Lawyer Website Cyber-Speak

April 24th, 2013

All lawyers practice law in some form or fashion and, oftentimes, specialize in certain practice areas. A lawyer who specializes in corporate law, for instance, is likely to refer a client with a child custody issue to a lawyer who primarily handles family law matters. You market your firm based upon these practice areas, you attend CLE (continuing legal education) to improve your knowledge in your practice areas, and you gain experience in your area of specialty when you practice law.

Likewise, Lawyer Success, Inc. has areas of specialty which involve lawyer website marketing, legal content writing, lawyer website design, and a host of concepts specific to the field of computer science — protocol, networking, data transfer, application codes, environment, and more. Our team consists of marketing consultants, design engineers, lawyers, and computer scientists to bring you the best lawyer website experience in the business. We’re the experts for your lawyer website.

Computer science and lawyer websites

Our computer scientists, for example, enable Lawyer Success, Inc. and our clients to exist on the cutting-edge of cyber-technology, keeping-up with the latest online trends for effective lawyer website implementation. Did you know that Google’s recent Panda and Caffeine algorithm updates place further emphasis on ranking lawyer websites that offer legal content featuring unique topics and niches, as well as categorizing the relevancy of legal content? Although Google denies that links significantly impact algorithm (and, therefore, your lawyer website rankings), the search engine company has removed “link farms” and stripped their servers of websites that rely primarily on reused or rewritten content in order to conserve space (reportedly recovering 12-percent of their database previously occupied by the alleged “content thieves”).

Search engines use algorithm to evaluate your lawyer website, then place a ranking value on it. If your new website is poorly designed, poorly written, or poorly optimized, your domain is assigned a low value. A lower ranking is problematic in relation to your desire for better search engine rankings. Our computer scientists have a thumb-on-the-pulse of the evolving technology supporting lawyer websites, ensuring that any changes Google and other search engines engineer are seamless for Lawyer Success, Inc. and our clients. The other good news is that our technical experts are available for 24/7-support to answer questions or make updates to your website or blog!

Legal website experts for legal professionals

While that algorithms and rankings look like mumbo-jumbo to you, they’re important to the success of your lawyer website. Lawyer Success, Inc. keeps your legal content relevant and your lawyer website thriving amid the ever-changing climate of the World Wide Web. Maximizing your online presence is what we do. Contact our experienced consultants for Free, no-obligation strategies. We offer Free lawyer website design at absolutely No Risk for you!

Call For Free Advice & Guidance From Experts, Not Sales People! Call 1 (800) 877-2776 Today.

Legal Websites – Online and Saving Time

April 22nd, 2013

The practice of law and maintaining a legal office is plenty to keep any lawyer busy without adding a lawyer website to the load. Right? Actually, a lawyer website is intended to make your life easier, not invoke the “all work and no play” rule. The purpose is to draw prospective clients to your practice, and to save you time by allowing you the luxury of focusing on your clients and their legal matters.

That’s where Lawyer Success, Inc. comes in. Our consultants develop criteria, based upon an interview with you. Then, using your information, our team designs a custom website – with No Risk, and No Cost to you upfront. We appreciate that lawyers are busy people, and we respect your time. Our goal is to save you both time and money, and for your lawyer website to bring you a favorable outcome.

Lawyer Success, Inc. stays up-to-date on the technological advances and changes that are important to your legal content, and can help you modify and maintain your lawyer website so it remains in the upper echelon with prospective clients searching the Web.

Because lawyer websites have a specific purpose, it’s important to make them as welcoming as possible online:

  • User-friendly – Prospective clients like user-friendly websites. Your lawyer website serves as a cyber-introduction between you and the client. The old adage holds true: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
  • Branding – This is your good name, your practice areas, and what makes your practice better than those of your competitors. Lawyer website visibility is key to Internet branding.
  • SEO – Search engine optimization (SEO) involves the identification of keywords, then adding these terms to your legal content, which improves your Google rankings and makes your lawyer website easier for prospective clients to find.
  • Social networking – Your lawyer website connects with social media (e.g., Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are among the most popular), which helps move-up your site in Google rankings and makes it more accessible to prospective clients from iPads, iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, and other smart phones.

