Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Free Legal Marketing eBook


I usually use this blog to provide some thoughts on today's most critical legal marketing issues. But today, I thought I'd do something different.

Instead of offering suggestions on one legal marketing topic, today I’m going to offer my thoughts on a whole slew of them.

free legal marketing ebookAnd I am going to do it through my new ebook, Stop Searching for Needles and Start Looking at the Haystack: Integrated Strategies for Marketing Your Law Firm.

It’s not just any legal marketing ebook, mind you. It’s a comprehensive, (though also easy-to-read, lighthearted, irreverent, self-deprecating) look at how all of the many marketing elements work together to create a marketing “footprint” that goes a long way in determining success or failure.

Among other things, you’ll learn about:

  • Firm positioning and branding
  • The effects of firm “culture”
  • What makes for a good piece of communication
  • How to really measure results, the role of IT in marketing
  • The benefits and drawbacks of each marketing “tool”
  • How to get the most out of marketing vendors – you know, people like me! 
By the way, did I mention that the ebook is FREE?

And, as they say in any “How To” promotion…If you learn just one thing, it will have more than paid for itself!

So stop looking for needles and start looking at the haystack. More important, start growing your law practice. Really growing your practice.
Order the FREE eBook!

And be sure to do all those important things:  Retweet this offer or forward the book to any lawyers and other legal marketers looking to grow their practice; “Like” us on Facebook, “Follow” us on Twitter, and “Connect” with us on LinkedIn. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

6 Ways to Cross-Sell Your Firm’s Services

Many law firms that offer a multiplicity of practice areas often have difficulty cross-selling these disparate services to their roster of clients. Unfortunately, while getting a client whom you’ve provided legal services in one area to now utilize your firm for another may not be as “exciting” as obtaining a new client altogether, it nonetheless represents a viable means for increasing overall revenue. Moreover, it is usually less expensive and easier to do than seeking new clients altogether.
With that in mind, outlined below are six ways in which you can enhance your chances for successfully cross-promoting firm services:
1. Create a “Cross-Selling” Culture 
This means putting the “kabash” on attorney egos and instead rewarding/offering incentives for originating business outside of one’s own practice area. It means putting internal programs into place that allow firm attorneys to know what their colleagues are doing. And it means encouraging attorneys to look beyond the obvious in discussions with their clients. Are they thinking as an attorney looking out for his/her own interests or are they thinking as a member of a larger team?
2. Use Your Cyber “Real Estate”
Yes, your client came to your web site because they were looking for some business counsel, or a family attorney, help with a DUI, assistance on a tax matter or any of a host of a zillion other legal concerns. But that doesn’t mean they should not be exposed to the myriad of things you do. Simply having a button on your site that says “Practice Areas” is not enough – no one may ever even bother to hit or hover over that link. Find appropriate space on your home page (and other pages as well) to let site visitors know.
3. Be Smart About How You Use Your Newsletter (or E-Newsletter)
Law firms are big on getting out newsletters and e-newsletters. That’s great. Not so great are the cross-selling opportunities they waste. If your newsletter contains several articles, make sure there’s something you’ve included that alludes to some of the firm’s other practice groups. This is true even if the newsletter focuses on one particular type of law. If you typically send out material that is more akin to a client “brief” (i.e., a single article or post), look to get these out as frequently as is feasible, making sure to rotate the content (and thus each issue) around your different practice areas. Remember, in many cases (perhaps most), the recipient may not even read the content. All they may see are the headlines. If each highlights a different area of family law, why on earth would they ever even think of you when it comes to their business concerns? Note that for e-newsletters, this is particularly true. Most may go unopened. But that’s OK – if you have a compelling subject line that highlights a different area of practice every time the recipient sees your name.
4. Understand that Brochures Still Matter
We once had a client that came to us with concerns that they were leaving money on the table. Among other things, one of the tactics we suggested was to use their firm brochure to highlight its disparate practice groups. Now, there is nothing unusual about this – many firms have sales materials that describe the range of their services. The problem is however, that individuals who only see the brochure lying on the waiting room table or who peruse only one section of a multi-page sales piece may never even see all that the firm has to offer. Our solution was to create a brochure with several pages, step-cut and titled with the different practice areas so that anyone picking up the piece would have no choice but to see all the ways in which the firm might service their legal needs – just by looking at the cover of the material.
5. Use Letterhead Wisely
For all of the reasons noted above, doesn’t it make sense to find room to list your practice areas on your letterhead? It need not be in large type or take up a lot of room, but just as you might note different office locations and/or key executives, why not note your areas of focus.
6. Ask…
That’s right. Sometimes the answer is right in front of you. You don’t have to be pushy, but there is nothing wrong with asking your divorce client if he is working with anyone on his business’ legal needs; or the real estate client whether she has started to think about a succession plan; or the plaintiff in your PI case how he intends to protect his assets. All of this of course, takes us back full circle – to the importance of creating a firm culture that facilitates cross-selling.
So there you have it. Six things you can do right now.
I am sure there are others. And I’d love to hear about them. If you or your firm have come up with a brilliant cross-promotional approach idea or have a question as to how you might implement a new concept, bring it on!

