In the last blog, we discussed the value of video to your law firm Internet marketing plan and how it enables you to stand out from the competition.
There is more to online video than simply adding it to your law firm Internet marketing efforts.
Like many things, if video is done well, it can have a significant, positive impact on your law firm Internet marketing – by attracting clients and increasing visibility.
Done poorly, however, and online video can hurt your credibility, sidetrack your law firm Internet marketing goals, and even detour clients from choosing you.
With that in mind, below are five simple tips to help you make a highly-effective online video for use in your law firm Internet marketing efforts.
- Use real people, using real words. One of the biggest mistakes attorneys make is using video the way they use PowerPoint. Stringing together static images accompanied by a faceless voice on audio is not an effective use of online video. While this may get seen by some potential clients, it is not nearly as valuable as giving them a chance to see your face and hear your sincere words.
- Create a well-thought out script designed to persuade potential client to call you. To accomplish that, ask yourself what makes your law firm different from, and better than, your competition – and then build your script around those key points.
- Focus on the viewer, not yourself. It is easy to get caught in the trap of thinking potential clients want to hear about all of your qualifications. The real truth is they want a law firm that understands their problems, and knows how to solve them. Your script should describe some of the problems clearly, and then explain how you can solve them.
- Use side bars to emphasize key points. The time to use still images in your online video is in a sidebar comes in the form of clear, concise messages that emphasize your most important points – such as key statistics related to your area of law. You can see a very good example of excellent use of sidebars in the Law Offices of Fern Trevino video.
- Include your contact information 2-3 times within your video. The objective of your online video (as part of your law firm Internet marketing) is to persuade potential clients to call you. Yet no matter how well-crafted your video is, if those clients do not know how to reach you, it goes for naught.
With that in mind, “say” it once within the video, usually at the end, and “write” it at least once in full screen, at the beginning and the end, like the Laura Margulies & Associates LLC, Maryland Bankruptcy Lawyer video.
By including it at the beginning, return viewers can quickly get your contact information without wading through the entire video again.
In Sum: Apply these proven methods to your online video, and you will be certain to enhance your visibility, your credibility and your law firm Internet marketing effectiveness.
Earl Nightingale, author of the best-seller Lead the Field, once said “The secret to being successful in any business is to look around you and observe what everyone else is doing. . . .and then do the opposite.”
Those words certainly hold true in law firm Internet marketing. The point of them is to remind you that you must find a way to make your law firm Internet marketing approach stand out from the rest.
Frankly speaking, if your firm looks and sounds like every other firm in your city, state and field of practice, you give potential clients no reason to remember you or call you when they are in need of legal council.
The question is how can you make your law firm stand out from the rest, when virtually every attorney in the country has a web site and/or some affiliation with a law firm directory?
The answer may be simpler than you think.
Online video is a highly underused form of law firm Internet marketing that promises a big return. Whether you place your video on the homepage of your web site, or upload it to YouTube (a free online video-sharing platform), the benefits of a well-crafted video are undeniable.
Video adds value to your law firm Internet marketing approach in three ways:
- It engages the viewer immediately and convinces them to stay awhile and listen to your message
- It provides the viewer (aka potential client) with a chance to hear the authority in your voice, to see the sincerity in your face, and ultimately to get to know you, trust you and choose you
- It enables you to tell the client precisely what makes you the better choice in legal support over your competitors
If you are looking for a way to “lead the field”, make online video a part of your law firm Internet marketing strategy.
There are many reasons to build strong relationships with current and potential clients. As discussed in previous blogs, your current client base may just be the best law firm marketing tool you have. When clients have a good experience with your firm, not only are they more likely to return to you the next time they need legal advice, they are more likely to refer new business to you.
What is the role of newsletters in your law firm marketing stratagem?
They are one the most productive, proven law firm marketing methods for maintaining existing relationships, forging new ones, and capturing new clients.
Here are the top three reasons why newsletters work, and why they should be a mainstay within your law firm marketing strategy.