Free, no-obligation strategies

The consultants at Lawyer Success, Inc. are happy to provide experienced assistance with your lawyer website design, lawyer website marketing, SEO, and legal content. Our highly experienced consultants provide Free, no-obligation strategies. There is absolutely No Risk for trying our Free lawyer website design offer!

Call For Free Advice & Guidance From Experts, Not Sales People! Call 1 (800) 877-2776 Today.

The Role of Legal Content in your Lawyer Website

April 18th, 2013

Legal content writing is more than just putting a few words onto a page and dropping a lawyer’s name into the mix here and there. Legal content compliments your brand, much like an aromatic white wine — Chardonnay, for instance — pairs well with semi-hard Cheddar and Alpine cheeses. Effective legal content should encourage the prospective client to linger over your lawyer website – drawn by aesthetics, captured with substance. The problem is finding the time to write your own legal content, let alone make it appealing – especially for sole practitioners and smaller law firms.

Legal content writing

Legal content consists of lawyer website articles and blogs. Lawyer Success, Inc. has a network of attorney-writers available who understand both the legal and marketing mechanisms required to produce successful legal content.  Our consultants interview you to gather the criteria desired for your legal content, and our technical team ranks keywords (SEO — search engine optimization) using the latest web traffic reporting tools, then our writers marry the two in your customized legal content. The result is an online presence branding your own legal niche!

Perhaps you already have an aspiring legal content writer on-staff, or prefer to hire your own legal content writer through Craig’s List or another online classified source – or, maybe you just want to do-it-yourself? The quality of the work you publish on your lawyer website is important. Remember: This is a prospective client’s first impression of you, and you want that first impression to resonate favorably.

Online publishing made easy

Publishing new legal content 4-5-times per week and writing weekly press releases is a great way to effectively add unique content and value to your lawyer website. Great content generates links, and constantly updated content creation can elevate your Google rankings higher than paid-link campaigns. Lawyer Success, Inc. can show you how to add content, edit web pages, format content, add articles, blog posts, audio, and more to your lawyer website from the convenience of yourself (or, we can administer your site for you). We also make your lawyer website and optional blog page conveniently accessible from your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android smart phone.

Free lawyer website design

Lawyer Success, Inc. saves you time and money on legal website content and lawyer website design. Call today to receive free, no-obligation strategies from a highly experienced consultant (and never a sales representative). There is absolutely No Risk for trying our Free lawyer website design offer!

Call (800) 877-2776 for FREE ADVICE from marketing experts – no sales pitches, just real advice.

Law Firm Website Strategic Planning

April 11th, 2013

Lawyer website design is much like legal case strategy. In litigating a case, a lawyer puts-on his (or her) best evidence for the trier-of-fact. The lawyer strategically decides which motions to file, the scope of discovery, who to call as a witness, and the content of direct- and cross-examinations.  Lawyer websites follow a similar strategy only, here, the lawyer decides who the target audience is, which facts are most important to his (or her) practice, the scope of legal content, and the substance of blog material.

Strategizing content for lawyer websites further parallels legal case strategy when it comes to behind-the-scenes work. Lawyers oftentimes have paralegals and secretaries organizing the case from the sidelines – interviewing witnesses, requesting evidence, drafting documents, and otherwise dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s. In other words, an appealing and orderly presentation to the court is generally dependent upon a little team work. That’s exactly what LawyerSuccess, Inc. can do for you. Our team of marketing experts, lawyer website designers, legal content and blog writers, and technical support staffers create an online presence that is geared toward favorable results for your practice in the way of building your client-base. We understand that lawyers are busy people. Let us save you some time and money by letting us handle the behind-the-scenes work for your lawyer website.

LawyerSuccess, Inc. begins the strategizing of your lawyer website design with an interview. We want to know the practice areas you wish to promote online and the venues from which you wish to generate cases. Next, we feed your practice data into the latest web traffic reporting tools, searching for the best and most frequently used key-phrases in your specific market. This process, known as search engine optimization (SEO), allows us to generate the highest amount of web traffic possible by tactically positioning your lawyer website within the major search engines (such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) and bringing you the clients and cases you desire. The ultimate goal for your lawyer website is to be optimized for great search engine rankings; Lawyer Success, Inc. assists and guides you through the SEO maze. We provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation, and show you how SEO can significantly increase your website traffic.

