Why Your Online Lawyer Bio Matters.

Sometimes it is the little things that can make a big difference in growing a law practice. Often, lawyers will avoid marketing because it will take too much time or it is an activity outside of their comfort zone. 

Today I consulted with a lawyer who has avoided marketing for the past couple of years because he did not think he should have to market his practice. He is an established lawyer, has an excellent reputation and has been practicing law for 25 years. I challenged him to reframe his concept of marketing from "pushing" his service onto people to "attracting" clients who could benefit from what he does best.  
 
I also showed him how we could leverage his excellent reputation to create a marketing plan.
 
The first thing we did was type his name into Google and review the search results. We discovered that his LinkedIn profile had the wrong title, two of his bios from lawyer lists were outdated with old addresses, and his Avvo profile was incomplete. On his web site profile page, there was no information on how to contact the lawyer. Most important, none of his bios or profiles answered the question, "why should I hire you?". There was no mention on the value he provided clients or the client problems he excelled in solving.
 
The first marketing strategy was not to schedule 5 lunches or send out letters asking for referrals, rather it was to research how clients were finding him online and update and revise all online bios to communicate a consistent, relevant, and compelling message targeted to his ideal client.
 
Revising and updating your bio is a simple, effective marketing strategy every lawyer can take to increase their on-line presence and reinforce their reputation. Last week, I received 3 calls from lawyers who attracted clients as a result of updating and promoting their bios.
 
The following is one example:
 
"Interesting - I just got a call from a new client who, when asked how she got my name, said she found me on line and that she really liked my profile and how I relate to clients as people."
 
Updating your bio and profile may seem like a small thing, but it can deliver significant results.
 

Reinvention Is The Key to Survival For Law Firms

This morning CBS news featured a story on the demise of iconic American companies including Hostess and Kodak.

What are the factors contributing to this defeat and how do businesses and law firms protect themselves from becoming obsolete? 

Factors that contribute to the downfall of business include, not staying in touch with rising costs, changing tastes or new technologies, not evolving and maintaining the status quo. 

Kodak originated the technology for photography and in the 1970's held 90% of the photography market, yet has lost market share by not leveraging this technology in a digital world. Hostess, the creator of Twinkies, was slow to adapt to the changing tastes of a new market.

Scott Galloway, marketing professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, said reinvention is the key for the struggle of survival.

Businesses and law firms that find ways to reinvent themselves are the most successful. Apple is an example of a company who understands the power of reinvention.

What is your law firm doing to reinvent your law practice?  The following are a few questions to consider;

* Do you use LinkedIn to build your network, make a contribution and stay connected or do you think LinkedIn is a waste of time?

* Does your web site provide updated content and value to your target client or do you have pages on your site that have been unchanged for 5-10 years?

* Do you stay informed on what is happening in your market by reading  high value blogs, following thought leaders on social media sites including Twitter, and participating in targeted LinkedIn group discussions, or are you too busy?

* Is your bio updated and informative about the value you provide clients and what distinguishes you or is it chronological description of your educational background and dates of employment?

* Does your service to clients include collaboration with other professionals or are you going it solo?

* Does your search engine strategy include writing relevant blog posts, informative web site content, useful YouTube videos and on-line press releases or are you relying on “key word stuffing” and outsourced “link building” and content writing to increase your on-line visibility?

* Are you listening to your clients, conducting client evaluations, and providing remarkable service or are you doing what you have always done?

* Does your firm hold law firm retreats to review its strategic vision and target market annually to align marketing activities with your most important goals or are you winging it and hoping you will meet financial and billable hour targets?

The above questions are not inclusive and are meant to stimulate your thinking about how you are reinventing your law practice to maximize your success for prosperous and continued existence.

What additional questions would you include in the list above? What strategies have you implemented to reinvent your law practice?
 
 

How Lawyers, Mental Health Professionals and Financial Specialists Can Thrive in a Down Economy

Last week I attended the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals forum in San Francisco and listened to an inspiring and well presented workshop on Collaborative Law. Today, I received a call from two colleagues who were going through divorce and wanted a recommendation for a lawyer, a divorce coach and a business valuation expert. The first names that came to mind were the professionals I heard speaking at the seminar.

