The Evolution of Online Marketing for Lawyers: Don’t Get Left Behind

Death of Yellow pagesIn 1886, Reuben H. Donnelley created the first official Yellow Pages directory, which grew into the advertising giant of the last generation that lawyers have been part of for years. Ask your niece/nephew about the Yellow Pages and see what reaction you get: the 10-year-old won’t even know what it is and the 20-year-old will say they don’t use it. Your future and current clients are actively searching the Internet for legal services — and they are searching on their mobile devices.

One area where technology is probably having the most dramatic affect, but rarely mentioned in the same breath with legal technology, is the marketing of your law firm to potential clients and referral sources. It’s called online marketing and it is still a young industry growing rapidly.

The source of this growth in online marketing is tied to the exponential growth of the Internet with the introduction of high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, the increased number of Internet users with fewer barriers to entrance, the invention and use of mobile devices with connectivity, and 24/7 access to information. All of this has brought a whole new meaning to and focus on networking, building relationships, and marketing legal services.

Whether or not you personally use these tools in your daily routine, you should realize the extent to which technology and the Internet have a grip on every aspect of your clients’ (and future clients’) lives. If you are not already doing so, now is the time to ask how you can get started implementing online marketing tools to help grow your business.

Remember, your online presence is the new first impression and you will be building your online brand and reputation. It is also a process that takes months to build and even years to see the fruits of your labor, just like traditional marketing.

Before going online

  1. Invest in some professional headshots and photos showing a little personality. These photos will be used in multiple places across the Internet.
  2. Get a logo designed and develop your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) — your tagline. How will people remember you when they visit your website or online profile?

Getting started online

  1. Build your LinkedIn personal profile and firm profile. If you already have one, get it critiqued by someone who knows LinkedIn profile strategy and techniques. Why start here? For a few reasons.
    • You will have a professional profile to direct people to while developing your website.
    • Developing a great LinkedIn profile will get you focused on creating content for your website, identifying your competitive advantage.
  1. Create and claim your Google for Business page, so your firm will show up on Google Maps and Google can start recognizing your law firm as a legitimate business. You will need to complete this step so you can add a Google Map to your website. Add a link to your Google Business page on your LinkedIn profile.
  1. Now let’s talk about creating your website. There are many good resources available for solos and small firm lawyers to create a website that won’t break the bank. With the options available (Avvo websites and JurisPage are two great options), you should be able to get a nice website for $1,200–3,000 and get it built rather quickly. A few lessons learned:
    • Keep it simple. You only need to focus on developing a few core pages for your website. You can always add more.
    • Own your domain and keep it simple to remember and enter.
    • Own your content.
    • Do not rely on someone else to write all of your content. Be part of this process. It will help you get clear about what you do and how you do it.
    • Use good-quality images that you purchased or use your own images.
    • Build your website on a platform you have the ability to easily administer and update, like WordPress.

In summary, don’t view this online marketing as a one-time exercise like a printed brochure. The beauty of this platform is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. You can change it as you evolve your business and as you learn more yourself.

Written by Peggy Gruenke and published at the Washington State Bar Association Blog.

Are you going to be left behind?

Lawyers, Why Do You Need a Online Presence?

Because you don’t want to be left behind. People no longer reach for the Yellow Pages when they need a lawyer. They rely on friends and the internet. And if they use a friend, they then search the internet to look you up. So if you don’t have an online presence, you are probably leaving money on the table.

Social media or social networking should be a part of every lawyer’s marketing and business development plan. When a lawyer sits down to talk to me about his practice and how to get more clients, the discussion always includes a social media plan with the end goal being to leverage his/her online presence to build more relationships with referral sources and potential clients that then convert into new business.  It’s an even playing field no matter your age, type of practice, location or size of firm. If you have not started building your r online network, it’s not too late to start.

A well designed business development plan should include a social media component that moves you from hanging out on the sidelines to actually playing in the game. The sidelines are a great place to observe and plan for how you are going to participate and interact on social media but eventually you have to join the game. You have to determine what your level of participation will be, what platforms you will use and how you will interact with your new online community. The great thing about this game is that you are in control of your own success, limited only by your own schedule, effort and time. It’s quite powerful and the fun part is seeing your online connections become in-person connections.

Peggy Gruenke, Owner/Consultant LegalBizSuccess

Specializing in Law Firm Practice Management  and Business Development solo and small firm attorneys. Peggy can be found on Twitter @PeggyGruenkeLinkedIn and at www.legalbizsuccess.com.  (513) 315-5750

Lawyers: Managing Your Online Presence and Directories

Tagul - Gorgeous tag cloudsOne of the wonderful things about the internet and social media is that it’s a great way to create and build an online presence without the investment of a lot of money. It can be time consuming but managing your time can be much less expensive than managing a marketing budget.  A powerful tool for accomplishing this creation and growth of your internet presence are directory listings.

