foley and Lardner for many years, I started up their PR department. And then I moved over to Baker McKenzie and was in global communications there. And so, you know, I love law firms. I love law, firm marketing, you know, I started a nonprofit for people who do what we do a trade group that meets really regularly and talks about best practices. But it wasn’t until I jumped over to financial services, I spent a little bit of time at Citadel, which is a big hedge fund here in Chicago. And that really blew my mind the focus on process, the focus on innovation, that’s just not where law firms were, at that time when I was growing up there. And I looked back at my life. And, you know, when I was at Baker McKenzie, I was opening up an office somewhere around the world, every month, every other month, and every other month, we started from scratch. And every other month, we were chickens with their heads cut off, because there was no process. We didn’t write it down, we didn’t debrief and say what can we do better next time. So this was the brainchild that I had when I was at Citadel saying, you know, let’s apply this process-driven approach of a financial services firm to law firm marketing, because there was so much randomness and not the sense of there, these steps that you need to take every single time and do them consistently. And that’s what’s gonna raise profile. So that really leads into this five steps, these these five steps that we call the built-in marketing infrastructure model. And

Matthew Laurin 4:41

can you speak more specifically to those what those steps are?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 4:45

Of course, of course, okay. So the first step is about mining what your firm is already doing. Well, so this goes back to what I’m saying that you know, for firms, to you know, the firm’s that really are in our sweet spot are firms with like 10 to 100 attorneys firms work really Well with these five steps that we’re talking that we’re going to talk about, and we have larger clients we have smaller clients on. But I find that it works really well in this space. And so when you mine for what you’re already doing well, this is looking at the things that are already going on in your firm, you’re already speaking, you’re already winning, you already are being named to these many, many awards that we have here in the legal industry, right? You’re on boards, you there’s webinars, there’s new hires, there’s people being named partners, there’s a lot of things that are going on at the farm, that you might not be realized are news, and you’re not using them as client touchpoints. So So part of this first step is to is to gather all the things that are currently going on with the firm. But then there’s a really important point that you need to think about. And that’s how you position this because this is another way that I find that smaller firms sometimes miss the mark, they’ll position the position the news as administrative instead of as thought leadership. So here’s an example. So let’s say that I spoke recently at the Chicago Bar Association if I made the headline, Jocelyn Brumbaugh spoke at the Chicago Bar Association, there is one person out there who would be interested in this headline, and that is my mom. But if we change the headline to say, Jocelyn Brumbaugh shared insights on how COVID is affecting jury trial selection. That’s the same speech. That’s the same speech that I agreed to a really long time ago, because I forgot how long it was gonna take to put the deck together. And oh, my gosh, it’s tomorrow. It’s the same speech. But we’re capturing the thought leadership of it. So that and that’s a headline that headline, that big headline I just gave you, that’s a headline that’s going to grab the attention of way more people than just my dear mother. So that so that, there’s a lot packed into just step one. And we got five more to go.

Matthew Laurin 6:51

Yeah, yeah. All right. And so so so mining existing assets, so so they’re taking things that they’ve done, and, and I heard a lot about repurposing content in there. That sounds like it’s a really important part of that stuff.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 7:04

It is. And when you have something like an event, you can mine that to take three bites of the apple. So before the event, say, Hey, you know, Matthew, speaking at this, here’s how you register like drumming up some interest in it at the event. You know, back in the days, when we would have events in person, take a photo of you and your other panelists, or maybe even that, you know, the Brady Bunch zoom image that we’re also familiar with, and post that. So that’s to show sort of the scale of how many people were there. And then afterwards, you capture the thought leadership, right? In my example, how COVID is affecting jury trials, that’s three posts of the same speech. That’s, that’s it, right? That’s fully leveraging all the things that you’re doing.

