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Traditionally, advertising and marketing have been considered dirty words by attorneys – something that may have made sense for personal injury work, but beyond that most attorneys have taken an approach that relied almost entirely upon networking and referrals. But things have changed rapidly since the Internet and social media have taken over the planet. Gone are the days when all that was needed to secure business was a positive mention from another attorney. Today that mention may be a help, but even with that potential clients are likely to do their own digging online, looking to see what they can find about a firm or an attorney – and that’s if they’ve even bothered to ask for a referral in the first place, which is happening less and less frequently.
With all of the economic pressure being brought to bear on billable hours and with clients feeling more and more empowered by their ability to search and shop around for legal expertise in the same way that they do for toaster ovens, attorneys need to take a deep breath and step down into the world of marketing. As distasteful as some may find the idea, the truth is that social media and a well-built website can not only attract potential clients, but can afford lawyers the opportunity to let their expertise truly shine and let their knowledge and power of communication and reasoning be the thing that attracts new business.
How? By participating. By viewing the availability of social media sites like Facebook and Google Plus ,and your website as a forum, you have the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader and expert. Whether you choose to tweet out commentary on legal issues and court rulings that correlate to your area of practice, or send out emails and newsletters, or even begin writing a regular column within a profile page or blog on your website, writing about topics in which you have expertise in your own voice provides the opportunity to reach far more potential clients than any networking event.
And one Austin personal injury lawyer is doing just that by creating an integrated Local News Center on their website and daily interacting and connecting one-on-one with the people of their city on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Jim Terry of Terry, Simon and Kelly, PLLC, says, “we noticed a marked increase in the number of new clients when we started interacting with our city through social media. Even more so when we added a frequently updated News and Video center to our website.”
Like TSK Law, attorneys today need to make certain that they have access to the forum that will serve them best – or perhaps to engage with customers via several different forums – in a way that allows their commentary and tutelage to be easily found, forwarded and followed up on.
There’s no need for a law firm or lawyer to become expert at web design or search engine optimization – there are plenty of professionals out there who can take care of the technical aspects, taking what you’ve written and making sure that it is properly coded or optimized – but if you’ve recognized that digital marketing is not only here to stay but essential to remaining relevant, you can take an active role in the process that you may find you actually enjoy.
Lots of firms make the mistake of outsourcing their content completely, but the best way to make sure that you’re not just at the top of search, but are also being recognized as a thought leader, is to get your hands dirty and get engaged. If you use social media and digital marketing as a venue through which you can communicate your expertise, it will sell your service far better and more effectively than any ad or referral ever could.