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

Online Marketing for LawyersIn 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 head shots 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, you should be able to get a nice website for that fits your budget. Avvo Websites are an amazing option at $99/mn (that is who developed and hosts our website. If you contact them, be sure to mention us and get an extra discount.) 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 with CPN-Legal, a company whose mission is to help solo and small-firm lawyers build better businesses. She is active in the ABA GPSolo Division, Follow me on Twitter @PeggyGruenke.

Holiday season and networking opportunities

Nov 24, 2014 | Peggy Gruenke | Law Practice Management Adviser

A fresh look at the upcoming holiday season: You never know where your next client will come from.

During the upcoming holiday season, you may not enjoy going to that holiday party in the neighborhood or to the family get-together. You may even dread it. But in actuality, this is perfect time to get ahead. November and December are a slow time of year for doing business. But they are a great time of the year to do some business development.

With all the holiday parties, events, and family visits, the holiday season provides some of the best networking opportunities of the entire year. So make sure you have a stack of business cards on hand. You may even want to make sure you have a logoed sweater or polo shirt to wear while attending some of these events. If you approach this time of year with the right mindset and accept the fact that business will be slow, all these holiday parties are the prime time to make fresh connections to start the New Year off on the right foot.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for these opportunities.

  • Remove the word “networking” from your vocabulary. Think of these events and parties as relationship-building opportunities. You never know where your next client will come from, so be sure everyone you meet knows what you do. And don’t introduce yourself with the first words out of your mouth being “I am a lawyer . . .” Most people have preconceived notions about lawyers that may be less than favorable. So avoid any negative reactions and find a new way to introduce yourself. Such as “I help people recover losses related to a recent injury.” Or, “My business helps small business owners get started.”
  • Make it about others. Listen more than you talk and, as you listen, find clues to remember what you discussed and the person’s name. People generally like talking about themselves, their job, and family. By listening, maybe you will be able to introduce people to other people. People appreciate it when you do the networking for them, and they like to know someone who is connected. Be content listening and soak it all in.
  • Talk about something other than business. In building relationships, which is what networking is all about, you want to get to know people on a personal level, as well as a professional level. Take advantage of the holidays to relax and socialize and get to know people a little better. Think of a few questions you can ask to get the conversation going:
    • “Who else do you know at this event?”
    • “How do you know the host/hostess?”
    • “What has been the highlight of your year?”
    • “What plans do you have for next year?”
    • “What kind of business are you in?”
    • “What kinds of clients are you looking for these days?”
    • (Be prepared to answer these questions as well!)
  • Follow-up with people you met who you think could be potential referral sources or a potential client. Connect with them on LinkedIn and send them a note card asking for an opportunity to meet after the holidays.

Lastly, while you are sitting around over the long weekends, not attending any holiday events, use this downtime to cleanup your contact database, learn more about how to use LinkedIn for a business development tool, or think about what tool you are going to add to your marketing efforts in 2015.

Peggy Gruenke is owner of LegalBizSuccess, a company whose mission is to help solo and small-firm lawyers build better businesses. Peggy is active in the ABA GPSolo Division, where she heads the technology committee and is vice-chair of the national conference committee. Follow her on Twitter @PeggyGruenke.

Lawyers, do you have a game plan for your business?

Nicole at NAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a daughter that for the last 16 years has been in the equestrian world of show jumping. My husband and I have great respect for her ability to enter the show ring always having a plan for how she will ride the course. In show jumping, your goal is to complete the designed course, which consists of a number of jumps or obstacles, in the fastest time, staying on course and without knocking down any rails. It requires a clear vision, a plan, and a strategy with the ability to execute and adjust when things go awry and still complete the course. Before she goes into the ring to compete, she has evaluated the competition, the course and the best path to ride. Simply put: she and her horse have a game plan.

So how well are you doing with your plan to grow and manage your law practice?

Whether a solo, an associate or a partner within a firm, you have to always have that mindset of being a business owner. A partner today may be a solo tomorrow. To grow your business, you have to focus on how to get business, deliver services, get paid and make money. This focus leads to developing clarity around what you do and how you ride the course.

While most lawyers want to have more business and grow, it is amazing how many I talk to that have not taken the time to develop even a simple business plan. As a result, the business is without a focused direction or clear strategy. And businesses without clarity about what they do, will not be as successful as a business with a game plan. Just like a rider going into the show ring without a vision and strategy will most likely fail at completing the course.

So, much like our daughter preparing for the show ring, the answer to questions like “How can I get more clients?” or “How can I find better clients?” or “Am I profitable?” begin with having a game plan. In the business world, these components are cleverly disguised as a business plan. Do you have one? A great business plan is not some pie-in-the-sky document full of impressive prose. A business plan can be as simple as a one-page document outlining the actions you will take to be successful. The key is does it provide clarity and serve as a guide for future actions and decisions.

You see, the trouble with most business plans and the reason people don’t want to create one is they are often written for someone else – a banker, an investor, or a potential partner. Instead, I say write it for yourself. It’s your chance to think through the challenges you are facing and commit to a plan of action. Form doesn’t matter.

This short article is not here to tell you how to write a business plan, but instead, to get you thinking about how clear or unclear your own business strategy may be. Maybe the end result will be that you decide to develop a game plan to help guide your business on a course for growth.

Whether just starting out or if you have been practicing for a few years, why write down your game plan? Continue reading

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.

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