Saving lawyers time and money

LawyerSuccess, Inc. is, perhaps, the only lawyer website design firm on the market willing to build a free website for your practice. You don’t pay unless you’re happy with our work. We guarantee our performance with opt-outs and SEO placement. A lawyer would never offer a guaranteed outcome of their legal representation for obvious reasons (e.g., too many variables beyond your control); however, Lawyer Success, Inc. has the ability to overcome certain variables and is confident to offer a No Risk lawyer website design and SEO service, saving you both time and money. Our strategy is to successfully design your strategy.

Call For Free Advice & Guidance From Experts, Not Sales People! Call 1 (800) 877-2776 Today.

Ensure Your Law Firm is Visible on the Internet

April 8th, 2013

While the Internet may not be the proverbial “final frontier,” it has garnered a prominent place in practically every American household over a relatively short couple of decades. If you’re a recent law school grad, chances are you took a course specific to lawyer websites. Seasoned lawyers may have completed a CLE (continuing legal education) course on the topic somewhere along the way – or not. Regardless of how well-versed you may or may not be on the subject of lawyer websites, the fact remains that many prospective clients now consult the web when choosing a lawyer to handle their legal matters. Visibility on the Internet has become crucial to lawyers looking to build — or maintain — a clientele.

More web-based business for you

LawyerSuccess, Inc. can help you generate and convert more web-based business for you than any other lawyer-specific web designer on the market:

  • User-friendlyLawyerSuccess, Inc. designs clutter-free lawyer websites that provide easy to locate menus with links to practice pages, FAQs, attorney profiles, Google location maps, your contact information, and provides a link back to the homepage from each page on your lawyer website. User-friendly also means there is a flow and rhythm throughout your lawyer website that encourages the prospective client to keep reading the content as they navigate your site and to, then, contact your office.
  • BrandingLawyer Success, Inc. understands that your brand is the focal point of lawyer website design.  Your brand is unique and marketable, starting with your good name and extending to what you do. Branding is especially important to lawyers whose reputation, professional ethics, and areas of practice are pivotal their life’s work. Our job is to make your brand highly visible online to increase the number of clients in your office, and enable you to corner the market in your particular specialty or locale.
  • SEO (search engine optimization) – Lawyer Success, Inc. maximizes your lawyer website exposure and raises the rank through the use of SEO keywords. Our team provides analysis of search terms relevant to lawyer websites, then optimizes your Google ranking by incorporating these terms within your legal website content. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of visits by prospective clients to your lawyer website and to your office. In other words, we make you easy to find online.
  • Social networkingLawyerSuccess, Inc. makes your lawyer website and blog site compatible with social networking sites. Social networking is to the Internet, what word-of-mouth is to a small town: free advertising (although paid advertising is available). Google+, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are the most popular social networks, although there are hundreds of others online. You can upload, post, and edit legal content to the social networking accounts linked to your lawyer website via your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android smart phone.

Optimize your online visibility

The Internet’s rapid growth and popularity makes staking your claim on the World Wide Web paramount. Branding your own cyber-turf via a lawyer website is the 21st-century way of bringing prospective clients to your office doorstep. We have the tools to build your business. Designing lawyer websites that are aesthetically pleasing, yet practical and functional, is what we do. Let LawyerSuccess, Inc. help grow your brand. Please call and ask for our No Risk lawyer website design offer – you don’t pay until our design is consistent with your vision!

Call For Free Advice & Guidance From Experts, Not Sales People! Call 1 (800) 877-2776 Today.

What is Lawyer Website Design?

March 4th, 2013

The objective of a lawyer website is to attract prospective clients to your webpage, then compel them to linger over the content and to ultimately contact your office. Graphical appearance, color, and layout are all important elements of any website design. The thing that distinguishes lawyer website design from that of a retailer website, for example, is content. Retailers are marketing goods, while lawyers are marketing services. Content separates goods from services, and retailers from lawyers. Content is the substantive basis for marketing a lawyer website, while design compliments the content.

At LawyerSuccess, Inc., we have the skill-set to create a custom-designed lawyer website from scratch. We can design your lawyer website based-on the features, design elements, and colors you prefer. If something has caught-your-eye on one, or even several other websites, our team can integrate many of those elements into your own lawyer website design. We can also incorporate the design of your existing or future lawyer website into a WordPress blog — achieving a seamless result. In other words, your blog pages and lawyer website have the same look and feel when a prospective client is navigating between the two sites.

