Answers to Your Attorney Marketing Questions from Great Legal Marketing
Ben Glass and his team at Great Legal Marketing work with an elite mix of attorneys from virtually every practice area from personal injury to bankruptcy and beyond. We are definitely not for everyone, in fact, while we attract many who "want" to get better we know that only about 20% of any population will actually do the work necessary. The difference in results has nothing to do with where your law practice is located or how much experience you have. This is all about the choices that YOU make.
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How come your monthly marketing newsletter isn't glossy like all of the "good" magazines?
I've seen the fancy "marketing" and "practice management" magazines. They look really pretty...they really do.
Mine is about ideas.
Mine is for study.
Mine is intended as a "take action"document. Each issue is packed with 16 pages of articles, ideas and exhibits. I cover everything from "marketing 101," to the very advanced techniques, to ethics. I also include eight pages of exhibits, many drawn from outside the legal industry, that I dissect and improve upon for you.
I've heard that there's too much stuff and that people are overwhelmed by your materials, especially that 'Toolkit" that new coaching members get free.
I've heard that, too and, being someone who spends tens of thousands of dollars a year to improve my marketing and legal education, I don't get it...but I DO hear it.
Here's my response: Do you really want to have the practice of your dreams and be more successful? Having the life of your dreams is much more than reading a few books, attending a few seminars, and hoping that things change. This is all about how you use your time and feed your mind. Most members spend a couple of hours a month implementing new ideas. Some, particularly in my mastermind groups, block out hours per day, some with their entire staffs, to change their lives. Life is a choice.
The second point I would make is that you are welcome to use everything, and many do, but you are also welcome to use the material piecemeal. As long as you sit down and make a "marketing plan" that is right for you in your place in your career, then you can't but help be more successful.
Are you a part owner of or have any interest in Foster Web Marketing?
No. I was Foster Web Marketing's (www.FosterWebMarketing.com) first attorney website client (even before there was a Foster Web Marketing) and have been a client ever since.
Tom Foster and I are great friends, consult regularly and mastermind (with Rem Jackson) on a quarterly basis, but I have no ownership interest in his company.
That having been said, I do think that Tom's company is the best web development company for attorneys in the market. He offers the best combination of design, tools, and coaching that I've seen. As one member recently told me, if I left Foster Web Marketing, where would I go?
Ben, if your law practice is so successful, why do you teach marketing? Everywhere I turn, I see a new "lawyer marketing guru" running seminars offering products and sending e-mails "
First, as my friend, Dan Kennedy, pointed out in a recent issue of his No B. S. Marketing Letter, "You are 100% right to question the proliferation of 'marketing and practice management gurus', but you ought to be very happy there are so many legitimate ones who have followed a path I laid out, to package up their successful methodology ... and make it available within those industries to peers."
Second, you ask a fair question. The last few years have certainly seen an explosion of legal marketing and practice consultants, seminar and teleseminar givers and a variety of self-appointed and "certified" gurus selling themselves and their information to other lawyers. Many are not even lawyers. Some who are (or were) lawyers must sell their marketing services because incomes from their core businesses either never existed, have recently vanished or are slipping away. So, hey, why not be a marketing guru? They see others doing it, maybe even attend one or two of their seminars or marketing conferences to see what's going on, set up a website and, whammo, they are in business. Many have never actually risked a dime marketing and running their own law practices.
Well, I definitely do not need your money this week to pay last week's bills and I've not created some big fat mess of overhead with staff and seminars and tele-seminars all over the place to support infrastructure, nor do I have the time or desire to send three e-mails a week, all pitching the next great thing (i..e., something else that I can sell you). You probably know my story by now. I am a practicing personal injury and medical malpractice attorney in Fairfax, Virginia. I started my own solo practice in 1995 after working for and with someone else for 12 years. I've got a small office about six miles from my house and just a couple of miles from the public high school where three of my kids have graduated and the other six will graduate at some point. I've been married to Sandi since 1981 and in addition to our five biological children, we've adopted four children from China. When I got the "entrepreneurial itch" and started my own practice, I had few cases, a "no fee if no recovery" Yellow Pages ad, and zero knowledge about how to market and build a law practice efficiently.
I learned a few things quickly:
1. Law is one of the most competitive businesses you could be engaged in.
2. There are plenty of vultures out there trying to take your marketing dollar to get your name out there.
3. The legal ethical theorists want you to make your marketing look just like everyone else's.
4. Most lawyer marketing is either so bland as to be worthless or so tasteless as to be harmful to the rest of the hardworking profession.
Fortunately, I was smart enough to understand that just copying what other lawyers were doing with their marketing would amount to nothing more than a huge gamble each month. I started looking at what other successful entrepreneurs were doing to build solid, profitable businesses. I discovered that the most successful business owners were great at marketing their businesses. These men and women simply made a decision to not play in the "we are the best, just choose us; please, oh, please" random chance marketing game.
So I began to change they way I marketed my practice. It was a little scary at first because there was no proven model for this type of marketing for lawyers. I tried to find it! So I went out and spent hundreds of hours and spent tens of thousands of dollars to learn, implement and refine this new way of marketing for lawyers.
