Lawyers need good marketing just like everyone else. The old cliche “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply anymore and hasn’t for quite some time now. If you’re a lawyer, part of your job is obviously handling legal cases for clients. The other half of your job is marketing (or effectively managing a marketing team) to ensure you always have a case backlog. It matters not how excellent an attorney you are if you don’t enough of a case load to pay the bills.
Here are some of the most common marketing mistakes you might be making right now:
No White Paper
Most lawyers advertise in the yellow pages or online in a local directory. However, they assume that clients automatically understand what they do. Most of the time, clients don’t know why they should choose you over someone else. Give them a reason.
A white paper explains your business and why you’re different from every lawyer out there. “Faster service,” “we care,” and other generic slogans aren’t a point of differentiation. Find a real unique selling proposition. In a world of lawyers that are too busy to return client phone calls, does your firm call clients back within 24 hours, guaranteed? If not, can you make this a point of differentiation?
Explain your profession in simple terms in the white paper, and include case studies of how you’ve helped other clients. On it’s own, a white paper is not strictly an inbound marketing function, however it can be used as part of an inbound marketing campaign in conjunction with distribution methods that position it to send visitors your way.
No Email List or Followup
Most lawyers don’t have the time or expertise to build an autoresponder series or even learn how to use one. Hire a marketing firm to do this for you if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, but get a systematic email followup system in place. Then, market to your email list. Set up a questionnaire or quiz to see if your services might be beneficial to them.
Next, offer them the answer via email, along with a detailed review of their case for free if they give you their email. Once you have their email, periodically follow up with them. You can send example case studies similar to their case, or you can send client testimonials or your own personal stories that are relevant to what your client is going through right now. This allows you to connect with your clients on an emotional level.
Once you’ve earned their trust, ask for the sale. Many businesses have discovered email marketing is one of their most valuable marketing initiatives. Attorneys are no different in this regard. E-mail marketing is very powerful and not to be ignored if new client acquisition is important to a practice.
No Answering System
Lawyers need an answering system that allows serious clients to get through while blocking clients that are a waste of time. Automated systems work well, and they can’t be persuaded or tricked like a real human being can. If you’re a small firm, an automated system also gives you the appearance of being more professional when you can’t afford to hire a lot of staff to answer phones.
Again, on it’s own an answering system is not inbound marketing. It does however, receive the results from some of your inbound marketing efforts, so it’s an important part of the process.
User Unfriendly Website
Inbound marketing is all about getting people to contact you. That won’t happen if you don’t have a user-friendly website. Prospective clients will just leave in frustration, and go to a competitor’s site. Your site should be intuitive and simple in its design. The visitor should instantly know what you do.
The navigation should make sense, so visitors can easily find what they’re after. As an attorney, you should have the kind of information a visitor is likely looking for, such as your qualifications, specialties, professional associations you’re a member of, and any certifications and awards you have received.
Hire a designer than understands minimalistic design as well as direct response marketing. That distinction is key, because there are many who have mastered design and can make attractive sites, but far fewer who have also mastered the intricacies of marketing and copywriting.
Conversion is key to success with your website. It can win design awards, but if your site doesn’t convert visitors to contacts or clients, it flat isn’t doing it’s job.
Your online marketing company should not only understand what makes a website look good, but what makes it work well, too. The fact is, if it isn’t converting, it isn’t working, and your provider should know how to determine your site’s conversion rate. They should also be able to explain what metrics they’ll test during the conversion analysis process.
No System For Handling Customers
Many lawyers don’t have a system for sorting customers. A good customer relationship management system solves this problem. Set up a CRM to handle initial inbound callers that respond to direct mail or classified advertisements. As potential clients call in, sort clients into “A clients,” “B clients,” and “C clients.” This way, you can focus more on high-quality clients and spend less time on clients that ultimately won’t help you build your practice.
Is your firm found when prospective clients search on the Internet for what you do? Inbound marketing is all about having prospective clients find you online, rather than you going after them. Search engines are a key component of this. Recent studies show that when people are looking for product and service providers, attorneys included, they overwhelmingly look online to find them. One only needs to look at their own habits and those of their friends and associates to know that’s true.
Your marketing company needs to know how to ensure that your firm is found when people search for what you do. It is also vital that they understand what terms people search for which are the most advantageous to rank for, and how to deliver the best ROI for your budget in a search marketing campaign.
They should be able to explain this to you, show you which keywords will be most beneficial to you to be ranked for, and give you a realistic estimate on what it will take to reach first page rankings. If they tell you they can do it in a few weeks, that is usually unrealistic.
Attorney related keywords are typically highly competitive in most markets. It can take 4 – 6 months for an SEO campaign to bear fruit, depending on the keywords targeted.
SEO is one of the most powerful parts of an inbound marketing campaign. After all, inbound marketing relies on people coming to you, and they should be able to find you when they look.
Client Value – If Your Don’t Know it, You’re Losing, Plain and Simple
As a lawyer, you should know the approximate value of a new client. Only then can you determine whether your marketing campaign is profitable for you, and how much to budget for different aspects of it, such as SEO. After all, if you don’t know how much a new client is worth, how can you determine how much to spend in per client acquisition costs?
A Word On Advertising
Advertising is a crucially important marketing component. However, it’s also usually pretty hard to pull off yourself. Many lawyers don’t understand what makes a marketing and advertising campaign work. “Getting your name out there” is often a haphazard and low-value activity. Instead, hire a marketing firm who specializes in marketing and direct response.
They must understand how online marketing differs from the marketing they may have been doing in the past. While there are similarities, online marketing is a different animal, and any firm you hire should understand this.
If they aren’t talking to you in terms of “acquisition cost” and “cost per customer” as well as “conversion rates,” find another marketing company to handle your ads. Good marketing will make the difference between having a successful and thriving practice and having a firm that flounders.
Alison Mackenzie contributed this guest post on behalf of HCA Compensation Lawyers Melbourne. Alison is a freelance writer with an extensive background as an attorney. She enjoys contributing to various online legal publications.