Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.09.12

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

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 02.02.12

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

  • 11 tips for a better Facebook ad campaign | SEOptimise
  • 5 Steps To Bootstrapping Your PR Efforts | SEOmoz
  • 5 Essential Qualities of Growing Your Blog Quickly in a Crowded Niche | Kikolani
  • 47 Essential Social Media Tools for Content Marketers | Junta42
  • 5 Ways to Brand Your New YouTube Profile | Social Media Examiner 
  • 15 essential tasks to complete after installing WordPress | WordPress Hosting SEO
  • Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid – Single Grain


Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 01.26.12

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

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 11.4.11

  • 30-Minute WordPress Setup Guide | Lawyerist
  • 13 WordPress Blog Design ‘Don’ts’ | For Bloggers By Bloggers 
  • Giving Kick-Ass Presentations In The Age Of Social Media | Fast Company
  • 5-Step Approach to Learning the StumbleUpon Targeted Traffic Tango | Duct Tape Marketing 
  • 20 Super Awesome Ways to Reuse, Recycle, Renew, and Repurpose your Blog Content! | adamsokoloff.com
  • Answers to the Top 5 Press Release Optimization Questions | Hubspot 
  • Top 42 Content Marketing Bloggers | Junta42
  • Detailed Reviews of 60 Free Press Release Distribution Sites | Vitis PR 


My Picks for Notable Posts of the Week 12/17/2010

This week the Minnesota State Bar Association announced its picks for the “Top 25 Minnesota Blawgs, 2010 Edition.” I was familiar with some — what legal social media denizen isn’t a Lawyerist fan — but I was surprised and delighted to be introduced to many new (to me) and original voices.

As I reviewed the winning blawgs, I noticed something very encouraging: a large plurality were designed and run on WordPress software and haven’t needed the phantom “marketing support” of commercial blawg mill operators to gain traction and authority.

Because I’ve long maintained that small and solo practices with robust blogs don’t need a separate website, I was most excited to read the citation for Budge Law Offices LLC:

“When we talk to attorneys about law firm websites, they often tell us “I don’t want my site to look like a blog.” Hmmm. Confusing. One of the best ways to engage potential clients is a site that maintains fresh content. The Budge Law Firm takes that to heart. Their law firm web site is a blog, and their blog is a law firm website. And they do a nice job with it, showing how much you can do with some content, a few posts, and a nicely minimalist approach that actually uses a slightly tweaked version of the WordPress default theme.”

Other honorees powered by WordPress include:

Congratulations to the winners. I’ll be posting about you again soon.

Even in Legal Marketing, Price ALWAYS Matters

Recently I read a post by a legal blogger that warned readers to “never compete on price,” which struck me as quaintly out of touch

Price Matters in Professional Services

with the market for professional services, and egregiously self-serving.  You see, this blogger’s business is building blogs — something you can easily do yourself with professional-looking results in an afternoon — for free — using Google’s Blogger service or WordPress . 

The post was prompted by a sales discussion wherein a prospective customer questioned why this blog development firm’s initial fee was double that of a competitor’s. In a clunky bit of sophistry, the author asserts that charging lawyers well above market for a commoditized service like blog development and hosting actually helps them because “Focusing on price, as opposed to quality and service, leaves the American lawyer ill-served. It’s not what companies serving lawyers should be all about.” 

It’s not what they should be “all about,” but price definitely matters — a lot. Law firms are businesses, and what successful business does not factor price into the equation on EVERY vendor decision? Has anyone successfully gone into a competitive pitch saying, “We’re not going to talk about price because it’s beneath us, and it should be beneath you.” 

Price is concrete; “quality” and “service” are the subjective filters through which we view price and form our perception of value. You can’t compete on quality and service without putting a price tag on it. 


Remember PR?: Basic Media Relations Could Be Your New “Secret Weapon”

Law firm PR isn’t dead; it’s just “off trend.”

Social media and networking platforms have hijacked law firm marketing mind share, discourse and resources, with many “experts” proclaiming that social media is the new PR. And I thank them for that misdirection, because it creates more opportunities for good old-fashioned media relations (with a few twists*).

While your competitors are bogged down writing post after post for their own blog on recent circuit court decisions, trusting THIS will be the one to command an editor’s attention, you could be appearing on a local Fox affiliate’s morning show segment about estate planning, or contributing posts on family law issues to a mommy blogger site.

The players and distribution channels (aka “media”) have changed, but not the need for, and effectiveness of, basic media relations: useful information engagingly presented, interesting and credible subject matter experts, and good stories well told.

