Building a prosperous legal practice has never been easier than it is today. Unlike in decades past, the number of marketing tools in the proverbial toolkit has never been greater. So, why do lawyers struggle to use the marketing tools available? What should your marketing expectations be?
The fact is that the majority of lawyers have no professional education or training in services marketing, business or client development. There is no shame in lawyers conceding that they know little to nothing about how to “market” their legal services. This is why there are legal marketing experts whose specialty discipline is directly applied in this area.
The marketing tools that I hear lawyers speak about most is social media and search engine marketing. How are they different? How do you know if/when they “work”? What do they really do, anyway? And, the questions continue. In short, they struggle to understand the value and role of social media and search engine marketing.
After I listen to all the questions that lawyers ask, they move on to share a story about a digital marketing company that they retained, which made promises but they have not seen the program “work”. If I had a dime for every time I have heard this, I could retire to Kauai and watch the beautiful sunsets.
Let me be perfectly clear on several very important truths:
- There is no one marketing tactic that will help you build a prosperous business. Not one single one.
- SEM (search engine marketing) and SMM (social media marketing) is part art and part science. One thing that neither of these marketing tools is not is a “sure thing”. As much as lawyers want to wrap up the marketing part of their practices in a beautiful box with a bow on top, this is simply not how building a business predicated upon relationship building works. And, never will.
- There are many digital marketing companies in the marketplace which make unfounded promises “we’ll get you to the first page of Google” in 30-60 days, knowing that this promise is unlikely, in a sustainable fashion. Sure, you may google your/your firm name and it may indeed appear on the first page, for less than 24 hours. That’s just not how the SEM/SMM game is played, in a long-term, organic way.
These companies prey on the fact that the buyers of their services are un-educated and largely uninformed with regard to how, specifically, SEM and SMM really work. Our digital team is often called in to “repair” and “fix” other providers’ poor techniques and sloppy practices. And, every time, I am so disappointed and sad for our clients that they have been taken advantage of.
On the positive side, there are viable, organic steps that experienced and well-informed digital marketers take on an ongoing basis to help clients to build a robust online reputation and leverage clients’ digital assets (i.e. a professionally designed website, social media platforms and directory listings). We make this happen for our clients every day and am thrilled to learn that by staying the course, that they are generating new client retentions directly from their website lead generation and conversion systems put into place.
Understanding that many lawyers skew on the skeptical side, I hear often “I don’t expect to get any clients from our website;” “I just want people to find us on the web, to see that we are who we say we are.” Wow! While I hear these remarks frequently, the truth is if you do not expect to generate a revenue stream from your digital assets, either you need to just shut down everything and retreat or, the wiser move, is to engage in a strategic digital marketing program, with seasoned and proven experts.
Regardless of whether you practice in a consumer-based practice (e.g. family law, personal injury, estate and elder law, workers’ compensation or similar area) or a business-to-business practice (e.g. management labor and employment, commercial real estate, commercial litigation, and the list goes on), each and every legal practice can, with the proper tools and guidance, develop a separate revenue stream from its website and digital marketing program.
The only difference is transitioning from making marketing decisions based on precedent (what is xx firm doing? – thanks, law school) to looking forward with an open mind to 21st century marketing best practices.
Yes, I recognize that could be a heavy lift but it is your money/revenue being left on the (proverbial) table if you choose to stay stuck in 20th century thinking. The choice is yours. Continue to consider while the competition eats your lunch. Kimberly Rice