In 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
- Invest in some professional head shots and photos showing a little personality. These photos will be used in multiple places across the Internet.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.