Editor’s note: This is the last in a three-part series. This part covers frequently asked questions for the late-stage buyer.

There are many options when it comes to purchasing marketing services. The first article in this series presented an overview of what is covered within the scope of marketing services and what to consider in the initial research and early-buying stage. Part two addressed the specifics of how marketing services can bring value to your firm. This final article will present the most frequently asked marketing questions during the final phase of the buying cycle.

Once law firm management and decision-makers have journeyed through the role of marketing and understand the value it can bring to their business, it’s now time to discuss the most frequently asked questions that lead to finding the perfect marketing partner.

Are there specific questions to ask during the interview process?

Absolutely. The following 10 questions provide great insight into whether the marketing firm you are interviewing is the right fit for your law firm:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What are your areas of specialization?
  • Have you worked with other law firms?
  • What would your clients say are your firm’s strengths?
  • Who will be working with us, and what experience and valuable skills will they bring to our firm?
  • Describe the daily, weekly or monthly communications between our firms to ensure that the marketing program is on track.
  • Describe an example of an integrated marketing program that you led and tell me how you measured the results.
  • What would you expect our role as your client to be in the marketing process?
  • Describe an unsuccessful client engagement and what went wrong.
  • In working together, what are the keys to achieving a successful outcome?

How do we know if our firm is getting a fair price for marketing services?

This is a tricky question, as many factors come into play when pricing marketing services. Here is some insight into what should, in theory, make marketing fees higher or lower:

  • Is your law firm receiving strategic work, which would include positioning, the selection of target markets and planning? If the answer is yes, then you should expect to pay higher rates, likely $175 to $250 per hour, as this work often requires the expertise of senior-level marketers.
  • Is this a short-term project or consulting assignment, or is your firm planning on outsourcing its marketing for the long term? Generally speaking, marketers that do one-time consulting or project work tend to charge higher fees, as there is a high learning curve involved with getting to know your firm, and there isn’t a promise of recurring revenue. Outsourced marketing firms are typically willing to keep fees lower if they know they will recoup this upfront investment of time over a longer period.

While there is no magic formula, the total marketing budget for most law firms will be approximately 2 percent to 6 percent of top-line revenue. This budget includes marketing services and other costs, such as printing and producing other collateral materials. If your firm has never really done proactive marketing and/or is looking to ramp up marketing aggressively, you will be at the higher end of this range.

Should our marketing services provider have experience with the legal industry?

Yes. There is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to marketing, especially in the digital era. Strategies, tactics and tools that are right for a law firm will be quite different than for one that sells consumer products. For example, inbound marketing, which involves pulling prospective customers to your firm’s website through providing content of value, is a highly effective long-term marketing strategy for professional services providers. That said, it may not be the right fit for a commoditized B2B product company.

What should I expect to see on a proposal for marketing services?

First and foremost, a proposal for marketing services should give you assurance that the provider has listened to law firm’s goals, objectives, challenges and opportunities. You don’t want an “off-the-shelf” approach, as no two firms are alike.

As a buyer, you will want to see a detailed scope of what is being provided that includes the breakdown of certain processes. For example, if a positioning study is being proposed, you will want to generally know the steps involved. That way, your firm will have a clearer understanding of the marketing service provider’s time investment.

You will also want to see a detailed breakdown of fees. If you are presented with one lump figure, red flags should go up everywhere. It is also important to see the bios of the specific professionals who will be working on your account, so that you can ensure that they have the necessary marketing education and experience. In addition, make sure the marketing firm provides a list of references that are in the same or similar industry.

The decision to hire a marketing firm to partner with is one that your firm should not take lightly. In each level of this decision-making process, the frequently asked questions were presented from the early- and mid- to late-stage buyer’s point of view to better prepare you for exploring marketing, what it can do for your law firm and how you can leverage its power.

Debra Andrews is president and owner of Marketri LLC, a Doylestown, Pa.-based full-service professional services marketing firm specializing in inbound marketing solutions that focus on lead generation through integrating content marketing with social media and search engine optimization. Marketri provides results-driven marketing solutions for small to mid-size B2B and professional services companies, including law firms.