Time to Approach Small Law Firm Marketing Differently
While larger law firms have the resources to develop grandiose marketing campaigns and outsource excellent specialty-related content, smaller and solo law firms have to make do with much less. They tend to take a DIY, or do-it-yourself, approach to legal marketing which can result in a scattered and ineffective marketing plan that doesn’t pay off.
It’s time to approach small law firm marketing from a different angle in order to become more effective. If your legal practice is on the smaller end, start implementing these mindset changes and small law firm marketing strategies today.
If you don’t have the time or financial resources to keep up with the Biglaw firms or even medium-sized legal practices, it’s time to think smaller—fewer marketing campaigns, fewer dollars spent, fewer attorney marketing avenues explored.
However, note that smaller (and fewer) doesn’t mean less effective. Rather, thinking smaller forces you to focus on the handful of areas to commit to 100%, which can lead to far better results than spreading yourself too thin and trying to pursue every lawyer marketing avenue.
What might “thinking smaller” look like in the context of producing audience-focused content, for instance? Let’s pretend that Joe, an attorney at a small personal injury practice, struggles to produce a new 1,000-word blog article every week. He can’t find the time to write but wants to regularly put something new on the blog, so he ends up rushing through and writing generic blog articles that don’t provide much value.
Because of this, his blog readership is poor and his articles don’t rank highly on search engines (when it comes to SEO, value and user experience are two of the top factors that search engines use to determine ranking). His efforts are going to waste.
Rather than striving for a 1,000-word post every week, Joe should switch gears: he could develop a well-researched, user-focused, 2,000-word blog post once a month on the most compelling topic for his audience, such as the most common types of medical malpractice cases. This slower but steadier approach is much more likely to garner readership from potential clients.
Tip: If you don’t have time to produce content in-house, consider working with an attorney marketing partner like Optimized Attorney & Attorney Marketing. We have a library full of specialty-specific marketing pieces, which could free up your time to focus on building your small or solo practice.
Use Data to Make Well-Informed Marketing Decisions
On a small budget, every legal marketing dollar is incredibly valuable. Use data to guide your marketing actions and ensure that your budget results in positive ROI. For example, in the content example above, Joe the personal injury attorney shouldn’t take a stab in the dark regarding which topics to write about. The better course of action is to:
- Source questions from the comments section of his blog posts
- Seek out popular blog posts within personal injury law and medical malpractice (on competitors’ sites, for instance)
- Search through popular questions about personal injury law on Quora to determine which commonly asked questions he can address on his blog
With this data in hand, Joe can set his blog up for success rather than writing about topics at random and hoping for readership.
Choose Your Battle: Positive Online Reviews
As a small or solo practice, you may not have the ability to compete against larger law firms in terms of some SEO-related activities, like building a large website with loads of blog posts, but you can beat out competitors by focusing on building positive online reviews that boost SEO and attract attention from potential clients.
One of Optimized Attorney & Attorney Marketing’s own clients, personal injury attorney Loren Etengoff, has more than doubled his caseload by focusing on generating positive online reviews. After using the James Online Reputation Management tool, Mr. Etengoff reports that 90% of his new clients mention his reviews as one of the reasons they chose his law firm over others.
It’s worth noting that Mr. Etengoff’s law practice is a small firm with just a few employees. His success is proof that solo and small legal practices can thrive by focusing on fighting the right battles.
Let Technology Act as an Extra Employee
Stop spending time on repeat tasks and to-dos that can be streamlined; automate as much as possible. A technological tool like the James Legal CRM (client relationship management system) can act as an administrative assistant and marketing manager in one.
For example, the James Legal CRM automates follow-up, such as sending an email to website visitors who download a personal injury guide from your attorney website. It also streamlines review solicitation and automatically sources pertinent data into one easy-to-view dashboard, so you can instantly see:
- Your total number of reviews
- Average rating
- Benchmark of your current rating compared to past ratings
- Percentage of positive ratings versus negative comments
- Number of website visitors
As a small or solo law firm, you wear a lot of hats. Take the most time-consuming attorney marketing tasks off your plate with the James Legal CRM and rest assured that nothing will fall through the cracks.
We typically save attorneys $1,000 per month on wasted spending and ineffective marketing efforts.
Internet marketing for lawyers: How do you compare?
Prospective clients who search for injury lawyers on the web frequently look at several sites before deciding which attorney to contact. How does your website compare?
- Have a reasonably-modern design, or does it instead look like it was created ages ago?
- Answer common client questions on the home page, or does the home page mistakenly focus on you?
- Use videos to teach non-readers?
- Have a case submission form and prominent 800 number?
- Most important, demonstrate your deep knowledge of injurylawand procedure with detailed articles?
