Beyond Facebook and LinkedIn: 5 Digital Marketing Platforms for Law Firms

The past year has only fueled the move toward a more digital world. By now, many law firms have made use of Facebook or LinkedIn to bolster their online presence, but the utility of any online platform can wane quickly as potential clients and referral sources move on to other alternatives.

There’s a lot of room in the legal services space for attorneys who serve businesses and other institutions to build up the kind of personal branding more often done by consumer-facing lawyers. The largest firms have established names, but most boutiques and smaller firms are letting digital marketing opportunities slip through their fingers. Below is a list of suggestions to open your mind to the possibilities and to help you get started making your expertise known in an expanding digital world.

  1. Podcasts/Radio: Maryland-based attorney Andrew Torrez teamed up with a non-lawyer host to cover legal issues on their podcast, Opening Arguments, and it has attracted a significant audience. If a project like that seems beyond your current bandwidth, start by pursuing guest spots on programs that are relevant to your audience.
  2. TikTok: Social media platforms often start with teens and 20-somethings but over time attract an older, more affluent audience. That happened with Facebook and is starting to happen now on TikTok. Consider the American teen who reached hundreds of thousands of users with a video describing the “culture shocks” she experienced after starting school in Australia. Law firms could use a similar approach to educate their potential clients, including businesses.
  3. Clubhouse: If the idea of creating video content is daunting, you might prefer an audio-based platform like Clubhouse. This can serve as an inexpensive way to reach people with a common interest in the kinds of problems your firm addresses.
  4. Patreon: Get audiences invested through a membership service like Patreon. You can use it to garner financial support for a podcast, as the creators of Opening Arguments do, or you could follow the lead of Florida public defender Beth Bourdon, who raises funds through the site for her work assisting activists with Freedom of Information Act requests.
  5. Substack: When it comes to written content, your firm might benefit from monetizing its blog or newsletter through a channel like Substack. Well-known journalists and bloggers, including Andrew Sullivan and Matt Taibbi, have published to the platform, which, like Patreon, allows subscribers to pay for exclusive content from creators they like.

As our professional interactions continue to shift online, becoming an early adapter may be invaluable. With new apps always popping up, it’s understandable that many lawyers are hesitant to put time into additional marketing initiatives on top of already-full workloads. But as the industry changes, lawyers will benefit from communicating their expertise via a variety of platforms.

Avoid Leaving Money on the Table With Google’s Business Directory

Traditionally, consumer-facing law firms have paid much more attention to online reviews on places like Yelp and Avvo than their B2B counterparts. But even firms that cater to businesses should be thinking about their searchability online. Potential clients may not be looking for directions to your office right now, but they are still using Google to identify lawyers locally. This means that Google’s business directory can be a powerful tool in helping new clients find you instead of a competing firm.

Taking the simple step of filling out a profile for your practice will tie you to the map of nearby firms that pops up when someone who could use your services types in a few keywords. The other good news for attorneys who aren’t in family law, estate planning, personal injury, or similar consumer-focused practice areas is that there is not a ton of competition in these local search rankings.

You don’t have to spend money to get the benefits of this directory. Begin by adding your logo and a description that includes the most relevant terms. The time it takes you to draft a paragraph and fill in a few boxes could net your firm significant amounts in new business. And if you want to go further, a couple of positive reviews could be enough to dramatically increase your visibility in local searches. Don’t miss out on valuable opportunities by not prioritizing these kinds of quick and effective marketing tasks.

How Lawyers Can Generate More Leads from Presentations

Those in the legal profession tend to believe that lawyers shouldn’t need help when it comes to making public speeches. After all, most lawyers know a thing or two about being persuasive, and trial lawyers address juries for a living. Many seem to be master communicators, but there’s a major difference between a jury and a conference or webinar audience: one is forced to be there under threat of arrest.

Because some attorneys assume they’re already accomplished public speakers, a discomfort arises around suggesting one could benefit from additional help. Although an increasing number of law firms are quick to provide support with respect to time management, hourly billing, and the drafting of marketing materials, there is an added level of sensitivity regarding a lawyer’s possible need for speech coaching. There shouldn’t be.

