Marketing legal services: minimal effort for maximum return

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Would you do any marketing if you didn’t have to?

I’m not talking about “internal” marketing–treating clients well, staying in touch with them, creating an environment that is conducive to referrals–I’m talking about external marketing–ads, social media, speaking, writing, videos, networking, and all the other things everyone says you need to do to bring in new clients.

I wouldn’t.

Why spend the time or money if you don’t have to?

If you didn’t have to do any external marketing, imagine how that would feel. No guilt about what you’re not doing, no forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do.

If you don’t like social media, guess what? You’re off the hook. Go spend the time cranking out more billable work. Or take up a hobby. If you do like social media, you can do it for fun, not because you need to bring in business.

The same goes for speaking and networking. Do them if you enjoy them, stay home if you don’t.

If your internal marketing is working, you’re getting repeat business and referrals without any additional effort.

The phone rings and people want to hire you. You don’t have to find them, convince them, or cross your fingers and hope they have the money. When they call, they’re pretty much ready to go.

Nice.

On the other hand. . . (yeah, the fine print). . . I can’t promise you that internal marketing will always bring you enough new business. Your clients may want to send you referrals, for example, but not know anyone who needs you right now.

And. . . even if your internal marketing bring you plenty of new business, there’s nothing wrong with bringing in more.

So. . . in order to hedge your bets, you might want to do some external marketing.

What do I suggest? What is the best use of your limited time? What has the biggest potential return for your effort?

A content-rich website.

Because when someone is referred to you, the first thing they do is go online to check you out. No website and you scare them off. And, if your website is nothing more than a listing of your practice areas and contact information, it’s not enough to show anyone why they should choose you instead of any other attorney.

“Content” means information, not about you but about the prospective client. He’s searching for answers. He’s looking for proof. Your content provides those answers and that proof.

And it’s so easy to do.

Start by writing down ten or twenty questions clients and prospects typically ask you about your area of expertise. Then, answer those questions. Talk about the law and procedure. Describe the risks and the options. Point them towards the available solutions. Include some stories of cases or clients you’ve had, to illustrate your points. Post these online on a website or blog.

Now, when someone goes online to check you out, they will see that you know what you are talking about and that you have helped other clients to solve these problems. You haven’t just told them what you do, you’ve shown them.

In addition, when people go to a search engine, looking for information about their legal issue, your content brings them to your website. The same thing happens when people share your content with their social media contacts.

Marketing legal services (externally) really can be this simple.

If you have a website, add content. A single article you post today could bring you new business three years from now. If you don’t have a website, start one. Add some content to get it started and once a week or so, add more.

While it’s not quite “set it and forget it” marketing, it’s about as close as you can get.

If you need help starting or growing a website or blog, this is what I recommend.

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Negative reviews of lawyers

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Apparently, some attorneys have interpreted my suggestion to post a review of your competition on your website to mean, “post a negative review” and don’t like the idea. They think a negative review will reflect badly on them in the eyes of prospective clients or cause the legal community to see them as a trouble maker.

Fair enough. But I never said you had to post a negative review. The point of my post wasn’t that you should report negative information about another attorney in an effort to dissuade prospective clients from hiring them. The point was to mention this lawyer’s name so that when someone searches on that name they will find your site, read your review, and look at what you have to offer.

You don’t have to post negative reviews of lawyers.

You can post a neutral, “here’s what I know about this firm,” review. Talk about what they do, how many attorneys they have, how long they have been around. Basic information you may know about them or can find on their website.

Or, you can post a positive review. Describe cases where you have worked together and how they were always professional and courteous. If you have witnessed them in court and thought they were good, say that. If you have talked to other lawyers who know them and think highly of them, repeat what they have told you.

You can almost always find something nice to say about another lawyer. (What would you tell a jury about them if you were defending them?)

And yes, a neutral or positive review will make you look good in the eyes of prospective clients and keep legal wolves from baying at the moon. But while this may be the safe approach, it may not be the intellectually honest one.

If you think your competition is a scoundrel, if you have proof that they don’t play fair or they are borderline incompetent, if they have numerous complaints against them, do you think it’s right to sweep this under a rug? If your sister was thinking about hiring that lawyer and asked for your opinion, would you lie (by omission) and let her hire them?

You can post a negative review. If it’s fair and you can back up what you say. Will you make some enemies? Probably. The lawyer you outed won’t like you, but so what? Other lawyers may look down on you for breaching the code that says “we protect our own even when they are bad,” but again, so what?

You may make enemies but you will also make friends. You will be admired for being honest and protecting the public. You will be seen as a leader and you will attract people who want to know you and follow you. People will write about you and link to your blog. They will ask to interview you. They will hire you and refer cases to you.

On the other hand, the odds are that your competition isn’t all bad. So, post a balanced review. Comment on the lawyer’s strengths and positive aspects, and also comment about their weaknesses or shortcomings. Talk about the positive first, then the negative. Or, if negative is too strong a word, comment on their differences.

One more thing. If the idea of writing a review about another lawyer makes you queasy and you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. There are other ways to mention the names of your competition.

You can comment on one of their cases you are familiar with.

You can comment on their ads or their website.

You can create a post that includes them in a “directory” of attorneys in your area who do what you do.

You can promote the charity event they are sponsoring. Or congratulate them on getting married, having a child, or winning an award.

If you want more search engine traffic, it doesn’t matter what you say about them. Just make sure you spell their name right.

Learn more about internet marketing for attorneys. Click here.

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How to steal your competitor’s clients

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Would you like to know a simple way to legally and ethically steal clients from other lawyers?

Sure you would. Here’s what to do.

First, who is your number one competitor? The one lawyer or law firm in your market who is tops in your practice area. It doesn’t matter if they are good lawyers or bad lawyers. Just make sure they bring in a lot of business. 

So, who’s client’s would you like to steal?

Got it?

Okay, now, I want you to write a short article about this lawyer or law firm. A review. You can praise them, write about their shortcomings, or do a balanced article and talk about the pluses and minuses of hiring their firm.

Next, publish this article on your website or blog. Make sure it is optimized for search engines. Put the lawyer or firm’s name in your title.

The reason? Well, three out of four people use the Internet to find lawyers. Some begin by doing a search based on the practice area or legal issue. Others hear about a lawyer somewhere and go online to check them out.

When a prospective client goes to Google or Bing to do some due diligence on the lawyer or firm you wrote about, they’ll see your review and come to your site to read it. When they do, they’ll find out about you and what you do and if they like what they see, they may hire you instead.

Every time Joe Lawyer runs a radio ad, for example, lots of prospective clients go online to see what other people think about him. In fact, there’s a good chance they’ll type “Joe Lawyer review” into the search box. You might want to make that the keyword phrase you optimize for.

Just make sure your site shows them why they should hire you instead of Joe.

And that’s how to steal your competitor’s clients. Well, their traffic, anyway.

If you want to get more clients on the Internet, you need this

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