Legal Marketing Naysayers – Is Your Firm Actually Marketing?

Some attorneys don’t believe online marketing strategy works for them, or their firms – but have they actually tried doing it? Have you tried marketing your firm consistently, or did you give it a go for a month or two, lose steam and stop?

It’s no secret that online marketing (and online operations in general) is still a whole new world to many attorneys. Many don’t have the time to commit to marketing online, or the time to learn how to streamline it efficiently. Others just don’t understand it and don’t try; however, online marketing is an effective way for attorneys to grow a brand, network and client list.

Make a Plan Before Jumping In

Many of the naysayer attorneys are of older generations. The online marketing world may be new to them, but it isn’t something to shy away from, or attempt without a plan. Research your colleagues and competitors to make a plan for your own marketing strategy. If you just “wing it,” I guarantee you will get frustrated.

Online marketing is a powerful tool for attorneys. Once you have a plan, you can automate the process and measure your results.

It Doesn’t Work Overnight

We live in a world where we want results as fast as possible. Whether it be the download speed on a file or to get rich quick, we want it now. However, online marketing doesn’t work overnight, and many attorneys grow weary of keeping at it for too long if they don’t see results immediately.

Consistency is key: your website, your SEO, your social media outreach, and your newsletter production need to continue growing. This is especially true when it comes to content on your website. Google loves consistency, and when you’re consistently producing valuable content, your place in the search results will increase. The same is true for your marketing.

Measure Your Results and Adapt

Have you measured the results of your marketing efforts? How have you deemed online marketing ineffective?

Online marketing is bigger than just obtaining clients. It’s about creating a brand and establishing yourself or your firm as a thought leader in your field. If you measure the effectiveness of your actions, you can adjust your strategy depending on the results you see.

For example: if your website is getting a lot of traffic, but little interaction, maybe potential clients find your website unappealing. Or, if you see little traffic to your website, maybe you aren’t targeting the right groups or areas.

Measure your results and adapt to them to see more success.

Online Marketing is Both a Marketing and Networking Tool

One of the biggest blunders attorneys make is that they expect their online marketing to get them direct business from clients online. This isn’t always the case. Your marketing efforts should have two purposes:

  1. a way to obtain clients online, and
  2. a conduit for creating interaction between you and potential clients.

Online marketing allows you to reach far greater audiences than your local paper or networking groups. Online marketing’s true power comes from its ability to put your brand in front of a vast amount of potential clients, rather than smaller groups. When you begin to focus your online marketing as both a marketing and networking tool, you will see much more success.

Don’t Have the Time to Do it Yourself? Hire Someone

I’ve found that one of the biggest reasons some attorneys believe online marketing doesn’t work is because they don’t have the time to dedicate to making it work, or don’t know how to do efficiently. Many attorneys will try a few online strategies for a month or two, then call it quits because they feel they can’t keep up with the fast-paced environment. Others may take one look and disregard online marketing entirely.

There are ways to market online that are time efficient and effective, especially when you set the groundwork properly. Most of it can even be automated. If you truly don’t have the time, then hire someone to do it for you. Ask us how to get your marketing on track!

An Anonymous Social Network for Lawyers: A Good or Bad Idea?

For many attorneys, the internet has been hard to accept as a new marketing medium. With online capabilities for interaction and communication, some fear ethical violations. Since attorneys are held to higher ethical standards than most any other profession, and because of the still “foggy” ethics standards for attorney internet interaction, many attorneys either abstain from interacting online, or get in trouble. Some are beginning to find a balance of what they can do online, but Monica Zent decided she would take matters into her own hands.

Monica saw a need for a place where attorneys could interact, ask questions and feel safe from ethical standards online. She created Foxwordy, a social network exclusively for lawyers. To join, you need to be invited – which means no outside influences such as marketing companies, clients, or potential clients wading through the information or comments on the site. What makes Foxwordy special is that users are allowed to post anonymously. (If you’re interested in checking out a Q&A between Monica and the SFGate about Foxwordy, you can take a look at this article written by Benny Evangelista.)

 

Anonymity – Really a Good Idea?

Zent created Foxwordy because she believes there is a high demand for attorney anonymity online. Although it is the staple of the Foxwordy website and an interesting idea in theory, lawyers talking about sensitive case information online – anonymous or not – is not a great idea.