Directory listings, are in short, like an online version of the yellow pages but much more powerful with the addition of profiles, links, video and reviews. There are hundreds of them and deciding which ones you want to be listed in can be overwhelming.  For example: Avvo, InfoUSA, Google+ Local, Bing Places, Yahoo Local, Lawyers.com, MerchantCircle.com, Yelp.com, plus many more. I see many lawyers with incomplete profiles on a number of directories. Why do you have to worry about these online directories?

Directories have risen to a level of importance  because Google moved its local search returns to its main page with the introduction of Google+ Local (formally Google Places). How Google determines which local business listings should be on the first page of Google’s search results depends a great deal on directory listings. So if you are in 5, 10, 15 or more directory listings, you are going to look good to Google’s ranking algorithm. And having reviews with your listing makes you even more popular in Google’s eyes.

While you want to be in many directories, deciding which ones to be in and entering and managing the data can be time consuming. Plus, doing it wrong can ruin your online presence. You will want to make sure you do not have duplicate or incorrect listings and you want to use keywords in each directory. Here is more information about online directories
 in an article by the folks at Get Noticed Get Found.

If you would like help creating and managing your online directories, adhering to the ethical rules, please give me a call. I can provide this service to you at  nominal one-time charge. I am also available to do in-house CLE on the  “Your Social Media Presence – Adhering to Ethics Rules While Being Social.”

Peggy Gruenke, Owner/Consultant LegalBizSuccess

Specializing in Law Firm Practice Management  and Business Development solo and small firm attorneys. Peggy can be found on Twitter @PeggyGruenkeLinkedIn and at www.legalbizsuccess.com.  (5130 315-5750

 

If You’re Going to be on LinkedIn, First Impressions Matter

curb-appeal-splashJuly 2013

I  frequently get asked by attorneys and other professionals about the importance of having a LinkedIn profile. I have finally come up with a simple and concise way to explain the need for creating a robust LinkedIn profile. Here it is:

Samll LinkedIn_logo_1

If you have a LinkedIn profile, think of it as a first impression or your curb appeal. When potential clients look for you, what do they find? Having an empty or crappy LinkedIn profile is worse than having none at all.

Check your online presence. Google It. Search for yourself online. What comes up first? Chances are your LinkedIn profile or Avvo profile are listed at the top. Is it what you expected? Is it what you’d like to people to see about you? What would a person who didn’t know you think?

If you are ready to start using LinkedIn as the business development tool it is so well designed for but need help creating your profile and your firm profile, please give me a call. It is something I enjoy doing and enjoy teaching. By the way, be sure to check that Avvo profile while you  are at it. Think you don’t have one – look again.

There is also the ethical responsibility part of being online. If your going to be online, you are responsible for making sure the content adheres to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.  Here is a link to my recent seminar that discusses some of the ethical pitfalls of being online and how to avoid them. “Your Social Media Presence – Adhering to Ethics Rules While Being Social“

Peggy Gruenke, Owner/Consultant LawBizCOO/LegalBizSuccess

Specializing in Law Firm Practice Management  and Business Development for solo and small firm attorneys. Peggy can be found on Twitter @PeggyGruenke,LinkedIn and at www.legalbizsuccess.com. pgruenke@lawbizsuccess.com

Thinking About Blogging – Just do it and here is some advice from successful bloggers

I started blogging about 6 months ago and have tried to maintain a consistent schedule with meaningful topics.  What I have learned is that it takes passion, time, commitment and a bit of creative thinking to come up with relevant topics.  I also witnessed the power of blogging for building your community. It does work. Blogging is habit forming and as with any habit, they are easy to break once you get out of the cycle. So I am guilty of breaking my blogging habit and need to get back on track.

So for today’s post, I am going to share with you a great article by Ernie Svenson who wrote the book Blogging in One Hour for Lawyers. Ernie has been running a great series called “Five Questions for a Law Blogger“.  He asks some successful bloggers five questions. Read here and get your blogging mojo started or back on track: Fascinating Insight From Successful Bloggers.

Enjoy!

Peggy Gruenke On Twitter @peggygruenke On LinkedIn  and my Blog LawBizCOO

History of Social Media – Infographic via CopyBlogger

Thought I’d share this cool Infographic. I see 2 things missing – Skype and Linked In. Anyone else?

The very purpose of the Internet (every blog, website and virtual gathering place within it) is to let people connect, communicate, and collaborate. Check it out – we have become and are a very social community. Via CopyBlogger

A History of Social Media [Infographic] - Infographic
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