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.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.24.12

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

Content Marketing for Lawyers: A Timeline of Selling Through Storytelling

The long history and distinguished heritage of content marketing is laid out in this informative and entertaining infographic from the Content Marketing Institute. As a current subscriber of the genius LEGO Club Jr., I was particularly interested to see reference to its forebear.

In case Joe Pulizzi comes across this shout out, one milestone I would like to see in a future iteration is the first “whitepaper” used for marketing purposes.


 History of Content Marketing Infographic

Like this infographic? Get more
content marketing
information from the
Content Marketing Institute.

Content Marketing for Lawyers: 22 Simple Techniques to Beat Writer’s Block [Infographic]

Not every blog post can be a magnum opus, particularly with the brisk throughput requirements of content marketing.

Practicing what they preach (see tip #22), the Copyblogger team have created an infographic that reminds us how interesting and useful content can arise from simple, repeatable techniques. My personal favorite is #4 — the interview — because it makes for great posts and great networking.

What do you do to conquer blogger’s block?

 

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Content Curation for Law Firms: One E-mail a Week Could Transform Your Social Media Training

Before you launched your firm’s social media platforms — blog, LinkedIn, Twitter — you made sure to conduct a training session for the attorneys and staff you’d being relying on to create content and engage in conversations. You might have even brought in an outside speaker to reinforce and expand on your guidance.

A few months later, the early enthusiasm has died off. Authors are struggling with ideas for their next blog post, LinkedIn profiles are complete but networking on the site is dormant, and Twitter just doesn’t make sense to anyone.

So what’s the next step? More training? And how much training will be required going forward?

Maintenance Mode

If reality TV weight loss programs have taught us nothing else, the gains achieved during a period of intensive training can quickly reverse without consistent ongoing support, encouragement and self-help resources. As a hedge against backsliding and “yo-yo” social media participation between training sessions, try a simple content curation technique that reminds, encourages and enables your team: a weekly digest of links to “how to” posts and videos.

  • DIY curation — A robust RSS feed is a curator’s best friend, providing a continual stream of fresh ideas from your favorite content creators. Its downside, of course, is continual vigilance. That RSS mailbox can fill up quickly, and it takes time to sift the wheat from the chaff.
  • Curating the curators — Why add to your workload when plenty of people are already curating the best “how to” tips for you — for free. Just subscribe to a few sites that regularly post lists of links to useful and interesting posts. “Fetching Friday” is a weekly feature on kikolani.com comprised of links to noteworthy posts from around the interwebs on blogging, business, SEO and social media . My own twice-weekly “Endeavor to Be Useful” feature takes a similar approach, but focuses more on law firm marketing. Also worth following is the LexisNexis Best Practices in Lawyer Blogs weekly e-newsletter.
What are your favorite sites for content curation and “how-to” tips?

 

 

 

Websites for Law Firms: A Graphic Argument for Hosting Your Blog on Your Website

For the typical small or solo law firm, it does not make sense to host a standalone blog and a website. Websites that include a blog component typically perform better and require less time and expense.

As Jennifer Bourn succinctly framed it last year:

  • 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!
  • It is much easier and less confusing for your prospects and leads to find you, contact you, interact with you, and buy from you when you are directing them to just one website.
  • You typically don’t change the sales content on your main website pages like your about page and your services pages, so 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.

A new infographic from IMPACT Branding & Design breaks that argument down step by step, and adds an exclamation point:

A blog on your website generates 400 percent more indexed pages (opportunities to be found through SEO) and 55 percent more traffic.

 

The Inbound Marketing Process Infographic

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.17.12

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