Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Legal Marketing: How to Engage Your Prospect

Years ago, legal marketers only had to concern themselves with communicating the firm message to as many qualified prospects as they could, as many times as they could.

My, how times have changed.

Today, simply reaching prospects is no longer enough. Law firms now need to interact with them. By interaction, we mean any activity that begins to establish a relationship between the firm and the potential new client, thereby reducing the individual’s perceived risk. There are any of a number of ways in which to promote such interaction, among them:

  • Personal Networking
  • Posting on Social Media Sites
  • Participating in Online Groups
  • Offering Free White Papers
  • Webinars
  • Offering E-Newsletter Subscriptions
  • Requesting Survey Input
  • Offering Survey Results
  • Seminars

Each of these activities has inherent advantages and drawbacks depending on the type of practice area and the unique situation of the firm itself. For example, personal networking is probably the most effective, but requires a great deal of time and limits the number of prospects one can reach.  Similarly, a seminar provides a terrific means for conveying expertise and gaining the trust of potential clients, but usually costs considerably more than its webinar counterpart. In implementing the latter, most of the logistical issues of time, place and location are moot. Yet webinars lack the opportunity for face-to-face interaction that a seminar provides.

Determining which method or methods for promoting interactivity is best for a firm is not difficult.  Much more challenging is making the actual commitment towards some type of such initiative – particularly when each carries with it inherent costs of time and/or dollars. Nevertheless, today, where we live in such a cynical age, it is important that legal marketers do all they can to minimize that perceived risk and thereby lower the hurdles of turning prospect into a real, live, paying clients.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Leveraging The Media Coverage You’ve Already Received: How To Keep It Going

Last week we discussed how to recognize whether the new case that has come across your desk is “PR-worthy” -- whether it offers a story that might interest editors and producers, thus generating publicity for you and your firm?

But what happens after that case has made the news? What happens after you’ve been interviewed, filmed or videoed, and asked every silly question under the sun?  How do you leverage that experience to enhance your visibility?

The answer lies in understanding the very nature of public relations. When it comes to publicity, the more you have, the more you’ll get. And when you think about it, that actually makes a lot of sense. Just as your legal credentials allow potential clients to feel comfortable in your ability to represent them, so do your media credentials allow producers, editors and reporters to feel comfortable using you as a source for a story or as a respected “expert.” If you have been a central figure in a major event, have been articulate in presenting facts or opinions and have proven to be credible, the perceived risk of using you for future stories is dramatically reduced.  That is why we always suggest that our law firm clients be willing to speak to anyone, anywhere – even if that media outpost is a small hometown paper or radio station. They provide the foundation for bigger and better media “hits” in the future. The strategy is to build up enough of such hits so that, just like a resume, the reader is persuaded about your knowledge in a particular subject area. Keep in mind also, that the media watches the media. There is nothing that prevents them from reaching out to an individual that they have seen interviewed or written about elsewhere.

The notion of “particular subject area” is also important. Yes, you are an attorney, but that does not make you the ideal person to speak with on every aspect of the law.  You know your niche. Focus on it.  If, for example, you previously handled a big pharmaceutical liability case that generated a large amount of media attention, then anything that involves similar matters (be they new cases, new statutes, new research, etc.) becomes an opportunity to further highlight your expertise. Send pitch letters to the media that describe your story idea or opinion. And be sure to highlight your involvement in that previous “big case” along with the associated media coverage you received.

Once you have established substantive media credentials, (i.e., you’ve garnered quite a few articles, interviews, stories, etc.) it is not a bad idea to trumpet such in ongoing media pitch letters, on the firm’s web site and/or in online or offline media kits disseminated to a carefully developed list of media contacts.

In summary then, the notoriety you’ve gained on the “big case,” should be augmented with whatever additional exposure you can create – big or small.  Eventually, you will have enough mass to become the media’s “go to” guy on a particular subject.  And at that point, you won’t have to worry too much about reaching out to the media. They’ll be chasing after you!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Recognizing PR Opportunities

It happened! It finally happened!

It’s the “big” case… the one you always dreamed about when you imagined yourself as part of L.A. Law or if you’re a bit older, when you pictured yourself out-litigating Perry Mason.

The “big” case can be great for the ego and it can potentially be even better for the pocketbook. But as important, the “big” case represents a unique opportunity to shout to the world all that’s great about yourself and/or your firm.  Unfortunately, the “big” case doesn’t come around all that often, so when it does, it is critical that the growth-conscious law practice be prepared for how best to leverage this moment in the spotlight.

The first step in this process is to recognize if and when you are or are about to be working on the “big” case. Sometimes, this is done for you. When hordes of media folk are knocking down your door, you can be sure you’ve landed the big one. For anything less than the “sexiest” of stories, it will probably be you reaching out to the media, not the other way around.