- Forging Relationships: Statistics show that the higher the income level, the more likely people are to choose attorneys based on referral from someone they trust. If your “desired clients” (the clients you want more of) are those impervious to economic downturn, then cultivating relationships with existing clients of affluence is key. Reaching out to them through a well-crafted newsletter (as part of your law firm marketing plan) is a low-cost, consistent way to accomplish your goal.
- Building Trust: Regardless of income level or the state of the economy, virtually all people realize that choosing legal council is an important decision. It can also be a deeply personal one, as in many instances clients may share private and financial information, health records, personal wishes and beliefs with their attorney. For those reasons, building trust should be an important part of your law firm marketing approach, and newsletters can help build that trust in a consistent, non-intrusive way.
- Staying Top of Mind: The third and final reason to make newsletters a part of your law firm marketing strategy addresses the reality that on average less than 3% of potential clients become buying clients the first time they meet you. However, if you consistently touch them (as mentioned above) with a non-intrusive newsletter that provides them with sound, reliable information they can use, the chances that they will choose you when they are ready to hire an attorney increase significantly.
If you have not yet begun a newsletter to current and potential clients, it might just be time to start. You will be adding a consistent, low-cost relationship-building tactic to your law firm marketing strategy that will help increase your practice in good economic times and bad.
If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you know its purpose is to help keep attorneys and law firms informed about current trends in law firm marketing. More specifically, its purpose is to discuss what works and what does not work when it comes to law firm marketing.
With that in mind, today’s topic is law firm directories. And should they be part of your law firm marketing approach?
What is interesting is that when I ask attorneys in private practice why they use directories (such as Chambers, Findlaw, and Martindale-Hubbell) as part of their law firm marketing strategy, I often hear words like “time-honored”, “credibility” and “investment”.
The question I feel compelled to ask, however, is “What return do you get on that law firm marketing investment?”
According to a survey by Acritas Resarch in 2007, less than 3% of in-house corporate legal departments select law firms for their outsourced work based on law directories. Peter Columbus, director of Business Development for Kay Scholer, had this to say about law directories. “When I go to client offices, I don’t see any lawyer directories on their shelves. I don't think any corporation chooses a law firm based on a paid directory listing. ”
While a posting at What About Clients had this to say about Martindale-Hubbell:
Martindale-Hubbell is no joke. It has a fine, time-honored and even classy reputation, and a history of good work and real utility in the profession. Our firm, Hull McGuire, has actively and earnestly participated in the M-H ratings processes for years; we are happy with the ratings our lawyers received. But, in good times or bad times, the current cost to list firm attorneys for any size firm, with or without multiple offices, is prohibitive and should be resisted on principle given other alternatives.
As you consider whether to participate in one or more of the 950+ law firm directories and rankings, be sure to ask yourself what the return is on your law firm marketing investment.
If the cost is high and the return is low (less than 3% as Acritas Research reports), your law firm marketing dollar may be better spent in other areas.
What is the role of law firm Internet marketing in a down economy?
We’ve all felt the tremor cast around the world by the current downturn in the financial markets. Who can help but wonder how these events will affect our own lives and practices?
More to the point, many attorneys and whole law firms are concerned about how they will weather the prospect of less work (as clients slow legal action in order to conserve cash), loss of clients through mergers and acquisitions, etc.
The real question is, can law firm Internet marketing be the answer, or is it a cost we cannot afford?
According to Dale Carnegie, in his best selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, 15% of financial success comes from technical (or legal) knowledge and 85% comes from effective human relationships. In essence, nothing gets done, nothing gets purchased, no business gets transacted without human beings connecting with one another.
In strained financial times, clients, referring attorneys and thought leaders are even more selective about what law firms and which individual attorneys they choose to do business with. Trust, respect and friendly connection all play a role in why people choose one lawyer over another.
Law firm Internet marketing can help forge those connections. Blogs, social media, Web sites and article marketing are all components of law firm Internet marketing that work together to touch, connect with and cajole your target audience to choose your firm.