Engaging the lawyer website services of LawyerSuccess, Inc. has many distinct advantages:

  • Custom DesignLawyerSuccess, Inc. meets with you first, then designs your website before you are asked to sign a contract or pay a deposit. We guarantee you’ll love the customized lawyer website design we create for you. No risk, just results!
  • Content ManagementLawyerSuccess, Inc. makes sure your lawyer website and optional web blog are accessible via your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android smart phone. This access enables you to add content, edit web pages, format content, add articles, blog posts, videos, audio and much more!
  • Programming assistanceLawyer Success, Inc. teaches you how to perform the simple functions of programming your lawyer website; or, we can do it for you at no extra cost!
  • SEO (search engine optimization)LawyerSuccess, Inc. maximizes the number of visitors to your website using SEO content to ensure that your results remain high on the search list returned by Google. An example of an SEO phrase is “lawyer website design,” utilized by LawyerSuccess, Inc., on the page you are currently viewing — which clearly brought us an excellent result with your visit to our website! SEO language is garnered from Internet research that ranks websites based upon keyword usage. The goal is to keep the SEO simple and likely.
  • Top rankingsLawyerSuccess, Inc. knows that Google and other search engines love blogs. The reason is that blogs are easy to spider (e.g., to seek-out and index information online), they offer fast upload times, RSS (really simple syndication) capabilities, commenting, and the constant fresh content that is both relevant and resourceful.
  • 24/7-supportLawyerSuccess, Inc. is best in class for client support, and answering your questions or making updates to your lawyer website or blog. Our experts are available around-the-clock, which can be pretty handy if you’ve spent a late evening preparing for trial, but wanted to post something pressing before the next day.

No risk lawyer website design

There is absolutely No Risk for trying our service. When you call Lawyer Success, Inc., ask us about the No Risk lawyer website design offer. This means, if you do not like the design we put together — you do not pay!

Free Advice Hotline – Call (800) 877-2776-6099

Internet Branding for Lawyers

February 1st, 2013

Your good name is the foundation from which your law practice grows. Getting the word out is paramount to bringing in clients. Hanging out a shingle, then attracting clients by word of mouth, was the only way to build a practice 50-years ago. But, the days of gaining clients simply because you happen to be convenient has passed. Prospective clients are now Internet savvy and sharp enough to do the research. They want to find the best lawyer to handle their legal matter. They compare websites and lawyer qualifications online. So, how are they going to know the only lawyer in town actually is the best lawyer for the job? Brand a website with your good name.

That’s right, your name is your Internet brand. It’s your credentials, availability, and reputation all rolled into one. You want that brand bannered across a lawyer website and for your name to be the first thing prospective clients see when they arrive at your page.

The primary goals of an effective lawyer’s website are:

  • It must be appealing, causing prospective clients to extend their visit and review your qualifications.
  • It must provide valuable information relevant to prospective clients in their search for the appropriate legal counsel to handle their matter.
  • It must motivate prospective clients to contact your office, perhaps even making an appointment with you.
  • It must demonstrate to prospective clients that your particular brand makes you the best choice lawyer.

Know a good lawyer website builder?

Lawyer website design is a specialty niche requiring technical, marketing, legal content, and social networking skills. The Internet is crowded with both the good and the talentless when it comes to website building. So, how do you sort the wheat from the chafe? By hiring a website design company that specializes in lawyer websites, and that applies the online goals used for their business to your business.

LawyerSuccess, Inc. has a proven record of masterfully branding lawyer website designs. The same development strategies successfully implemented by LawyerSuccess, Inc. for use in their own websites, is incorporated with criteria unique to your practice:

  • Custom design
  • Content management
  • Programming assistance
  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Top Rankings
  • 24/7-support

Getting what you pay for

Although that DIY (do it yourself) spirit abounds, building your own lawyer website is somewhat like representing yourself in court. It looks like a good idea at first, because you start thinking you’ll save a little money. But, as with litigation, an objective perspective is also the game changer when it comes Internet branding. If your existing lawyer website was built using a DIY website builder template, such as Yahoo!, GoDaddy, Network Solutions, or any other templated website builder, you have probably realized that you really do get what you pay for. You’re a professional who takes pride in your legal skills. Leave the lawyer website design to the professionals at LawyerSuccess, Inc.

