There’s an old lawyer joke that goes something like this: No town can support one lawyer, but every town can support at least two. You might not think that joke is funny, but we’re fairly certain you’ll think it’s true.
The legal marketplace is more competitive than ever, not only because of the number of attorneys currently practicing but because of the proliferation, of “legal services firms”. Some of these companies provide tools that enable small businesses to prepare their own legal documents (Legal Zoom, for example). Others perform many of the tasks normally performed by lawyers. Alternative legal services providers such as Novus perform tasks normally farmed out to lawyers, thereby reducing the number of attorney “billable hours”.
To successfully compete in this environment a legal practitioner should employ a comprehensive marketing strategy. The days when a large Yellow Pages ad containing a picture of serious, “take no guff” faces was considered effective firm advertising are long gone.You need a significant online presence, one that you update frequently and monitor constantly.
There are many alternatives for marketing your law firm online. Here are some factors to keep in mind when you consider them.
It’s a tangled web we weave…. We are exposed daily to a mind-numbing amount of information, thanks primarily to the Internet. Setting yourself apart is, therefore, clearly a major challenge. The solution? Create web content that sets your practice apart. The best tool? Your website, of course (you do have one, right?). But merely having one isn’t enough. You should treat your website as a work in progress that has no completion date. Improve your site’s effectiveness by doing the following:
- Take inventory. Take an honest, critical look at what you’ve got. First, how does it look?
- Is it too busy?
- Is there too much text per page?
- Are the graphics necessary or even beneficial?
- You have no more than 2 or 3 seconds to grab the attention of site visitors, failing which they’ll simply click away, likely never to return. If your landing page is too visually stimulating or your site isn’t easy to navigate, you’ve lost a potential client you never knew you could have had.
- Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Okay, so now your website looks great, information is correct (that bio page no longer contains the litigator who left a month ago) and it’s easily navigable. You’re done, right? Wrong. Refresh your content. Frequently. Regularly. Give visitors a reason to keep coming back because…
- It’s all about content. Don’t sell your firm, sell the expertise it possesses. Post content that offers value such as news about the latest developments in a certain area of law or industry, Become known as a resource.
- Conversion. Nothing you do to your website will matter if you don’t offer visitors a clear call to action, something that engages consumers and provides the opportunity to convert them to clients. A questionnaire is an effective tool, for example. Offering a white paper for download is another. Perhaps content that opens up an issue for discussion, allowing your clients (and potential clients) to weigh in via comments or email response. Regardless of choice, visitor to a site should always be given a call to action.
- Monitor traffic. This will let you know what your visitors are doing. If, for example, the analytics show they don’t click on to other pages from the one on which they land, you’ve got some additional work to do.
Once you’re happy with your website, it’s time to seriously consider taking the plunge into the world of social networking sites (SNS). Facebook, Twitter (with some caveats) and even writing blogs provide law firms tremendous marketing opportunities (we’ll assume your attorneys already use LinkedIn). Effective use of social media marketing requires you diligently monitor the activity across all platforms and commit to producing new content on a regular basis.
Not only does Facebook give you an opportunity to reach a wide, interactive audience, it permits you to give your online personal personality, something to which page followers can relate, thereby making interactions more engaging. As with any social media use, be very careful about what is posted. To borrow from an old saying: What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet.
We suggest this medium be used only by the tech-savvy and someone trusted by the firm to speak on its behalf. The immediacy of Twitter enables you to post firm events, breaking legal news and links to other resources. It also provides you instant feedback from consumers.
Not for the faint of heart, blogging is a great way to demonstrate expertise and competencies while also staying front of mind. Again, a great opportunity to be considered a resource rather than just a practitioner.
Need help setting up online marketing? Check out our latest guide for FREE to help you get your LinkedIn profile/pages up and running. It’s an easy start!