Originally Posted December 5th, 2009
Just started following a bankruptcy attorney, Jay Fleischman, who writes a marketing blog for attorneys at www.legalpracticepro.com
He was explaining some tips he had for the Christmas season and this is what he had to say…
Thanksgiving begins the strange time of year when most lawyers don’t have much new business to handle. People are more concerned with their holiday shopping than with their legal issues, so the pipeline dries up a bit. You can rattle around in your office surfing the Internet all day or you can take some action to make sure your legal marketing efforts continue to roll on once people come back to reality when the ball drops on January 1.
Here are 10 of my legal marketing tips for slow times:
- Review your business card: Your business card is for many people the first impression they have of you. When you hand it out, the recipient often puts it into a pocket or wallet and forgets about it until later. Does your card show your field of practice? Your direct dial phone number? Your website address and email account? If not, get cracking on an update.
- Update your website: When you’re busy, your home on the web goes stale. Check the bio section to make sure everything is fresh and up-to-date. If you’ve spoken at an event, had a decision published, or done something interesting then you need to make sure it’s online. One more thing – if your picture wasn’t taken in this decade then it’s probably a good idea to replace it with something more current.
- Look at title and description tags: The title and description tags for your web pages are critical to your search engine optimization success. Take a look at them and make sure they’re optimized with your keywords and other critical information to create not only better placement in the search engines, but also to spur searchers to click on your listing rather than someone else’s.
- Install Analytics: Google Analytics is simply the best way to track your website or blog traffic. It provides a mess of tools and data to help you keep your site on top of the search engines.
- Prepare Client Satisfaction Surveys: Whether you survey your clients online or by snail mail, getting feedback is critical to improving your processes. You’ll never know how to do a better job for your clients than asking them. Caution: send them out after Christmas or they’ll get lost in the shuffle of holiday cards.
- Brainstorm blog post topics: One of the reasons you don’t blog is because you don’t have time to think of stuff to write. Well, now you’ve got time. No excuses!
- Call a colleague for coffee: Making a human connection is the cornerstone of getting referrals. Go out and meet a colleague for an hour – not to talk shop, but just to talk. It’s the original social networking platform!
- Hop onto Twitter and start playing around: 140 characters never seemed so intimidating. But the good news is that you can’t break the Internet. Sign up, log on and poke around a bit. Listen and learn, then dip a toe in the water.
- Clean your office: That mess in your office isn’t going to get any prettier when the new clients come flooding back in January. Clean up – it makes a better impression on people who are deciding whether you’re organized enough to be trusted with their legal issues.
- Relax: This lull in business isn’t going to last for long. You’ll need all your energy if you’re going to do good work for people when they show up asking for your help.
I know he wasn’t writing a book but there were some tips in the article that none of the lawyers I know would even know how to do… such as (tip #4) installing google analytics. I have been in a form of marketing myself and other companies for the past 10 years and I can tell you that I know how to use google analytics but for those that can even figure it out, do they understand how interpret the data and make the adjustments needed to bring traffic to their site. That is where someone like me, a multi-tasking computer experienced former business owner who just happens to be on his way to law school, comes in handy.
I designed business cards off and on for 10 years and I couldn’t agree with Jay more. I lost faith in any business with a bad business card. It is so much worse when dealing with a popinjay lawyer and then seeing their business card is better suited as a drink coaster. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy who has personally hired two different firms in the past year after talking to about 15 and quite a few more when looking for an internship. I am interviewing them more than they are interviewing me.
