Have You Become an Internet Marketer?
During the past couple of weeks I’ve been heavily promoting Google+ as a tool to help develop new relationships and promote your law firm on line.
There has been a bit of a “rebirth” in my focus on the Internet as a law firm marketing tool.
But your focus on the internet should be limited to only 10% of your overall marketing efforts.
Don’t worry. You won’t find me promoting my company with the slogan:
“Wondering how to get clients as a lawyer? Let me write your Social Media copy.”
I think you should write your own posts for social media and your website.
Here’s a piece I posted on this very topic on my Google+ page:
Creating a Competitive Advantage with Google Plus
None of us can deny the power of the internet. For quite some time I have been an advocate of ignoring most of the social media websites because they are a big waste of time.
That all changed a few months ago.
Recently I returned to the internet to rehabilitate this website.
You see last year, due to some horrible advice and mismanagement, my website disappeared from search results and with it went 20% of my revenue (year over year).
So I pouted and replaced that revenue by speaking more often, writing more often, podcasting and sending more direct mail.
But I did not want to ignore search results as a marketing channel. It is just too big an opportunity.
So in January of this year I started writing every day for RainmakerLawyer.com. I also started promoting those articles on Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon and Google+. I figured maybe I could encourage a few people to come back.
As it turns out, this strategy helped me replace all the traffic I lost due to my own Search Engine malfeasance. I received good traffic from LinkedIn and StumbleUpon, zero (no exaggeration) traffic from Facebook and massive traffic from Google+.
But the hidden value was in the search engine boost I received (and continue to receive) from some of the Google+ posts.
This is the reason why, today, I am sharing my work on Google+ with you in our weekly podcast.
This is a work in progress for me and my website but I think Google+ is a work in progress.
The value of the platform is just too significant to ignore.
Listen to this week’s episode of the Valtimax Podcast and start experimenting with Google+.
You might just be glad you did. Here is the link to the podcast and a player that will let you play it on your desktop:
Note: For those of you wondering, Valtimax is my other website. On that site I post interesting information for Professionals in all industries.
Your On-Line Lawyer Marketing Guide
Have you been wondering about:
- Website design
- Social Media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter
- Posting videos on-line
Are you confused when you see other people attracting clients on the Internet?
Do you wonder if there is a way to leverage the power of social media?
Are you concerned that everything you hear about lawyer on-line marketing is untrue?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, I have good news…
I have developed a guide to help you navigate the confusing and sometimes smarmy world on on-line lawyer marketing.
You can listen to this audio guide in in less than 30 minutes and it will not only save you time and money it will help grow your law firm revenue.
Don’t make another move with lawyer marketing on-line, without listening to this guide.
Click the link below to listen to this guide at my other website Valtimax.com
Word of Mouth is Different Today and Legal Marketing Can Help
Years ago word of mouth was different.
A client would hire you to help him. If you did a good job, the client would tell a few friends and business associates. If you did a bad job, the client would tell everyone he knew every chance he got. At family gatherings, at community events, whenever anything remotely relevant came up in a conversation, your former client would tell his version of the story of how you messed up.
Over time, this dissipates. The good stories are told rarely and the bad stories are told with less frequency and less venom.
The good stories never reach the number of people they should and the bad stories reach too many people without anyone hearing anything positive.
But the capacity of one person to keep telling a story, over and over, is limited.
Today, with technology, capacity for telling those stories is limitless.
Today, when you do a good job, your legal marketing plan can include your client adding a testimonial to a website like Yelp or CitySearch. This will ensure people hear about the good things you’ve done. It will also make certain potential clients hear about those good things – particularly when they are needed to balance out any negative comments.
For better or worse, legal marketing must include providing clients the opportunity to post their comments about the services they receive from an attorney.
Word of mouth is different today. People have far more reach than ever before. The quality of your work was always important but today, the quality of your legal marketing is equally as important.
The Alternative to the Internet
Just about every day someone calls me with a question about Internet advertising.
Lawyers looking for a marketing panacea are flocking to Search Engine Optimization and Social Media. They chase good money with bad, trying to find one way to attract one hundred new clients. This leaves them disappointed and a little lighter in the wallet.
My role in the complex world of law firm marketing is to help you sift through all the hype and develop a cost effective strategy for attracting new clients. This strategy is based upon the belief that finding one way to attract one hundred clients is risky, expensive and unrealistic. Instead, we focus on developing a client acquisition strategy that is based in reality. Our goal: Find many ways to develop one deep client relationship instead of one way to attract several clients.
Remaining true to that mission, today I offer you a viable alternative to the Internet. It is education-based marketing and it will definitely help you attract more clients – if you have the guts to give it a try.
Here is an example of an effective education-based marketing strategy:
Step one: Prepare a seminar on a topic of interest to your target audience. Example:
- Personal Injury Attorneys – Topic: Insurance Coverage
- Criminal Attorneys – Topic: Keeping kids out of trouble in the age of the bully
- Trust and Estate Attorneys – Topic: Asset protection for doctors and entrepreneurs
Step two: Invite everyone you know to attend this seminar. This means you should invite all of your friends and have them invite all of their friends. The idea is to get as many people in the room as possible.
Step three: Deliver great content at the seminar.
Step four: Capture the attendee’s contact information.
Step five: Follow-up like crazy.
If you have 50 people in the audience at each seminar, and you follow the steps listed above, you can expect to acquire 5-10 new clients per year from this strategy (provided you host 4-6 of these seminars each year).
When I work with my private clients, this is one of the first strategies I recommend they implement. It is a low cost way to begin developing relationships with people who can refer you business, engage you, or both. This strategy works.
Yet most lawyers will never attempt it.
