Archive for November, 2008
I spoke with an attorney in Minneapolis who is one of the most avid television advertisers in his market. Along with his law degree he has a marketing degree and several years of advertising experience under his belt. I decided to pick his brain about video commercials for lawyers.
The discussion was mostly around the dos and don’ts of creating an attorney television commercial. One thing he pointed out that I would like to share is that many of the lawyers in the lawyer web videos were wearing colored dress shirts.
He noted that this was a common mistake lawyers were making. That the idea is for the attorney to appear more friendly or appear to be the “working class” attorney, He stated that through his research this approach had the reverse effect.
He stated that it was critical whether in yellow page ads, website photos or television ads all of the attorneys should be wearing a white dress shirt. The white dress shirt builds confidence and gives off an air of credibility and success which are the principle determining factors on hiring an attorney over another.
Remember to wear white in your advertising. For more marketing tips or advice please drop us a line at 769-218-6099. We also offer experienced Lawyer Website consultation.
The number one way strategy to improve your traffic and search engine rankings is to write fresh, topic relevant content such as articles. This is also the best remedy for launching a new law related website and the Google Sandbox.
What is the Google sandbox? Typically Google indexes A LOT of web pages every single day. In the millions for sure. The worse thing Google could do is to immediate start positioning these new web pages. The Google sandbox, in my opinion, is to evaluate just how serious and useful a new website is prior to releasing the content within the search engine results pages.
With articles, even a brand new domain, some call this the “Google sandbox hell” can get updated into the search index quickly. Typically new websitesare spidered or crawled, but not indexed right away, a major problem for new sites. By consistently adding fresh, unique content with some strategic search engine optimization, a lawyer website can get ranked within 30-60 days well ahead of the typical 3-6 months.
Call us if you need assistance with SEO, Internet marketing or Web design needs. For a free consultation call (769) 218-6099. We also offer Lawyer Website consultation.
Business networking organizations such as BNI, BizNik or BabbleBee (none which I recommend) are fairly popular business networking groups that lawyers join to create new business leads for their law practice. They are relatively cheap in cost but require significant effort.
- Low cost
- Produces some new business
- Excellent strategy for new lawyers or new office locations
- Great for all types of law firms – business, family law, personal injury
- Typically they reserve one member per industry. You will be the only lawyer member.
- High maintenance – you have to attend all of the meeting, you have to produce leads for other companies
- Limited value – you will exhaust new business lead benefits within a month or two.
- You have to be a sales person for other companies
- You are depending on others for your success
- Builds no credibility – Unlike the local chamber or BBB, business network groups offer no endorsement value.
- Groups are small
Join your local chamber of commerce. It’s much more flexible, very affordable and you may attend which ever events you wish to attend in order to network. You also might get a link to your website!
Need advice and strategy about lawyer networking groups that work, call us at (769) 218-6099 for solid marketing advise from a group that has shared ideas with over 3,200 law firms for over 8 years. We also offer Lawyer Website consultation.
TurnHere, a network of video production contractors and YellowPages.com have partnered in order to bring online video advertising directly to the small business owner. This is a great idea but a bad match in my opinion. TurnHere offers a network of low cost contractors that will visit your business and film, edit and produce a very high quality video for about $500.
However, TurnHere sold their soul to the devil in my opinion and according to numerous attorneys I speak with on a daily basis, most are disappointed with the purchase. AT&T/YellowPages.com really does a disservice to many of the attorneys I speak with and most feel that they have been mislead about the service.
Here are the issues:
The video ad you purchase from Yellowpages.com comes with the water mark “YellowPages.com.” The ad clearly has the YellowPages.com logo on it. This is a major problem in my opinion because it is distracting, can potentially send your visitors back to Yellowpages.com to hire a different attorney, brands YellowPages.com if you use the video on your website or on YouTube, you never own the actual footage, etc…
Forget about obtaining a copy of the video, you never can obtain a copy of the video. Many lawyers I have discussed this with have told me they are very upset that they cannot obtain a copy of the video. All they get is the html code which they can place on their website to upload the video hosted on Yellowpages.com.