Monday, February 27, 2017

To Market Consistently or to Do So in Bursts: Assessing Your Practice Area’s Purchasing Mindset

There’s a reason why disparate practice groups require different marketing approaches and it has a great deal to do with the context in which each operates. By this, I mean that the very nature by which potential clients go about deciding with whom they wish to contract for a particular kind of legal service has, or at least should have, a big influence on the types of marketing vehicles that are best to be employed. Not only that, but the practice area to be promoted may also determine when marketing activity is to be scheduled and for how long.
Allow me to explain.
Consider two examples. In the first, an estate planning or wealth management firm decides it wishes to engage in a multi-faceted marketing effort designed to generate new clients relatively quickly. Even casting aside the requisite web site and related activities for a moment, there is a wide range of marketing options available to this firm. It can invite target prospects to a seminar, offer white papers on its web site or run short bursts of advertising to suggest prospects contact the firm regarding a service the firm touts as being essential. Its message is relatively simple: “In order to create or maintain wealth, you need to do a number of things. We will advise you on what to do.”
Now consider a personal injury practice that wishes to also generate new business quickly. Here, the options to promote over the short term are much more limited. This is because no one needs (let alone thinks about) a PI attorney until that moment when one has been injured due to the fault of another. There is very little, if any advanced planning involved in the decisionmaking process. Who to hire only becomes a critical question at that moment. That is why PI firms and attorneys must implement ongoing marketing efforts so that the client is aware of them when that moment arises. And it could be at any time. Their message is basically, “We’re here when and if you need us.”
In many ways it is akin to how one goes about looking for a physician. I know before my first child was born, my wife did a lot of homework as to which pediatrician best suited us. The same can be true for an internist, an OB-GYN or a dentist. Yet, one typically doesn’t question which urologist, heart specialist or orthopedic surgeon to visit until one has a need to visit one.
This is one, albeit critical reason why marketing personal injury services usually requires greater financial outlays than a similarly sized estate planning practice. The same holds true, though perhaps to a lesser extent for criminal law. Unless you are planning to commit a crime and to being caught, you probably have not given much thought to who your defense attorney will be. Conversely, as with estate planning, a tax attorney may be able to “push” inquiries from potential clients. A family law practice? I would suggest it lies somewhere in between. Individuals considering a divorce may do considerable research into their options – but it is difficult for family lawyers to target those “considering” divorce.
Where your particular practice area falls on this spectrum of being able to promote for the short vs. the long term impacts not just the financial resources you will need, but may also determine when you implement your marketing initiatives. Going back to that tax attorney for example, the time between the end of January and April 15th usually makes sense. Family lawyers may wish to consider the period right after the holiday season. For that poor PI or criminal law firm however, there may be no especially good time to pursue such cases.
By the way, the same holds true for business-to-business practices. There are certain legal services that a business knows that it will need (e.g., transaction matters), while there are others that may make sense only at a particular moment in time (e.g., bankruptcy).
The point is, that when determining the marketing vehicles to use, how much and when to use them, as well as the kinds of costs that may be involved to effectively implement a program, it is important to have a good understanding as to the inherent nature of the client’s decisionmaking process.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Managing Partner’s Nightmare: Leaving Money on the Table

