This is the next post in my series on the state of law firm marketing. My last discussion looked at why attorneys can’t do well on the web by simply spending more money. Many attorneys will fail to understand that point and, as a result, will likely exit the profession. As those people head out the door they’ll probably be looking like this guy:

Businessman sitting on side of bed, looking tired.

Those left standing will be the one’s who take a smart and modern approach. They will still be around and will look like this fine chap:

Relaxed Man DaydreamingIf you love misery then you would probably prefer to look like the former. If that’s the case then,……well,……….I’m sorry. If you enjoy prosperity, and would rather look like the latter, then read on. This article will focus on what attorneys need to do, going forward, in order to be successful. I’ll be looking at what strategies you should be employing as well as what services you should be utilizing.

Tips for attorneys who wish to successfully market their law firm

Want to do a better job of marketing your law firm? Here are tips to implement a.s.a.p.

Attorneys need to provide the information potential clients want in the way that the potential client wants to digest it

One of the biggest mistakes I see again, and again, and again, and (again*1,000) is the attorney who provides potential clients with the information the attorney wants them to see in a way that the attorney thinks people should digest it. Ask yourself this question – when you walk into a store do you bypass the item that does exactly what you want in favor of something you’re not looking for which also happens to be difficult to use? I’m assuming you don’t and neither do potential clients. Your website is your store front. It needs to be structured to appeal to the client’s  perspective and not yours.

One of the best ways to give clients information is to provide in-depth series of blog posts which answer questions. Richard Lawson provided a great example of this when he said:

[My] blog is designed to bring attention to my website and my practice. I occasionally use it as an outlet for social commentary such as my articles on the infant maimed in a drug raid. Mainly, the blog is designed to attract readers to relevant issues for which they are seeking information. One perfect example is my February, 2013 blog on failure to appear in Atlanta Municipal Court. That one blog took 20 minutes to write and has paid recurring dividends for 20 months. People want to know how to deal with a missed court appearance. They search for that information and I provide it. This is a far better way to seek out clients than paying Google pay per click.

I’ll give you a few more examples of this. We wrote a blog for one of our clients which directly addressed the issue of how drug use impacts child custody cases in her state. That post appears as the first search result when one searches for “does drug use change child custody in [client’s state of practice].” That post also ranks well for other searches and it has been repeatedly sending our client leads for roughly eighteen months. Want to consistently get clients, answer their commonly asked questions!

Attorneys need to own the vehicle through which they are providing information to potential clients

If you want your marketing to be sustainable then you need to invest in assets that you own. Let’s look at a real world example. I’m driving in the car a few months ago and I heard a radio ad from an attorney who was holding himself out as a “fathers’ rights lawyer” and he used the ad to explain that Nevada was an equal custody state. He’s using the ad to answer an important question (my point above) but the problem is that he has to repeatedly pay money to get the ad out and reach his audience. The client mentioned above has regularly received hits to her website for the $125 we charged her to write the post. She owns the post, will never pay any more money for it, and will continue to receive traffic from it. If you want to succeed with your marketing then it needs to be cost effective. This means you’re money needs to go into things which you own.

Lawyers need to actively network with people who are NOT attorneys

The power of legitimate networking cannot be overstated. As we discussed by our May, 2015 attorney of the month, Elise Holtzman, it is a big mistake for attorneys to think networking means talking to other attorneys (which is the most common form of “networking” lawyers engage in). If, for example, you are a family law attorney then you should be networking with local mental health professionals. They will regularly be dealing with people about to file for divorce, child custody, etc. If you’re a criminal defense attorney then you should be networking with drug counselors, etc. The list goes on for every practice area.

The benefit of networking with non-attorneys is interesting. First, non-lawyers are much, much, much, much (much) more likely to refer you cases regularly than other attorneys. Second, you’ll find that many good referral sources don’t have an attorney they regularly deal with. Why? Because attorneys are so busy networking with each other that they’ve never bothered to reach out to other professionals even though such people are a better referral source.

Stop thinking that “networking” means talking to other attorneys and get out there into the world.

Attorneys will greatly improve their online conversions by asking clients for reviews

In my last post I briefly discussed the need for a bank of reviews. These are crucial. Many of the people landing on your website won’t just pick up the phone and call. Increasingly people are going to look at your online reviews before deciding whether or not to call your office. When you have a client, who you know had a good experience and will leave you a five star rating, then it’s crucial that you reach out to them and ask for a review.

One thing to understand is that if you ask ten happy clients for reviews they all will say “yes.” One will actually do it. To speed up this process you need to help them along. Call the client on the phone and ask if they’ll leave a review. When they say “yes” then send a thank you email along with the links to the profiles where you wish to be reviewed. This will lead to a much higher percentage of clients actually leaving the reviews.

Check your local rules on this – in the past Florida has had an issue with attorneys asking for reviews from clients.

Attorneys who wish to be successful need to give clients regular status updates

Want to be successful online? Then you need to 1) return your client’s phone calls, 2) give meaningful responses to their emails and, 3) write them regular updates about the status of their case. The third point is huge and most attorneys don’t write such updates. Doing so makes for a happy client. How does this lead to a successful online presence? First, a happier client is more likely to leave you the good review described above. Second, an unhappy client is more likely to leave you a bad review – which can kill your business.

I get quite a few calls from attorneys who say that they ask clients for reviews but the clients just never leave any. Sorry to break the news, if one is truly struggling to get reviews then they need to look at their practice and implement procedures to make sure clients are better kept up to date on things, that phone calls are promptly returned, and that emails are quickly responded to with substance. This point is addressed best in the following video, which I previously shared in my article on how attorneys need to market in order to stop struggling:

Thanks to CEB for providing this video. To read the full post, associated with the video, click here.

Now that we’ve looked at the five things you need to do in order to do well online – let’s look at what services can help you get there.

Attorneys need to focus on the review platforms which potential clients actually use

I’ve spoken with quite a few attorneys who have numerous reviews on Yellowpages.com as well as a few other directories I had never even heard of. These lawyers then wonder why people don’t know they have good reviews. This gets back to the point of giving people information in the way in which they wish to digest it. You need to build your review bank in the places that potential clients think are important and not the ones that you think matter. The places you should be getting reviews are simple – they are your firm’s Facebook page, your Google Local/Google+ page, and AVVO (keep in mind that attorneys should only use AVVO as a review platform).

Lawyers need to focus on the right social media platforms

Are you signed up for a LinkedIn profile? Probably. Are you leveraging it? Probably not. Want to reach out and make the type of networking connections described above? Then you need to be leveraging LinkedIn. I previously wrote on how attorneys can get more out of LinkedIn. I won’t rehash that discussion here. Just be mindful that it may be your most important social networking platform.

Your firm also very much needs a strong Facebook presence for branding/social validation purposes. You should also leverage your Google+ business page so you can rank well in Google Maps. One big mistake, made by many law firms, is to devote time to Twitter. I’ve written previously on whether attorneys should use Twitter and reasons for saying “no” have become more apparent since that article was written.

Want to do better online? Then you need to implement all of the steps above. The good news is that many attorneys won’t. As a result, your in a position to do great if you choose to put in the effort.