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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  • Most of my law firm's clients are middle-aged or elderly, and aren't very active in social media. Why should I bother to set up a Facebook page for our firm if no one is going to look at it?

    Your question includes an unwarranted assumption: that very few middle-aged or elderly people know about (much less care to join) social media sites like Facebook. That's a common misapprehension among twenty- and thirty-something professionals, who wake up one day to discover that their parents have sent them a “friend” request!

    The fact is that, while Facebook doesn't have anything near the market penetration among older people as it does among high-school and college students and young adults, those demographics are changing every day.

    Part of what makes Facebook so popular is that it's so easy to use: even a great-grandma can easily create an account and populate her “friends” list with the touch of a button. Whether or not she will be actively engaged on Facebook, constantly updating her status and commenting on friends' posts, will be a matter of her personal proclivities—but keep in mind that retired people can have a lot of time on their hands, and Facebook is an easy way to keep in touch with friends and relatives.

    That's why your law firm should have a Facebook presence, even if your clients aren't in the prime of their lives. You'd be surprised at how many people use Facebook to find basic information—such as, say, asking their friends for the name of a reputable lawyer—and you want them to be able to “share” your corporate page easily and quickly. You can even cultivate potential clients by engaging in conversations with them on your (or their) Facebook page, and then inviting them to visit your real-life office.

  • I can’t imagine turning down cases. Will it really help my legal business?

    It depends on the kind of business you want. If you don’t mind taking all the little cases—if you are truly happy working as much as you do for the money you earn—then there’s nothing wrong with that. However, most attorneys who come into the Great Legal Marketing fold are here for a reason: they want to improve their practice rather than just get by.

    When attorneys first start out on their own, they are told time and time again that they should sacrifice everything to maintain their practice. Their health, free time, family life and even sleep are considered non-essential when it comes to serving the public.

    After a few years of this, attorneys are reluctant to change the way they work—understandably, because it got them this far. But while building a great practice requires dedication, it shouldn’t require 100 percent of your life. That’s not practical, and it’s not fair. You got into this business for a reason, and YOU should dictate how your business is run.

    Streamlining your business can be as easy asking yourself:

    Now that you know the answers, your best law firm marketing strategy is to attract these kinds of cases—and reject all others. Focus only on your ideal client’s case, questions, and problems, making him feel as if your marketing was created just for him.

  • What is “branding,” and will it help my bankruptcy law firm’s ad campaign?

    Branding is a term used when a business aims to dominate a specific market. These businesses employ many different strategies to “funnel” the customers they want in a direction that makes them find you everywhere they turn. In successful cases, the customers associate the product with the company (such as getting a Starbucks coffee), instead of the other way around (a coffee at Starbucks).

    If you’re going to employ celebrity branding to your bankruptcy law firm marketing, you have to ensure that everyone in your area thinks of you as THE bankruptcy attorney. This involves marketing directly to your ideal customer, and establishing yourself as a celebrity both in your field and in your community.

    People love celebrities. After all, a celebrity attracts interest, lowers consumer resistance, and creates an instant relationship with the consumer—all things that your branding should do with you at the helm.

    The first step in creating your brand is to ask yourself two questions:

    Now that you know who and where your client is, you can:

    • Develop specific ways for your prospect to find you
    • Help him learn more about you and decide why you are the right choice for him
    • Make it easy to reach you via an online chat box, phone number, email link, and a free offer

  • I'm a personal injury lawyer in Dayton, Ohio. I'm currently building my practice's website, but I see that the phrase “Dayton personal injury lawyer” is dominated by one of my competitors. Am I ethically bound not to use this phrase myself?

    Not at all! Let's say you're not a lawyer, but the owner of a bicycle repair shop. When you launch your shop's website, are you ethically and legally bound not to use the key phrase “Dayton bicycle repair shop” because it's also being used by your competitor down the street? The fact is that “Dayton bicycle repair shop” is a simple description of your business, not a phrase that can be copyrighted or legally protected.

