Tag Archives: lawyers

Should I Blog? A Two Prong Test.

“A great resume can only deliver confidence in your ability to deliver solutions, but it never provides the solution.”

You’ve heard the advice. Keep your website active. Add new material. Blog about topics of interest to your clients. Be the “go to” resource for cutting edge information. Sounds good, but it also sounds like a lot of work. So is it worth your time? Ultimately, will it bring in business?

Whether you should blog depends on two primary areas of consideration: First, do you like writing and are you good at it? Second, what impact would it likely have, if any, on the buying decisions of your targeted clients?

While most lawyers have at least a reasonable level of writing skill, being able to draft pleadings, motions or briefs does not necessarily equate to being an effective blogger. Effective blogging isn’t just about putting a decent sentence together. It requires identifying topics of current interest to the targeted client, and providing useful or interesting information presented in an easy-to-read and at least semi-entertaining style. If you find yourself spending hours on end writing a marginal, half page blog post, chances are it is not your thing. And of course if you do a poor job, it could actually do damage (although damage is unlikely for most lawyers making a reasonable effort). In short, you have to want to do it, enjoy it and be pretty good at it.

Once you determine that you can be successful writing blog posts, you next must consider whether blogging has a reasonable chance of generating business with the clients you want. To meet this prong, there has to be some measurable benefit or return on your investment of time. So how do lawyers benefit from blogging?

First, and most obvious, blogging can demonstrate your expertise and knowledge on subjects of interest to your targeted client and may actually provide value added services on the spot. Nothing demonstrates expertise better than, well, demonstrating it. Prospective clients expect that your firm bio will be written in a way to make you look qualified. Having a list of references or successes can help too. But to actually see the expertise in action can be the most powerful proof of your knowledge and experience. Also, a well written blog provides instant useful information and possibly even solutions for your targeted clients. Ultimately that is what they want, solutions. A great resume can only deliver confidence in your ability to deliver solutions, but it never provides the solution.

Second, regular blogging can improve your visibility on the Internet, possibly driving valuable traffic to your website. If your site has quality content on the subjects and important terms relevant to your business, it will improve your placement with the search engines on those topics. Likewise, if your website enjoys a significant traffic flow, it will also improve your site’s placement in response to search engine queries. One feeds off the other. Content leads to traffic, which leads to more traffic.

But will the benefits turn into business? It all goes back to basic marketing principles. Who is your target, where do they get their information, and how do they make their purchasing decisions? Clients seeking attorneys for personal injury plaintiff’s claims, criminal law or family law matters commonly use the Internet for locating potential lawyers. Therefore, high placement in response to search engine queries will help lead prospective clients to your site. They may not read your blog, but your blog may still be responsible for the business if the blog delivered the high placement that brought them to your site.

On the other hand, commercial clients are much less likely to use a search engine to find a lawyer, but instead are more inclined to rely on personal referrals. However, even if they don’t begin their search on the Internet, they will likely use the Internet to research a referred lawyer. Once under consideration, they will go to your website to answer one question: What is the likelihood this lawyer can successfully provide the solution I need? If your blog answers that question, it will benefit you. Your blog might not bring them to your site, but it might sell them on your qualifications.

So, should you blog? If you are good at it, and your analysis of your client’s decision making process suggests it will positively impact their decision, then it is a viable option. Once you meet these first two prongs, then it is a matter of how this particular marketing strategy weighs against the other marketing strategies available to you. Most lawyers have a very limited amount of time to market. Choosing the strategy that best fits your skills and your client’s needs is the key to effective marketing. But if you don’t meet the first two prongs for blogging, then don’t blog for business.


“Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Think Orchard”

The following comment was posted on LinkedIn, in response to my early post “Social Networking; Bah! Humbug!” I could not fit my entire reply on the LinkedIn site, so I am posting it here.  Hopefully you will find it insightful:

Fellow LinkedIn Member:  “Samira, I fear that lawyers are becoming slaves to Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, just as they are slaves to the time sheet. What’s happened to good old face to face contact?”

My reply:

I agree.  Nothing replaces face-to-face time for networking and more importantly, relationship building.  And the suggestion by some that cyber social networking is a must, totally ignores the limitation of time.  Every attorney needs to decide on the best use of their time.  At some point, we have to spend time practicing law.  Cyber networking can consume countless hours, with little or no return on the time invested.  Again, it all comes down to the type of clients you are seeking, where they get their information, and where you should invest your time.  If you are looking for commercial clients, Twitter and Facebook are probably not a good place to spend it, although if you enjoy them socially, you can go ahead and merge the two activities simply because you never know where you will get your next client.  (If you are on Facebook for strictly social reasons for example, it can’t hurt to make sure your “friends” know what kind of law you practice and that you are open for referrals.)  However, it is still unlikely, because of the choice of venue, to be where businesses go to find their attorneys and therefore is probably not the best place to spend hours of business development efforts and time.

