Law firm performance falls into 7 distinct stages based on how many of the 10 power marketing practices each firm adopts. Each law firm falls along a spectrum of marketing and business development behaviors defining how far you’ve come—or how far you have to go. The firms who have adopted more of the tactics show better performance—and in the case of the Pacesetters: vastly better.
Setting the Pace for Law Firms
The Pacesetters, at 10.8% of law firms, currently enjoy 8 times the growth with their top clients than other law firms. Most law firms are showing flat growth in the most important part of their client base; the Pacesetters are making substantial gains with the best and most important source of revenue. But the benefits don’t end here—these Pacesetters boast 4 times the growth in profits per attorney over the last 3 years. These firms are defining the leading edge of performance and show no signs of letting up.
We found pacesetting performance at large, medium-sized, and smaller law firms. The common denominator: they adopt at least 9 of the 10 power practices and integrate these into their firms. The power practices include both infrastructure and behaviors, and Pacesetters have learned to integrate these tactics into revenue-generating machines.
6 groups of law firms stand behind the Pacesetters. These are, starting with the stronger performances:
Believers—Closing in on the Pacesetters
Believers have progressed to adopt 6-7 of these tactics. These firms are in a position to catch the Pacesetters (who have adopted 9 or 10 of the pacesetting tactics) if they can add 2 more tactics to their MBD approach and integrate these new approaches into their firms. We found just as many Believers as Pacesetters at 10.8% of all law firms.
The Striders—Poised to Move Forward
Striders are strong performers. The Striders build on their infrastructure and processes to position themselves to quickly move to a market-leading position—if they act. These firms have embraced 4 to 5 of the market-leading MBD tactics, which is just not enough horsepower to drive the firmwide growth or growth in the top client base. BTI’s analysis shows 16.2% of law firms are Striders.
Task Masters—Ready to Commit
At 24.3% of all firms—Task Masters are the single largest group. These firms have taken the first steps for law firms looking to grow, but have not pulled them together in a cohesive strategy. These firms have successfully implemented 3-4 of the core market-leading MBD tactics. They have focused on discrete strategies and tactics proven to drive pockets of strategic growth and would benefit greatly from adopting more of the 10 power practices.
Dabblers—Still Getting Their Feet Wet
As a group, Dabblers have adopted a few of the key strategic MBD activities (such as dedicated client teams and tracking client retention), but have not built out the infrastructure or depth market success demands. These firms are less formal in their approach with attorneys and MBD practices in general—only occasionally adopting one of the 10 power practices. Dabblers reap few of the financial rewards enjoyed by their cohorts.
Nomads—Trying to Find Their Way
Nomads have adopted only 1-2 of the core MBD activities proven to drive growth and bigger client relationships. These firms are beginning to take steps towards a more advanced law firm growth strategy, but are informal, decentralized, and operate with a small set of tactics. The perils for this group are great as they begin their journey, but the opportunity greater. The risk of not moving forward dwarfs the risk of making changes to move up the curve. Approximately 11% of law firm are Nomads.
14% of law firms are have yet to adopt any of the 10 core marketing and business development tactics proven to drive growth—these are the Cave People. This group has neither a formal strategy nor an established set of tactics they rely on to drive growth. This group doesn’t believe in developing a systematic approach to marketing and business development. The Cave People will find success more and more difficult to achieve unless they change their approach.
Where You Are and What This Means
Almost every law firm is working to get an edge in the market. From adding laterals to launching new websites and adding a new CRM, law firms make changes to help them grow. These steps are valuable, but strategies and tactics sit at the epicenter of growth. 40% of firms (Striders and Task Masters) have some of the building blocks and infrastructure in place. This means about ½ of all law firms have significantly fewer power marketing practices in place—and, the firms with the most power practices will ultimately separate themselves from the pack. The number and nature of the tactics you adopt will define who you are, your growth—and your profits.
Learn exactly what steps to take to make it to the top with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017, where you'll see the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement, and improve, these programs at your firm.
And don't miss the posts from this week's Marketing and Business Development Week: