Archives for January 2012

Law Firm Websites Need to Master Inbound Marketing Basics

If the primary objective of your next website is to “inspire and present the right firm image,” then don’t be surprised if it doesn’t perform much better than your former site.

While law firm websites are getting more visually interesting, they will not generate more inquiries that lead to new business until the primary focus is on helping clients easily find the information they are looking for.

Think Like a Potential Client

Before you get carried away with the aesthetic sweep of your website, heed the guidance of “Chicago School” of architecture progenitor Louis Sullivan — “Form ever follows function.” As Jessica Meher notes, that dictum starts with your site’s homepage. “A homepage needs to wear many hats and serve many audiences who come from many different places….In order for a homepage to work, it needs to meet its purpose and contain key elements that attract traffic, educate your visitors, and convert browsers into buyers.”

The following HubSpot annotation illustrates how to build a functional framework for a law firm website homepage. Once you build this, you can overlay it with “strong, compelling, and emotional images” that animate your brand.

 

 

 

 

Twitter for Law Firms: Better Tweeting Through Science

Dan Zarrella is one of the most influential people in social media because he takes a rigorous, empirical approach to proving, disproving and improving the basic elements of online networking and marketing.

In the following infographic, Zarrella illustrates how various factors affect click-through rates (number of clicks / number of followers = CTR) of hyperlinks embedded into tweets. The variables tested include:

  • The tweet’s length.
  • The position of the link within the tweet.
  • Your tweet frequency.
  • Common terms and phrases that stimulate click-through.
  • Best times of day to tweet.

As the saying goes, “individual results might vary,” but the beauty of Twitter is that it doesn’t cost you anything to run a test of your own.

Do you have any secrets for getting followers to click through? Retweet?

 

3 Myths About Business Cards — And 3 Online Tools You Should Consider Instead

There was a time not long ago when business cards had almost talismanic qualities for lawyers and other professionals.  They were professionally designed and produced. Expensive. Markers of legitimacy, status, taste, authority, seriousness of purpose. An essential one-to-one marketing tool. Business cards were distributed liberally, and retained by recipients in Rolodexes, Filofaxes and drawers.

Enter Outlook, Google and LinkedIn. We no longer need micro-billboards to help contacts log, organize and retrieve our contact information.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Although they no longer command attention and respect, we still need business cards for utilitarian purposes like:

    1. Demonstrating you are prepared.
    2. Quickly and easily passing along basic contact information.
    3. Helping participants in large meetings keep track of who’s who.
    4. Conducting business in Asia.
    5. Placing in fish bowls at restaurant host stations for a chance at a free meal.

And yet, certain myths about business cards endure and cause lawyers to over-think and over-spend on what is now a low-value commodity.
  1. They make you look professional – Having a business card isn’t rare or special anymore. With online services like Moo and Vistaprint, anyone can get a veritable lifetime’s supply of high-quality, customized, color-image, double-sided business cards for less than the cost of a business lunch.
  2. They are necessary for a good first impression – If someone asks for your business card, you’ve already made a good impression. And if you haven’t noticed, it’s now rare for anyone to do more than glance at a business card before putting it in a pocket or handbag. Just being prepared and having a business card readily available makes a strong first impression. The craftsmanship and composition of the card is mostly irrelevant.
  3. Adding a QR code to a business card makes you look techno-savvy, and it will drive traffic to the linked landing page, webpage, microsite, etc. – Ugly, cryptic, space-eating, pixelated squares are just as likely to look gimmicky on a professional card. Indeed, other than novelty, there’s no compelling reason for recipients to access the code’s content on a mobile device when they have the information they need in their hand already.
Better Options for Optimizing Your Contact Information
  1. Add useful personal and company links to your e-mail signature.
  2. Create personalized landing pages through services like  Flavors.me and About.me.
  3. Invest in Google search curation tools like Vizibility.
I know that lawyer coaches, graphic designers, printers, and the irrationally image-obsessed, among others, still venerate businesses cards, so I hope to hear some lively counterpoints.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 01.26.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Social Media Law: Before SOPA and PIPA

The recent national furor over SOPA/PIPA  underscored the centrality of social media law to the way we live now.

The editors of Socially Aware, Morrison & Foerster’s blog on the law and business of social media, recently published an infographic timeline of legal milestones that have shaped the course of social media’s evolution — for good or ill.

 

Any landmark cases you’d like to add?

Market Research for Law Firms: What Legal Marketers Need to Know About Millennials

Last summer I wrote a piece for the Texas Bar Journal about how “digital natives” will transform the ways law firms and clients communicate and collaborate. This recent Bazaarvoice infographic illustrates how much Millennials rely on social proof in their choices of goods and services.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 01.20.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 01.18.12

A digest of social media “how-to” advice and tips for legal marketing.

Webinar Best Practices for Law Firms: It’s All About the Audience’s POV (and Starting on Time)

Maybe it’s just my bad luck, but recently I’ve attended a string of webinars that suffered from poor preparation in one or both of two areas: content and technical direction. Since it’s a time-tested technique, there is a lot of good material available to help you compose, market and execute a successful webinar.

Ken Molay of Webinar Success created a comprehensive tutorial on webinar best practices that reminds:

  • It is vital to consider the audience’s perspective at every stage of your planning, preparation, presentation, and follow-through. Encourage your audience to take each desired action by emphasizing the value and benefit to them of doing so.
  • Work on ways to build registration and attendance for your webinar by setting up processes that simplify required actions and reinforce value.
  • Webinar presenters need to prepare their physical environment and their presentation planning to facilitate a successful delivery.
  • Rehearsals are critical in achieving comfort and confidence in the presentation, while backup planning can help avoid cancellation of an event when things go wrong.
  • Presentation style needs to continually refocus the audience’s attention and enthusiasm for the subject material.
  • Find ways to connect with and stimulate your attendees through vocal delivery and careful selection of content.
  • After your presentation, act quickly to take advantage of the trust and goodwill you have built with your audience. Don’t forget registrants who did not attend, because they are excellent prospects for viewing recordings or signing up for future webinars.

As for running the event itself, HubSpot created a checklist of production tips to help your webinar run smoothly:
  1. Leading up to the webinar, send a reminder email twice – once 1 day before the webinar and once 1 hour before the webinar.
  2. Prior to the webinar starting, have someone on your team dial-in to make sure the number is working for participants. Have this person send you a question so you know it’s working (and can see what it will look inside the webinar software).
  3. Let the audience know in the introduction how you will be dealing with questions (whether you’ll respond to select questions at the end, try to take them during the session, etc.).
  4. When doing a demo or showing software, try not to move too quickly (or scroll up and down a web page too quickly). Often, a refresh takes some time to complete based on the user’s bandwidth. Plan on it taking about 5 seconds every time you change your screen for everyone to see the change.
  5. Have a definitive “stop” to the core material (within the time allotted). This is similar to what you’d do in an offline meeting. This way, those that only scheduled the appropriate time know when you are done and are not irritated by the fact that they’re missing something “core”. It’s okay to extend beyond the end time as long as the “officially scheduled program” has a clean end and those that need to leave can leave.
  6. Close ALL unnecessary applications, especially Outlook, Instant Messenger, etc. You do not want any personal or confidential info displayed, and you just don’t want to interrupt the webinar with any notifications that pop up.
  7. Start 2 minutes past the hour. This gives people time to call in, but does not make those on time wait too long and annoy them for being on time. Those who call in a couple more minutes later usually do not miss much.  Also, starting on time helps people show up on time for future webinars. It is tempting as a presenter to wait for more people to join. Be strong, don’t do it.
  8. Call into the meeting at least 15 minutes early. Before you call in to start the meeting, with many types of conferencing software everyone else hears an annoying beep and has no idea if they are in the right meeting. If you call in early everyone will know they are in the right place.
  9. Use pre-webinar slides & announcements. Put up a slide that says something like “the webinar will begin in 10 minutes” so when people log in they know it is working, and then update it to show the actual time until the webinar. You should also make an announcement on the call every few minutes to let people know it will start soon and their audio is working.
  10. Send out a recording and the slides to people within 24 hours, and tell them during the webinar you will do this. About 10-20% of your attendees will email you looking for the info anyway, so just send it out. Fast follow-up helps you motivate people to take a next step while the webinar is still on their mind.
What’s the “secret sauce” in your webinars?

Content Marketing for Lawyers: 5 Non-Blog Content Types That Can Get You Noticed

It’s almost an old chestnut in “innovation” circles, but some of the most important breakthroughs are not new inventions. Rather, they’re new applications of proven technologies and methods. In a post entitled “Don’t Think Different, Think About Different Things” on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, Art Markman of the University of Texas at Austin cites the example of vacuum cleaner mogul James Dyson.

“Dyson set out to invent a more effective vacuum cleaner. He noticed that vacuums lose suction as the bag fills, because the pores in the bag get clogged. Most people who tried to fix this issue in the past attempted to solve the “bag problem” by crafting a more effective vacuum cleaner bag.

“Instead, Dyson realized a vacuum takes in a combination of dust and air and needs to separate the dust from the air. Once he thought about the problem in this way, he was able to recall his own knowledge about the industrial cyclones used in sawmills. Industrial cyclones use centrifugal force to separate particles from air rather than a filter. He then designed a small industrial cyclone into a vacuum and created a highly successful business.”

The same can be said of content marketing for lawyers. You can wait two or three years for your reputation and new business leads to gestate on your blog, or you can mobilize the full depth and breadth of your content resources through third-party distribution channels like JD Supra. In a recent e-mail exchange, co-founder Adrian Lurssen provided a very helpful summary of JD Supra content types beyond repurposed blog posts:

  1. Favorable court filings – Lurssen notes that intellectual property attorney Ron Coleman’s repository of documents is comprised almost entirely of his own filings —  decisions, pleadings,  motions, memoranda and related work.
  2. Legal analysis – Multi-specialty law firm Lane Powell uses JD Supra to aggregate newsletters, articles, and alerts covering developments in sectors as wide-ranging as transportation, securities, environment and energy, immigration, labor and employment.
  3. Legal forms – Instead of ceding the “forms” business to LegalZoom, templates and samples of complex instruments like a family trust can surface your content in search engines, and help build reputation.
  4. Legal documents of interest (content curation) – In addition to posting his own writing on social networking and Web 2.0 in the legal space, attorney Doug Cornelius  uses his JD Supra portfolio to collect legal documents not written by him but either related to his practice field or of interest to readers of his blog.
  5. Q&A site responses — Versions of responses written for sites like Quora and LegalOnramp also find their way into JD Supra portfolios.

“We are a bridge between two worlds: lawyers, and the people lawyers serve,” Lurssen concluded. “Any content that makes sense, somehow, of the legal implications (business, consumer, other) of our lives —  that’s good content on JD Supra.”