Table of Contents of this Article:
Online Legal Marketing Content
By Jay Fleischman
We’ve all been there. Some smart ass comes along and tells us we need to start a blog for our law firm, and how terrific it is for our online legal marketing. How Google loves fresh web content, how people flock to blogs, and how it’s pretty much the best thing since the cool side of the pillow. But there’s something that stops you, isn’t there?
The reason you don’t start creating web content isn’t because you don’t believe in the raw marketing power. It’s not that you think the bloggers are full of crap.
Online Legal Marketing – Fish Where The Fish Are
When you’re marketing your law firm online it’s easy to get caught up in the blogging whirlwind. After all, that stuff takes nothing more than time – and it’s entirely within your control. There are technical issues to contend with, but they’re easily tackled.
Most people will tell you to work on excellent content and optimize it for the search engines. Once that’s done, optimize for actual readers to decrease bounce rate, increase time on site, and overall create an environment that makes it easier for potential clients to interact with and, ultimately, hire, you.
But what’s missing for this equation is that by providing excellent content and optimizing it, you’re taking too passive of a position.
That’s right, I called you passive. Your online legal marketing efforts are reliant upon someone stumbling on your site. It’s like opening up a store on a dead-end street and hoping that someone will magically find it.
Not gonna happen. At least, not quickly.
The toughest part of your online legal marketing efforts are to get as many qualified prospective clients to your websites, blogs and social media circles as possible.
Your need to promote your content overtly by using Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites, and indirectly by establishing yourself as a trustworthy professional who knows a thing or two about your field of practice.
How? You need to fish where the fish are. In the world of online marketing, you still need to (and I dread this statement) get yourself out there.
I’m talking about consumer finance listservs, debt and credit forum sites, and blogs that discuss personal finance issues. You can hang out on the lawyer listservs too, but that’s for you – not your online marketing. Use the lawyer sites for education and camaraderie, but don’t expect to get much business there.
You’ve got to fish where the fish are. And those fish are on the consumer finance sites. You need to take the time to get to know these online communities and start answering questions. Give from your base of knowledge – without promoting yourself or your sites. In time, people will come to realize that you’re a smart lawyer and will begin to rely upon you as a referral source.
Yes, it takes time. But so does any relationship. You didn’t marry your spouse on the first date. You didn’t wake up one morning with a new best friend or business partner. It took time. So does this. But it will also give you the reputation that’s earned only when people know and trust you. People who are your potential clients and referral sources.
People who may need help someday – help you can give.
Blogs As Online Legal Marketing Tools
Much has been made about this blogging thing as a sure-fire online legal marketing tool. A variety of my colleagues blog as part of their online legal marketing efforts. for my own part, I am a co-founder of the wildly popular Bankruptcy Law Network (as well as a variety of other blogs, including this one). Still, I am often asked why I do it and whether these efforts yield paying clients.
Here’s a clue: aside from my attorney referral network, I do no paid advertising at all for my law firm. My online legal marketing pays the bills and keep the office running.
And for my online legal marketing consulting services, I do ZERO paid advertising. All of my business comes as a result of my blogging.
I didn’t start out with this as an overt strategy, but it grew into one after I learned the benefits of what I was doing. Now I’m not only experimenting with content creation, I’m feeding myself with it. Proof is in the pudding, to continue the eating metaphor.
Over at Branding & Marketing, there was a terrific post about the use of blogs as not only a marketing tool but also as a means of networking (link removed because the blog apparently took down the article, which sucks). And though the article is no longer available, I can tell you that it spoke to the unique ability of content creation to enable people to connect.
This, of course, before the rise of such services as Twitter and Facebook. It shows how even then, using content creation as a means of connecting was a powerful thought in the minds of many.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting a number of wonderful lawyers and technologists I never would have come to know in the absence of their blogs.
These relationships have resulted in a number of great ideas for my practices and business ventures, and the people I’ve come to know have helped me raise my game significantly. I can only hope that I have done the same in return.
Online Legal Marketing – 11 Reasons Why Content Is King
Online legal marketing efforts typically consist of a thin website or a blog that collects dust. You’re all fired up about “getting online,” that you forget one critical point – if you’re using your website as a brochure filled with platitudes and hollow verbiage then why would someone ever consider hiring you?
Read the anwer in the article with the same name of this section.
Online Legal Marketing Demands A Reason, Not Just A Plan
It drives me crazy to listen to all of these legal marketing folks talking about getting together a plan. Not because they’re wrong – in fact, I think they are all very right – but because the notion of an online legal marketing plan conjures up visions of this step-by-step routine that you’ve got to follow in order to make it all happen. My experience is that it just doesn’t work that way for the solo and small firm lawyer.
I call this technique the “marketing diet.” You’ve got to start blogging, engage on social networks, get into video marketing (which means you need to understand how to use that video camera), podcast, on and on and on down the line. Exposure! Fame! Fortune!
Of course, it all comes with price tags attached. You get a kick-ass blog designed, a killer email marketing campaign, and even a customized Twitter background. Why? Because you’ve got to be there. If you’re not, you’re falling behind.
So you cut those big checks and go your merry way. The blog goes live, you submit to the “training session” (which goes by so fast you can’t pay attention), hook up Tweetdeck or some other Twitter client du jour, and are sent to meet your success.
You chug along dutifully for a few weeks, bouncing around in the dark with that blog and that stream of tweets. But when your coffers don’t fill up in that time period you get seriously bummed out and burned out. ”Why avoid that cheesecake if I’m not going to drop 20 pounds in time for my brother’s wedding next month?” seems to be the same thinking that creeps into your life right around that time.
Online legal marketing is clearly a fraud. You’re not hitting the top of the search engines. Twittering masses aren’t hanging on your every word. That blog isn’t getting any traffic.
You fail slowly at first, then really quickly because you never ask for a reason.
At first it’s a missed blog post. Maybe a day away from Twitter or Facebook. A Craigslist post doesn’t get put up because you’re too busy. But whatever it is, there’s a small hiccup in your online legal marketing plan. Sort of like an extra piece of cake after dinner. It feels bad, like you’ve done something wrong. Down deep you’re guilty. But there’s another voice in your head telling you it’s OK because this stuff doesn’t work that well in the first place.
If you’re like me, you just stop doing anything at all. When I first got online I was podcasting, blogging and (trying to be) active in a variety of places. At first it was fun. But it wasn’t feeding my business in a way that made it compelling, so when I stopped there wasn’t a reason to go back to “the grind.”
Until I took a look at my goals, and how my online legal marketing plans fit into them. Remember, I was doing this to feed my practice and my family – not as a cool experiment in futility.
I’d been sold on the bright shiny object of the platform rather than on the ways in which a particular one fit into how I wanted to market my law firm.
Sound familiar at all?
When you turn the notion of an online legal marketing plan on its head and focus instead on your business goals, your strategy becomes clearer.
You need to ask yourself, “Why should I engage in this legal marketing medium? Why should I spend my time here on this platform?”
Look at your goals and objectives. Then do your homework to learn how you’re going to get found on a particular platform by the people most likely to have need of your services. Doing so will lead you to the platforms that will work best for your online legal marketing efforts rather than the other way around.
Best of all, it will help you understand the importance of engaging on a particular platform and save you money and time on wasted efforts in the wrong places.
Save money, use your time wisely, get the results you’re looking for.
So here are my questions: why do you use a specific tool for your online legal marketing efforts? What is the defined goal for that particular tool? And how exactly is it working in your favor?.