Interestingly, lawyers who hired “national law firm website and marketing” firms paid anywhere from $5,000-$250,000 per year, only to discover that they have either broken-even or taken a loss on their lawyer website investment.  Regardless of whether this is you’re new to lawyer website design and marketing, or if you’re looking for a lucrative upgrade to your existing lawyer website, Lawyer Success, Inc. delivers additional value month after month.

Free Advice Hotline – Call (769) 218-6099

LawyerSuccess, Inc. saves you time and money. Give us a call and ask about the No Risk lawyer website design offer.

Lawyer Success, Inc.

P.O. Box 1926

Brandon, MS 39042

Tel. (769) 218-6099

Fax (662) 510-0159

Sales Support Office in Kansas City, Kansas; Chicago, Illinois; Tampa, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; San Francisco, California and Destin, Florida.

Law Firms Must Define Their Market and Focus Their Message for Success

November 1st, 2012

Lawyers and law firms:
Define your market; focus your message
Janet Ellen Raasch

Janet Ellen Raasch is a writer and ghostwriter who works closely with lawyers, law firms and other professional services providers – helping them establish themselves as thought leaders within a target markets through publication of articles and books for print and rich content for the Internet. She can be reached at (303) 399-5041.

Each lawyer and law firm faces the same problem – how to distinguish the professional services they offer from those offered by every other lawyer and every other law firm.

If you are no different from your competitors, then you are a commodity – and should expect a career shaped by commodity work at commodity prices. If you want to attract the best work at the best prices, you must strategically differentiate yourself from the pack. You must identify your own unique message – and take it to market.

“Most lawyers and law firms have a very hard time narrowing their focus,” said Ross Fishman, an attorney and consultant (www.rossfishmanmarketing) to the professional services industry. “They want to be all things to all people – ‘full service’ firms that market to ‘anyone, anywhere who needs any legal service.’”

To illustrate the points he made in his June 15 presentation to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, Fishman used slides featuring more than 100 real-life examples of marketing materials from law firms around the country.

“When you look at the message used to promote some of the largest national law firms,” said Fishman, “and compare it with the message used by a five-attorney local firm – often, the message is identical. How are consumers to decide which law firm best suits their needs when so many firms are promoting themselves the same way?”

To demonstrate what he means, Fishman has compiled a generic message that could apply to almost any law firm in the nation.

It reads something like this:

Our firm is big/small and old and has a distinguished history. We offer the technical skills of a large firm and the collegial culture of a small firm. Our lawyers work as a team. We are efficient, service-oriented and we partner with our clients. We are very community-service oriented.

We represent absolutely everyone, from individuals to international corporations, in every conceivable area of the law – from ADR to Zoning. We are the best in every single one of these areas. Here are 24 pages of alphabetical descriptions of every practice area.

Our message is illustrated with photos of our city skyline, our building, our lobby and/or conference room, a group of diverse lawyers staring seriously at the camera with law books in the background, and area courthouses – especially their columns and their front steps.

Our graphics include chessboards (“We are strategic”); light bulbs (“We have good ideas”); handshakes (“We partner with clients”); globes and maps (“We are national or global”); laptops (“We are high-tech”); and gavels and scales of justice (“We are – big surprise – lawyers”).

Unfortunately, each of these clichéd verbal and visual messages only reinforces the impression among potential clients that all law firms are alike. “The good news is that this creates an enormous opportunity for those firms that are willing to differentiate themselves,” said Fishman.

Differentiation based on service

“A unique message or brand has many benefits,” said Fishman. “It differentiates you from the competition. It shows what you stand for, tells potential clients what they can expect from you, enhances the value of your services (so you can charge more) and puts you on the short list for certain kinds of work.”

An effective message is one that targets a specific market segment and a specific audience. “The automotive industry understands this,” said Fishman. “All cars get you from one place to another. However, manufacturers in this industry have successfully created brands that are identified with a wide variety of qualities – like speed, safety and luxury. If you have any doubt, just take a careful look at car ads.”

Similarly, a law firm should create a message around a singular quality that satisfies the needs of the firm’s ideal client – a quality that no other law firm in a particular market has claimed as its own. For example, a firm can focus on service, responsiveness, style/attitude, humor, speed, price, client type, experience, comfort/security, practice group, industry group, target community or geography.