Why did I recommend these professionals? There were two reasons:

1. They established credibility by speaking on a topic that conveyed their level of experience and competence.

2. I was reminded about who they were and the kinds of clients they helped by seeing them speak at the conference.

In a similar top of mind awareness situation, one of my clients told me they experience an increase in client calls every time they send the firm newsletter to their professional network. Another client has seen an increase in referrals from two law firms after setting up luncheon meetings. Last week, a lawyer told me his web site referrals have doubled since he has started his blog and updated his web site with client- focused articles.

Even though we are in a difficult economy, the demand for quality legal, financial and mental health professionals has not diminished. You can accelerate the growth of your practice and attract desirable clients by increasing your visibility and credibility with your target referral sources and the public.

The following are ten suggestions for staying top of mind with referral sources and prospective clients:

1. Learn and use LinkedIn to build your network and stay visible. Go to learn.linkedIn for in-depth tutorials on how to use LinkedIn

2. Read and comment on relevant blogs in your industry.

3. Commit to meeting with someone in your professional network at least once a week.

4. Start a firm newsletter and write about topics that are relevant to your target audience.

5. Write consistent press releases.

6. Speak on topics you are passionate about at conferences and events.

7. Start a blog and write about topics that reinforce your brand and are relevant to your ideal client.

8. Write one new article every month and update your web site. Recycle the article for a local magazine advertorial.

9. Join a committee, group or association and make a contribution.

10. Tweet about interesting, relevant and useful information for your target audience.

The above list is not inclusive and should be customized to your unique skills, interests and goals. The critical success factor is to select at least one strategy and implement it consistently.

Let me know what strategies you have found useful to stay top of mind with prospective clients and referral sources.
 

Effective Strategies for Writing Law Firm Web Site Content

An effective web site starts with compelling, updated and meaningful content. Research demonstrates we have 10 seconds to grab a prospective client’s attention with web site content and 55 seconds to develop an understanding of what services we are offering.

The following are 10 strategies for writing effective web site content.

1.     Write relevant content. Use the inverted pyramid concept. Put the most important information at the top. Start with your conclusion in the first paragraph.

2.     Write in a conversational tone. Avoid industry jargon and use clear and simple language. Use examples to help the reader understand. Let your personality come through.

3.     Chunk your ideas. People scan web pages instead of reading them. This means write one idea per paragraph. Create a sub heading for each paragraph to make it easier to read at a glance.

4.     Know who you are talking to. Write your web site content with the client you want to attract in mind. What are their problems, interests and goals? What is most relevant to them?

5.     Format your content with bullets, numbers or sub headers. Keep the bullets short

6.     Provide tips and strategies people can remember. Offer a list of 5-10 tips for avoiding a problem or achieving a goal. Summarize your tips at the end of the article.

7.     Use effective titles. Help your reader to know what your content is about (and why it matters to them) with a descriptive title. For example, “Ten Strategies for a Smart Divorce.”

8.     Keep your sentences short. Use words that are most important for conveying your message.

9.     Write approximately 500 words per page to optimize your site. Include key words in your content.

10.   Check spelling and punctuation. Edit and proof read everything you write.

Your web site content is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have for growing your practice. You can attract desirable clients by conveying a message through your web site that is relevant, compelling and meaningful.  

What are your greatest challenges in writing effective web site content?

Four Strategies For An Effective Lawyer Bio

A recent analysis of activity on my clients’ websites showed the most read section was attorney bios.  Even more interesting, another client of mine recently revised her bio and retained a high-asset client for her firm because her client liked her bio.  These examples are consistent with studies showing that lawyer bios are the most-viewed pages on a law firm’s web site. 

A well written- client focused attorney bio is an effective marketing tool for attracting desirable and profitable clients.

What are the components to a successful bio?

The first is starting with the right focus. Many lawyer bios are focused on answering the question, “How can I impress you?”  rather than “How can I help you solve your problems?”

My suggestion is to look at your bio like an inverted pyramid. The large end of the pyramid answers the question, “How can I help you?” The smaller end provides information about your experience and credentials. Too often, lawyer bios start with facts such as graduation dates, memberships, years in practice, awards received, etc. But raw facts don’t resonate with clients, nor do they effectively communicate who you are and why you are the best lawyer for solving their problems.

