Chapter 2 - Laying the Foundation

Questions you will be able to answer at the end of this chapter:

  • How should I prepare my firm for internet leads?
  • What can I do to make the lead generation process smoother for me and my staff?

Goals and Budget

Before pursuing internet marketing, you should first assess your firm’s goals and ensure that they the coincide with what web lead generation can potentially offer. From our experience, the most important prerequisite for lead generation of any sort is the desire for more cases. If you are not seeking to increase your case inventory, venturing into lead generation might not be appropriate. However, for those with an appetite for more business, lead generation (more specifically, web lead generation) will function as a valuable asset, provided that you develop a focused plan of attack and establish explicit benchmarks to assess the efficacy of your marketing campaigns.

Quantifying your case craving in the form of budget allocation will prove imperative to your pre-marketing efforts. As a disability attorney or advocate, it is important to recognize that a few years may elapse before seeing a return on your initial investment. Nevertheless, if you were able to sign a Social Security case for $200-$400, which is quite feasible with certain types of lead generation, you could receive an attractive return-on-investment (ROI). If it costs $400 to acquire a signed case and you generate fees on 65% of signed cases, your cost-per-fee-generating case would be about $615. Presuming that the average fee falls in the $3000 range, the return on your marketing dollar would reach almost 5:1.

If you find yourself wishing to try web lead generation but unwilling to exceed budget restrictions, it may be worth scaling back your existing marketing efforts temporarily. This will release additional capital, which you can then commit to other marketing endeavors. Whether your firm is already thriving or just acquiring its wings, willingness to experiment with various forms of case acquisition strategies will allow you to remain at the forefront of the industry and solidify the long-term success of your disability practice.

Assessing Efficacy

You may find yourself asking: “I want to try web lead generation, but I am currently utilizing my marketing budget for television and print ads. Which one should I scale back? Also, how do I determine which form of lead generation is best?”

These are great questions. Indeed, without establishing explicit metrics to assess a marketing service, you will never know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. One point that we will underscore repeatedly is the notion of cost-per-signed case. When deciding which marketing methods are most beneficial, you can utilize numerous benchmarks in your analysis, including signed rate, cost-per-desired case, cost-per-signed case, and more. Unfortunately, attorneys tend to place disproportionate weight on signed rate (i.e., the percentage of leads that are signed as cases), that is, judging the success of a campaign based on this metric alone.

While signed rate represents a general quality indicator, it would be unwise to attribute success to a marketing campaign solely on this basis. For example, you could sign every single call generated from your television campaign (Lead Source A), resulting in an ostensibly phenomenal signed rate of 100%. However, if each lead costs $800, your cost-per-signed case would be $800, a not so appealing number.

Contrastingly, consider another hypothetical lead source (Lead Source B), which delivers a signed rate of 10% and costs $20 per lead. With this model, the vast majority (90%) of the leads would be discarded, so this seems like an obvious waste of money.

But before jumping to any erroneous conclusions, let’s delve a little deeper. Though 90% of the leads are junk in this example, the cost-per-lead is relatively low. You would spend $2000 for 100 leads and expect to sign about 10 cases. Your cost-per-signed would thus be $200. In reality, this number will be slightly higher, as you must acknowledge the labor costs associated with lead processing. Nevertheless, you should sign cases more cost-effectively with Lead Source B than with Lead Source A.

As the previous example demonstrates, cost-per-signed is often a far more telling metric than signed rate. It is therefore essential that you monitor your cost-per-signed across all lead sources on a consistent basis. This will allow you to track campaign performance and to adjust your marketing budget appropriately.

Staffing Considerations

Labor represents another expense when tackling internet leads. After all, you will need people to call the leads and to decide which cases merit pursuing. As a sole practitioner without a substantial case inventory, you may be able to handle the initial follow-up effort yourself. However, as your practice grows and the lead volume increases, it would be prudent to invest in support staff. Nevertheless, train your staff properly so they can then perform some of the initial screening without your direct oversight. At the very least, provide them with a detailed outline for preliminary lead qualification. We will discuss other strategies to enhance the skill set of your staff in Chapter 4.

When setting a budget for your lead generation campaign, one common pitfall is purchasing more leads than your firm can handle. You should expect a fully-trained screener to “resolve” 20-25 leads per day. “Resolving” denotes making a final decision on whether the lead will be desired (i.e., accepted) or rejected. Resolving does not mean calling or leaving voicemails. To resolve twenty-five leads per day, a screener may need to place 50-60 calls to account for no-responses and messages. Further, it is advised to call each lead multiple times per day for a couple of weeks, or until contact is established. You may also need to resort to e-mail and sending letters to reach some people.