In our over 20 years of marketing law firms, one of the most often expressed concerns by managing partners is a fear that they are leaving money on the table. By this, they are usually referring to the fact that clients are associating the firm and/or individual attorneys with specific areas of focus, rather than as a resource for resolving any of a number of legal matters. This is typically seen in the client who contracts with a law practice for one legal matter and then walks down the street to contract with another regarding a different legal concern.  
Part of this may stem from compensation arrangements that do not reward internal cross-promotion and part may simply be a function of internal politics and territoriality. 
So how does the growth-inclined law practice avoid the dreaded “’shoulda’s’ ‘woulda’s’ and coulda’s?’” 
The answer lies first in creating a culture in which the firm moves from a practice area orientation to a problem-solving one. Such an orientation often requires re-educating personnel that the firm’s major focus really is on just helping people. Administrative and human resource matters should be approached with that mindset and compensation should, in large part, be based on each attorney’s capacity to do just that. That means rewarding individuals not just for the work they bring in or the work that they do, but also for the work, internal or external, that they can bring to another member of the firm’s staff. Further, in some cases, an interdisciplinary team approach to client problem-solving should be considered. And processes should be put into place that allow firm attorneys to regularly be made aware of the legal matters in which their brethren are involved. 
Second, law firms must do a better job of educating both prospects and clients as to the full range of their legal services. This means developing the kinds of materials – both online and off, which easily convey the many ways in which the firm can be of service. Specific areas of the firm’s legal expertise that are buried deep inside a firm brochure or web site do little in communicating how the firm can help an individual or business in more ways than they might have otherwise thought. Instead, law practices – particularly those with disparate areas of focus, should consider development of collateral materials that highlight its portfolio of services upfront. Ditto for the firm web site. Often, it is not enough for such content to be placed under some “Practice Area” button. That’s because the individual looking for assistance on a family law matter may never even bother to see whether the firm can also help him on his pending bankruptcy. The same holds true for the corporation seeking help with transactional matters, but not knowing (or bothering to find out) that the firm can also handle matters of litigation as well. 
One way in which we have seen law firms address such issues is through the development and dissemination of e-newsletters. Here, what matters most is not the actual content (though it should still be well thought-out and well-written), but rather the subject line on the address and the title of the main article. Recipients may never actually even read the content, but even in rejecting it, will nonetheless still be exposed to other services the firm provides. The goal here is not to drum up business immediately (though its been known to happen), but to plant the seeds among the firm’s database for that day when the need for a particular service does arise. 
Finally, in an age where everyone is (or should be) self-publishing, it is easy to communicate the individual skill sets of specific attorneys. What is mandated however, is ensuring that the ways in which such messages are disseminated, show a consistent regard for the firm at large. This means incorporating the firm’s logo, tag line, contact information (and possibly even practice areas) into individual online communications. Ultimately, it is the sum of all communications that serves as the face (and even the essence) of the organization.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making that New Year’s Marketing Resolution

New year’s resolutions are a funny thing. No matter whether they are for an individual or for a law firm, adhering to them is difficult. For many, the beginning of January means the annual commitment to aggressively promote their services. Unfortunately, just as with promising to lose weight, to exercise or to remember that elusive wedding anniversary, actually doing so is less than certain. Sometimes, life just gets in the way.