    For this reason, it is perfectly legal, and ethical, to build your site around the phrase “Dayton personal injury lawyer” and give your competition a run for its money. In fact, if you have been wondering how to get personal injury clients, targeting the most obvious key phrase may be essential

    Of course, what you also need to consider is just how firmly entrenched that competing firm is for that particularly search phrase, and whether you can use cutting-edge SEO tactics to dislodge them from their #1 position in Google search results. It may be that the competing firm has been coasting for quite a while, and the reason they're showing high up in Google results for “Dayton personal injury lawyer” isn't because they have particularly good SEO, but because no one else has targeted that phrase. In that case, you may very well succeed in beating them at their own game, and placing higher in results for that phrase.

    On the other hand, if you examine your competitor's site and determine that their SEO practices are rock-solid, you need to make a decision. You can either launch a full frontal assault by building your site around “Dayton personal injury lawyer,” or you can do an end-run around the perimeter and concentrate on less competitive phrases like “Dayton car accident lawyer” or “Dayton work accident lawyer.”

  • I've been in charge of my law firm's blog for a few months now, and my partners are concerned that no one has yet left a comment on any of my entries. Is there something I can do about this?

    Probably not, unless you're willing to be slightly devious. The fact is that the vast majority of posts in the blogosphere, legal or otherwise, don't garner any comments, for one of two reasons: either no one is actually reading the blog (which is a more common occurrence than you might think), or people are actually reading the blog, but aren't inspired to leave a comment.

    You and your partners shouldn't necessarily be concerned about this, unless you can establish, using your webmaster tools, that the blog is going completely unread—in which case you may need to reconsider your blogging strategy and your SEO practices.

    If it turns out that a healthy number of people are reading your blogs, but not leaving any comments, you might be able to prime the pump by inviting comments at the end of your posts (“What do you think about this news story? Post your comment below!”) If this still doesn't work, you can ask a friend, colleague or family member to “plant” a comment, which isn't in any way unethical. The fact is that people are more likely to comment on blog posts that already have one or two comments, since they feel that an active discussion is going on—whereas they're afraid their insights will go unread on a blog that has zero comments!

    All in all, you shouldn't let yourself, or your partners, get too worked up about the comments on your blog posts—especially if the numbers seem paltry compared to Gawker or the Huffington Post.

  • Does my bankruptcy law firm’s radio ad have to be in my own voice, or can someone else do it?

    There are a number of reasons attorneys don’t want to perform in their own advertisements. You can certainly hire someone else to do it; the question is, who should it be?

    Before you make your decision, you should ask yourself what kind of tone you want for your ad. It must sound natural (even though it is scripted) and personal (despite being read to thousands of listeners). Many artists do this for a living, including:

    • DJs. It may be worth it to have the DJ at your station read your ad copy for you. Loyal listeners often perceive their DJs as family members. One caveat: hiring the DJ will likely not be included in the price of your ad.
    • Voice actors. If your main concern is having a representative with a strong, clear voice, there are always voice actors you can interview for the spot. If you don’t want to spend the extra money, use someone from your point-of-contact staff.
    • Celebrities. This is the most expensive of all of your options, but for good reason: people love hearing the voice of a celebrity. Choosing someone with a caring personality encourages your listeners to trust whatever he or she says.

    If you want to conserve your firm’s marketing budget, the best option is to read the ad yourself. After all, your clients are going to want to hear you eventually if your name is on the front door—and speaking to them directly establishes you as a local celebrity (without the need to pay for one).

  • What is viral marketing, and can I use it to promote my law firm?

    You’ve probably heard of “viral videos”: short video clips that spread through the Internet via YouTube or other sharing sites. Viral marketing works basically the same way: people voluntarily share your marketing materials (such as your articles, videos, or website) from person-to-person. This is considered the brass ring of marketing: people are spreading your message without your lifting a finger or spending any additional money.

    Here are a few ways you can facilitate viral marketing for your law firm:

    • Sharing widgets. Every post and page of your website should have a button to “share” the story with others with only one click. The easier it is to promote an item, the likelier it is your readers will do so. Most of these widgets also have running tabulators, telling readers how trusted you are as a source.
    • Encourage “likes.” You should already have a Facebook page for your business, and you must also encourage interaction. Post a link to a controversial blog post or news item, and encourage people to comment. Counting your “likes” will help you track the popularity of the post.
    • Email it. Even those readers who are not on any social media sites will have email addresses. Catering to them is as easy as having a “send by email” button on your pages, with the added bonus that emails are easily forwarded (and accounts are usually checked several times per day).