I changed everything for my practice, from the message of the website right down to the language we use in speaking to new prospects. Because this had not been done before, it was a HUGE gamble for me.
Today, over 26 years into a very successful law career, the practice thrives, in large part, because of a creative, interesting and compelling marketing program that not only puts my firm in front of other firms in my niche, but puts all of my marketing on autopilot so that I can focus my attention and creativity on turning good cases into great cases for my clients. I no longer worry about where the next case is coming from and, in fact, the most pressing day-to-day problem now is a "capacity problem." I guess I could grow the practice by hiring more people, but I kind of like it the way it is. I come and go as I like, love the clients that I have accepted into my practice and get home in time for dinner. Like I said above, I'm not about to bury myself in overhead if I don't have to.
So why wouldn't I share what I was doing? Here's what was happening:
Lawyers who began to take notice of my marketing and success would call to "pick my brain" or "take me to lunch" in order to get me to show them what I was doing. I enjoyed that for a while. (It was all about my ego!) As my practice got busier and busier and my marketing got more comprehensive, I learned that letting others drop by to "pick my brain" was a huge waste of my time. Most left, and as far as I could tell, they never changed anything. (Too much work, I guess.)
A few, however, asked for more. One day, one of them offered me money to package up what I was doing and give it to them in a notebook. That sounded cool and I immediately jumped to the BIGGER idea: Taking that package and making it available to other lawyers. This would eliminate my having to spend hours on end explaining everything from A-Z, while at the same time permitting those who really want to invest in their marketing education to learn and prosper. This would be "win-win." I would make a little bit of money if they bought, and they could improve their practices if they studied and implemented.
In October 2005, I made the "plunge," putting pencil to paper, and designed Great Legal Marketing. Just four months later, I offered my product to the marketplace by letting a few lawyers with whom I had corresponded over the years know what I was doing. I started small and was vastly underpriced. I began working with a small handful of lawyers and six months later we had our first in-person mastermind group meeting. There we were, eight of us around the table, sharing, for the first time, extraordinary marketing secrets that each of us uses in our own geographic and practice niches.
I was off and running with Great Legal Marketing... but always in the context of a part-time business underneath a full-time law practice and a really full-time family life.
I'm a [insert your legal niche] lawyer, will your Marketing work for me?
Only if you pay attention and apply what I teach you.
I'm going to give you a deep, dark secret: Good marketing works across legal niches and, indeed, across industries. While I started Great Legal Marketing to be a source of information for personal injury attorneys (because that's what I am), we have attracted and now have coaching and mastermind members in virtually every consumer niche, including, for example:
1. DUI and Reckless Driving (Bob Battle: BobBattleLaw.com)
2. Estate Planning (David Frees: PaEstatePlanners.com)
3. Divorce and Family Law (Charlie Hofheimer, VirginiaDivorceAttorney.com)
4. Product Liability (John Bisnar, BestAttorney.com)
5. Social Security Disability (Sharon Christie, SharonChristieLaw.com)
6. Bankruptcy (Jim Brown, CastleLaw.net)
7. Criminal Law (Will Davis, DavisLawFirm.com)
8. International Immigration and Business (Vaughan de Kirby, DeKirby.net)
9. ERISA Disability (Nancy Cavey, CaveyLaw.com)
10. Workers Compensation (Michele Lewane, InjuredWorkersLawFirm.com)
11. Franchise Law for Small Business (Charles Internicola, NewYorkFranchiseLaw.com)
12. Maritime Law Brian Beckcom, (VBAttorney.com)
13. Child Injury Attorney (Jim Dodson, FloridaChildInjuryChildLaw.com)
Typically, how large are the books you publish and what does it cost to publish them? Also, how do you typically determine a marketing budget?
Most of the books that I and others across the country have published fall somewhere in the 30- to 60 page range. They are softbound books. Many of my members are using a publisher in Pennsylvania (Word Association Publishing) and typically you can make an initial order for a quantity of as few as 250. The first order, which includes formatting the book and designing a cover, costs somewhere around $1,000, plus approximately $2.50 per book. While pricing for additional orders varies by quantity, I am typically spending about $2.50 per book. The book can be written in a weekend, but most of my members take about 6 - 8 weeks to go from concept to finished products, based on my models.
Determining a marketing budget is probably the wrong question to ask. What you will typically hear is that you should spend between 7 and 10 percent of gross revenues (or is it profits? I forget) on marketing. I think this is totally wrong. If for every dollar you spent you knew you would get back $1.50, how much money would you spend? The answer is you would spend all of the money you had and then you would borrow more. The teaching point is that it is the message which is important. Once you have engineered a good message and a system that will help you stand out in the crowd, then prove to people that you are the wise man or woman at the top of the mountain and then put every single contact into a database that is marketed to over and over, then you make more money and spend even more money on marketing.
