How to Break Through the Clutter of Personal Injury Law Firm Commercials

One of my guilty pleasures is periodically recording/watching courtroom series like The People’s Court and Judy Judge to check out the current state of personal injury law firm commercials. For the most part this ad genre is formulaic — Standard intros/outros of an attorney looking and sounding tough, combined with scripted, woodenly delivered client testimonials.

Law firm client service

Returning calls from potential clients is no laughing matter

But recently I came across two ads from Funk & Associates in Austin that broke through the clutter. The first caught my attention because it breaks the mold of standard  value propositions of personal injury law firm commercials. Most firms cite large settlements/awards or the attorneys’ tenacity. What got my attention in the Funk ad was a simple promise  – they return your calls.

Genius!

No matter the type of case, every client — I mean EVERY client — places a premium on responsiveness. Why not lead with that? It’s such a great spot; I wish I could find a link to an online version. I’ll keep looking and will post an update if/when I find one.

Another Funk ad commands attention for another reason: There’s no talking. It’s comprised of a series of strong still images with text, set to dramatic instrumental music. The messages themselves are standard personal injury law firm commercial fare, but the ad’s form factor demands your attention. The typical viewer listens to ads on commercial TV but doesn’t pay close attention — everything blends together. But because we’ve been conditioned to expect narration during commercials, the lack of a voiceover actually draws attention and focus, and you can’t help but read along to the end.

Check it out. The video is on their website home page, entitled “The Tough Lawyer.”

 

 

Why Solo and Small Law Firms Are Ripe for Marketing Automation

Small law firm success has always been a matter of making the most out of limited time and resources — a complex mix of too many tasks, competing priorities and unrelenting deadlines. But with the advent of cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS), small and solo law firms have the ability to conquer the chaos through marketing automation.

Sophisticated marketing, CRM, e-commerce and all-in-one solutions are now available on a subscription basis, so firms don’t need to purchase or maintain computer hardware. And subscription fees are a fraction of the cost of purchasing powerful software suites outright.

In other words, the practical and technological barriers to marketing automation for law firms have been eliminated, and it’s time to start thinking big.

12 Big Reasons to Start Automating Your Marketing Now

  • Confidently manage higher volumes of leads, prospects and clients as they move through your qualification pipeline
  • Build lists more rapidly
  • Target and customize offers and communications more precisely
  • Eliminate manual errors
  • Reduce e-mail bounce rates
  • Create follow-up sequences that run automatically
  • Improve the quality and number of touches with prospective clients (remember, seven times is a charm)
  • Adapt and switch out campaigns faster and with greater agility
  • Generate and manage healthy complexity in your marketing campaigns
  • Increase your analytical capabilities
  • Reclaim and redeploy your time
  • Enjoy peace of mind that your business can speed along without your constant involvement and vigilance

Don’t Get Left Behind

Marketing automation for solo and small firms is a fast-developing segment. The first tools to emerge were point solutions for specific activities, like e-mail marketing. As the success of automated campaigns and communications rolled on, the need for integrated end-to-end sales funnel management capabilities like CRM and e-commerce became more obvious and acute.

Today, marketing automation is experiencing a new surge of innovation in areas like all-in-one solutions, and integration with adjacent activities like practice management and logistics. So the question isn’t whether you should be investing in marketing automation for your law firm, but instead, how much and how quickly.

Are you contemplating a marketing automation solution? What questions or concerns do you have?

It’s Time for Legal Marketers to Put Facebook Away

Facebook has had more than enough time and opportunity to make a difference in legal marketing. So where are the compelling case studies of Facebook for law firms? Where are the clear, replicable methods for acquiring new clients and deepening relationships with current ones?

As with any toy, there's a time to put Facebook awayFacebook is a hobby, a time=money-wasting diversion. It’s long past time for legal marketers to take a pragmatic, unsentimental and non-magical thinking look at their Facebook activities and make a tough decision on whether to continue the quixotic pursuit of the unicorn called Facebook marketing success.

And if you haven’t started trying to build your brand on Facebook, don’t. While there’s a lot of money to be made in Facebook for law firms, nearly all of it is by social media strategy consultants and content creators who are more than happy to enable the fantasy.

Reality check

  1. It’s a walled garden – Only people actively looking for you can find you. There is no “long tail” for your delightfully engaging content, no serendipity where prospective clients searching the interwebs happen upon your latest “wow” moment.
  2. For solos, your firm’s fans are already your personal friends – Facebook is great for nurturing real-world social relationships. Your followers already know you’re a lawyer; no need to beat them over the head with it.
  3. The best traffic-building strategy for Facebook is giving things away – Law firms typically don’t offer coupons or traffic in daily deals — and they shouldn’t. Granted, running a contest or a fundraising promotion can lead to “likes” — but who’s found the secret to turning those likes into leads?
  4. You can’t easily personalize communications or follow up with individuals – Asking Facebook fans to “Share Your Email Address” is tantamount to requesting “Let Us Pull a Hair Out of Your Nose.”
I know, I know. Lead generation is not the only marketing objective in Facebook for law firms. The long, elaborate dance can help cultivate goodwill over time. But how many small and solo firms can afford to invest that amount of time for the possibility of slightly elevated good feelings? Playing in the Facebook sandbox is a luxury, not a necessity.

