Attorneys managing their own practices have a lot more to worry about than just practicing the law. In fact, there are three important client development stages that those running firms must put careful planning and consideration towards.
Stage 1- Marketing
Stage 2- Lead Capturing
Stage 3- Handling Clients
For years, our specialized legal phone answering service has been one of the best at helping attorneys accomplish stages two and three. Last year, we decided to put an extra emphasis on helping clients do better with stage one as well, by launching our “Let’s Talk Legal Marketing” initiative.
In 2018, we created legal marketing discussion communities on both Facebook and LinkedIn, started a new blog series in which we picked the brains of top legal marketing experts, and even produced a new marketing eBook. Through the course of all this, there were a lot of valuable lessons we learned, and below we’ll share five of them with you.
1. Your Marketing Has To Offer Solutions
Lawyers will often struggle with marketing their firms, because they’re approaching the process in the wrong way. Many attorneys will think that the best thing they can do to win over new clients is to brag about their credentials, who they’ve work with and for, and how much they’ve accomplished. While that’s all nice information to include in the attorney bio on a firm’s website, it typically won’t be very effective in advertisement form.
What lawyers must aim to do instead of droning on and on about their achievements, is offer solutions to the problems their potential clients might be experiencing. They should create content which offers advice on how the average person should go about handling different legal situations that are relevant to your firm. The problems of your clients should help inform the topics of the blog posts and videos you produce and promote, as well as the content on your website.
”The (attorney’s) website has to answer questions that a client would ask, sitting in your office or on the phone,” Larry Bodine of LawLytics said in a conversation with us last June. “Consumers start by searching online for an answer to their legal problem, not for a lawyer. If a lawyer’s website has the answer, only then will the person call.”
A few examples of problem solving marketing
- A personal injury lawyer writing a blog post called, “What To Do If You Are Injured At Work”
- A traffic lawyers making a video called, “How To Contest A Traffic Ticket”
- A bankruptcy attorney creating an infographic called, “Five Ways To Improve Your Bad Credit”
The three examples we provided all answer a question a potential legal consumer would be likely to search for on Google. By having your original content appear in their search results, you’re more likely to draw them to your website and social pages.
2. Video Has A Lot To Offer When Done Right
In our “Let’s Talk Legal Marketing” blog series last year, we got to speak with a pair of lawyers who have seen their firms reach new heights thanks to their video marketing efforts. Both had plenty of valuable insight to share.
Many lawyers avoid video marketing, because they view the creation process as too difficult. Attorney Ruth Carter dispelled that notion in her “Let’s Talk Legal Marketing” feature last September.
“It wasn’t that challenging, actually,” Carter said. “I just had to be willing to try. I’m always building my list of potential questions to answer in a video. I collect them in a Word document that’s on my desktop. A week before I record, I go through the list and decide which questions I want to answer and print out the list. I record the videos over 2-3 days, 4-6 videos each day, usually, first thing in the morning when the office is quieter.”
In November, Gerry Oginski, founder of the Lawyer’s Video Studio, informed us on some of the biggest mistakes lawyers are making with their video marketing today. Prime examples included presenting in a boring fashion or location and using legal language the average consumer won’t understand. But, there was one mistake he brought up that really grabbed our attention.
“(Lawyers are) hiring video guys to shoot their video, throw it up on YouTube and never take steps to publish and promote their videos,” Oginski said. “They create all this video and there are no views. They don’t even watch their own videos!”
Oginski says that lawyers must be promoting their videos constantly. One example of good promotional copy he provided was “Learn the 3 things you need to know if a doctor caused your harm in a hospital in New York.” This copy actually gives your viewers a reason to click on your videos, as it tells them how exactly they will benefit from watching.
3. Managing Your Online Reputation Is Key
In the digital age, taking a “meh, who cares” or “it is what it is” approach towards your online reviews is unacceptable. Why? Because the consumers you’re trying to reach care a lot about your firm’s online reviews. In fact, the quality of your online reviews can in many cases be the difference between getting and losing out on a new lead.
“By ignoring online reviews, including positive ones, these lawyers are suggesting to consumers that they don’t care about their clients’ experiences,” JustLegal Marketing’s Stephan Futeral told us in a discussion last August. “Also, by failing to manage their online reputation, lawyers are missing out on the opportunity to turn existing clients into marketing ‘advocates’ for the lawyer’s services.”
The average consumer today seems to trust their online peers a lot more than law offices they are unfamiliar with. And before someone who comes across your firm online actually goes through with contacting your office, they will in fact check out what others have to say about your firm on Google or Yelp’s review platforms. If those reviews are overwhelmingly negative, don’t expect to get too many calls. In fact, a 2014 survey revealed that 75% of prospective clients will travel further to meet an attorney who has better online reviews.
So how should lawyers go about managing their online reputations?
One approach to take is making sure your number of good reviews outnumber the negatives. There’s no shame in reaching out to former and existing clients with an email, and politely nudging them towards reviewing your firm.
The best way to go about managing your online reputation, is to make sure bad reviews don’t happen in the first place. Make sure your firm is doing everything in its power to provide current clients with a positive customer experience, both during in-person meetings and on the phone. If your firm has already accumulated a high number of online reviews, it’s time to do some damage control. Reach out to some of your negative reviewers, and let them know that you are willing to talk out the issues they had with your firm and try to make things right.
4. You Can’t Afford To Sit Out On Search Marketing
The two most common processes used in search marketing today are SEO and PPC advertising. For those unfamiliar, SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a web page in online search engine results through natural or organic methods, while PPC (pay-per-click) is a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay to receive top billing in relevant search results.
Stephan Futeral is one legal marketing expert that encourages lawyers to give PPC advertising a try. “PPC ads can be created and distributed rapidly,” he told us. “If your ads are set up and maintained properly, you’ll get top placement immediately. What’s more, you’ll get leads more quickly than with content marketing or by focusing on SEO for your firm’s website which may take many months to pay off.”
While PPC advertising has its value when executed with professional assistance, it will likely require a somewhat sizeable monetary investment to bring consistent results. Many attorneys may find SEO to be a more affordable and sensible option for their practice. By doing things like targeting the right keywords, putting those keywords in high-attention areas of their website, and producing high quality original content, law firms can see their web pages rise in relevant search results without spending a ton.
So which way should you go? SEO or PPC?
The answer to this will probably depend on your budget and what exactly your firm is looking to achieve. What is clear is that your firm needs to be doing something when it comes to search marketing. Statistics show that websites on the first page of search engine results receive almost 95% of web traffic, leaving only 5% for results beyond the first page. So find a way to give your content a boost on Google, even if you need to consult marketing experts for proper guidance on how to do so.
5. There Are Plenty Of People Who Want To Help
Speaking of reaching out for guidance, one thing we’ve learned from hosting legal marketing communities this past year is that there are a ton of legal marketing professionals out there eager to help lawyers with any problems or challenges they might be experiencing. You’ll find many of them in the Facebook and LinkedIn groups we mentioned earlier. Post a marketing question in our groups, and there’s a good chance you’ll get an answer.
Some more great places to get marketing help
- Everest Legal Marketing
- JustLegal Marketing
- Precision Legal Marketing
- Proven Law Marketing
We can’t wait to share more marketing insight with our readers in the new year, and thank everyone who has taken part in our legal marketing communities to date!