Matthew Laurin 7:47

That’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. And so you you mind that content, or you mind the things that you’re already doing, and you repurpose that for your marketing? What’s step two? Okay.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 7:55

So step two is putting the news on your website, right? We talked about that. And so there’s still many more steps. But that you know, that one is the one that you need to take, because that’s going to be the foundation. And there’s a couple things to keep in mind about putting the news on the website. One mistake that I see a lot of smaller firms have is they do have a news section on their website. But it’s a long scroll of news. So you need to make sure that it’s in a blog-type format, where you have excerpts, and then you go to a detail page, because when you’re going to post this on social media, spoiler alert, those are future steps. You need that detail page, that’s going to take them directly to that news, that piece of news. The other things to keep in mind about posting the news on your website, is that it’s pretty well known that visitors to law firm websites go to a handful of places. Those places are the homepage, Attorney Bios and the Contact Us page because they’re looking for your phone number. So put the news, those places where people are going to be and and so you know this Matthew, right? There’s ways you can dynamically tag content, right? That’s exactly what we want. Because we don’t know no lawyer is going to update their bio every time they do something good, right? They never look at it again. So if you have, you know, you need to make sure that your website has the ability to dynamically type dynamic dynamically linked content to attorney bios. So they’re constantly refreshing with the most current news.

Matthew Laurin 9:21

Those are great tips, especially with the how you say, snippets that link to full detail pages or blog posts. I’ve seen sites like that, where, where they’re not doing that, and it’s you know, just one endless, long scroll. And people sort of get anxiety when they see that and they don’t, they don’t usually read all that on it. But it’s interesting to how you say they only go to the homepage, the bios and the contact page. I never really, I’ve heard that before is that if you guys have your own data on that type of thing,

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 9:49

we don’t have our other people’s data.

Matthew Laurin 9:53

Cool. And so step three, what happens after they put it on their blog, put it on their website,

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 9:57

okay. So then you need to put The news on the firm LinkedIn page, and you need to have a firm LinkedIn page. And I do see that a lot of for a lot of smaller firms don’t put this part in, they don’t create a firm LinkedIn page. And that’s really problematic. Because you know, a lot of small for small, firm attorneys, they came from larger firms. So you know, you come from a firm that has a very stylized logo when you look at your LinkedIn profile, and then you see this firm that was the spin-off. And on LinkedIn, all you have is that sad grey box. And sad grey box is what happens when you have your that piece of your experience that’s not tied to a company page. And there’s nothing that your associates can do about that they can’t go make their LinkedIn profile look better until you create a firm LinkedIn page. And it’s that firm LinkedIn page where you need to be posting the content. That’s where the content should go first, that in, and there’s a couple things to keep in mind when you post content there. You know, we as humans love faces like that, that’s really what we’re drawn to posts with pictures of people in them, or possibly cats, but that’s not appropriate for this particular one. So just having a link a post on LinkedIn, that’s text, only, nobody’s gonna read it. So don’t even bother. So make sure that you have an appropriately sized image. And the problem we think LinkedIn is that LinkedIn images are horizontal and, no matter how much weight you’ve gained over COVID, you’re still a vertical creature. And so if you just take your photo, and you put it in that spot, it’s going to be eyebrows, right. And you’ve seen it, you’ve seen LinkedIn posts that are just people’s eyebrows. And that’s because they’re not taking this properly sized image. And again, it looks like no one’s mining the store, these are these little things that you need to have, in order to, you know, this is this is step three, right? We’re halfway there. It’s something that you need to do consistently. And something else has to say about this. These are not five tips, like please do not think of these five tips, these are five steps that you have to take every time and having these little details like the firm LinkedIn page. So you have that stylized logo, a properly sized image of the people who this news is about, those are the key elements of step three.

Matthew Laurin 12:18

I like how you pointed that out about There are five tips like you can, you can sort of summarize it right? But there are is that even and I know this, but a lot of people might not understand that I’m saying share with your company LinkedIn page, there’s so many moving parts to that into doing it effectively, like you said, the eyebrows like I see all the time, it’s almost like an afterthought. So I’m going to share the link and, and whatever gets generated in the, in the post metadata is what shows up. And they don’t give any thought to, you know, engaging or mentioning other people in the post or using hashtags or using emojis or using properly sized images, like you mentioned. Um, so yeah, super important. And there’s a lot of detail to all of that. So after they, after they publish it to to LinkedIn, I had one side question, is there any other social media that should be focused on? So this

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 13:03

depends on the kind of firm you are we primarily handle b2b law firms, we do have a little we work a little bit in the family law space. So you know, in the family law space, definitely Facebook is a place where you should also have this if you’re, if you’re, you know, an insurance defense firm or you know, a firm, you know, a corporate firm, a litigation boutique, you know, I really, LinkedIn is the place that you should spend the most time we do certainly have firms that are active on Twitter that are active on Instagram. But if we’re talking about the basic table stakes, LinkedIn is where you need to be.