If you have an example of sustained success in Facebook marketing for solo and small law firms, I would highly value learning about it. In fact, I’d welcome the opportunity to share it here.

 

Content Marketing for Law Firms: Quality Content Means Stronger SEO

Something interesting and easy to read for the holiday weekend…

An infographic from content marketing firm Brafton News illustrates how high-quality, search-friendly content achieves SEO by organically populating sites with keywords and valuable information — both of which are important to search success.

Brafton's Infographic: Why Content for SEO?

Law Firm Website Redesign: Move Your Standalone Blog to Your Website

Judging from lunch and happy hour conversations at the LMA 2012 annual conference, we’re in for a wave of law firm website refreshes and redesigns. There was a lot of discussion about incorporating features to increase website traffic and visitor engagement, but no one was talking about the single most effective way to do that: moving their standalone blog to their website.

Maintaining a blog separately from your website just doesn’t make business or practical sense.

  • Websites that incorporate a blog component typically perform better and require less time and expense than maintaining two or more content management systems.
  • Your blog allows you to easily publish new content your site on a regular basis, it is built to be search engine friendly, and it is simply easier (and cheaper) to manage one site instead of two!buy
  • It is much easier and less confusing for your prospects and leads to find and engage with you when you are directing them to just one site.
  • You typically don’t change most content on your main website pages, like your attorney bio and practice description pages. By keeping your blog as part of your main website, the static pages of your site benefit from the optimization and fresh content published on your blog.

Don’t Believe Your Website Developer. It Absolutely Can Be Done.

On the Inkling Media blog, Ken Mueller noted:

” Businesses get a website, and then they get a blog….Usually this is done because they don’t know how to add a blog to their site, or their web CMS isn’t blog friendly. If that’s the case, you might want to think about a complete redesign of your site to something that includes a blog, and again, I’ll put in a big plug for self-hosted WordPress sites.

“So why is it a problem if your blog doesn’t reside on your domain? Because you’re sending all the traffic to another domain: your blog. A blog will get heavier traffic than your site, and it’s more likely to have regularly changing content and important keywords, as well as attract inbound links. If that happens on your blog, your website is getting none of the credit.

“And don’t think that URL masking, redirecting, or even pulling the blog in via frames will help. The SEO credit will still go to the blog domain, not your website domain. The goal is to drive traffic to your site and get the SEO credit for it. This is a bit harder to remedy than the first three, but a quick chat with your web designer will let you know what your blogging options are for your site. And don’t take “No” for an answer. I’ve spoken to several businesses whose web team told them it couldn’t be done. If that’s the case, and SEO is important to you, it might be time for a new site (and a new web designer).”

Get Off on the Right Foot

Don’t forget, you don’t even need a “website.” A blog IS a website — a dynamic website. You can have pages on a blog and, with some of the great WordPress themes on the StudioPress Genesis Framework, you can create an attractive, high-impact website with full blog integration.

 

 

3 Law Firm Marketing Lessons from a Guy Who Makes Fiberglass Shower Pan Liners

I’m having a walk-in shower installed in my home, and getting a workshop in branding and word-of-mouth marketing in the process.

When I began the project, I thought all I needed was a plumber and a tile guy. The plumber was a no-brainer — I’ve relied on Wilson Plumbing for years. But I quickly learned that even a small construction project like mine is comprised of a general contractor cobbling together a cadre of independent niche craftspeople — the demo crew, framers, drywallers, concrete pourers, fiberglass shower pan builders and tilers.

The morning after the fiberglass shower pan was installed (and the overpowering acetone fumes had cleared), I went into the bathroom to inspect the progress and noticed a  simple branding gesture that conveyed a bold message. Embedded on the new shower curb under the fiberglass was a plain card that bore just the name and phone number of the contractor in large, readable type.  What it actually said, though, was, “I made this and I stand behind it. If you like it, call me.”

Clearly, that message wasn’t intended for me — it was tiled over soon thereafter. It was directed to other, unknown contractors that would encounter his handiwork and might want to work with him on a future project.

And it worked!

Later that same day the plumber came by, glanced at the shower floor and remarked, “That’s a great pan liner. Who did the work for you?”  I didn’t know; I just pointed to the card. The plumber took out his mobile phone and snapped a picture of it.

Three Key Marketing Lessons

  1. “Marketing” can get in the way. Whenever possible, let your work product speak for itself. Share and promote well-crafted/well-reasoned pleadings and motions, not just outcomes.
  2. Engage with potential clients/referral sources at the times and places their needs are most immediate.
  3. Keep your message simple, memorable and actionable.
What law firm marketing ideas or inspirations have you gotten from unexpected sources?

 

 

 

 

Legal Marketing: What You’re Missing at SXSW 2012

Every spring the social media and entertainment industries converge on Austin, Texas for SXSW (shorthand for South by Southwest), one of the most frantically busy and buzz-worthy conferences of the year.