What happens when you post sensitive information online and another lawyer recognizes the specifics of the case? Or someone involved with the case eventually finds out the information was posted online?

Anonymous or not, whatever is posted on the internet is on the internet for good. Just because Foxwordy allows attorneys to post without being identified, doesn’t mean it’s entirely safe. No matter what, attorneys are walking a thin ethical line here, with no real guarantee that what they say will not be traced back to them.

It’s Not All Bad

The overall idea behind Foxwordy isn’t bad. Attorneys have it tough online, there’s no question about that. As I mentioned, they are held to higher ethical standards than any other profession, save doctors, and Zent found a way to help quell that issue.

A social network exclusively for lawyers could be a powerful tool for idea-sharing and thoughts about how to adapt to the ever-changing legal industry.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is that sensitive case information shouldn’t be discussed online, period. Zent’s attempt to create a “safe harbor” setting, where attorneys feel it is fair game to talk about anything, free from ethical standards, is a great idea in theory. However, sensitive case information should be kept offline, and “coffee shop” talks should remain in the coffee shop.

Maybe you feel you can post about a case of yours to bounce some ideas off other attorneys, and nothing will happen – but every time you do post that kind of information, anonymous or not, you will be gambling whether someone will eventually recognize it.

Following Up is Critical for Lawyers

According to the National Sales Executive Association, 80% of all client relationships begin on the 5th-12th contact and only 2% of all client relationships begin on the first contact. What does this mean? Following up, and keeping in regular contact with potential clients, is critical for lawyers.

Following up, as simple as it may seem, is a hard skill for many of us to master. Often we forget, don’t carve out the time, something else comes up or we just don’t know how to do it properly. However, when it comes to client acquisition, it’s invaluable for attorneys to follow up since most client relationships develop after 5 or more contacts.

A Good Follow-Up Does These 5 Things

Following up helps you convert people from prospects to clients, or acquaintances to referral sources. You accomplish this by keeping up consistent communications that begin shortly after you’ve made the initial contact.

A good follow-up:

  1. Reminds someone who you are and what kind of law you practice
  2. Shows why you’re different from the rest of your peers
  3. Provides valuable educational content
  4. Has a call to action
  5. And if possible – mentions something personal about the individual (like a hobby or something in which they expressed interest)

While the last one may raise some eyebrows, it is the personal touch that makes the communication authentic and less likely to be perceived as fully automated.

Accomplishing these 5 items will ensure you are memorable and increase your chances of continued interaction, while deepening your relationships.

For those of you who find that following up or staying in contact with people is difficult, we have some tips that can help you:

Use a Database

Prospective clients can come from many different places. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of where you met certain people – during a networking event, after a talk you gave, or through online interactions.

It’s important to have a place where you can easily record contact information, business interests, and other notes relevant to the individual.

You may already have a database to input this information, but there are many systems that can also help you stay proactive with following up through automated reminders, lead scoring and more.

One such system, and the system we use, is called Infusionsoft. We like Infusionsoft’s capability to track leads, as well as their mobile phone application that allows you to import a contact’s information directly into your database by taking a picture of a business card.

Infusionsoft is just one option. There are many other Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems with similar features. As long as you’re diligent about recording contact information as soon as possible after meeting someone, you can find success using automated follow-up systems. The contact will still be fresh in your mind, and you can record specific details that you may not remember down the road.

Create a Weekly Newsletter or Send Personal Emails

A weekly newsletter is a great way to stay in the minds of both prospective clients and past clients, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming to create and send. For example: if you blog consistently, you can feature some of your latest blogs in your newsletter to provide valuable content, or include an update about news within your legal niche, or mention something new your firm is offering.

If you remember something more personal about a specific person, a personal email can go a long way. Perhaps someone mentioned an interest in fly fishing? Send that person an interesting article on fly fishing that you found.

Regardless of what you send, you should always include a “call to action” within the email that says you are available for them, when they (or someone they know) have a need.

Gain Connections by Connecting Others

A great way to deepen relationships with potential clients or potential referral sources is by helping them with their own businesses or networking. This can range from specifically crafted introductions, to group outings with people you feel may be like-minded and could help one another.

By expressing interest in others’ lives and businesses you can help grown your own business, as people will be more inclined to help you as well. The Rule of Reciprocity is invoked: if someone does something for you, you feel obligated to repay. For most, repayment is a strong need.