LinkedIn is a little different, particularly if you are seeking business/commercial clients.  But not necessarily for the reasons most people think.  I don’t think businesses go there specifically to find their attorneys, but it can be a decent place to renew old contacts that can lead to renewed business or referrals.  My legal practice focuses primarily on commercial clients, so I look for venues where I can make good business contacts.  I still rely heavily on traditional networking, but I have used LinkedIn to connect with a number of people that I have known over the years that I had lost contact with but are good contacts to keep.  I don’t suggest you consume hours on end there, but if you seek commercial clients, LinkedIn is likely worth investing at least a few hours a month to keep current with the times, explore former business relationships and, as you have apparently experienced yourself, as a decent source of information.  It is also important from the standpoint of appearances.  Many commercial clients use LinkedIn and if you are not on there, you may appear behind the times, so it is good to at least keep a current profile.

There is no replacement for the same tried and true marketing strategies.  The key is to locate where your clients get their information for hiring decisions, and spend the bulk of your business development time there.  As one of my clients once said, its all about finding the orchard, or as I call it, a prospect rich environment where there is a high density of your type of client. If it is in the cyber world (whether search engines, networking sites, cyber publications, etc.) then you should spend your time there.  But in many cases, it is still heavily referral and traditional networking opportunities that win the day.  Your website and LinkedIn or other social networking profiles may only be as important as a good brochure or wearing the right business attire.  You always want to appear current with the times and once you make the contact, clients in most areas of practice will turn to the Internet to find out more about you.

One other tidbit of information, I was recently quoted a study by a guy that was trying to sell me some pay-per-click advertising on a search engine.  I wasn’t buying but the study confirmed what I had deduced on my own.  The number one attorney search on the major search engines is for personal injury attorneys.  Number two was for criminal attorneys, and number three was for family/divorce attorneys.  After that, the numbers dropped off dramatically.  That speaks volumes on both where the orchard is for those areas of practice, and where it is NOT for others.

All that being said, as the youtube video I linked to on my previous post suggested, the Internet is overtaking everything on where people go for information.  Attorneys, regardless of their specialty, should at least stick a toe in the water, because over time, it will only grow in its dominance, and we need to be ready to stay at least with the trends, lest we be left behind.  I still predict that it will never overtake the “personal touch” but it is destined to grow in its importance in all areas of practice.

Social Networking; Bah! Humbug!

 “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you are not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”        Stewart Brand

Social Networking, bah, humbug!!  Or is it?

As a marketing consultant, one would not expect me to be slow to the punch on social networking as a marketing tool for lawyers, but admittedly, I have been somewhat skeptical of its strengths, particularly on the heavily social leaning sites like Facebook and My Space.  It’s not that I doubt the power of any opportunity for networking, whether traditional or in the cyber world, it is really more a matter of time as a limited resource.  Networking is a critical component to any legal practice.  But with a limited amount of time to allocate towards marketing, lawyers need to choose their venues for networking well, so as to get the most bang for their buck.  What venue is right for you depends on who the clients are that you seek, and where they spend their time. 

If you are looking for business litigation clients, Facebook or MySpace are not likely to be prospect rich environments for you (not yet at least).  That’s not to say that you couldn’t get a business litigation client through Facebook, but the question is, if you have a limited amount of time to network, where should you spend that time?  If you want an alternative to the traditional networking venues, there are cyber options on networking sites with more of a business culture like LinkedIn.  So if you want to build your business prospects and want to give the cyber world a try, LinkedIn may be a better use of your time. 

On the other hand, if you are hoping to increase your family law business, ensuring that all your Facebook friends keep your family law practice on the tip of their tongue is probably a pretty good use of your time, since much of that business is built on people seeking attorneys through referrals from family and friends.  Again it is all about who your prospective clients are, where they hang out, and where they get their information.

But if you are wondering if networking sites are worth the trouble, in the long run, the answer is a resounding yes. Check out this video on youtube if you’re having doubts.  And if you are one of those who shudder at new technology, don’t despair.  You will not have to spend your days and nights “tweeting” or posting on Facebook.  Traditional marketing still wins the day.  It’s still about picking the right prospect rich venues and spending your time, resources and money there, to get the most out of your time and efforts.  The networking sites are simply another venue option, and the good news is they can make good ole fashioned elbow grease go a long way!


Back Off! Taking the Boor Out of Selling

“The secret of man’s success resides in his insight into the moods of people, and his tact in dealing with them.”
J. G. Holland    

I recently attended a conference on business development that included a panel of general counsel offering suggestions to attorneys seeking their business.  The moderator asked whether they preferred “hard sale” or “soft sale” techniques.   Not surprisingly, they all preferred a “soft sale.”  Who likes being subjected to a “hard sale?”  Certainly no attorneys I know.  