So, for all those law firms that promise to “do something” each year and then find every excuse “not to,” this post is for you – 5 tips for jump starting your business development initiative:

Recognize the Commitment
Just as the experts recommend a disciplined approach to building a financial portfolio, so too must you take a structured, long-term approach to marketing. In order to be successful, marketing should be considered an investment – not an expense. There are no silver bullets, and while obtaining a tangible return on investment is always the goal, most integrated marketing efforts should be measured on their ability to build the practice – versus their efficacy in generating quick, but perhaps, less than ideal leads.

If You’re Going to Be In – Be in Strong
With a few exceptions, most marketing initiatives take some time to realize tangible results. There are reasons for this, but the main one is that it usually takes several exposures to a message before it resonates with its intended target.

To illustrate this, consider the ad you might see for a particular service. Given that the ad is a piece of communication for which money has been exchanged, you are rightfully skeptical as to the veracity of the exuberant claims in the copy. Visiting that organization’s web site makes you a bit more comfortable. Then, your cousin Joe recommends that service as well. So now, you’ve been exposed o the organization in several different ways – all of them positive. Your perceptions of the risks in purchasing this service are mitigated and you are more likely to pursue a relationship.

Similarly, think of another situation in which you see the same message repeatedly even within the same medium. The first time you may not even notice it. The second time, it might generate some interest. By the third, fourth or fifth time, that message has been drilled into you. Hopefully, you are ready to “buy.” But even if you are not, you will be aware of that organization and its services when that time does come.

My point in mentioning all this is to help you understand why marketing takes both time and financial resources. In most cases, being in just a little, will not take you all that far. This is as true for the dollars required for a television campaign as they are for the amount of content needed for search optimization as it is for the time that is necessary to effectively engage in face-to-face networking. It’s a little like marriage. Yes, you can get out of it if necessary. But, in order to maximize your chances for success, you have to fully commit.

Name Your Quarterback
Regardless of how you will be promoting your practice, someone is going to have to take the day-to-day responsibility for making sure the best of intentions become reality. That can be a dedicated marketing person, a chair of a marketing committee, a senior partner, etc. It can even be an consultant or marketing firm – provided that someone in-house is designated as the go-to person for that outside resource. When it comes to marketing, there can be many, many opinions (“Do you like the color green?”), but ultimately a process has to be in place for making decisions. Otherwise, plans will lay unimplemented years and special opportunities of an immediate nature will be missed.

Vet Your Marketing “Partners”
Every marketing consultant or firm will tell you that they will be your “partner.” This is great – providing what they tell you is true. Try to get a feel for what they really do. Are they an IT vendor that understands the bells of whistles of web site development, but knows little about how to attract prospects? Are they wed to a single type of marketing vehicle and thus see every solution from a very limited perspective? Ask to see their work. Ask to speak to their clients. And don’t be shy about looking at several competing firms. Personally, I have found that those firms that do the best vetting also tend to be the best clients. You’re about to engage in what will hopefully be a long-lasting relationship. Make sure you are dancing with the right partner.

Get Top-To-Bottom Buy-In At any organization, it’s important that every stakeholder be on the same page. There’s nothing more discouraging than when one or more individuals want to aggressively go after new business, while another individual or group are reticent to put the time or money into the effort. As in any team sport, unity is critical for achieving positive results.

Of course, there’s one other thing that goes almost without saying --- though Nike did a pretty good job of saying it: “Just Do It.” Yes, promoting your practice can be hard, requires time and financial resources, and can be downright scary. But isn’t that what most new year’s resolutions are all about?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Best of My Legal Marketing Blog As Awarded By…. Me

At this time of year, it is not uncommon to pay tribute to what was "best about the current year. The news media does it. Entertainment companies do it. ESPN does it. And about a hundred different blogs to it as well.

