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The Mad Clientist

The 10 Secrets of Pacesetting Law Firms

By June 14, 2017April 16th, 2020No Comments

Only 10 marketing tactics really matter. Out of the dozens of tactics, protocols, and activities available—there are 10 driving superior performance. Time and money at every firm are always at a premium, and everyone—from Managing Partners to Marketing Coordinators—is looking for the secret sauce to stretch every last dollar and every last hour. The firms using the 10 marketing “must-haves” have found the formula to outperform everyone else.

BTI analyzed 160 law firms using more than 25 performance metrics. We then analyzed performance over a 5-year period to eliminate luck and unique, nonrecurring events. Firms embracing a client-focused approach to the market enjoy 8 times the growth with their top clients than other law firms while also growing profits per attorney 3.7 times faster than other firms.

The 10 strategies below drive these outsized performances:

1.  Targeting the Best Clients and Prospects
Revenue growth for firms targeting specific clients and opportunities is 10x–15x higher than it is for firms not taking this approach. Targeting specific clients enables firms to better understand the individual opportunities they are pursuing and craft customized messaging to these clients—increasing the odds of closing new business.

2.  Client Teams—With the Money to Make Them Work
While client teams have long been a structure used by firms to improve client relationships, only 44% of firms have given these teams dedicated budgets to invest real money and time in growing the client relationship. Dedicated budgets fund the activities helping firms make their largest client relationships even bigger—nearly 8 times larger than the firms who don’t make this additional investment in their client team program.

3.  Listening to Clients with Systematic, Objective Client Feedback
The ROI for law firms conducting formal client feedback is staggering: when firms conduct formal client feedback across a broad swath of their clients, relationships with the firm’s largest clients are 4x–6x larger than firms not taking the time to reach out and objectively listen to their clients. What firms learn from a formal client feedback interview gives them the information they need to exceed clients’ ever-rising expectations, better serve clients, and outpace competitors vying to get new business.

4.  Client Service Standards—Words to Live By
Client service standards are a small set of high-impact protocols defining what the client’s experience with every single person at a firm should look like. When firms adopt—and truly live by—these standards, their growth in profits per attorney is 1.5x higher than firms not applying a consistent client service experience across their firm.

5.  Spending Money to Grow
On average, the typical large law firm dedicates 2.5% of the firm’s revenue to marketing and business development. The best-performing firms boost this investment to 2.8%—nearly $8,000 more per attorney—in order to win more work than others.

6.  Spending Time to Grow
The Managing Partners at the top-performing firms spend more than 50% of their time on direct client development activities. The result of these efforts: nearly 2x higher revenue growth and 3.5x higher growth in profits per attorney. The amount of time a firm’s Managing Partner spends on client development is a proxy for how committed a firm is to soliciting input from clients and ensuring their clients’ needs are being met.

7.  The Power of a Formal, Written Marketing & Business Development Strategy
When firms have written objectives and definitions of success in place, relationships with the firms’ largest clients are 5x larger than firms without a formal strategy. Additionally, revenue growth is more than 15% higher for firms with a plan for how they want to draw in and keep clients. Having a formal, written marketing & business development (MBD) strategic plan provides a sense of direction and outlines measurable goals for everyone within the firm to use as a guidepost.

8.  Dogmatically Tracking Client Retention
The firms measuring their success at keeping and developing existing clients enjoy 16.5% higher revenue growth and their client relationships are 2x larger than firms not tracking their client retention rates.

9.  Including Goals for MBD in the Firm’s Strategic Plan
Focus the energy, resources, and time of everyone at the firm around the marketing and business development actions required to successfully execute the strategic plan. The firms embracing this approach have seen nearly double the revenue growth of firms not including the MBD goals in the firm’s strategic plan.

10.  The Buck Stops with a Single Individual
Less than 15% of firms have a single individual accountable for the firm’s client service delivery. This often overlooked activity has substantial payoffs for firms. Having an individual committed to ensuring the firm is delivering the highest levels of client service results in 8% higher profit growth per attorney and larger client relationships—nearly 8x larger than firms without an individual assigned to this role.

Each of the above activities on its own substantially impacts a firm’s financial performance, but putting them together forms the most effective toolkit of marketing and business development activities to drive the type of performance few firms achieve. Your competitors might be working on each of these right now. If you’re not, which activity are you going to start with?

Learn exactly what steps to take to get started with BTI’s newest report, BTI Guide to Maximum Marketing & Business Development 2017. We share the details on what the top performers are doing differently than everyone else—and step-by-step tactics for how you can implement these programs at your firm.


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