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2021_marketing_plan_budgetThis is the time of year where I sit down with my marketing committees to review what successes we had with our 2020 marketing plan and budget. The same for many one on one discussions with individual attorneys on his/her business development plans. Well, I’m not taking the blame for any failures this year—just say “COVID” and try again. So in this month’s issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine, I ask and answer–what should your marketing plan and budget look like for the coming year?

At a time where I seem to read daily outdated articles on topics such as branding yourself in online meetings (that was useful a year ago)—and has about the same relevance as an article on which pagers might be best for effective client communication. As my kids responded, “what’s a pager?”  Or equally perceptive reminders that we’re all using LinkedIn more, and online content (webinars, podcasts and tweets) is all the rage. Yes, the first half of 2021 will pretty much resemble most of 2020—but getting ready for some degree of normalcy is certainly in the cards. At least, that’s what we’re planning for.

So read this LPT article to help you and your law firm plan accordingly, and most effectively, for marketing in the New Year. While much of it is not rocket science, it is important to still plan thoughtfully and strategically, lay out a game plan, and most importantly—don’t stop marketing. In a time with so little human interaction and removal of the most effective (and fun) methods of networking, staying visible and relevant is critical. At least until we meet again, perhaps to grab a beer in the lobby bar of your favorite (not virtual, not remote, but in-person!) legal conference.

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DEAR MAM: How do you determine compensation for a sales and marketing staff? Sincerely yours, TJ, Reading, PA

DEAR TJ: I’ve recently discussed appropriate compensation at a number of firms in the Northeast. I assume your question is in regard to sales and marketing staff at a law firm. For starters, I will divide the answer into “sales” and “marketing”.

In regard to the traditional marketing team, a major factor is geography. For example, without disclosing any confidential client information, the same marketing manager position salary in Philadelphia is significantly higher than the same type of firm in Pittsburgh. I know some relatively inexperienced marketing folks with midlevel jobs that pay close to $100k. In the same market, the exact same CMO job at similarly-situated firms can range from $150-400k, depending on the makeup of the firm and its seriousness and approach to the department. I can tell you that when a headhunter calls me about a CMO gig and says the salary is under 250, I hang up the phone. In other markets, that same 250 would be at the top of the scale.

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DEAR MAM: Are their legal restrictions as what lawyers can claim in an Internet video commercial? I’ve launched a site at but would like to know if there are legal quagmires I should be considering as the producer. Thank you, GR, Tampa, FL

DEAR GR: I hate to start my answer with a lawyer-like response, but just a reminder that this is not legal advice, we are not establishing an attorney-client relationship, and you should consult an attorney. Having now disclaimed myself, I have to say that you ask a very interesting and intriguing question. Not to mention an interesting and intriguing entrepreneurial venture in the world of attorney advertising.

To start, I hate to inform you that the rules (and interpretations) will DEFINITELY vary from state to state. Secondly, those states may interpret these videos as pertaining to its web site rules, television advertising rules, and most certainly the general advertising rules. You will probably inform your customers that they should consult with the relevant state bars. Many will likely make an ethics inquiry with the disciplinary board.

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Dear MAM: I recently caught your marketing ethics program in Pittsburgh. And it was excellent. Do you have a list of where your programs take place? Sincerely yours, H.L., Pittsburgh, PA

Dear HL: Obviously, I was going to answer this totally self-serving letter. You are correct. My programs are excellent, and I’m often a delight. In recent years, I’ve cut back on my “shows” (as I call them at home) and usually provide most programs to private audiences (i.e. in-house at law firms). However, I am active and participate in most of the ABA Law Practice Management meetings and programs-which include Annual (recently completed in Atlanta), Mid-Year (in Salt Lake City), and the section’s outstanding Fall (upcoming in Colorado Springs) and Spring (May in Orlando) meetings. I am also a regular on the Pennsylvania Bar Institute circuit (in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), where I will present an all-new internet marketing ethics program this December. You can also catch the old version of the internet program (and get an ethics CLE credit) online from PBI Online. Thanks for the nice note. Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY

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In case you missed it, today’s edition of the National Law Journal features a front page article on “State bars revamping ad rules” by Leigh Jones. The article includes opinions from Micah, along with examples from his ABA Annual Meeting CLE on advertising ethics, and colleague Tom Spahn, the McGuireWoods and Virginia state ethics guru.

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