You tell me.
I just gave you a gift. A way to attract a few new clients each year. Will you follow these simple steps?
Is this strategy as sexy as the internet? No.
Is this strategy as easy as paying someone to get you on the first page of Google? No.
Does this strategy get as much publicity as Social Media? No.
But it works consistently. It just requires some thought and some effort from you.
I don’t know what your plans are for your law firm. I’m not certain what your income goals are. But I know what I hear from lawyers all over the world. They all want cost effective ways to attract new clients.
How fast can you integrate this into your marketing activity?
Questioning the Value of Social Media in Marketing for Lawyers
If you only had one hour each day to spend on marketing, how would you spend it?
Would you be better off reaching out to clients, past clients and referral sources and scheduling lunch with them or would you be better off interacting with them on Facebook and Twitter?
During the past two years I have been active on Facebook. About a year ago I relegated my Twitter activity to posting updates on my other media properties after regularly interacting with people on my follower list for 10 months. My experience with these two social media platforms has been enlightening (to say the least).
I have developed several true (real life) friendships as a result of these two forms of social media. I have re-developed relationships with people I had lost touch with. And I have had more than a few good laughs in browsing though the status updates and posts in my news feed.
I was frustrated when my profiles on both Facebook and Twitter were shut down as a result of an advertising mistake. I was shocked when I my posts angered some of my relatives. I received hate mail and nasty comments from people when I posted things about my favorite sports teams. I have also been thoroughly aggravated, on numerous occasions, by some of the ridiculously ignorant political statements I have seen from people who I consider friends.
When I started using Facebook and Twitter I knew there was likely no immediate payoff in new business. I viewed these sites as an opportunity to develop and deepen relationships. The theory being that deep relationships would result in new business. After two years I can honestly say that deep relationships result in just that, deep relationships. Facebook and Twitter have not helped develop better referral sources. They have helped introduce me to lawyers who did not know me, which is good. But, to date, this has not resulted in any significant business.
There are arguments in favor of using these social media sites and there are arguments against using them. But the question remains: Are they a good use of my time? Actually, a better question is: Are they the best possible use of my marketing time?
I know lawyers who spend hours each week on Facebook and Twitter but claim they have no time for marketing. I estimate that I have spent about 700 hours on Facebook and Twitter during the past two years. That’s almost seven hours each week. Would my time have been better spent if I:
- Had lunch with one more lawyer each week? – 2 hours
- Written an article for a trade magazine? – 2 hours
- Pitched that article to several magazines? – 1 hour
- Written several thank you notes to people I met and made follow-up phone calls to people on my mailing list? – 2 hours
I can tell you from past experience that the activities I listed above will bring me new clients. Investing in these tactics would be an additional investment in proven marketing activities.
Facebook and Twitter help deepen relationships but there are other marketing vehicles that are far more effective at relationship development. I will continue to use Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with friends and colleagues but I am going to dramatically reduce the amount of time I spend on them. Right now, the return on the time invested is not significant enough to warrant spending additional time on it.
How much time do you invest in social media? Is it paying off? Is social media the best possible use of your time?
What You Think About Twitter Doesn’t Matter
In 3500BC when the Mesopotamians first started using the wheel to move heavy objects there was probably some resistance to making it a commonplace tool.
And when Henry Ford was motoring around Dearborn, Michigan in his car people probably thought it would never catch on.
The same is probably true of the television, and it was definitely true of the Internet.
Marketing for lawyers is no different. Something new comes along and people are naturally resistant. People are resistant to things they don’t understand.
That’s the reason why I smile when I hear people say that Twitter is useless.
Here is a newsflash:
Twitter is here to stay.
You may not be using Twitter, you may not see a need for it, but many attorneys are using it as a marketing tool and it works.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is a service that allows you to communicate directly with a group of people who have an interest in your thoughts and ideas. This communication is in sound bites – specifically 140 character sentences – like text messaging.
People must “subscribe” to your Twitter updates (called “tweets”) in order to receive them. Subscribing is called “following” in Twitter language. If you are following someone and they are following you, you can have a conversation via Twitter. If you want other people to “overhear” your conversation, you can direct your comment to one person specifically and let everyone see it. This is like being in a public chat room. Twitter also allows you to send private messages to another user who is following you.
Why is Twitter powerful?
Twitter is a powerful tool because it allows you to have an ongoing conversation with a specific group of people. Conversations are how relationships begin. This is the essence of good marketing.
Here is an example:
If you are a plaintiff attorney in a personal injury practice and you receive most of your matters through attorney referrals, you can easily identify other attorneys on Twitter and communicate with them regularly.
This communication will eventually lead to the development of a relationship and possibly some referred clients. If you want to develop the relationship quickly, you can send your Twitter friends links to articles you have published. You can point them to case records that are relevant to something that they are working on and you can update them on relevant news in a related filed. All of this can be done from your personal computer or from your mobile phone. It takes a few seconds.
Isn’t Twitter a Waste of Time?
I have heard this question from many people. They usually say it as a statement and not as a question that they expect to be answered.
This comment comes mostly from people who do not understand how to use this tool.
You will consider Twitter a waste of time if:
- You think going to a charity dinner to meet influential people from your local area is a waste of time.
- If you think sending out a thank you letter to a prospective corporate client is a waste of time.
- If you think running writing a magazine or newspaper article is a waste of time.
- If you think being on a television show is a waste of time.
- Twitter is just as powerful and in many cases more powerful than all of these “traditional” aspects of attorney marketing.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what you think about Twitter. It is a technological application that allows you to build relationships. And relationships lead to more business for your law firm. If you are not using it, someone else is probably attracting clients that could be coming to your firm.
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