Pick Up the Phone

The phone has become outdated when it comes to staying in touch. People are now more inclined to send an email or a text message than to give someone a call. Scheduling some time each week to pick up the phone and call some of the people you’ve recently met to see how they’re doing can go a long way. Nowadays, it can mean a lot to someone to receive a personal call rather than a note via email or text.

Following up with potential clients or potential referral sources is a critical component of acquiring new business for lawyers. If you have any questions or want more information about how you can effectively follow up, contact us.

What Are You Doing to Avoid Low Points in Business?

I’ve attended numerous meetings, looked at survey results, and personally spoken to many attorneys about their biggest fear when it comes to their business. Most every answer I hear is low points in business. But what are attorneys doing about it?

I’m well aware that life as an attorney – from the moment you entered law school to the present – is time consuming, demanding, and sometimes overbearing. With the debt you acquired from your education, to the mortgage, to everyday necessities, there is no end to the expenses and the need for billable hours. But what are you doing to ensure a consistent cash flow?

Much too often I hear attorneys describe their fear of low points in business – especially when they finish a large case, or the economy hits a soft spot. Some will take immediate steps to remedy the situation with business development efforts, but will halt all progress as soon as a new client turns up.

The reader may be thinking, “She got a new client, and that was the point, wasn’t it?” Yes, acquiring that new client may have solved the problem for the time being, but it’s not fixing the overall issue. What happens when you finish work for that client and you’re left with an empty sales pipeline again?

I’ll ask the question again: What are you doing to avoid low points in business?

Your Law Firm is a Business

Business development doesn’t take as much time as you think. The concept of the law firm as a business is somewhat foreign to attorneys. Not all attorneys are wired to be business-minded, but the fact of the matter is, the legal industry is changing. Attorneys now have to treat their law firms more like businesses, but most are not yet used to this idea. Much of this change is due to how people now find attorneys.

People are More Informed

With the information now available via the internet, people are smarter and more picky about who they choose to hire. If you’re not visible online as a leader within a specific niche of law, you’ll likely miss out on a huge opportunity.

Make Time for Business Development

As with any business, success starts with marketing. Without revenue, there is no business- no matter how great the product or service. Attorneys need to start thinking more like business owners, with the knowledge of the law and legal services as the product.

As I’ve stated, many attorneys don’t think of themselves as being business owners, and it may be because they aren’t necessarily wired for it, nor have they been trained as such. When presented with the task of marketing themselves, they often know they need to, but believe it is too daunting a task or think that selling is unpleasant. Marketing gets pushed aside indefinitely, or dropped altogether the moment they acquire a new client.

I am here to tell you that there are ways to market that do not take up that much time. If you work diligently (and/or get experienced help), you can build a brand that people recognize, will refer, and that will produce constant business instead of going through highs and lows.

Marketing is not the daunting task many attorneys perceive it to be, and it is certainly not something that should be shelved when the outlook is sunny. You should always be working to expand your network and business.

Don’t Take Successful Periods of Business for Granted

During successful periods, when you have enough clients, you may feel that your business is running smoothly. Maybe you’re too busy to think about what lies ahead. You shouldn’t take these periods of success for granted. If you aren’t taking actions to ensure that these periods of success continue steadily, then you’ll find yourself in another slump.

This is where marketing comes in. Even during periods where you have more clients than you can handle, you should still be spending 5-10% of your time running a marketing campaign that keeps your brand in the public eye.

You may recall the saying, “I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”

It is always better, even in periods of success, to have marketing still happening in the background. This ensures that there is a constant stream of business. During slow periods, you’ll have at least a few clients rather than none at all, and you can spend more time to creating content (or copy) that can be queued up to be published when you are busier.

Attorney Profit specializes in achieving the goal of steady, successful business for our clients. We not only give attorneys the tools to build their brand, but we help them do it. If you need help avoiding low points in business, contact us today.

Now more than ever, Effective Business Development is important for attorneys. Learning about your peers’ marketing activities, including what’s working and what isn’t working, could be invaluable information for you – especially in your endeavor to create strong marketing. Help us help you by taking this 4 minute survey. It’s short, to-the-point, and will only take 4 minutes of your time. After completion, we’ll send you the results so that we can both learn how to grow your business.

Take the survey here: Attorney Business Development Survey

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