There are times however, when the opportunity in front of you may not be as obvious. This requires a careful assessment of every case that comes across your desk. Try to think like a producer or editor. Will this case excite their viewers or readers? Some things to consider:

  • Is the case breaking new legal ground? 
  • If it’s not setting new legal precedent, is it the kind of case that’s setting “cultural” precedent? For example, we recently got one of our attorney clients on the Today show for a case she was handling that involved cyber-bullying via social media. 
  • If it’s not setting “cultural” precedent, can it perhaps play off another case that’s already in the news?  If, for example, a new pharmaceutical made the news because it was recently found to be responsible for consumer deaths, then case involving other dangerous drugs may also make for a good augment to this story.

Other ideas?  Obviously, sex always sells. As do cases involving celebrities.  During the manslaughter trial of basketball star Jayson Williams, one of our attorney clients was interviewed on a regional radio station for his take on the proceedings. This would not be so unusual were it not for the fact that this attorney was a family law practitioner who did not practice criminal law.  Yet he was the “go to” guy because he had been in the news many times before and had established a reputation for himself as an articulate subject for interview and a credible “expert.”

That example then begs some further questions… Once you have obtained that big case, how do you leverage it? How do you use that experience to boost up your media credentials?  And how does this exposure help your practice’s bottom line?

And those are exactly the questions we’ll address in our next issue.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Practical Application of “The History of Client Origin.”

Since the beginning of the year, we have focused on a new, and we believe, more accurate way of assessing the effects of disparate marketing vehicles and strategic approaches. By tracing the origin of its clients, today’s law firm can harness a wealth of information on the effectiveness of each and all of its marketing initiatives. By accessing this data, it can thus make informed decisions as to the short and long- term benefits future marketing endeavors may or may not provide. Application of this model can also help marketing decision makers determine which practice areas to emphasize in promotional efforts and which attorneys to assign the task of business generation. Tracking this history allows firm decision makers to compare non-linear marketing activities (e.g., image advertising, brochures, web sites) with more direct and more easily measurable activities. Finally, this methodology takes into account the powerful role referrals have in the overall health of a law firm and thereby also provides a gauge as to the perceived quality of the firm itself.

Nevertheless, to conduct such an analysis by hand is neither practical nor realistic. Consider for example the law practice that has been in business for over a century, that has served thousands of clients, hundreds of which have come through referrals and all of which have helped to build the firm to its current state. The pathways and permutations thereof could well venture into the millions -- not the kind of analysis of which even the most ambitious of marketing decision makers would most likely be willing to undertake.

The problem of practicality is easily addressed however, through technology that can track the path by which every client came to the firm and thus the relative ROI and Aggregate ROI for any marketing activity over any period of time. Hence, the problem is not with having the capability of obtaining the output for such analyses, but with obtaining the proper input.

Etiometrix, LLC just announced the launch of RainGauge, the first application that utilizes the History of Client Origin methodology to track law firm marketing ROI. (Full disclosure:  We have been working with the technical software people to develop this application.) It limits the intake process to a single question, asking new clients to select from a list of activities by which they have read, seen, heard or learned about the firm. It even captures referrals. Most important, the program provides legal marketers with the opportunity to view their firm’s marketing and business development initiatives from the most detailed to the most holistic perspective possible.

If you would like more information on the RainGauge application, visit www.etiometrix.com or call 856-810-2127.

And we certainly welcome your comments, questions and general feedback on this recent series of posts regarding the proprietary methodology History of Client Origin.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Which Marketing Activities Are Most Influential in the Decision to Hire an Attorney or Law Firm?

At A.L.T. Legal Professionals Marketing Group, we wanted to know what types of marketing activities (including referrals and personal networking) influenced the people who, in the past, have actually had to decide on which attorney or law firm to hire.

Hence, we conducted an online survey, the objectives of which were two-fold:
  1. To determine which marketing and business development activities played a role in individuals’ decision to hire or contract with a particular attorney/law firm
  2. To ascertain the level of influence each of these activities had in the decision-making process


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Measuring Return on Legal Marketing Investment: The Implications of Tracking the History of Client Origin

Over the past several weeks, we have outlined what we feel to be a more holistic and thereby more accurate methodology for tracking the results of law firm marketing. At first blush, employment of the History of Client Origin methodology described in these postings might appear to be just another way of calculating, analyzing, predicting return on investment, and ultimately for making decisions pertaining to the marketing activities of the firm.

But this would not be true.