Even lawyers who are skilled at communication and agile on their feet often don’t fully appreciate the business purpose of a speech. Too many view speeches from a professorial perspective. They approach a presentation as if the goal is to make sure that a vast majority of the audience can pass a non-existent substantive test about the subject matter covered. This overly educational approach is reflected in how much time lawyers spend putting together PowerPoint slide decks chock-full of bullet points.

But if the business purpose of a speech is to create new leads, there are more important pieces to prepare. How the speaker will be introduced and what will be said by the event organizer at the conclusion are key to this goal. And while the presenter has an audience of potential clients and referral sources, it’s crucial to obtain contact information, a set of email addresses at the least.

Most lawyers don’t recognize the significance of the speaker’s introduction or an evaluation form to the business success of a presentation. And if this is news to you, you’re in very good company. Just as lawyers shouldn’t feel embarrassed when they call on the IT department for assistance, they should embrace the notion that experts can help them become better speakers and more effective marketers.

Evaluating Your First 50 Days of 2018

February 19th is the 50th day of 2018.  It’s an auspicious time to take stock of how your firm has started the new year.  Many of you may be thinking that it’s too early to know how the year is going.  I hear that sentiment a lot in my role as a coach and consultant to lawyers and law firms.

It’s not too early to know.  In fact, the opposite is more likely to be the case.  The trajectory your firm or individual book of business is on now will likely carry through the entire year—unless you make a concerted and consistent effort to change that trajectory.

It seems like the year has just started but your actions and results often carry a distinct momentum.  For example, a law firm that charges by the hour and invoices its client on a monthly basis has already largely baked in its results through April.  Time that is billed now will be invoiced to clients in March and the money won’t be received until April or perhaps May.  Thus, if such a firm wants to dramatically change its annual financial performance, it shouldn’t wait until June or July to do so.

The longer a firm waits to change its performance the more dramatic the change in performance has to be to reach a certain result.  This is a simple mathematical truism.  If a lawyer wants to generate $500,000 annual book of business, and has only collected $200,000 by June 30, she will need to collect $300,000 in the second half of the year.  That’s a 50% increase on the results achieved through June 30.  But if collected revenues on September 30 are only $300,000, the lawyer needs to collect $200,00 in the last three months of the year when they were only able to collect $300k during the first nine months.  This is one reason why the results through the first six or seven weeks of the year are more important that they might initially seem.

And this brings us to another problem law firms tend to have when evaluating their results this time of year.  How to you distinguish between isolated and systematic disruptions.  The tendency is to attribute disappointing results to one-time events.  For example, a partner might say that her revenues are lower than expected because a certain deal closed earlier than expected.  Another might explain he billed fewer hours in January because he had to relocate his family because of a mold or flooding problem in his house.  The implication is that this disruption is such a singular event that it isn’t likely to happen again.

One-time disruptive events do in fact occur.  The mold and flooding example is probably a good example of that.   But too often law firm leaders fail to recognize issues as being systematic.  While it’s true that January’s disappointing collections are the result of a particular client not paying their bill on time, late payment is far from an isolated problem at most firms.  In January one client was late for one reason and in February some other client will present some other seemingly unique reason for delaying payment or disputing a bill.  Every month will have its seemingly unique soap opera relating to collections or business development, without the firm realizing that it has a systematic problem on its hand.  As a parent you may be surprised what your kids do that causes you to visit doctor’s offices, but it’s not hard to predict that parents of children of a certain age will go to the doctor more often that did before they had children.

And so the idiosyncratic thing that happened at the beginning of 2018 to explain why revenues are down or why marketing results are disappointing is probably not as unique or you might think.  And that means that you need to make systematic changes to dramatically improve your results.

If the full year was compressed into a single week, we are now approaching the very end of the first day of that week.  Contrary what you might hear from others or feel, it’s not too early to take a long hard look at your year-to-date performance and see what it means for the rest of 2018.

In fact, if you don’t act now, it will only become harder to attain your goals.