* The “twists”:

  1. Redefine “journalist” – In addition to reporters/editors/correspondents at professional and general interest media, pay attention to “citizen journalists” (aka bloggers) who a) address the audiences you want to reach and b) have a demonstrated, ongoing interest in subject matter where you can offer unique expertise/insights. For me BlogHer is massively useful for identifying new outlets, conversations and conversationalists.  If you haven’t already, get on the HARO distribution, with matches journalists with subject matter experts through thrice-daily e-mail alerts. And don’t overlook opportunities to cultivate conversations and connections in the WordPress community.
  2. The Rolodex might be obsolete, but it’s still about your contacts – Journalists don’t sit around all day checking various content aggregation feeds for interesting posts. There are lots of great story ideas — and even more subject matter experts — out there to choose from. You still have to make 1:1 connections —  just like engaging with prospective clients — if you want to be memorable and useful to journalists.
  3. Think stories, not “news” – Classic, pre-Internet media relations put a premium on “newsworthiness” because the number of outlets and space/time slots within them were limited, and “hard” breaking or investigative news took precedence over “soft” feature stories. Blogging has turned that dynamic on its head. The bar for “hard” news is lower, and the demand for attention-grabbing  feature content and commentary — most notably of the “Top 10” list variety — is growing stronger daily. So if you’ve written an interesting blog post, don’t be afraid to turn it into a press release and/or pitch it directly to media, too.
  4. Give your press releases an SEO makeover – Almost as important as the information in your press releases is the format and searchability. Affordable services like PitchEngine can help you structure and SEO optimize. You can even set up a virtual “newsroom” so you don’t have to mess with posting releases on your website . And don’t forget to use your most searched-for keywords early and often!

Law Firm Blogs: Why You Don’t Need a Website

Over the past several weeks I’ve noticed numerous tweets announcing small and solo law firms launching or relaunching their Web site. In turn, I took greater notice of the commonplace and repetitive exhortations from Web-design-firms-cum-online-marketing-experts to optimize SEO on your law firm website.

Taken together, these episodes have me wondering, “Why?”

I’m not arguing that websites are obsolete, or questioning SEO — to the contrary — but rather, I am wondering why expensive, complex, static websites are still so entrenched and central to the online marketing and identity of solo and small firms. The best explanation I’ve come up with is 1) conformity and 2) habit. Websites are virtual “shingles.” EVERYBODY has one. If you’re in practice, you must have a website to show you’re legit and to help people find you. As a result, blogs usually are undertaken in addition to — not instead of — websites. No wonder, then, that social marketing for law firms is viewed as an additional expense and resource strain.

But there’s another way to look at it: You don’t NEED a website.

Law firm blogs meet the same key functional objectives as websites — aka brochureware — at a fraction of the cost. They are dead simple to set up and manage, they look professional and they have the critical advantage of dynamic content.

Publishing company HarperStudio asked fans of its blog that same question when it began contemplating how best to elevate its online marketing and community-building strategy:

“Why do we ‘need’ a website? We’ve been looking at proposals for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I am still not clear what we would accomplish with a website that justifies that amount of money. I certainly understand the difference between their functions [blogs and websites], just not the ROI.

Nearly everyone who’s opinion on the matter I highly regard says we need one. Certainly the companies we’ve looked into hiring say yes. And yet no one seems to be able to explain to me ‘WHY’ in a way that makes sense to me.”

A few months after asking followers for their opinions, HarperStudio announced its decision:

“Your comments to the question were AMAZING. I read and used every one. The result is that we decided to forgo the expensive website and instead build a WordPress site….The whole thing came in under $10,000. It’s easily maintainable by all of us and our authors. We hope it’s a fun place to hang out. It’s a work in progress.”

Marketing blogger Trish Jones begins her case in support of blogs over websites with a key point:

“First of all, I need to make this ultra clear … a blog IS a website. In fact, I want to take that a stage further and say that blogs are “dynamic” websites. You can have pages on a blog and, with some of the great blog software on the market today, it can sometimes be difficult to tell some blogs and websites apart.”

My own elevator pitch for the advantages of blogs goes something like this:

  • Operational: Even non-technical people can set up a creditable blog through providers like WordPress, TypePad and Blogger in less than an afternoon — for free and by themselves — and maintain/update it just as easily.
  • Financial: Basic blog packages and hosting are free, but even custom design and hosting costs a fraction of what’s required for a full-blown website.
  • Functional: Blogs are more than narratives. They incorporate tabbed pages just like standard websites.
  • Aesthetics: Very attractive, readable themes are plentiful and available for free; customized/branded themes are very affordable.
  • Agility: You can add, delete and update blog pages by entering text into forms on the fly, while Web pages need to be programmed and tested before being published.
  • Marketing effectiveness: Dynamic content like blog narratives and comments give followers a reason to follow and continually visit a blog, and — this is important — search engines index blog content more quickly than website content.

Standard websites are still the way to go if the required functionality and/or user experience is complex:

  • Dropdown menus
  • Numerous and complex groupings
  • Complex branching and cross-referencing
  • Microsites
  • Sophisticated graphics and multimedia
  • Forms
  • Downloads

So while they are still useful and necessary for some purposes, fully featured websites don’t need to be the default setting for law firm online branding and marketing any longer.