For all the claims about lawyers as consummate networkers, I marvel that SXSW is not awash in IP, entertainment and small business/startup lawyers. The superabundance of crowded parties, meet-ups, hospitality pavilions and special events are a networker’s dream — start-up businesses, start-up films and start-up bands, all in need of lawyers with specific expertise.

Rocket Lawyer jumped into the networking fray this year with a Sociable Lawyer Premiere Event last Friday to promote its On Call lead referral program. Despite it being an uncharacteristically cold and rainy afternoon, a crowd of young lawyers converged on a Sixth Street bar to connect. I spent a while talking to some first-year associates about their experience with the controversial forms-driven service, and it was clear that Rocket Lawyer was on to something — building and strengthening connections with the current generation of solo and small-firm attorneys who “get it.”

A hidden bonus for lawyers at  SXSW is the free CLE. Yes, you can get free CLE as part of your SXSW admission.  I don’t know when they started, but for the past several years Lommen Abdo Law Firm has run a really interesting CLE track called “Legal Issues in the Music, Film and Emerging Technology Industries”  Talk about a marketing ROI goldmine….

This year the program boasts more than 40 industry leaders on different 13 panels. All SXSW registrants are welcome, but attorneys can register for up to 13 CLE credits and are given preferential access if the session is full.

Tomorrow’s sessions include:

Gimme Shelter from the Storm Clouds

As more products and services move to the proverbial cloud, from shared collaboration, commercial product offerings, and user-uploaded content, new business models are created while extant business models come under attack. This panel will explore the disruption caused by some new cloud-based services and how this disruption is affecting existing industries. For example, who is responsible for liabilities arising from the use or exploitation of content stored in the cloud; should Congress change the law to impose new liability/responsibilities on operators of cloud-based services; what rights, if any, do consumers have to perpetual access to their content in the cloud; can a user transfer their content in the cloud to another device or person? These and other questions will be addressed by the distinguished panel.

The Automobile as Network Node

Automobiles are increasingly connected to computer networks and are used to collect, use and share vehicle-related information. They also provide a delivery mechanism for driving, entertainment and other content and information. This panel will discuss legal issues arising out of and related to the collection, use and disclosure of vehicle-related information and related emerging legal issues of data use in or related to vehicles.

CLE panels later this week during the music festival portion include:

Royalties in the Digital Space: What, Where and How Much Are They?

Identifying, following and actually collecting essential money from a myriad of digital sources is a growing challenge. With the help of sophisticated music accountants, this panel will show what is at stake, and where and how to secure this income.

Licensing Madness: Exploitations a Go-Go

In a world where music is being licensed to promote, enhance, advertise and image almost everything, the deals and protocols are as varied as the uses themselves. The panel will identify uses and review common terms and deal expectations.

Run for Cover: The Future of Cloud Commerce

As traditional music consumer consumption habits evaporate into the cloud, a new legal and language lexicon casts a mighty shadow over the music business. This panel will analyze whether subscriptions and other alternatives present promise or problems in the new music economy.

Any interest in working with me to pitch social media for law firms panel ideas for next year’s SXSW?

Google+ for Lawyers: Reduced to a “Just in Case” SEO Strategy? [INFOGRAPHIC]

I hate to say “I told you so, but…”

The rapturous welcome and flood of sign-ups for Google+ last summer can no longer disguise the platform’s fundamental problems. For example, tracking research by comScore shows that in January the average user spent a paltry 3 minutes on Google+ – which was lower than even perennial social media afterthought MySpace.

It seems the best argument Google+’s supporters can muster is that “No one has a firm grip on where Google+ is headed, but their[sic] is no question it’s here to stay and is going to influence search and discovery of information and people.”

Notwithstanding such confident but unsupported claims, unless Google+ becomes more attractive to subscribers and demonstrates clear ROI, it’s not worthwhile for solo and small firm lawyers to squander time and attention on experimentation with it.

Social Media for Law Firms: Free HubSpot Report Offers Trove of Valuable Marketing Data

The best things in social media research are (frequently) free.

That’s certainly the case with HubSpot’s new report “ The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing.” Highlights include:

  • Survey results of 970+ professionals reporting on their company’s marketing strategy and results
  • How to drive more leads at a lower cost for your business
  • Why social media and blogs are the most rapidly expanding marketing channels
  • What to expect from the future of inbound marketing
As an added bonus, on March 1 HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe will be headlining a live webinar to go over the report’s key findings — also FREE.

Or you can shell out $500 for the new report from ALM Legal Intelligence that quizzed 180 law firms, providing anecdotal support for what we already know about social media marketing at law firms.

Legal Research: Tips on How to Get More Out of Google Scholar

Google has made search so mind-bogglingly simple that is seems you can type any vague set of words into the search field and find exactly what you want. But if you need to hone legal research on Google Scholar to an even finer edge, the following infographic from HackCollege.com illustrates how to structure a Google query to yield even more refined results.