“When I was marketing partner at Coffield Ungaretti & Harris,” said Fishman, “we did our research and decided to differentiate the firm on the basis of its service. To promote this, we offered the industry’s first ‘Written Service Guarantee’ and marketed the heck out of it. We were able to generate enormous attention. This message helped grow the firm’s revenue by more than 50 percent in the first year – in an otherwise flat economy.”

When differentiating the Chicago-based labor and employment firm Laner Muchin, Fishman focused on the message of “responsiveness.” “Lack of responsiveness is among the biggest complaints clients express about law firms,” said Fishman. “As I interviewed the partners, a recurring theme emerged – ‘We generally return all client phone calls within two hours.’ Bingo. The firm’s message became ‘Two hours. Period.’”

Laner Muchin issued a challenge and used advertising to push this challenge to non-client prospects (a group that was more likely to be dissatisfied by their existing lawyers’ lack of responsiveness): “Call your current lawyer and leave a message to return your call. Wait an hour or two (to give your lawyer a decent head start), then call one of our lawyers and leave the same message. See who calls you back first. We’re betting it’ll be us. If it’s not, we’ll buy you lunch and donate $100 to your favorite charity.”

“It was a win/win proposition,” said Fishman. “When we won the challenge, we made a strong positive impression on someone in a position to hire us. On those rare occasions when we lost the challenge, our punishment was a lunch date with a potential client!” To support the firm’s message, a stylized clock was designed into its logo.

Differentiation based on industry

Another way to differentiate a law firm is to focus on an industry segment – a segment big enough and healthy enough to provide you with good business, but small enough so that you can get your arms around it. “Find an appropriately sized pond, well-stocked with clients, and work hard to become a big, highly visible fish within this pond,” said Fishman. “For lawyers, this type of narrow focus is the only ‘silver bullet’ that exists.”

Most market segments are so large that you must drill down until you end up with a manageable sub-segment. For example, a firm’s message could target insurance defense work for Lasik surgeons in the greater Los Angeles area or divorce law for gay couples living in and around New York City.

In 1997, Fishman created the first prominent industry-based marketing program, helping Alabama’s Crosslin Slaten & O’Connor become “The Bug Lawyers.”

“This small general practice firm had a few clients in the pest control industry,” said Fishman. “This was a multi-billion industry that no law firm had targeted. It offered a finite universe, where everyone went to the same conventions and read the same publication, Pest Control Today. The firm’s website (currently offline) was revised to feature crawling termites and animated cursors of bugs that irreverently chewed away at the firm’s logo.”

There is no way you would confuse this law firm with any other. International publicity generated sizable firm revenue and sparked demand for industry-based campaigns.

Another example is Noland Hamerly Etienne & Hoss, a 20-lawyer general practice firm located in the heart of central California’s agriculture belt. Working with Fishman, the firm’s agriculture practice branded itself as “The Lettuce Lawyers.”

“We turned the ampersand in the firm logo into a green sprout when it was used by the group,” said Fishman. “Ads in industry publications show the lawyers in agricultural settings – on horses, inspecting grape vines, and posing as the man and woman in the iconic rural painting, ‘American Gothic.’ The practice group created seed packets to give away as business cards. Instead of coffee mugs, it gives out bib overalls that feature the firm’s logo.”

When a marketing director or consultant works with a law firm, practice group or lawyer to create a focused message, process is very important and persuasive.

“You must do your research and take a structured approach,” said Fishman. “This involves reading the firm’s promotional materials, interviewing a broad cross-section of lawyers and staff (including those you expect might be opposed to your project), and interviewing clients and former clients on the firm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the marketplace.

“Be attentive to recurring themes and unique specialties that emerge as part of this process,” said Fishman. “Most likely, these will steer you to your unique message. Once you have your message, you can find creative and interesting ways to take it to market.”

Market Research Leads to Law Firm Marketing Plans That Work

October 31st, 2012

You can’t have one without the other:
Market research leads to strategic plans that work

By Janet Ellen Raasch

Janet Ellen Raasch is a writer/ghostwriter who works closely with lawyers and other professional services providers – helping them promote themselves as thought leaders within their target markets through publication of instructive article, books, white papers and content for the Internet. She can be reached at (303) 399-5041 or [email protected]

How is your law practice perceived by the consumers in your target market? Should you add a new practice group or a new office? How loyal are your existing clients?