Why is this a problem you might ask. You never own the video! You have to keep paying for the video or else you get cut off from being able to use it. Also, another major problem involves having to set up an outbound link from your website to YellowPages.com. This affects the ranking of your website!
The other major issue is the fact you are limited to how you can use the video since it is hosted with YellowPages.com. This is a bad service folks!
Ok, I think I have made it very clear that the YellowPages.com online video profile ad product is significantly flawed.
What I do like about the product is the video quality. It really is quite excellent and the feedback I have received about the TurnHere video contractors is nothing but positive. Again, I understand this marriage between the two companies is a huge money maker for these companies, but the largest Yellow Page company is back to doing what it does best, taking advantage of lawyer video advertisers.
Call a local video production company or independent. There are a slew of college grads or small video start ups that can produce high quality for the same price or even cheaper. Make sure they can produce the videos and covert them to Web ready. You would be surprised how many hungry and talented video production experts there are in your local neighborhood. They typically will work more closely with you to develop a fine video production.
With the advent of Apple video products like iMovie and others, a whole generation of talented web-ready video experts are popping up everywhere. You could also do the video yourself. However I don’t recommend this unless you are highly capable of creating a high quality video production. These self created videos look really bad.
If you would like more ideas about how to hire or produce a web video for lawyers, give us a call at (769) 218-6099. We also offer Lawyer Website consultation.
Don’t be an ostrich: Ask general counsel, “How’re we doing?”
Janet Ellen Raasch
Janet Ellen Raasch is a writer and ghostwriter who works closely with professional services providers – especially lawyers, law firms, legal consultants and legal organizations — to help them achieve name recognition and new business through publication of keyword-rich content for the Internet as well as articles and books for print. She can be reached at (303) 399-5041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do ostriches and law firms have in common? With his head buried in the sand, the ostrich is oblivious to approaching danger. With no method for client feedback, a law firm is often oblivious to the significant dangers of client dissatisfaction.
What are these dangers? Most obvious is the danger that the firm will be “fired” by an unhappy client. A decline in referrals is also a very real risk. Dissatisfied clients will not refer your firm. Even worse, they will give you a negative referral.
If you think that most of your clients are satisfied, think again. Research shows that law firms consistently rank themselves twice as successful at client satisfaction as clients do. In the 17th Annual Survey of General Counsel conducted by Inside Counsel magazine, 52 percent of law firms gave themselves an “A” on their client relationship. Only 25 percent of the clients rated the relationship an “A.” That is a big disconnect.
“Interviewing and surveying your clients to see how satisfied they are – and acting decisively on what you learn from this process — is quite possibly a law firm’s most important client retention program,” said Martha Cusick Eddy. “Better relationships help bulletproof your clients against the efforts of your competitors. More importantly, there is a direct correlation between client satisfaction and increased revenue.”
Cusick Eddy is a partner with Marketing Evolutions, where she regularly conducts client interviews and surveys. She has served as president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association and the Colorado Chapter of the American Marketing Association.
In her presentation, Cusick Eddy discussed the results of more than 100 interviews her firm has conducted with in-house counsel. The program was part of a monthly educational series sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the LMA. It took place Oct. 14 at Maggiano’s Little Italy in downtown Denver.
“Very often, the simple act of conducting a client interview can prevent the loss of a valued client,” said Cusick Eddy. “More than once, our interview subjects have stated, ‘I was ready to fire this firm or use it less, but the fact that you are here – to show that the firm values our relationship and will do what it takes to fix it – has changed my mind.’
“Simply reaching out to clients for feedback underscores the value a firm places on its clients and helps cement that relationship – paving the way for continued and expanded work,” said Cusick Eddy.
Cusick Eddy’s research demonstrates that a lack of congruency between a client’s expectations and a law firm’s delivery of service is the major cause of attorney/client disconnect. Poor communication throughout an engagement also leads to dissatisfaction.
This dissatisfaction can best be prevented at the client, case or matter intake stage. Lawyers should take time up front to clearly discuss expectations and communications. Does the client want detailed analyses of a legal issue, with all possibilities, or just the three most important points? How often does the client want to hear from you – and how? How does the general counsel (and his or her boss) expect you will handle costs and estimates?