The fundamental goal of your bio is to convert on-line searches into telephone inquires about your practice that lead to new clients.

The following are four strategies for writing an effective bio for your law practice:

1.      Communicate your personality: What is your approach to your work? What is your philosophy on how you work with clients? What are your strengths? What are you passionate about in your chosen practice area?

2.      Differentiate yourself: Who is your ideal client? Define your target audience, then speak to their interests and goals. Describe what makes your practice unique. What client problems are you good at solving? Avoid trying to be all things to all people.

3.      Create a dynamic bio: Update your bio, include recent articles and links to on line press releases, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites.

4.      Make it easy for client’s to contact you: Include your email address and direct phone number as well as your mailing address and fax number.

The bio you provide on your website is one of your most important marketing tools. Invest the time to refine your bio and communicate the value you provide for your clients. The more that clients know who you are and what you can offer to solve their problems,  the greater opportunity you have for converting on line searches into new clients.

What are your challenges in updating your bio? Send me questions or call me if you are finding it difficult to refine your bio.  

Blogging for Lawyers- Your Best or Worst Marketing Tool?

 Blogging among lawyers is on an increase. Lawyers who want to attract desirable clients to their practice are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of blogging, including:

  • Boost search engine rankings
  • Establish credibility with prospective clients
  • Stay top of mind with influencers and referral sources
  • Build relationships with thought leaders in your area of expertise
  • Become more aware of what is going on in your field
  • Attract desirable clients
  • Build an on-line reputation
  • Reinforce your law firm’s brand

Without a doubt, blogging is an excellent opportunity for you to build your practice by increasing your visibility and credibility with prospective clients and referral sources.

Why then does blogging seem like such a chore and the thought of writing a blog post compare to a visit to the dentist for some lawyers?

Blogging is a new tool for communication and requires some basic understanding before it can be enjoyed. Think about your blackberry or iphone. The first time you used the device, it seemed cumbersome and for a few of us, slightly frustrating, especially when we would repeatedly hit the wrong key in typing a message. But after using it for a while, the mobile device became an essential business and communication tool.

What changed a previously frustrating experience into an essential communication resource?

Two things changed, including familiarity with the device and knowledge on how to use the mobile phone properly.

You can become an effective blogger and leverage this on-line marketing tool to attract desirable clients by learning blogging basics and becoming more familiar with the process. Your familiarity will increase by following Nike’s advice …“Just do it.”

Effective blogging requires awareness, engagement and conversation.  The basics of blogging include:

1.    Reading

2.    Commenting

3.    Writing

A word of warning, if you do enter the world of blogging, maintain your blog. Lee Rosen, a family law blogging super guru, wrote an excellent post titled, A Dead Family Law Blog is Bad For Your Family Law Practice - don't let your family law blog go dormant. In the post Rosen highlights what prospective clients and referral sources may think when they see an outdated blog or website
My next post will include strategies on how to save time reading what is going on in the blogosphere to help you become a more effective blogger.

Where is the Proof Social Media Works for Growing Your Practice?

Last week I gave a workshop on social media to over 30 collaborative practice  lawyers, mental health professionals and financial advisers.

A few of the participants were skeptical about social media and were not sure it was worth their time.

Others saw it as an opportunity for accelerating the growth of their practice.

Who is right? How do you know social media will work?

I believe the answer is not about whether social media works, rather it is about taking action to attract clients and referral sources to your collaborative practice. 

Taking action is the key to growing your practice.

The more action you take every day to convey what you do, who you do it for and the value you provide, the more clients and referral sources you will attract.

The following are emails describing the "action" taken from people attending my workshop in New York and from a law firm retreat I conducted in London.

"Since the workshop, I have added lots of people to my Linked In account and rewrote my bio.
 I am using Constant Contact to keep track of my clients, lawyers I work with and a coach list. I have just sent my first Constant Contact email announcing a workshop I'm doing on creating a Vision Board for clients.
 I was able to figure out how to put a link to the announcement on my website. It's another way to get people to sign onto my mailing list.
 I've written an involved article on the pros and cons of the one and two coach models (or Neutral and Co-Coach) and I'm developing my email lists.
 