But understanding the difference is a little more complicated and in reality more subjective than objective.  It reminds me of that famous quote by former US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when attempting to define what constitutes obscenity:  “I shall not today further attempt to define [what constitutes obscene material]…  But I’ll know it when I see it.”  Defining boorish behavior can be just as difficult, but there may be a more objective way of ensuring your techniques don’t turn off your prospects.  Here are some ideas for creating boorish-free communications: 

  • Always offer new information in each and every call or correspondence.  Your prospects are not likely to be annoyed by your call if you have something new and valuable to tell them.  Likewise consistently offering new and valuable information will increase your prospect’s interest in communicating with you.
  • Be prepared.  Know what you are going to say and anticipate the questions so that you have a better chance of providing all the information the prospect may be interested in.  Not being prepared with easily anticipated information not only calls into question your competence and qualification; it can signal a lack of respect for your prospect’s time.
  • Get to the point.  Say only what is necessary to communicate what you want to say.  As you prepare, think about what you want to say and find the shortest way possible to effectively communicate it.  When writing correspondence, read your draft and make sure that each sentence has an important purpose.  If it does not add value, get rid of it.  Getting to the point in a succinct manner demonstrates that you respect your prospect’s time and schedule.      
  • Say it with style.  Your communication should include an appropriate tone and personal touch to build on the relationship.  In fact, tone and personal touch can be as important as the point you are trying to make.  However, it doesn’t need to dominate the communication.  Again, find the most efficient way possible to effectively color the communication with a warm personal touch without wasting your prospects time. 
  • Don’t assume that your prospect is enjoying your social chatter.  I once had a boss who famously engaged in lengthy personal conversations with clients and prospects.  They would politely answer his probing social questions and would even appear to enjoy the conversation.  I later learned that most of these clients and prospects were not really interested or motivated by the conversation, but were simply being polite.  Relationship building is critical to a long term association, but it requires understanding when you are wasting someone’s time.  Lesson to be learned?  Just because they are laughing at your jokes doesn’t mean that deep down they don’t just want to get off the phone.    
  • Maintain a list of sales techniques and tactics that you have found to be offensive.  When you prepare for a phone call or draft correspondence, check it against your list to make sure some of the undesirables have not snuck into your communication.  Even though we all say we don’t like boorish sales behavior, we can all be guilty of it.  It takes more effort to deliver sales information with just the right finesse than it does to just throw it out there.  My list of undesirables includes things like repeated phone calls with no new information; obviously false deadlines as closing techniques; questions that come off more like cross-examination designed to lead you to a purchasing posture, among others. 

Offensive sales behavior can be avoided through diligent preparation and practice, but there is always an on-going risk of it slipping in.  Only persistent efforts to minimize the instances will ensure an overall sales program that is both affable and effective. 


The Secret of Life is “One Thing”

“Success demands singleness of purpose”       Vincent Lombardi    

Ever have one of those days when you start one thing, only to be distracted by something else?  You start working on the something else and then get distracted again.  Before you know it, hours have gone by and you realize you’ve been busy all day, but haven’t accomplished a thing.

Like those days when you can’t get anything done because you can’t stay focused, marketing efforts without focus can be totally unproductive and no more effective in generating a return than gambling.  If you do not develop a clear and focused plan to generate business, you might as well just donate your money to a local charity.  At least a donation is something you could feel good about. 

One of my favorite movies in the 90’s was “City Slickers” starring Billy Crystal.  It was a story about a man named Mitch (played by Crystal) suffering a midlife crisis.  To cheer him up, his best friends buy him a vacation where he and his buddies go to a cattle ranch and learn to be “cowboys” while herding cattle across the state.  They are guided by a tough-as-nails trail boss who taunts Mitch throughout the movie.  At one point, the trail boss asks Mitch if he knows the secret of life.  Mitch has no answer.  The trail boss puts up one finger and says “It’s one thing, just one thing.”  Mitch asks what the one thing is, and the trail boss just chuckles and moves on.  This is repeated throughout the movie until the trail boss finally answers him.  “I don’t know.  That’s what you have to figure out.” 

Many times, the secret to building a solid client base is “just one thing.”  But that one thing that is right for you might not be the one thing that is right for someone else.  The point is, as in the Billy Crystal movie, you have to figure that out for yourself.  Figure out what type of client you want to go after and simply go after that.  Just like starting and stopping a bunch of tasks leaves you with a bunch of things undone, a mixed bag of uncoordinated and unfocused marketing efforts will not likely generate a reliable business base.  Many attorneys will go after any and everything in an effort to generate business, but the reality is, efforts made for the sake of getting anything are usually ineffective in generating anything.  Business that is generated tends to be more from luck than effort. 

Marketing is not rocket science.  Genius is not necessary, but FOCUS is.  Pick one type of client, and focus all your efforts on that.  What activities are the best for reaching your targeted client will depend on who the target is.  Once identified, you must identify how they find and choose their attorneys.  Do they rely mostly on referrals?  Do they go to the yellow pages?  Do they search the internet?  The better you understand their decision process, the more likely you will be at determining what marketing efforts you should implement, and the more successful you will be at getting their business.  

Focus on the “one thing” and you will be surprised at the business it will bring.  It may not lead you to the secret of life, but it will almost certainly lead you to more clients.