What’s more, because of the pervasive nature of the Internet itself, you reach a larger audience than any other form of marketing aimed at building relationships can. And in so doing, you multiply your potential for gaining new clients and getting referrals.
In sum, law firm Internet Marketing should be a key component of your strategy during these economic times.
Those practices that commit to build and maintain customer relationships by leveraging the pervasive power of law firm Internet marketing will continue to grow while others merely hope to survive.
Recently, I wrote about the opportunity weblogs (blogs) present for lawyers and law firm internet marketing. Out of approximately 133 MILLION blogs Technorati (the No. 1 blog search engine) indexes, only 2,200 are written by lawyers.
The reasons for the scarcity of legal blogs matters little. Certainly, all attorneys and law firms, who understand the importance of law firm internet marketing in the Internet age, find themselves making tough choices. They must decide how they will invest their time and money for the best possible gain, while continuing to practice law.
Law firm internet marketing has a void, and legal blogs could be worth considering as part of your business growth strategy.
With little competition and prospects made up of potential clients, thought leaders and referral sources are hungry for the information about your particular niche of the law. Blogs are a low cost, low risk, high-return choice in law firm internet marketing.
As proof that there are compelling blogs being produced, read and commented on regularly, below are a couple of favorites to check out:
- The Legal Underground is one of the highest traffic-producing blog sites out there
- MyShingle.com written by Carolyn Elefant for small and solo law firms
- Lexblog.com specialized in creating high end blogs for law firms. They did a great job creating this blog!
- Favorites from the Legal Underground Archives An eclectic collection of reader and blogger favorites, this collection illustrates the range of topics that are of interest to readers – more importantly, that pull readers into a dialogue (a key to law firm internet marketing).
As you consider whether weblogs should be a key component of your law firm’s internet marketing strategy, review the blogs above. Happy blogging.
There is no denying the value of blogging when it comes to law firm marketing.
When used properly, it becomes a clear, consistent voice for your practice. It entices prospects, referral sources, colleagues, clients and thought leaders to engage you in dialogue.
It keeps you top of mind. It builds visibility among your target clients. Ultimately, it earns you more of the kind of client you most desire.
What is a blog, you ask? According to Wikipedia, a blog is a form of website, “usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.”
Technorati, the top blog search engine, is indexing over 112.8 million blogs as of June 2008. Yet, Kevin O’Keefe of Lexblog fame recently stated at the June Small and Solo Conference co-sponsored by The Rainmaker Institute and the Los Angeles County Bar that there are only about 1,800 to 2,200 blogs written by lawyers.
Do you see the huge opportunity here?
The problem arises when you begin blogging without a clear law firm marketing strategy behind you.
Blogging should be a part of, but not your entire law firm marketing strategy. It is your forum to connect with the community at large and to make it clear that you are an expert in your field.
But to make it the highly effective medium you need it to be, your law firm marketing and promotion strategy should include:
- A topic list designed to engage your target audience
- A list of social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) to promote it
- A list and schedule for article marketing services to add visibility and to feed it to reporters and thought leaders
- An up to date blog that you write articles for at least 2 to 4 times per week
- A search engine optimization formula to increase your page rank
When you have all these things in place, you will be well on your way to creating a blog that will enhance your overall law firm marketing efforts.
How can your law firm, internet marketing, and a domain name add up to one expensive error?
In the age of the Internet, domain names are king. Like valuable real estate on the corner of a busy intersection in downtown Manhattan, your domain name is the address clients (and would-be clients) use to find you on the Internet.
So as you might expect, using some or all of your law firm’s name as your Internet address (aka domain name) makes good sense. And law firm internet marketing becomes easier too because finding you is as simple as a Google search.
The problem arises when someone else purchases and registers your law firm’s name for their own purposes. That is what happened to Gable & Gotwals, Inc. d/b/a when Dave Jackson secured the domain name “GableGotwals”.
While Jackson was not a competitor (he is using the domain for another business type altogether), the problem is no less expensive for Gable & Gotwals. The firm has been in practice for 65 years. They have letterhead and some marketing material that displays their name. And more importantly, they must have a long list of clients who know them by that name.