The ultimate object is to be able to outspend your competition, frankly. What the marketing vultures (i.e., the folks selling you the marketing) want you to do is to spend indiscriminately up to the "magic threshold" of 7 to 10 percent, or whatever it is. Once you have a system and you are tracking results, then you put more money into your winners and you drop your losers. One of the other lies of the marketing vultures is that you need to run an ad six, or ten, or thirty times in order to form an "impression" and to get people to remember you. Our rule is that if an ad doesn't work the first time, running it 30 times isn't going to make the ad any better. Since we are doing "direct response marketing," it is pretty easy to quickly tell whether you have found the right message to provoke the response.
The other part about that question is what elements would you consider a part of a "marketing budget?" I spend $15,000 to $20,000 a year on my own education about marketing, primarily by being a part of several mastermind groups and attending high-level marketing and Internet seminars. So this is not money that is dollar-for-dollar going to buy marketing media, but it is money that typically returns to me at least five- or six fold every year. It is part of my marketing budget.
How do you get on the first page of Google's organic search?
There is no one magic bullet to getting on Google's first page. There are about 200 things you can do, and lawyers who are thinking about marketing do all of them. Basically, however, think about this: Google is trying to return relevant search results when someone types a query into its search box. It will continue to maintain its search engine dominance as long as it produces good results for people. So, if someone types in "How do you bake a chocolate cake?" the results on the first page had better be answering that question or people will start to use other search engines to do their queries.
So, Google is looking to answer people's queries accurately. Google doesn't have an army of human beings reviewing the millions of new web pages that are generated each day to determine what is an "authoritative site," so they rely on computer algorithms. The exact algorithm is a deeply-held secret and changes with some frequency. As Google discovers people who are trying to game the system, they fix the algorithm. You should download the Google Toolbar (free download). One of its features is that it has a bar which will show you the Page Rank of any particular web page. This is a figure between zero and ten, showing you, generally, how Google ranks the power of that page. So, getting on the first page of Google means proving to Google that your page has an authoritative answer for that question. Some of the things that we believe that Google's computers "like" are:
1. Lots of content. In fact, lots of content that appears to be new and fresh is very helpful. This is why blogs will tend to rank highly and rank highly quickly.
2. Inbound links from quality sites. When others in the Internet universe recognize your site as authoritative, they will link to it. Getting inbound links to your site from high Page Rank sites is very valuable.
3. Using your keywords in your header, meta description and page name. This does not mean keyword cramming, but if we are looking for directions on "how to bake a chocolate cake" and there is a page that has chocolate cake and bake as part of its actual name, (i.e., its address) and "bake" and "chocolate cake" show up in the meta description and in the paragraph header, and again in the main opening paragraph, then there's a pretty good chance that the page is about how to make a chocolate cake.
4. Longevity of the site. The longer a web site has been active, the more likely it is to be a legitimate, authoritative site. When a new web site is launched, it is in the Google "sand box." This means that it is not even indexed yet by Google. This can take months.
So, without knowing anything else, the number one thing you can do to get your site ranked on the first page of Google's organic search is to add relevant fresh content endlessly to a site. You should be able to do this without contacting your webmaster. You should be able to use your browser to do updating yourself!
How do you know if your web site marketer is getting the best results for your advertising dollars, e.g., ads on Google or Yahoo?
This is actually pretty easy to track. Your web site marketer should have your pay per click advertising campaign set up so that when someone comes to your site and makes further inquiry, either by requesting a book or free report or by filling out your contact-us-form, that you know that they originally clicked through your Google or Yahoo ad. In other words, your pay per click, like all other marketing, must be trackable. This is easy to do from the webmaster's side, but you need to be sure that you have an offer of some sort at your site because eventually when you do work for the client and make some money, you should be able to go back to see exactly how it was they found you. This is true whether you're running a Yellow Pages ad, a TV ad, or a Google pay per click ad.
How much staff do you use to send out materials and follow up?
I have one staff person who works about 30 hours a week who is totally devoted to marketing. I have another staff person who works about 15 hours a week who is almost totally devoted to marketing. Of their marketing time, it is roughly split 50/50 between marketing my law practice and marketing Great Legal Marketing. I also rely heavily on my CRM software (www.infusionsoft.com) to keep my life organized and to be able to put every new contact who has sought me out into a marketing sequence that delivers materials, both mailed and emailed, and now an outbound telephone call back to them.
I would like information on becoming a licensee of the Ben Glass books on personal injury topics. Where do I find this?
It depends on the book. "The Truth about Lawyer Advertising" is licensed to my Mastermind members and Coaching members. Mastermind members (there are currently 26 Mastermind members and the annual cost for new members is $25,000 a year) are licensed to use the book for free as long as I am listed as a co-author of the book. Coaching members pay an additional $1,000 fee under a license to use the book, with me as co-author, for as long as they remain a Coaching member. The other books (Five Deadly Sins that can Wreck Your Accident Case, Why Most Malpractice Victims Never Recover a Dime, and Robbery Without a Gun) are licensed to Mastermind and Coaching members to use without additional cost as long as they remain a member. Essentially, they take the book and "tweak it" to fit their personality and, obviously, their jurisdiction's laws. Coaching membership is currently $497 a month. I am not listed as a co-author on the personal injury, medical malpractice or insurance disability books. I am working on a joint venture to publish a consumer guide to Social Security cases.