When faced with questions like these, too many law firms continue to make decisions based on a subjective “gut reaction” or a “best guess.” Most businesses, by comparison, make their bet-the-company decisions based on objective, valid market research.

Market research is a systematic and scientific process for gathering, recording and analyzing outside information – information that should provide the basis for a law firm’s strategic plan and operational decision-making.

“There is no intrinsic value in market research for the sake of market research,” said Marci Dunning, president of Access/Information. “The value lies in what you do with the objective information you acquire; how you use it to make better decisions.”

An introduction to market research in the law firm environment was provided by a three-person panel that addressed the monthly meeting of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, held Nov. 8 at the Denver Athletic Club.

In addition to Dunning, participants included Deirdre Martel, director of marketing research at Quality Education Data (www.qeddata.com) and Wanda McDavid, vice president for business development and network operations of Access/Information (www.access-information.com).

The advantages and techniques of both primary and secondary market research were discussed. Primary market research is original research; information is collected directly from a respondent. It can be either qualitative or quantitative, depending upon the needs of the law firm. Secondary market research, often called “desk research,” focuses on the collection and interpretation of research already conducted by others.

Most law firms will turn to an outside consultant for primary market research – someone who understands how to formulate the hypothesis and then create a qualitative or quantitative research design that will yield valid and reliable results about the hypothesis.

Primary research – qualitative

“Qualitative primary market research is exploratory in nature,” said Martel. “It can provide an understanding of how things are, or why they are a certain way. It is a valuable tool for pre-testing a hypothesis before you take action based on the hypothesis. It is less structured and, therefore, usually less expensive than quantitative research.

“For example, a law firm could use qualitative research to test the reaction of a sample of target clients to a proposed brochure,” said Martel. “Does the piece actually convey the message that the firm wants to convey? If not, it can be re-designed – saving the firm a lot of money on printing and mailing something that does not work.”

A law firm could also use qualitative research to discover why it did not get the expected response to a particular proposal or a presentation – and then use this information to refine its process the next time around. It could be used with a sample of mock jurors, to pre-test the effectiveness of courtroom arguments.

Qualitative research uses a variety of tools, including in-depth interviews and focus groups of various sizes. “In-person interviews and focus groups allow the researchers to supplement what a person says with observations of non-verbal behaviors,” said Martel. “They also allow the use of physical props like storyboards, prototypes or samples.

“An increasingly popular tool is a hand-held device that allows members of a group – say in a retreat or a conference setting – to push a button to indicate their reaction to an idea or a product,” said Martel. “This allows the collection of large amounts of data quickly, and can also be used to collect quantitative data.”

Qualitative research can also be conducted online. “With a properly designed tool, this is a good way to reach widely-dispersed populations,” said Martel. “It protects respondent identities and increases the participation of those with social inhibitions. Participation is usually higher, it is faster, no travel is involved and it may be less costly.”

Primary research – quantitative

Quantitative primary market research uses statistics to test hypotheses about the marketplace. Random samples of individuals in the target population are selected and surveyed – usually no fewer than 100 individuals and often more. Surveys must be properly designed with measurement in mind; they can be conducted in person or by mail, telephone, email or the Internet.

If the correct process is followed, the results of the survey will represent the attitudes or behaviors a much larger universe. “Quantitative research provides a ‘snapshot’ of the market at any given point in time,” said Martel. “It is more time-consuming and costs more money than most qualitative research, but the results are highly accurate.

Quantitative research is used to measure client satisfaction, to measure the impact of marketing programs (including brand recognition), to quantify the size of new markets and new market opportunities, and to determine which new and existing legal services clients intend to purchase in the future.

“Quantitative research can also be used to help an attorney prepare for litigation,” said Martel. “For example, in a case involving drowsiness claims in antihistamines, lawyers for Pfizer sponsored an independent research survey that asked 1,000 physicians if they considered its product, Zyrtec, to be sedating or non-sedating.”

Secondary research

Secondary research is an organized process of collecting and interpreting information that has been published elsewhere. “In the old days, this had to be done the hard way – combing through the dusty stacks of libraries,” said McDavid. Today, the bulk of secondary research is done online.

