In-House or Outsourced Marketing for Law Firms?

by | Law Firm Digital Marketing Planning

Image with marketing terms, representing the pros and cons of in-house vs. outsourced marketing for law firms.

It’s a common question for law firm owners, administrators, and attorneys: should you hire (or assign) in-house staff to manage your marketing needs and goals or work with a law firm marketing agency? Determining which is a better fit—in-house or outsourced marketing for law firms—or if a combination of the two is preferable requires considering a law firm’s current capacities and marketing goals and evaluating the pros, cons, and costs of the available options.

In-House vs. Outsourced Marketing for Law Firms: Asking the Right Questions

In any decision-making process, thoughtfulness and research on the front end are likely to produce a better outcome. Here are some questions to consider when you take on the task of identifying the best marketing solutions for your law firm:

  1. Who will have input and/or authority in making decisions?
  2. What business goals and values will guide you?
  3. What is your current capacity and estimated marketing budget?
  4. How will you identify the best marketing strategies to fit your goals?
  5. What are the challenges and benefits of outsourced legal marketing versus in-house staff?
  6. What expenses should you expect to incur with each option?

These questions should guide you as you collect information to make the best decision for your short- and long-term legal marketing needs.

Lay the Foundation for Your Legal Marketing Planning

Before you begin to determine if in-house or outsourced marketing—or a combination of the two—is right for your firm, it is wise to establish who will evaluate the options available, make related decisions, and work with the marketing team you choose. This will help your law firm avoid conflicts and delays that can occur when one group of stakeholders makes decisions about legal marketing strategy and planning and then encounters pushback from others in the law firm who were not involved in the initial planning and decision-making process (and are potentially less familiar with the big picture and overall goals).

This group of people, possibly in consultation with or reporting to others, should be responsible for thinking through and establishing the goals of your marketing plan and how company culture and values should be incorporated.

These first two steps will establish the foundation for your law firm’s marketing planning.

Create a Framework for Successful Law Firm Marketing

The next steps in determining how to pursue your legal marketing goals are evaluating internal capacity, establishing a general budget, and identifying marketing strategies that will best achieve your goals while remaining within defined parameters.

These steps may overlap or be completed in a different order, particularly depending on the size of your law firm.

If you have staff who will be able to execute the strategies but lack the skills to develop your law firm marketing plan, consider consulting with a law firm marketing agency or contractor like TOPDOG to help identify and stage your options, processes, and methods. This can be a good starting point for identifying whether current staff can manage your legal marketing plan or if outside help will be needed.

Hiring marketing staff is also an option, but some knowledge of the possible methods that can be used to meet your goals will help you determine what skills to look for or require in the hiring process, as well as what training may be needed. Understanding the skills and knowledge necessary to execute the plan can also help determine if it will be more cost-effective to hire internal marketing staff or outsource marketing to an agency.

In-House vs. Outsourced Marketing for Law Firms: Comparisons and Costs

There are benefits and challenges related to both in-house and outsourced marketing for law firms. In-house staff, unless you are making a new hire, should be familiar with the law firm’s practice areas, attorneys, brand, culture, and more. An outside law firm marketing agency will need to consult with internal representatives and review current materials and publications to learn what the company values and wants to present to its audience.

Communication may be more streamlined with internal marketing staff, especially if they work in the same location as decision-makers who will be involved in reviewing and approving plans and products. If you work with a law firm marketing agency, having clear protocols for communications (who will review/approve items, answer questions, preferred contact methods, etc.) will help reduce delays and dissatisfaction related to communications.

Unless your law firm has substantial capacity to hire a full legal marketing team, an agency can typically provide a broader range of legal marketing services. Marketing firms usually also have access to and familiarity with tools that are used in marketing, some of which are free, but involve training, and many that require costly subscriptions.

After considering these pros and cons, it’s time to make a cost comparison based on your goals and identified methods to attain them. The chart below lists the average salaries for various marketing positions, based on data from Indeed. Keep in mind that these costs do not include the additional ongoing expenses of internal staffing: hiring and training costs, payroll taxes, benefits, bonuses, office equipment, and supplies, among others. Working with a specialized legal marketing agency usually provides more scalability, allowing you to pick up services as needed and reduce services when the budget is tight.

Considering Outsourced Marketing for Law Firms? Contact TOPDOG!

When it comes to agency vs. in-house marketing for law firms, the right approach will vary from one firm to the next. If you choose to outsource some or all of your marketing efforts, you should evaluate the capacity and culture of the agency you plan to work with to ensure a good fit and successful outcomes.

At TOPDOG Legal Marketing, LLC, we provide outsourced marketing for law firms of all sizes. Take a look at the legal marketing services we offer and reach out for help creating and executing a plan that works for your firm. We regularly work with in-house teams to coordinate and supplement marketing efforts, or we can take the lead and manage your full plan so you and your staff can focus on clients and running your business. Contact us by calling (844) HEY-T-DOG (439-8364) or completing this online contact form. We’re ready to help your law firm stand out from the pack!

Image created to demonstrate the average salaries for marketing jobs in the U.S.
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