Matthew Laurin 13:38

Totally agree, totally agree. So after step three, where do they go from there?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 13:42

Alright, so shocker, step four comes next. So step four, is circulating the LinkedIn post internally. And here this, this is the money step. This is where it all comes together. And this, you know, this is going to be the most appropriate for firms that have a handful of people. And it works really well as I was saying in that size model that we’ve got this 10 to to 100. But here’s what this means. So you take that LinkedIn post, and you send it around internally, and you say congratulations to Jocelyn, she spoke last week and share these tips. Here’s a link to it on LinkedIn, please go and like and share and comment as you see fit. And here’s what that does. So internal communications is a giant afterthought at law firms. And especially right now, when we’re when so many people are working from home, but we’ve got firms of a certain scale and you send something around internally, and you know, then all of a sudden if it’s about corporate then the litigation folks know what’s going on. And the litigation folks will the corporate folks will see the wins that the litigate, it’ll be this sort of water cooler, that we don’t always have even in, you know, pre 2019 times, to help be that glue to make sure that the different departments within the firms, the folks who don’t always work on the same project at the same time to make sure that know what’s going on. The second part that it does is it helps with retention. Because your associates and your younger partners, they want to work somewhere where they’re winning, and where they’re thought leaders in the community and where they really, they’re respected, and they win awards. And they do work there, you just never tell them that. And all of their friends are at other firms. They they’re doing cool things, and these their friends who are associates get to like and comment and share on that stuff. But if you never give them that opportunity, they’re not able to feel that same way and feel that connection to the firm, they want to be proud and share the cool stuff. But you have to give them the mechanism to do that.

Matthew Laurin 15:42

That’s really cool. I never really thought about it that way that they actually want to be involved. They want to, they want to help out. And then that’s also another example I just realized that leveraging the firm’s existing assets, so they’re their internal employees have connections and LinkedIn, and that that maybe the company page doesn’t have or maybe the the executives in the firm don’t have and and they can leverage that by having people participate in social media.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 16:08

Yes. So you know, that’s another benefit of this step, the 10s of 1000s of collective connections that your folks have, you’re getting it in front of these people. And we’re all trying to hack LinkedIn’s algorithm, right, get as many likes as you can. So it moves out of your own firm’s echo chamber and starts getting you in front of those other people. And you’re you can’t do that on your own. You need to harness the attorneys and the staff in your firm to help get it to that critical point where it gets in front of more people than the people that you’re already seeing all the time.

Matthew Laurin 16:39

All right, final step. What is it? No, no, no, the

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 16:42

best part of Step four is Oh, sorry. Okay, step four is pact is this competition letter. And here’s what this means. So if I send something around, you know, Jocelyn, congratulations. She spoke last week at the CBA. If I send that around, all of a sudden, Fred is going to be like Jocelyn, she’s an idiot. What about this thing that I did last week? Why don’t you talk about that? And we can, we just didn’t know that you were doing that? Because you didn’t make it part of this infrastructure. So what this does is it makes attorneys mad. They say, how come everybody else is getting all this infrastructure? Why are you promoting their posts? Why can’t you do it with me, we would be delighted to do it for you, we just didn’t know about. So it creates this virtuous cycle where you always have more news coming because every time you send that around, you’re poking people saying other people are doing stuff. What about you? Are you doing stuff? And that is how you get a continuous stream of news.

Matthew Laurin 17:38

That’s cool. How you turn that into a positive to like people, do people reach out to you often like, Hey, why are you promoting them?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 17:44

What about us all the time. And when we when we talk about our model to managing partners, they shake their head, and they say in current internal communications doesn’t matter. And every single client comes back to us and says this works.

Matthew Laurin 17:58

I’ve heard that from people before too, in other industries, where they just they frown on social media. And I’m like, I don’t know.

Matthew Laurin 18:08

There’s people that are using it really successfully. And if you can turn your employees into brand champions, why not?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 18:14

100%?

Matthew Laurin 18:16

And then so so that’s all step four, right? Yes,

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 18:20

yes, yes, we are safe to move on to Step Five.