    You should keep in mind that it’s not enough to present the option of sharing; people won’t forward your materials to their friends unless they want to. An overt advertisement is unlikely to get passed on, but a current news story, local event information, a funny quote or a cute picture will circle the Internet several times. In order for you to be shared, you have to stay interesting.

  • Creating a Press Release Feels Like I am Bragging. Shouldn't I Avoid Being That Kind of Attorney?

    Effective law firm marketing can include self-promotion.

    Here, you have two choices. You can continue to hold onto your dignity and refuse to issue a press release whenever you've scored a “win” on behalf of your clients. Or you can hold your nose, get in front of your computer, and start drafting releases that will make you—and not your competitors—the “go-to” expert when local reporters need a quote for a newspaper article.

    Does marketing feel a little too much like bragging? Learn why it is important to be your own biggest fan.The bottom line is that your competitors’ public relations strategy is working. Sure, they may be puffing themselves up, and overstating their accomplishments, and indulging in bouts of self-aggrandization, but they're also getting some very valuable coverage. Every time one of these lawyer's names appears in a news story, that amounts to free advertising—and also an implied endorsement by the newspaper because the average reader will think, “Gee, they wouldn't quote that guy if he didn't know what he's talking about.” The result is that this lawyer will get more inquiries from prospective clients, and your phone will be silent.

    Multiply this trend by a few years, and you may be out of business entirely!

    A well-crafted press release doesn't have to be dishonest, unethical, or exaggerated—just state the facts (you won X amount in this lawsuit, using this specific strategy, etc.) and let the chips fall where they may. In the worst case, your press release will be ignored or buried underneath a pile of other documents—but in the best case, a reporter will email you or call your number and wind up quoting you in his story.

  • One of my past clients said that she read something negative about my firm online. I checked my website’s comments and my social networks, but I couldn’t find anything. What can I do?

    You’ve got ads online, in the phone book, and in a local circular—and of course, you’ve got an involved social media campaign to interact with past customers and anyone in their circles. But what about other places people are talking about you—places where you cannot control the content, or even be aware what is being said about you?

    Here are a few places you may not have considered people sharing information about you.

    • Forums. A forum “thread” may be started on any website, and allows users to exchange information. Although it is meant to be helpful, much of the information in forums is opinion rather than fact.
    • Business review sites. You have probably heard of the Better Business Bureau, but there are many other online business rating sites that are not as well-moderated.

    You should regularly do a web search of your own name and your firm’s name to make sure there is no outstanding “bad press.” If someone does leave a less-than-satisfied review, always contact him quickly to address the problem. If the conversation takes place on your website, leave the comments up once it is resolved; responding well to opposition shows your customers the strength of your character.

    Remember: the best marketing for lawyers is essentially a series of signs pointing people to your front door. What you write on those signs is important, but it’s equally important to know where to place them.

  • Every time there's a deadly traffic accident in my town, the local news media always picks the same personal-injury lawyer for a quote or a live interview. How can I get myself on the “go-to” list?

    Well, this is not something you an accomplish overnight. If your competitor is constantly appearing on TV and being quoted in news articles, it will be very difficult to dislodge him from his “celebrity” status, which was probably extremely hard-won. It's very likely that this lawyer labored in obscurity for years, slowly building his web presence, writing numerous blogs and articles, and sending out press releases whenever he had a successful outcome to a case (or even just to offer his perspective on breaking news stories). This lawyer also probably spent a fair amount of time cultivating the media, by shaking hands at local fundraisers or otherwise being active in the community.

    There are two ways to go about building your celebrity status. First, you need to emulate your competitor by building a solid 'brand” presence on the web, which will involve commenting frequently on breaking news stories in blogs and articles, and sending out press releases to trumpet your firm's accomplishments.

    Second, you may want to take a cue from this other lawyer by starting to cultivate the local media yourselfyour local TV news producer or newspaper editor may not even be aware that you exist, and that you can offer another perspective on local news developments. You don't want to come on too strong—”How come you always call the other guy and not me?”—but a more gentle, friendly approach can work wonders.