My collection of marketing tips — gleaned from all over the web and my own experience
October 24th, 2012 by Briana Cummings
Where do consumers go to find legal representation? A Nielsen Company survey on who consumers trust when looking for legal representation found they trust the following sources: recommendations from people they know (90%), consumer opinions posted online (70%), brand websites (70%), editorial content like a newspaper article (69%), brand sponsorships (64%), TV (62%), newspaper (61%), magazines (59%), billboards/outdoor advertising (55%), radio (55%), emails signed up for (54%), ads before movies (52%), search engine result ads (41%), online video ads (37%), online banner ads (33%), text ads on mobile phones (24%).
In other words, offering valuable content and garnering referrals seem more effective in generating business than advertising per se. That idea is the spirit behind most of the marketing suggestions below. (Note: Don’t try all of these, just the ones that work for you.)
(1) Get business cards
(2) Set up a web site
This is becoming increasingly indispensable. My firm attracts numerous clients who just “found us on the Internet.” A baseline cost for a basic web site is about $1500. If you want to do it yourself, certain blog templates (aka CMSs, or content management system, in the tech lingo), such as WordPress, can be used to create static web sites in addition to, or in place of, a blog. (See below for my description of how I use WordPress.)
Check the rules on lawyer advertising in your state. The ABA Center for Professional Responsibility offers a useful compendium.
If you use a web site to advertise, you may have to comply with the ethics rules of other states, particularly if it is perceived that you are providing or attempting to provide legal services there. The web site of the ABA Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice offers useful resources addressing out-of-state practice.
(3) Join a local bar referral service
The referrals you get from these sources are often of higher quality than the average cold call. See my Marketing Resources page for online lawyer listings to advertise on, including Avvo, Martindale, etc.
OFFER USEFUL CONTENT
Rather than circulating advertisements per se, it is probably more effective to offer valuable information and content to prospective clients — or, perhaps even better, to the people you can connect you to potential clients (e.g., if you have an ERISA or estate planning practice, target financial advisors, who might then invite you to meet their clients). One way to do this is to
(4) Send regular emails to clients through Constant Contact
Sending a monthly newsletter will keep your firm fresh in the minds of your present and past clients, increasing the odds that they will retain you for future legal needs and/or refer you to others.
Another way to distribute content is to
(5) Create a blog
I consistently see reports that keeping a blog is one of the most effective ways to attract clients. If you choose to put in the time and effort, here are some tips on setting up a blog:
First, choose a topic you are passionate about and/or can generate the momentum to add to on a regular basis. (Search engines favor sites that are updated frequently.) To maintain a constant stream of content I:
- take notes throughout the day,
- troll Twitter, and
- set up an RSS feed reader for all the online periodicals and blogs I follow. I use Google Reader (google.com/reader). Google Reader doesn’t provide the best viewing interface, though, so to view my Google Reader RSS feed I use an app called Reeder, which I downloaded onto my computer and set up to automatically import my Google Reader subscriptions. Nicole Black uses Feedly, a browser add-on that serves the same purpose. Feedly allows you to organize your subscriptions into different categories and it “learns” as you interact with it so that it can offer you the most relevant content based on your usage habits. She also recommends Zite, a mobile app that provides your Google Reader subscriptions in an easy-to-use magazine interface.
Second, unless you know how to code, find a CMS (content management system). I opened an account in WordPress, a popular CMS. The advantage of WordPress is that it has been around for a while, which means there are a lot of resources online to help you figure out how to get the most out of it. I played around with Tumblr and Weebly, but felt most comfortable navigating WordPress. Blogger Nicole Black uses Typepad.
I added Zemanta to my WordPress blog. Zemanta is a browser add-on that suggests images, links, tags, and related articles to your blog post as you write it. This is where I get most of my stock photos (which some suggest you should never use — but I sometimes do, though I agree that in many cases uses a personal photo or no photo at all is better).
Third, to personalize the design of my blog, I went to DesignCrowd, where I solicited bids from designers. The designer whose design I chose also offered to implement the design in WordPress for me for an additional small fee. The total cost of design + coding was $560.
Fourth, to generate traffic to your blog, you can stream your content through JDSupra, which integrates with LinkedIn and Facebook and syndicates your content through their Twitter feeds. You can also raise your search rankings by setting up Google Authorship, which requires that you first set up a Google+ page (see above). I also advertise my content on Twitter. Which leads me to . . .
I’ve seen mixed opinions on how effective social media is in garnering business. Lawyer Ary Rosenbaum thinks “social media should be an integral element of any law firm’s marketing campaign, regardless of size.” On the other hand, the partners at my firm eschew social media and seems to have no trouble finding business.
If you decide to engage in social media, here are some tips for making it work for you:
(6) Open a Twitter account
Most of the Twitter “tips” I’ve seen online are pretty self-evident: to attract followers, offer interesting content, not boring/incessantly self-promotional content; engage other Twitterers by commenting on their posts; use # tags to make your content more easily searchable; etc. Also, spend a lot of time creating a catchy bio. For some inspiration, here are some of my favorite Twitter bios:
“Bloomberg’s U.K. bank regulation reporter by day, asleep by night.”
“Aspiring successful person.”
@cshirky: “Bald. Unreliable. Easily distracte”
(7) Claim a Google+ Local page
According to marketing strategist Samantha Miller, Google+ Local is the new Yellow Pages. It is indexed and visitors can access a law firm’s Google+ Local page by searching on Google.com, Google Maps, Google+, or in mobile apps. You can boost search rankings on your page by personalizing it with more photos, filling it with strategic keywords, updating regularly, and garnering reviews and followers.
You cannot add people to your business page circles until they add you, so to get people to add your business page to their circles it can be useful to build relationships on a Google+ personal page and introduce your business page’s content on your personal page where appropriate. You can look for people to engage on the Google+ shared circles database or by searching in Google+’s search field for mentions of your brand or industry-related keywords. You can save your searches: then they appear on your left sidebar for quick reference. You can then monitor your saved searches daily and respond to mentions to keep the conversation going. See more at Jason Miller, “5 Tips for Using Google+ to Boost Your Marketing,” Social Media Examiner, Oct. 18, 2012.