Not wanting to buck the trend, I took the time to review the assorted blog articles we posted in 2016 and came up with what I perceive to be the “best “ legal marketing tips of the year. Needless to say, I am very proud that our posts are the acknowledged “winner” of all of these prestigious designations – even if we are the only participants or players in the game. 
Hence, with that in mind, here goes… We launched 2016 still in the goodwill frame of mind that comes (or should come) with the holidays. We reminded everyone that affiliating their firm with a worthy cause or special event can:
  • Generate a high level of visibility
  • Facilitate interface between firm attorneys and prospective clients
  • Provide a means for building a contact database
  • Underscore the branding of the firm
  • Elevate the firm’s overall credibility in the eyes of the community and amongst its prospect groups.
Then we got back on the online marketing bandwagon, reiterating that sources for web, blog and social media content are plentiful and can be found within the firm, happenings in the business and legal communities, the specific areas of expertise of the firm’s attorneys, their published articles as well as special firm announcements and offerings.
By the time the summer came along, we were really rolling and pleading with our readers not to focus on search engine rankings. Specifically, we said:
"The point is not that search engine placement is irrelevant, or that being first is not often the preferred position. Rather, such a position is a means to an end, as is the monthly budget applied and the dollar amount of the click bid itself. If the goal of your firm’s PPC or SEO initiative is to generate more revenue for the firm, then the leads (or actual clients) generated per dollar is a much more significant metric. As important, it is also a better metric for directing you as to how your on-line dollars should be allocated."
Of course, all of our readers were following our words of wisdom and generating a vast array of new clients. So we told them it was important to appreciate these new sources of income and posted, “The value of a client is determined not just by the revenue that client brings in, but also by the revenue that client generates through word-of-mouth and referrals". Unfortunately, most law firms fail to track that information and thus fail to get a full understanding of what each client represents to the firm.” 
We said:
“The law firm that places too great a distinction between marketing and information technologies runs the very real risk of inefficiency, but even more important, is almost certain to miss out on opportunity. A much wiser approach is to promote the full integration of the IT folks into the marketing decision making process."
As the leaves started turning brown, we turned to one of the most measurable of all marketing tools by highlighting how to measure the results of your Pay-Per-Click campaigns:
We said: “Ultimately, your best indication of results, will come not from reports on the metrics of your PPC campaign alone, but from aggregating your quality leads. All of the other metrics come into play only in the service of enhancing your efforts.”
And because so much of PPC success stems from the quality of the web site to which the ads are directed, in November, we asked “When is it Time to Re-design Your Web Site?” and determined that there were five valid reasons:
  1. There’s a Major Change at the Firm
  2. The Site No Longer Does What You Need it to Do
  3. Your Site Looks Outdated
  4. Technical Problems
  5. You’re Not Getting the Results You Want
And finally, just last week we asked another question: “What Was the Return On Investment for the Couch in Your Office?” That’s right. We were trying to make an important point, namely that, “While it is certainly okay, in fact, highly recommended, to measure marketing allocations by their potential to yield a positive ROI, it is definitely not okay to consider those allocations as expenses rather as investments simply because the yield did not come as quickly as one might like.” Because if you did, you’d never even consider purchasing that new couch for your office.
So there you have it – the very best of 2016, at least according to me. 
On a larger scale, I think everyone would agree that, if nothing else, it’s been an “interesting” year.
Here’s hoping no matter how 2016 turned out for you, that 2017 is even better. Much better!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

What Was the Return on Investment for the Couch in Your Office?

You just opened a new law firm office. Or remodeled an existing one. You spent $500 on a couch to go in the waiting area and another $500 for a second one in your private office. The sign that boldly shouts the firm name cost you around $750and the two new paintings you purchased set you back another $1,200. Add in the guest chairs, the plants and the reception desk, and you probably put in close to $4,000 on the furniture for this move alone.

Now, tell me…  What was the ROI?
What? You don’t know? You can’t measure it?
I don’t understand. Shouldn’t everything you do be accounted for by the return it produces? Note that I’m not talking about desks or conference tables here. These are items you will need to actually do your job. But couches, plants and paintings are hardly requisite items. Their purpose is merely to generate a “feel,” or mood and yes, an “image.” Yet, somehow you feel that they are critical. You may have pondered their expense, but you probably did not try to measure what revenue that expense will bring in.

