If I told you there was a way to market your law firm for absolutely no cost and get responses from thousands and thousands of people globally, would you be interested in doing it?
I work with a lawyer who does just that. When he started a new firm just a couple of years ago, he was like many of you. Social media was a mystery. It was overwhelming. Where do you start? LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, just to name a few. I know you say, “I have no time to do this.” Every law client I have ever worked with says this at the start. But if you want to keep up with the competition nowadays, take the time and further your education. You can hire someone to do it, but make sure the person you hire knows what they are doing and they are capable of writing great articles for you on a regular basis.
If you do it yourself, forget about the mountain of social media sites and take it one piece at a time. Concentrate on LinkedIn.
Launched in early 2003, LinkedIn is still the best go-to business-to-business site. There are close to 400 million members in all corners of the world with, supposedly, two new members every second.
The aforementioned attorney did take the time. Combined with a great functional website and the use of weekly podcasts, his firm not only took off, it is booming. His marketing budget is virtually zero and he never used any traditional media.
Now let me add a disclaimer here. There was an excellent article by Dave Stafford in the Aug. 12, 2015, edition of Indiana Lawyer, where he discusses “Lawyer dos and don’ts on social media.”
The article talks about the ethical use of social media and that all of the guidelines and restrictions that lawyers are subject to in marketing also apply to these newer platforms. Far too many people seem to think that on social media you can say anything and too often they do – violating those ethics.
So what’s the best way to use social media, specifically in this case, LinkedIn?
First, it is essential to have a great website, which absolutely does not have to cost a fortune. You can start with building your own site on such easy-to-use platforms as wix.com. Your site can be totally customized, with slides or video if you wish for around $30 a month.
But don’t just put a site up and say “I’m done.” Your goal should be to make your website the “go-to” source for anything having to do with your practice areas. All other marketing should be designed to drive people to it; this includes LinkedIn and other social media you might eventually use. This means topical, timely and relevant information regularly updated.
Your website is the first thing many people will see when searching for a firm, so aim for a great first impression.
When getting started on LinkedIn, you need to create a “company page,” which is different from a personal page. Just as is the case for your website as a whole, to have success you need to add articles or blogs regularly, at least once a week. Those written pieces should be posted on LinkedIn. My clients also post them on Facebook and on their website. Some also send them out through direct email through a very inexpensive service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. Some others, and back to my attorney friend, actually do weekly podcasts and send them out through a variety of means. It’s like having your own radio show, but you don’t have to pay for the time.
Here’s the other key: Unless you’ve had your account for a while, you need to build followers on LinkedIn. Simply put, the more you post, the more you’ll build your network, so take every opportunity to promote your presence on LinkedIn.
Have an icon on your website, business card, anywhere it makes sense. Some law firms have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of followers. Imagine if you could write something that would reach all of them. You can even enhance your company page and postings with videos, photos and graphics. That’s for the advanced users. Once again, get the basics down first.
If your goal is to gain more clients, the best advice is to write about various aspects of your practice in language that relates to the consumer. Save the legalese for the law trades or legal briefs.
If you’re a family law attorney, write about the adverse effects a divorce has on children and ways to lessen the hurt. A personal injury attorney might write about how the failure to take care of a slippery sidewalk at your place of business could cost you a small fortune if someone slips, falls and sues.
Write in first person. Use the word “you.” Come up with a compelling headline and lead, just as if you were writing an article for a magazine. Use the tools you learned in creative writing class and not in the classes that taught you how to write like a lawyer, with those long, complicated sentences and legal mumbo jumbo no real person understands.
If you do have some budget for traditional media, spend it on upgrading your website. If you have more money available, use some traditional media to drive people to your website, and suggest they follow you on LinkedIn, etc. Choose the traditional media carefully. Pick those that actually reach your target audience or you’re wasting even more money.
The new year is coming. Make it a pledge. Make it a resolution. Get in touch with these new marketing times. Take the time.
OK, you still don’t have the time? Get yourself a college intern. They’ve been speaking this new language all their lives. Turn it over to them. Be sure you read and approve it all, though, because even if they write it, you’re responsible for the content and there could be those liability issues we hear about.•
• Jon Quick is the president and founder of Carmel-based QPR and Marketing. With more than 25 years experience in media, Quick is a former manager with CBS and Emmis Communications. He can be reached at 317-432-0309 or by email via QPRmarketing.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.