Time For Some Lawyer Marketing Myth Busting
“Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:”
I don’t know about you, but these words usually put me on the defense.
I haven’t been everywhere and I don’t know everything, but if you’re sharing lawyer marketing myths, odds are I’ve heard them before.
I’ve worked with law firms on both sides of the spectrum and most places in between. There are attorneys who never heard a marketing idea they didn’t like. These folks are up for almost anything. They’ve had successes and failures, but they’re often in practice areas where the case values can be high enough to justify almost anything that might bring that next big case through their doors.
Then there are those who look sideways at almost anything that isn’t pure word-of-mouth or referral marketing. They have their reasons to be skeptical, but frankly, a lot of their pushback doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny. The approach they’re comfortable with can’t do it all, and the ideas they reject aren’t as far-fetched as they believe.
So don’t stop me if you’ve heard any of these lawyer marketing myths before. They’re wrong. They’ve been wrong for years. And it’s time someone stood up to them once again.
Lawyer Marketing Myth: “Anyone can do a website.”
I hear this one all the time. It’s usually followed up by an attorney showing me the website their relative built in their spare time. I’ll concede this point, almost anyone can build a website. The technology has always been democratic. But the knowledge gap between an amateur web designer and a professional service provider like FindLaw is simply staggering.
Your nephew may be a bright young man. But even if he does have a deep knowledge of SEO, conversion, performance, and all the rest, he won’t know the legal industry and legal consumers like FindLaw does. We’ve been doing this for decades and our client list spans the country. What’s more, our network of legal directories gives FindLaw insight into legal consumer behavior that no one else can match.
Lawyer Marketing Myth: “I’ve tried all that with yellow pages and none of it worked.”
I know how you feel. I work with a guy who hated pork chops his whole life. Then he met his future wife. She made him pork chops and it was like he’d never had them before. The secret ingredient wasn’t love, it just turns out; his mom was terrible at cooking chops!
If you’ve been burned by a marketing tactic in the past, don’t dismiss it forever. Maybe you just weren’t working with the right vendor. Different vendors have different approaches to the same concepts. Plus, markets and consumer trends change over time. Certain tactics are going to have their moments in the sun while others fall behind only to rise to prominence again. The next time someone presents you with an idea you’ve seen fail before, tell them about your experience, then ask them what’s different about their solution. I’ve had clients succeed today where they’ve floundered in the past simply because FindLaw took a different approach.
Lawyer Marketing Myth: “I hear you’re really expensive.”
Expensive is a relative term. Like most things in life and in business, you get what you pay for. Remember that coworker who hated pork chops? When he purchased his first home, he went out and bought a bunch of cheap tools on sale. A $2.00 shovel, a 99-cent stud finder – that sort of thing. Guess what he’s had to replace since then? All of it.
Sometimes, saving a few bucks is worth it, but I’ll bet you’ve found a few things in life that are totally worth their cost. Good tools, reliable cars, doctors … attorneys?
I think internet marketing is in a similar category. Lawyers who skimp here usually get what they pay for. Yes, Findlaw isn’t the cheapest service around. But when you buy from us, you’re not getting a bare-bones solution. We don’t just build websites or run ads. We leverage our knowledge of legal consumers in a way that nobody else can to craft a business development solution for your firm that goes beyond executing a series of tasks and calling it quits.
Having the top resources in the industry comes with a price, but the results could mean many, many more dollars in your pocket. I understand that the health of my clients’ law firms is often what’s at stake when they’re planning their marketing budget and I take that responsibility very seriously. I know what it means to sign on with FindLaw. I understand what comes out of your pocketbook, but I’ve also seen what can go back in.
Lawyer Marketing Myth: “I don’t need to market my firm, all my business is referrals.”
Referrals are fantastic! Whatever you can do to build your referral network is sound strategy in my book. But there’s one word in this claim that worries me, “all.” If all of your business truly does come from referrals, you need to start asking yourself, “What if …?” What if your primary referral source retired? Or found another attorney who she actually felt more positively about? What if someone new came into town and just flooded the market with advertising? How many referrals didn’t you get last year? How would you know?
When everything you rely on is coming from just one or two sources, you need to reach out and diversify your strategy. Referrals have been the lifeblood of law firms since the beginning of the profession. But it doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that even this source of clients is moving online and there is no such thing as “a guaranteed referral” anymore. Social media endorsements are the new word-of-mouth and review sites like Google and Facebook give curious consumers the inside scoop on your firm like never before. If your firm has relied on referrals or your reputation until now, making a move to online legal marketing doesn’t mean turning your back on the past. It’s simply preparing for the future of your firm.
In today’s online world you need to have a good mixture of referrals, social networking (bar associations, events, lunches, community service) and online marketing. As much as attorneys may not want to hear this, a firm just can’t survive by operating under the same business model they did in the 80’s. I realize attorneys went to law school to practice law, not run a business, but the hard fact is, even a solo attorney is running a small business. We are now seeing doctors, dentists, real estate agents, hospitals, accountants and other professional services being forced to market themselves online in order to compete. Amazon, Netflix and Cars.com have changed how consumers find information. They’ve altered the decision-making process for all of us and they’ve made influenced the way almost everyone spends their money. It’s time to accept that investing in your business, with the right vendor, is vital if your firm wants to stay relevant to your future clients.