Why not?
Don’t worry. You are not alone.
Creating the proper professional image is deemed as a prerequisite for any law firm. And the expenses involved to achieve that image are viewed as merely a cost-of-entry. You “need” certain elements in your office to make your clients feel good about you and your firm.
So why then do so many lawyers and law practices balk when it comes to investing in marketing programs that will make prospects feel good about them as well? Why is an office couch seen as an investment; but a web site, a magazine campaign, or a PR initiative seen as an expense?
There is no one who has preached the importance of generating a return on one’s marketing investment more than we have. In fact, our tagline actually states, “Marketing is an Investment. Reap a Return.” And I do believe that ultimately, everything you do must be geared towards achieving a positive, tangible result. 
Yet, there is a point where law firms can take this point to the extreme – in fact, so much so, that they miss out on the vast array of opportunities right in front of them. They are so busy chasing the next, great lead that they are neglecting the larger and more important task of actually building their practice.
We recently had a situation in which a client developed a new web site and implemented a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Now, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, while PPC efforts can generate quick response, they nonetheless are most effective when they are monitored and constantly tweaked. It is important to ascertain which ads are working, which keywords are generating interest, how the landing pages are being rated, and whether other marketing activities (e.g., fresh web site content) are in the works as well. It takes time to discover the exact ingredients for what will be the “secret sauce.” Our client was impatient however and grew anxious before even the first month of activity had transpired. He was adamant in highlighting how the firm had not as yet, recovered all of its marketing expenses. We explained to him that while it was way too early to “panic” over the PPC initiative, the results of the effort would only be hastened if the firm was more diligent about adding content to its site, getting its social media posts out, working on PR, etc. – activities of which none would require any significant financial outlays. 
Unfortunately, the client could not see the forest for the trees, or in this case, the fact that marketing works in an integrated fashion– activity in one area invariably enhances the results in another. The social media posts, the web site content, and the PR were seen as “expenses,” rather than as investments of time that might make all the other elements of the marketing program (including the PPC campaign) work that much harder. Unfortunately, because this client viewed marketing as an expense (versus an investment), they never realized the ROI for which they were hoping. 
By the way, did I mention that this client had had no problem paying for an incredibly, large gold-plated sign that hung across the waiting room wall? 
Now consider another client of ours, but with a very different story, This one involved a multi-practice firm with an office in the center of Philadelphia that was looking to increase the visibility of its satellite office in the New Jersey suburbs. After exploring various options, the marketing approach ultimately selected was hardly traditional. Rather, the firm chose to generate awareness through implementation of a student art show in which third through eighth graders throughout the area were invited to submit original artwork that addressed the question, “What’s great about South Jersey?” The winning entry for each grade received a savings bond for themselves as well as a cash prize for his or her school. Over 300 entries were submitted and the competition, which culminated in an art show at the satellite offices attended by the students, their families and prominent members of the community, received substantial pre and post event publicity. 
Why do I tell you this?
Because as I mentioned, the firm’s goal was to increase its visibility in the area. It did not ask what the expected short term ROI of the effort would be. It understood that this initiative was an investment in the relationship between the firm and the community. It wasn’t necessarily chasing the next client or the one after that. It was investing in a program that would pay dividends over time. 
And with all that being said, you know what happened? Although it had not been their objective, the firm actually garnered four new clients from contacts made at the show. Needless to say, the success of the program prompted the firm to continue the contest in subsequent years.
There are two morals to take from these two case histories. First, while it is certainly okay, in fact, highly recommended, to measure marketing allocations by their potential to yield a positive ROI, it is definitely not okay to consider those allocations as expenses rather as investments simply because the yield did not come as quickly as one might like. 

The second morale? Value your marketing efforts as much as you do your new couch.