“Firms that continuously monitor a client’s expectations and frequently ask about performance often register the highest degree of client satisfaction,” said Cusick Eddy.
Commonly heard complaints
In conducting interviews, Cusick Eddy often hears complaints in the areas of:
- Billing: General counsel are more than willing to pay for legal services – as long as a lawyer can demonstrate value. What they often object to is an absence of clear value demonstrated in their fees and bills. Clients are frustrated when bills contain vague or excessive costs they cannot explain to their superiors.
- “Don’t ever bill five hours to prepare an email, for example, without some explanation as to why it took so long,” said Cusick Eddy. “Better yet, when you get a legal question from a client, step back and think about the level of analysis the client wants and needs in your response. If you aren’t sure, just pick up the phone and ask.”
- Clients also complain when lawyers ignore the fact that in-house counsel are business people as well as lawyers. “In-house counsel must adhere to budgets – or competently explain overages,” said Cusick Eddy. “Clients don’t like being treated as an ‘open wallet’ by their lawyers – and they particularly dislike feeling that law firms are training associates or meeting billable hour requirements on their dime.”
- Case and matter management: In-house counsel are unhappy when legal guidance does not address the client’s specific business problem – or when issues are over-lawyered.
- “In-house counsel complain when outside counsel apply a standard, one-size-fits-all process to every case or matter – or become overly focused on all the nuances of the law,” said Eddy Cusick. “Clients tell us, “We recognize there are inherent legal risks in any business decision. Mu CEO is looking for pragmatic advice to move forward – not an exhaustive review of case law.”
- Relationships: General counsel are very loyal to outside counsel who build a personal as well as a professional relationship with them – a relationship that is maintained even when there are no active cases or matters.
- “Our research shows relationships can supersede all other elements of the client/attorney engagement,” said Cusick Eddy. “Law firms should place a premium on relationship-development programs that demonstrate how effective relationships are built and maintained.”
- Loyalty: Despite studies reporting a high number of in-house counsel willing to switch legal service providers, Cusick Eddy’s interviewees often report a high degree of loyalty to their providers.
- “Changing firms is hard for clients,” said Cusick Eddy. “Even when they are dissatisfied, clients know what to expect and can compensate internally for any weaknesses. Law firms looking to unseat incumbent law firms must tangibly demonstrate their value and minimize the risk clients might feel about switching to a provider whose product they do not know.”
- Introductions: General counsel are not impressed with “cold” calls or brochures. In particular, they find annoying the increasing number of cold calls from lawyers based on information from subscription case alert systems.
- “Clients tell us that they receive hundreds of brochures and materials – as well as cold calls – from firms unknown to them,” said Cusick Eddy. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, these cold outreach efforts do not work. Work through a warm introduction – not a cold call.”
- Communications media: Each client has a preferred means of communication – phone, email, letter – and a preferred level of detail in that communication – whether a detailed newsletter; a concise, targeted alert; or a simple email update. “A good CRM system will allow you to track and communicate with a client in the way he or she finds the most valuable,” said Cusick Eddy.
- Proposals and presentations: General counsel react negatively to “generic” proposals and presentations. “Take the time to discover what particular problems a client or potential client is facing,” said Cusick Eddy, “and customize your proposal or presentation for that client and that industry.
- “When making a presentation, focus the conversation on the client’s needs – not on your own qualifications,” said Cusick Eddy. “You’ve been invited to pitch because you’ve passed a threshold test. The presentation or proposal is a chance for you to establish rapport and demonstrate what it is like to work with you.”
- Seminars: Seminars – whether in-person or Web-based — are very effective business development tools. “In-house counsel tell us that content-based seminars help them educate their own internal ‘customers’ and minimize their risk and exposure,” said Cusick Eddy.
- “The most effective seminars are targeted to the audience,” said Cusick Eddy. They don’t have to be big, formal affairs. Call a client or prospect and ask about the issues they are facing. Then, go in and spend a few hours with them – educating them on how they can minimize risk or adapt to those issues.”
