Starting out small? Your primary concern may be immediate growth. But there’s actually another issue you should be thinking about, too—and that’s how to scale your business once it begins to grow.
If your firm is just getting off the ground, you’ve got a lot on your plate. We work with a lot of new firms and the number one concern we hear is how to grow a business with a minimal marketing budget. In reality, you’ll have more to spend once you get your first client or two. At this point, you’ll face the much more tricky predicament of scaling up your digital presence.
Our goal is to help you anticipate future growth from day one to combat unnecessary spending just to fix something that could have been built right in the first place. Your choice of website developer can make all the difference when you need to scale quickly in just a few months.
Here are a few things for attorneys in this position to consider, including why you need to carefully select a website platform and an agency on day one to help you scale quickly on day 100.
The right website platform can help you scale
Most people have toyed around with website platforms like Wix, Weebly, or WordPress. But there’s a lot more you need to know about a website platform beyond just how easy it is to design a page.
Some website platforms are proprietary and can prevent you from improving or migrating your content.
If you build your website with a proprietary platform, you are tethered to that provider. It might serve your purposes now, but what about in the future? As your marketing needs change, your traffic increases, and your systems grow more complex, will this platform support or inhibit your growth?
Building with the wrong platform means you could face limits around improvements or scaled up campaigns. For instance, if your core web vitals are less than stellar, you may not have recourse. If you decide to pursue aggressive SEO in six months, your options for on-page strategies and technical SEO may be limited.
In most cases, you don’t actually own your website when you build it on a proprietary platform. A site is a big investment for a new firm and it’s not financially prudent to invest in something you don’t own.
Takeaway: Steer clear of proprietary platforms which inherently limit your future growth.
Work with an agency that offers SEO
When cash flow is limited, it’s tempting to hire an agency that can do the bare minimum for the least amount of money. However, this is a mistake that could come back to bite you. Leaving solo life for a larger firm is hard enough—don’t make it harder on yourself!
A website design agency that does not offer SEO could deliver you a website that actually hinders your future SEO efforts.
Look, we’re not just saying this stuff because we’re a full-service agency. We work with so many clients who come to us burnt out and discouraged after not getting what they need from another agency. All these attorneys wish they’d invested in the right agency from the start to save themselves the hassle of assembling a piecemeal marketing team, explaining their needs over and over again, managing various people, and still not getting the results they’re after.
The truth is that you’ll need to enhance your web presence and bring more traffic to your site if you want to invest in client generation—and SEO is intimately tied to the structure of your website.
A developer who doesn’t have in-depth understanding of SEO best practices may build you a site that isn’t positioned well for optimization. For this reason, many reputable SEO agencies will refuse to optimize sites they didn’t have a hand in building. This can (and does) create problems if you decide to invest in SEO in the future.
Takeaway: Hire an agency that offers all the design and marketing services you may need in the future.
But watch out for long contracts and sneaky terms
There’s one major caveat here. You should never sign away your rights to your content or your ability to cancel a contract, even to a full-service agency. If you need to dial up your efforts and your current agency isn’t hacking it, can you cancel? Is there a fee if you do?
Some agencies have long multi-year contracts and sneaky terms that can keep you trapped in unfavorable circumstances.
Read your contract carefully.
First, make sure you actually own the copy and the graphics on your site. Even if your site is built on an open-source platform like WordPress, you may not own the rights to everything under the terms of your contract.
Second, understand the pricing structure. Does your price balloon if you increase the number of pages? If you add a newly named partner and need a logo switched out, will you pay for this service out-of-pocket or are these types of changes wrapped into an ongoing hosting plan? These kinds of tricky pay structures can be problematic for a growing firm.
If you’re debating whether to hire an in-house SEO specialist or outside agency, most growth-oriented firms find it’s worth hiring an outside agency with a team of specialists.
Takeaway: Read your contract carefully before you sign—and think about how its terms will either support or impede your future growth.
Review and next steps
You want to hit the ground running with a basic website—but it’s important to take the long view and consider your future needs.
By investing early in a robust website built by a full-service agency with SEO expertise, you are laying the foundation for your future growth. Your website should be designed to scale up easily alongside you, rather than dragged along behind.
The best way to grow your new law firm is to invest in assets that will respond to your business needs. If you need a website that can scale or another type of marketing support, our full-service agency Omnizant gets results.