Thought you'd like to know that there's a lot going on around here with a lot of people."

Micki McWade, Divorce coach New York.

" I am just discovering the joys of LinkedIn and Twitter though it is a bit unnerving when complete strangers start "following" you.

What I have found though from my first steps along the social media highway is that the more you do/say the more people notice you. A simple example is that the number of people who have looked at my LinkedIn profile has increased markedly since I started tweeting. I haven't yet directly related that to an increase in referrals but I guess that will take a bit more time.

The other thing I have found is that you have to make time to do it - and that's the real challenge."

Gillian Bishop, Family Law in Partnership,London

Stay tuned for more "action" focused tips for growing your practice in upcoming blog posts. Let me know what is working for you.
 
I will share your tips with other professionals in the Family law and Collaborative Practice community.

 

 

Mind Blowing Social Media Statistics- What Does This Mean for Lawyers and Collaborative Professionals?

In my Google reader this week, I saw a number of blogs refer to an impressive article titled 20+ mind-blowing social media statistics revisited. The article is getting a lot of attention from on-line enthusiasts. In less than 3 days, over 66 people have re-tweeted the article, 13 posted a comment and many more have written about the article in their blog, including me.  

Why so much excitement? Depending who you are and what you do, these numbers can represent a lot of things. For the social marketing consultant, they give solid evidence that social media is an essential component to the marketing mix.

But what do these “mind-blowing statistics” mean to the already too busy lawyer or professional?

The article states that more than 80,000 websites have implemented Facebook Connect since December 2008 and more than 700,000 local businesses have active Pages on Facebook.

No longer can anyone serious about growing their business or law practice ignore the revolution we are in as it relates to the new rules of marketing.

These statistics provide a reminder that our world is changing and the way we communicate, share, learn and connect with others is also changing.

Now is the time to step back and pay attention to the opportunities that social media provide.

Today make a commitment to do one thing that will engage you in the social media environment.

The following are three steps to get you started:

1.       The first step is to listen to what is being said, read what your colleagues, customers and referral sources are saying on their blogs, LinkedIn groups and tweets.

2.       The next step is to connect. Join or initiate groups in LinkedIn and facebook. Subscribe and follow your favorite blogs, invite new people to your facebook and linked in accounts.

3.       The final step is to make a contribution. Comment on blogs that you like or don’t like, respond to comments in your LinkedIn or facebook groups, re-tweet a favorite link. Post engaging and interesting blogs that tell the world how you think, what you stand for and how you solve problems for your clients.

In summary, social media is like any good social interaction, it starts with listening, followed by observing and connecting and finally making a contribution when you have something to say that others are interested in hearing.

I will be presenting a seminar in New York on Thursday, February 4th on the topic of Using Social Media to grow your Collaborative Law Practice. Please contact me if you are interested in bringing this workshop to your organization or firm.

Strategies for getting started in social media for growing your practice

 

 Social media is the new buzz in growing your law practice.

Today I read about how the American Bar Association is using Twitter to help attendees and non attendees follow what is happening at the meeting. You can read the article at At ABA, Whole Lotta Tweeting Going On .

Last week I was interviewed for an article In the Wisconsin Law Journal, Jack Zemlicka wrote about Online networking has limits.

Every day we see and hear more about the virtues and issues related to social media and growing your law and collaborative practice.

In the last few months my clients have been asking me, what is Twitter and why do I need to know about it?  

Twitter is one form of social media that is also called micro blogging and is a communications platform that helps you to do the following:

  • Share information with people interested in your firm, your business and what you do.
  • Gather real-time market intelligence and feedback
  • Build relationships with clients, partners and other influencers who care about your firm or business
  • Communicate with a company (or anyone else) about your experience with their  service or products

No question, Twitter is an important networking tool. Why the resistance? The down side of Twitter is learning how to use it and where to start. My recommendation is to:

  • Begin reading about twitter at twitter101
  • Start slowly and spend 30 minutes a day learning about the value of social media
  • Define your goals for what you want to achieve using social media
  •  Monitor your results and tweak your plan if you are not meeting desired goals.

On a lighter note, a few weeks ago I was watching John Stewart and in the show he explored the question, “Why Twitter?  .