A Divorce Lawyer’s Marketing Journey to Build My Law Practice
During the past few years, I have had a lot of visibility resulting from my marketing efforts. Other attorneys continuously ask me about my marketing so I thought I’d share some thoughts. I have been immersed in the legal world my entire life. I have practiced law in Illinois since 1984, and grew up surrounded by legal talk, as my father was also an attorney. This has allowed me to observe the evolution of the legal field throughout my lifetime.
History of Legal Advertising
As many attorneys are aware, previously, legal advertising was generally prohibited. This did not change until 1977, well after advertising became common practice in most other fields, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on lawyers’ right to advertise their services in the controversial case of
Bates v. State Bar of Arizona (433 U.S. 350). As a result, the tradition against legal advertising was rejected as an antiquated rule of etiquette. Thus began the opportunity for attorneys to grow their practices through marketing.
My Journey Begins
Although legal marketing previously provoked controversy, it has been an important key to my success as a lawyer. I have always marketed my practice. For the majority of my career, I concentrated on traditional methods such as Yellow Page advertising (pre-internet) and networking. As my experience grew, I added peer-rated credentials to my resume and joined different organizations. Fast forward to 2010, when my marketing guru, who also happens to be my wife, expanded her business into the growing field of social media. I jumped at the opportunity to be her online and social media test case. We developed a marketing plan including all the traditional marketing techniques plus newly burgeoning online marketing strategies.
We started with a short list of 13 tasks, and as those were completed, we added many more. Over the past four years, marketing has fascinated me. My marketing list has become an ever-evolving ‘to do’ list and we are always tweaking my marketing plan. We have been especially pleased by the Internet and social media campaigns’ successes. For those interested in starting or building upon a marketing campaign, here are some insights I have gained over the years. Please keep in mind that I am not a marketing professional, just a lawyer like you trying to build my practice.
What are the most important elements of marketing?
Consistency and follow-up are the most important aspects of marketing. You can have all of the know-how, a hefty budget, the best contacts and technical staff; yet, your marketing efforts will not result in success without consistency and follow-up. I have spoken with attorneys who tell me they are going to start their online marketing with blogs posts. They lay their foundation – build a website, write a few blogs posts – but too often, after several months, begin to neglect their page. Likewise, an empty Twitter account, LinkedIn or Facebook fan page is equally useless. Additionally, people often attend networking events, make new contacts, but fail to follow-up. Continuous activity is necessary to achieve your goals.
What types of marketing do I use?
I break my marketing down into two different, but equally relevant, categories: traditional and internet marketing.
For me, traditional marketing consists of networking and making myself visible. I think this builds the strongest and longest-lasting referrals. My ultimate goal is to build an extensive network of relationships so that people call me directly for my services or refer clients to me. Additionally, I recognize the importance of being a resource to others. In the networking world, the givers get the most back. For others, traditional marketing may include newspaper ads, speaking engagements, direct mail, television, radio and even billboards.
The objective of internet marketing is to make my name a prominent presence when people search online for help with the services I provide. My goal is for my web presence to effectively convey who I am and how I can help people, thus influencing people to contact me and ultimately hire me.
Who has time for marketing?
I understand that lawyers need to spend the majority of their hours practicing law. Networking takes a lot of time so you have to marshal your efforts in order to reap the most benefits with the least amount of time. Here are some networking suggestions:
· Be strategic; identify the best people to network with. Read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point.
· Set and track goals when meeting people or joining networking groups.
· Take time to develop relationships. Always remember that quality, not quantity, is important.
· Be a good listener and ask questions. Find out how you can help that person, whether it is referring business, making an introduction or sending a relevant article.
· Always follow-up and deliver what you promise.
Where do I start my internet campaign?
You can build your online presence through search engine optimization (SEO) and social media. SEO gets your website or web-page noticed by various search engines. Social media uses internet platforms for individuals and groups to share, co-create, and discuss. Social media marketing involves using internet forums, blogs, social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, podcasts, video and more to build your online presence, identity, relationships and reputation.
What to keep in mind while marketing
Marketing helps bring potential clients into your office to hire you. Satisfied clients bring more clients, and this remains one of the best ways to grow your practice. Thus, it is both good business and good marketing to build solid relationships with your clients. Tips include:
· Provide value
· Keep your word
· Be communicative
· Listen to the complaining client
· Stay in touch
· Serve your clients after the case is over
· Say thank you
Marketing can seem overwhelming, but it’s manageable. Make a plan and break down the tasks. Set goals and work towards individual tasks. Enlist or hire others to help you. Marketing is very rewarding, so have fun!