“If you read them purposefully, as sources of marketing information, there is still a lot of information that can be gleaned from newspapers and magazines – especially those with a legal, business or industry focus,” said Dunning. “There are clues about the economy, your competitors, and current and emerging markets.”

Ideally, a law firm has adopted a strategic plan that identifies its most valuable current clients and its most desirable future clients. “With this information in hand,” said McDavid, “you can use research to understand their industries, identify legal trends within their industries, and analyze the kind of legal work they need.”

There is a wealth of information about most companies – especially public companies – available on their websites. “For private companies, Dunn & Bradstreet is the best resource,” said Dunning. “Use the Internet to search for information, including the gossip that appears on blogs, about the company.”

Yahoo! Finance is a free service that allows a secondary researcher to search by company or competitor name, by ticker symbol or by industry. Search Systems Net provides free access to more than 35,000 public records databases. Industry association websites sometimes include their own primary research; almost all include links to good sources.

“There is a wealth of good information available to the public, if you have the time and the knowledge to find it and plow through it,” said McDavid. “Professional market research consultants know how to find information, how to interpret it, and how to prepare executive summaries that save lawyers and law firm marketers a lot of time.

“In addition, a number of players in the legal industry have created customizable products that law firms can use to greatly simplify their secondary research efforts,” said McDavid. “They are not free, but here is where you might have to spend money in order to make money.”

The most prominent of these new tools are Practice Intelligence by CCH Incorporated (www.cch.com), Market Intelligence by LexisNexis (www.lexisnexis.com) and Firm360 by Thomson (www.firm360.com). Following the panel presentation, representatives of Firm360 offered a preview of their product, which is typical of these tools.

Firm360 offers a litigation profile function that aggregates information from reported cases and dockets from Westlaw in order to reveal the litigation trends of companies, industries, law firms, attorneys and judges.

The company monitor function aggregates information from public records, Westlaw, Thomson Financial and numerous third-party providers to create online ‘company watch lists’ that are updated automatically.

The report builder function creates printed reports about key clients that can be used to prepare for meetings with clients and potential clients.

“In these rapidly changing times, where information spreads over the Internet almost instantaneously,” said Martel, “what you don’t know CAN hurt you. No law firm should make a business decision without the appropriate objective market research.”

Getting Personal with Your Web Writing

June 29th, 2012

Some research says that web surfers actually read less than 18% of any given page. While this is sure to be a distressing fact for the writer who slaved over each and every words remember that if you want to hold your reader’s attention you may need to get down to a more personal level. While this technique is not applicable in every situation or for every subject, there are many instances when your writing should include at least a hint of your own personality. As with most writing you will do, before you begin you should have a good idea of who will read your words—the targeted audience.

Who are You Writing For?

You should have a good understanding of how serious your venue is, whether it is a blog or a website, and whether you are working with a highly technical subject or one that is familiar to most people. Whatever you are writing about, you are essentially telling a story and communicating with others. In order to make your readers want to read much more than 18% of your story, remember that human beings want to connect with others and relate to the quandaries of other human beings. So, just how personal should you get with your readers, particularly if you are not writing a blog for yourself, but writing for others as a profession.

What are You Comfortable Sharing?

Ask yourself first just what level of information you are comfortable sharing with readers and what part of yourself you would never, under any circumstances, share with others. Then try sprinkling in a few personal details in your next writing assignment—not much, just enough to make it real for your readers. You want your readers to connect with you, the writer, on a personal level and to identify with you so bring them into the story as soon as you can. If, by the end of your story you feel a little raw and exposed, sleep on the story before it is published. Distance will allow you to edit the details that were making you uncomfortable while leaving in those which make it a good story.

Personal Details in a Blog

Blog content is different from website content in that people expect a blog to be much more personal and to contain details of another’s life. Blogs are actually meant to represent people and create human connections. As human beings we hardly stay on topic all the time, and a blog is no different. While probably none of your blog followers care what you ate for lunch, they do want to know the author’s likes, dreams, opinions, dislikes and passions. In order to communicate those things, you have no choice but to get a bit personal. Most all of us respond more positively to a story in which we are led to see things in a personal, individual manner. Remember—human beings even make purchasing decisions based largely on emotions. Of course there may be a rational decision regarding the purchase made initially but in the end our primary response to a sale pitch will come from a personal place.

Think about what others like about you and try adding some of that specific personality trait into your future writing—you will be glad you did!