The data gained through the utilization of an approach that tracks client origin is both vast and rich in detail. Among the information to be gleaned are answers to questions such as:

Which marketing tools offer the greatest potential for short-term ROI? For long-term ROI?
Because the History of Client Origin Methodology can be traced over any period of time, firm decision makers can easily ascertain which activities are most likely to pay out over the short or the long haul.

What is the relative cost vs. benefit in having specific attorneys spend time on client work vs. on business development efforts?
Let’s face it. Some attorneys are better at drumming up new business and others are better at lawyering. This can be analyzed by taking the History of Client Origin model and applying it at the attorney level. This involves tracking the touchpoints to which the individual attorney allocated his or her time. The hours spent is then multiplied by the attorney’s rate of compensation to arrive at ROI and Aggregate ROI figures for his or her efforts. These numbers can then be compared to the revenue that might have been earned had the attorney spent this time on billable work. By doing so, it is easy to ascertain whether an individual attorney’s time is better spent on originating work versus on generating more billable hours.

Which practice areas offer the best potential for short or long term revenue growth?
As with individual attorneys, this requires applying the history of client origin methodology to the practice group level. From this analysis, marketing decision makers can determine to which practice groups firm resources are best allocated. 

Should business development resources be spent on hard marketing costs (e.g., advertising) or on personalized prospecting/networking?
The History of client origin model provides a straight-forward methodology for comparing the ROI of the interpersonal efforts of firm attorneys (e.g. networking, prospecting, entertaining) to other touchpoints such as the firm website, advertising, collateral materials, PR, on-line media, etc.

Should marketing resources be spent on very direct marketing activities (e.g., direct mail, seminars, pay-per-click, etc.,) versus on “softer” image-oriented ones such as the firm’s web site, image advertising, brochures, etc?
Unlike other ROI methodologies, the history of client origin paradigm levels the playing field in terms of allowing marketing decision-makers to ascertain the relative contribution of these two different “types” of touchpoints. And it can do so, without the need for implementing testing scenarios.

What is the short and/or long term value of a specific client? What kind of exponential potential do they offer?
ROI and Aggregate ROI analyses can be run against different client segments as based upon revenue, industry, etc.

To what degree is word-of-mouth marketing working for the firm?
By considering “referrals” to be touchpoints, we can ascertain the percentage of revenue attributed to word-of-mouth versus revenue generated through other means. Because referrals are an indication of client satisfaction, it can be inferred that the greater the percentage of revenue attributed to referrals, the greater is the perceived quality of legal services that the firm is providing. This can have further implications as the greater the level of referral revenue, the less there is a need to invest firm dollars into traditional marketing channels. Of course, the converse of this is true as well.

Yet, despite the value in tracking client origin, to do so by hand would be inefficient at best and impossible at worst.  Instead, the process must be automated, with reports and analyses available instantaneously.  Next week, we will wrap up this series with some thoughts on how The History of Client Origin methodology can be applied… Yes, there’s an app. for that!

Next Week: The Practical Application of “The History of Client Origin.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Measuring Return on Legal Marketing Investment: The Relative Levels of Influence of Different Marketing Vehicles

To date, we have talked about the fact that most prospects do not become clients of a law firm through a single exposure to the firm’s marketing or business development efforts. More often than not, such prospects will have been exposed to a multiplicity of “touchpoints,” that may include the firm’s web site, advertising, referrals, meeting firm attorneys, etc. We have discussed how each touchpoint merits some credit for its role in garnering that new client. But is it reasonable to assume that each touchpoint deserves equal credit? Is an exposure to an ad equal in value to meeting a friend who highly recommends a particular attorney.

We recently conducted a pilot research study in which we asked participants to rate the degree of influence different touchpoints had had in their decision to contract with a law practice. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest), a friend’s referral averaged a score of 4.47 in contrast to seeing an advertisement for the firm which averaged a 1.86. Does this suggest one shouldn’t advertising or that one should rely solely on word-of-mouth for business generation?  Hardly.  After all, an ad will reach many, many more potential clients than could any attorney or group of attorneys.  But that being said, it does suggest that when a new client is obtained, credit must be allocated proportionately to each of the contributing touchpoints.

For most return-on-investment models, this matters little because they seldom are looking at marketing holistically, focusing instead on how each initiative (i.e., the ad, networking, etc.) performed individually, rather than how they performed in tandem. A History of Client Origin (of which the past few weeks’ blog posts have been all about) allows legal marketers the opportunity to ascertain exactly how they are generating new business, what activities are generating it, and to what degree.

All of this, of course, leads to next week’s post in which we will discuss the implications of the HCO methodology and what it means for law firms in determining the best marketing and business development strategies and tactics to pursue.

Next Week: The History of Client Origin Methodology – Implications for Legal Marketers