Step Five. Step five, is distributing a curated newsletter. So all of that content that you have had all these wins, and thought leadership’s and new hires, when you have a certain amount of content, you take that same content, and you push it out through an email marketing tool, like a constant contact or Active Campaign, those sorts of things, same content, right, because we’re we’re continuously leveraging that one thing that we talked about. And so this is that last step in leveraging that. And so you might have missed some people, with the friends and family of the firm prospects that you have on your list. And so you want to make sure to take a collection of news and get it in front of them to know you don’t want just a text-heavy newsletter. But hey, you have these social images that you already already put on LinkedIn. So you can sprinkle those within your newsletter so it looks more visually engaging, and get it into the inboxes of the clients and prospects that you’re trying to have a touchpoint for. A couple of things to keep in mind about this newsletter. The worst possible newsletter subject line is spring 2021. Your clients and prospects are not relying on you to find out that we are in a new quarter. So do not do that. You know, the the point though, that that goes back to that first step when we tried to focus on the thought leadership, not the administrative part of it. The fact that it’s pew two is administrative. If you take your best headline and make that your subject line, you’re going to get a lot more opens. Same with people who say oh, this is you know, My firm newsletter number 73. I’m gonna pull my hair out, no one cares. But you know, Matthew, you’ve seen it, this is not a fake thing that I’m talking about. Take that subject line, and take the subject line and make it your your most interesting news item from that this particular issue and you only put a newsletter out when you have some content that’s going to appeal to the litigators and the corporate folks and show some diversity and you know, the checks the other boxes that are important to you, not because you have five pieces of content, not because it’s May and not April anymore, it’s that reason.

Matthew Laurin 20:36

I have seen subject lines like that before. And there’s a very literal feel to it, like, five pieces of content for for April. Yep. That’s hilarious. So I had a question that came up during our conversation, um, people are bombarded by messaging from endless amounts of channels, how can law firms stand out in in the spaces that they’re in.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 21:05

So a lot of the things that we talked about that are in this model will do that, it’s about putting your thought leadership first, it’s about getting the content out to people when they need it. So that’s timely, that you know, that you You see, whenever there’s like a, some sort of Department of Labor guidance update, right, you get a tonne of emails, you have to be quick. So that’s a key part of it. But you don’t have to have everything in the communication, you know, it’s okay to say, here’s a couple of tips about this new guideline, or whatever it is that came down this new precedent that was set, and then have a follow-up or hold a webinar about it. Being fast is important. And really thinking hard about the content that is going to make people care is it that if you don’t follow this, you know, you’re going to lose employees, and they might sue you like, what is the action that you want your clients to take? And put that in the subject line? Because if they even if you just say, you know, new DOL guidance, they don’t know why they have to care, you have to help them understand the why and make that front and center.

Matthew Laurin 22:15

Do you work with law firms that have a smaller amount of employees? How does this model fit in there?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 22:21

So, you know, a lot of times we come in, and we’ll build the marketing infrastructure for smaller firms. And then we put a playbook together, and it talks about all these steps and that, you know, all sorts of, you know, branded images that we can give them that they can customize and so we’ll, if it’s a smaller firm will come in, and we’ll build that and then we’ll turn it over to them. Because once you have this marketing infrastructure build, once you know what to do, it’s just tactics, and what our team do tactics better than your internal person. Heck, yeah. But that’s not cost-effective for a lot of smaller firms. But we do have firms that have fewer than 10 attorneys that we work with all the time. And these are go-getter firms, but that’s not for everyone. So following a lot of times will come in and say, oh, gosh, like, you know, your website doesn’t do these things that we talked about. In step two, you don’t have a LinkedIn page, you, you need some LinkedIn training. So everybody knows how to harness their connections will come in and do that. And then you don’t let the firm go off and be successful and they can be successful without us by using this model.

Matthew Laurin 23:20

Guys, you’ve been listening to Jocelyn Brumbaugh, Founder at Builden Partners. Jocelyn, where can people go to learn more about your firm?

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 23:27

They can go to buildenpartners.com.

Matthew Laurin 23:30

Awesome. Thanks a whole lot for being on the show.

Jocelyn Brumbaugh 23:33

Thanks, Matthew. Lots of fun.

Outro 23:38

Thanks for listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.

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