Updating a website is important but I am wondering why the posting didn’t mention hiring a professional. Why not even barter services out. Contract reviews, consults, restructure a new web design firm into an LLC, collection services: the list could go on and on. If you expect to be hired by people and that are not dying in the next decade or at least moving into a home, then you need to market to those who are internet friendly. I am waiting for the ABA to come out with a study on who searches FindLaw or ExpertLaw before deciding to hire an attorney and then how do they go about finding one. I know from experience that your clients are coming by referral from your other clients, then by referral of people who just happen to know you (social and business networking post to come soon), then perhaps some form of internet search, advertising follows, and the phone book is last… well maybe not by those who are sitting in jail looking to make a phone call. Are you listed online yet? Where you should be? Do you want to pay a paralegal $15 an hour while you earn your $200 or would you rather lose $185 per hour. I can hear it now, “I will just learn how to do it myself.” How long will it take for you to learn what to do, how to do it, and then understand the follow up processes to keep your traffic up? Most paralegals aren’t going to know this information but if you can find one, you may have struck gold. I will make a note to explain some of the best ways to get found online and it isn’t in metatags anymore for google.
Title and Description tags – As I mentioned at the end of tip #2, it isn’t all in the tags but titles, right next to the Internet Explorer logo, makes a huge difference in content matching the search terms; and so does anything that one has bolded in the regular text of the page or italicized. BIG TIP! If you have a flash website, pitch it. Whoever sold it to you didn’t care about your business. You are an attorney, not a famous artist with pictures and movies to watch. The fact is, Flash based websites are not search engine friendly and will prevent you from being found. BIG TIP 2! The most important aspect of this is that you have RELEVENT content that is text based all over your site or other places that link back to your contact information or your website. Imagine for a second what someone types into google when looking for an attorney…. using my town… ANDERSON INDIANA BANKRUPTCY LAWYER. Of course FindLaw comes up and then come the lawyer list… Most people will only go through the top 4-8 before hiring someone if they are ready to retain that attorney. How big is the town you live in? Is your city name similar to what could be a last name? Getting to the top of that list is just a little tougher now.
Tip #4 Discussed that one
Client Satisfaction Surveys… just now starting to make them when times are slow is a little late. If business is booming right now, implement them right now. Whether just mailed back to you, sent by email, or an “exit consult” done with someone on your staff. Should also have had a consult on why you were hired after you get your retainer. If you understand what you did to get the client, maybe you can find a way of getting a few more.
Blog posting… all I am going to say right now is it is a search engine’s friend to read text that is recently updated. I don’t pretend to be an expert blogger and I am always worried I am giving away too much information and not getting paid for my work.
Call a colleague for coffee – This should have been listed as Tip #1. Since most of your clients come by referral, you need to have people falling in love with in all kinds of social circles. Got kids in sports? Got kids in school? Belong to an HOA? Ever hear of BNI? Can you take a position within your local bar? How many charities have you wanted to donate to? Find a way to be more social. Find a way to pass your new lovely business card (that follows a complete theme with all of your other branding material) to everyone. It should spread faster than a cold in a daycare.
Your current clients may love your tweets but new clients won’t be finding you with twitter. Knowing how and when to use it though can help you in many other ways though… even legal research. Type your legal issue into a twitter post search field and see what happens to see my point.
Clean your office should have been listed as tip #2. It was such a turn off to go into a dirty clutterd office… what is so sad is that they often don’t think it is so bad. If you can’t eat off your desk this second, get cleaning. Can’t find a better clue to a scatter brained or mentally disturbed person than to see more than 3 books on getting rid of clutter in a messy office… getting those books just added to the clutter. Which behavior disorder is that? I can have a cluttered desk at times but… I will leave the story of the lawyer whose office looked like he used to have an office but the furniture was missing and there were stab wounds from a knife, and the knife, all over the wall. That was a red flag. What kind of clients are you trying to attract? Your office is a reflection of the clients you serve.
Relax – well, keep yourself rested and take a nap in the middle of the day if you can train yourself to handle it responsibly and not like you are depressed. Recent research studies have proven that a 30 minute power nap in the middle of the day will increase your memory capabilities and react more quickly to questions you already know the answers. Might be a health benefit every attorney could use.
Just felt like adding my 2 cents and a few more.
Jay Fleischman’s original posting can be found at http://www.legalpracticepro.com/10-legal-marketing-tips-for-slow-times/ His blogs are well worth looking over a few times.