Like lobby furniture, websites periodically need new skins added to maintain a fresh look.
While you are adding that new skin, critically examine the content your site contains. Is its quality consistent with your expertise level? If not, how will prospective clients know that you are better than your website indicates?
Prospective injury clients have no more information to judge you than you give them on your website. If all you have provided are three pages claiming you are good at what you do, don’t expect to land a lot of conscientious clients. The proactive, engaged clients are more likely to contact the attorney with the content-rich site that answers their pre-engagement questions.
You know from using our books that Optimized Attorney has much practical and reasonably-priced legal content available. If you want us to tailor some of it for your website, we can add articles to your injury site for $55 each and blog posts for $35 each. Our writing is yours to keep. And we can simultaneously modernize the appearance of your site and correct its architecture issues for $500.
If you want to learn more about an injury content and site redo, call Michael Knutz at 817-371-1283.
Distinguishing Yourself from the Competition
It is hard for the average consumer to discern what is different about how you practice your craft versus the approach of the other lawyers who the prospect is considering. And since you usually don’t know what other names the prospect has in hand, you most of the time cannot diplomatically point out the differences.
As a result, the best way to distinguish yourself at the outset is to provide superior educational content. Having a broad and deep website is one way to do this, but many browsing prospects won’t take the time to read more than a few pages.
Simpler, more effective technique
A second and easier method is to send your prospects helpful materials. Since most lawyers don’t send anything to their prospects, you will immediately stand out as someone who knows their specialty and cares about the prospect.
If you only have time to create one item to send your prospects, let it be a lengthy series of FAQs. All prospects have questions, and if you answer many of those questions in the first piece you send, you will immediately leap ahead of any competitors being considered.
You also save time in your initial calls and conferences because you don’t have to provide the same introductory information over and over. Your FAQs have done it for you.
Examples of good FAQs
It is important to make a good first impression. If you do a slap-them-together job on your questions and answers, prospects are likely to think that is the caliber of the work product you provide. You should answer numerous questions in detail. Your writing should be clear and well-organized. And your finished piece should be well-designed.
Here are two examples of FAQs available in our marketing automation software (please respect our copyrights):
General Bankruptcy FAQs General Criminal FAQs
We also have FAQs for other specialties, but these two demonstrate what we have in mind when we stress the importance of making a strong first impression.
FAQS can be comprehensive, like our 84 bankruptcy answers filling 36 pages, or our 41 criminal questions comprising 15 pages.
Or you can create separate collections of more targeted questions dealing with a specific phase or aspect of a case, like our 5 bankruptcy questions-and-answers about debt settlement or our 6 criminal questions-and-answers about a grand jury subpoena:
What is most important, whichever approach you take, is that the items you send be high-quality and helpful. If they are, prospects will figure that the representation they will receive from you will be of like quality and helpfulness.
A satisfied client who’s willing to document their satisfaction is attorney marketing gold. A good testimonial can relay to potential clients that your services are recommendable, your firm is trustworthy, and clients would be in good hands if they sought out your firm over other firms. As a bonus, testimonials on your website that incorporate keyword phrases can help with lawyer SEO and boost site traffic.
The second most effective technique for setting yourself apart in a prospect’s eyes is to build a lengthy and impressive collection of positive online reviews.
You will need to ask repeatedly, and in a variety of ways, but if you persist, you can get a decent percentage of past and current clients to post reviews online.
You should try multiple message delivery methods, including face-to-face, email, text, and postal letter. And you will need to ask several times. The key is to be persistent.
The big hurdles with the do-it-yourself approach are two: (a) some clients are not comfortable enough with Google, Facebook, Yelp, Avvo, or other’s posting requirements to use those sites, and (b) a few clients will write less-than-positive reviews.
Charts and Graphs To Map Success
Charts and graphs work great to outline case details so viewers can see evidence of your firm hard at work. Use a spreadsheet to show a specific case’s timeline, and how your firm reached a favorable outcome quickly and effectively. Charts can illustrate your experience on a legal matter, and highlight strategic processes. Also, if you had multiple members of your firm working on a case, document each member’s role, and how your team worked together successfully.
Since your firm cannot legally guarantee the outcome of a case, you can provide a service guarantee. This can include returning calls and responding to emails within a specific period of time, following up with case status reports, etc. If your firm fails to live up to these guarantees, in lieu of no emergencies, you can offer the client fee credit for billable hours and/or provide other perks.
Put Out the Welcome Mat
After meeting with a potential client, send them a comprehensive welcome packet that sets forth how you’ll proceed with their case, who at your firm will be working with you (with direct contact numbers), and includes helpful information such as medical support for personal injury victims, local transportation information for driver’s license-suspension clients, etc. A welcome packet will show that your firm is attentive, responsive, and compassionate.