However, they do not have a registered trademark for the “GableGotwals” brand.
With law firm internet marketing now a key component of any thriving practice, that omission is a costly one. The complaint and subsequent ruling from the National Arbitration Forum was as follows "Other than Complainant’s assertions, there is no other evidence indicating that the GABLEGOTWALS mark has acquired secondary meaning or source identity in commerce, and use alone is not sufficient to prove this assertion."
The result is a costly one indeed, and not only in near-term law firm internet marketing. The cost will come in lost opportunity for years to come, as potential client referrals are lost simply because the client cannot easily find “GableGotwals” in their Google search.
If you want to protect your practice and enhance your law firm Internet marketing all at once, register your name with the Federal Trademark Office or better yet, go to a trusted colleague who practices intellectual property and have them do it for you.
Be sure to register several variations of your name, including .com, .net and .org extensions and any misspellings you can think of.
Domain names are only $10 per year at www.godaddy.com, one of the top registrars. It only takes 5 minutes to set up your account.
In a future blog post we will give you some tips for selecting a great domain name and how to use it to get more and better traffic to your website.
When it comes to social media, there is a long list of choices. The two I will talk about today, offer unique opportunities when it comes to marketing a law firm.
The first, Linked-In, is the Internet version of a massive networking event. And we all know that marketing a law firm is about personal connections.
Linked-in enables you to forge those connections in much the way you did a few years ago over cigars in a Martini bar. One colleague introduces you to another as a potential referral source, a potential client, an employer or employee.
The introduction is made, trust is built and connections are forged. What more could you ask for in an online tool for marketing a law firm?
People who are interested in:
· Your brand of law
· What you have to say about legal issues
· What your firm stands for
· and more. . . .
When it comes to marketing a law firm, Twitter’s value comes from the way it enables you to engage your client base in frank discussions about what matters to them. And that is where the best marketing comes from – real, two-way dialogue. Where clients feel heard.
In essence, Twitter makes marketing a law firm what it can be at its very best – a business that listens and responds to its customers.
Those are two of the top social media for marketing a law firm. Linked-in is about forging connections and building trust through friendly introduction. Twitter is about engaging your client base in direct, two-way dialogue that helps define who you are and what your law firm brand is about.
You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter. Here's how:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/StephenFairley Send me an invitation to connect. Mention you saw my blog post.
http://twitter.com/stephenfairley Sign up for a free twitter account and then just click on the “Follow” button to start “following me” and get regular updates on what I'm up to.
For many a law firm, marketing is an after-thought. It is something to consider only after the business of serving your clients is finished. However, the real truth is that for firms that want to increase in size or that want to choose the clientele they serve, law firm marketing is essential.
I spoke recently with John Bisnar, principle for one of the top personal injury firms in the country and founder of www.bisnarchase.com. And he said the turning point for his practice was when he and his partner restructured their business model to make law firm marketing a focus all its own.
The trouble is that law firm marketing changes at a pace most people (attorneys included) are not aware of. Marketing strategies that worked five or more years ago may not give you the same return today. In fact, they may not give any return at all.
Social media is a great example of that phenomenon.
Where five years ago, the term didn’t even exist, today the likes of social networking sites LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are not so much common place – as they are the places where some of the best law firm marketing happens.
There are forums where lawyers can engage each other and potential clients one on one. They are place where you can see firsthand what your client base is concerned about, and what you can do to address those concerns.
There are also forums that can be leveraged to promote your firm, to attract precisely the kind of clients you desire, and even to increase the popularity of your web site.
In sum, law firm marketing must have a focus all its own if you want to increase the size of your firm. It must also keep pace with trends in marketing, such as social media. In my next blog, I will discuss some of the top social media available today.
You can also connect with me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Here's how:
http://www.linkedin.com/in/StephenFairley Send me an invitation to connect. Mention you saw my blog post.
http://www.new.facebook.com/people/Stephen_Fairley/515660911 Send me a friend request.
http://twitter.com/stephenfairley Sign up for a free twitter account and then start “following me”