Client satisfaction process
Client interviews and surveys should be a regular process for most law firms. Typically, the process is precipitated by a new marketing strategy, by the launch of new practice areas or industry groups, by a merger or acquisition, by the arrival of new laterals, by economic factors (like the current economic turmoil), new competitors entering the market, and/or loss of a big client. Firms continue to use them because they work.
“Generally, a law firm will conduct in-person, in-depth interviews with its top ten most important clients – which will vary year-to-year,” said Cusick Eddy. “Because these formal interviews can uncover unhappy clients or information that requires management action, we recommend that they be conducted by an outside expert or a senior manager of the firm – someone with the credibility and position to deliver potentially bad news.”
In-depth interviews take time and can be costly. “To get a baseline sense of how a firm is performing across its client base, we also recommend annual Internet-based surveys of a law firm’s large stakeholder groups that can be conducted cost-effectively and consistently,” said Cusick Eddy.
In these trying economic times, clients are paying even closer attention to their budgets and bottom lines. It is more important than ever that lawyers proactively uncover opportunities for improvement — in their relationships and in their services — where changes can create a stronger and more profitable relationship.
“If interviews do reveal information that is unfavorable, it is critical that firms take action – quickly and decisively – to fix any problems,” said Cusick Eddy. “The result will be a considerably stronger attorney/client relationship that will have a positive impact on your firm’s profitability.”
Call LawyerSuccess.com today should you need assistance in design a PowerPoint presentation, Seminar website development or brochure design. For a free consultation call (769) 218-6099. We also offer Lawyer Website and search engine optimization (SEO) consultation.
Blogs are an invaluable tool for sending out important law firm information to both consumers, clients and other law firms. Information on practice areas, firm news, timely events and opinions matters in today’s Web savvy economy. Even more important, the regular use of a Blog can increase your firm’s website rankings on the major search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo.
By adding fresh, relevant content you are giving your firm’s website more credence in the eyes of Google. In this fast paced information age, even a lawyer has to prove him/herself worthy of first search page placement on Google.
There are several factors that are taken into account when Google passes out its website rankings. New content published on a regular basis ranks high on it’s list of algorithmic value. Blog posts are a terrific way to accomplish this. The downside is that these ‘journals’ need to be written in regularly in order to have the most benefit. Lawyer Success has found that the more frequent the posts are added, the better website rankings are obtained.
Call Lawyer Success if you are looking for a lawyer blog designer or legal content writer for your blog. For a free lawyer blog consultation call (769) 218-6099. We also offer Lawyer Website consultation.
Select a domain with a clean website history
There is no doubt that the age of your domain name and that domains registry history effects its ability to acheive high rankings with Google and other top search engines. It is also believed Google may give extra value to your domain/website if the domain is registered for five or more years as opposed to the standard one or two years.
Keep in mind that if your domain name has once been used by spammers, you may suffer the consequences.
Tip: Avoid tricks to fool Google and other search engines.
Search engines have 1 purpose that is to return the most relevant web pages for the end user. When you try and manipulate the search engine alogythms you run the risk of losing your rankings. Make sure that your web pages will answer the questions of people who search for your keyword. The better your web pages match the interest of the web searchers the better rankings you will get.
Keep in mind that Google and other top search engines now use human editors to monitor and review websites!!!
Tip: Keep your site is relevant
Your website should be relevant to its keywords.Google wants to know if your web page is relevant for the keywords. You have to optimize your web pages in a way that Google can easily index and find out what your website is about. Consider the following elements when optimizing your web pages:
The URL structure
The title tag
meta description tag
meta keywords tag
The body text
Image alt attributes
Internal linking structure of your site
The outbound links
Many other factors in the HTML code of your web pages
Each element should contain keywords or keyword phrases that show Google that your website is relevant for that keyword. Rookies at seo make the mistake of overstuffing keywords and that could get your website banned from Google’s search results or put on the Google suppliment list. It’s important that you optimize the right elements and that you insert your keywords in the right frequency.
Call LawyerSuccess today for a Free consultation at (769) 218-6099 concerning your law firm’s search engine optimization goals and needs. With over 3,200 consultations and experience in developing 8 of the 10 most trafficked legal websites on the Web, we can rocket your site to the top of all major search engines. Lawyer SEO consultations are free.