This is a guest post from Alex Cancio, of Cancio Advisors.
You’re an attorney, perhaps the owner of a small law firm, and you like the idea of growing your practice. But with the long hours spent actually practicing law, the thought of committing your scarce free time to business development makes you want to slam your forehead against the desk.
Have you considered using an inbound marketing program to increase leads and maximize time spent on business development?
Typically, leads for law firms come from referrals, and cultivating them requires a lot networking and outreach. By letting your web content itself generate qualified leads, inbound marketing can efficiently enhance your traditional pipeline and brand your practice.
If you’re unfamiliar with inbound marketing, here is a good overview. But, before implementing it, there’s some thought and planning that needs to be done.
1. Strategize Before You Start
Whether you’ve just launched your practice or have been at it for several years, take some time to perform a due diligence of your business before creating and sharing content.
Define Your Goals
Do some hard thinking about your firm, and consider the answers to the following questions:
- What does your client base currently look like?
- Who do you want as clients?
- What are your growth objectives?
- Do you have the capacity to take on new business?
These answers will inform your content. You know your practice intimately, so trust your instincts, but prepare to be surprised and adapt your inbound marketing content accordingly. Get plenty of opinions from colleagues and people with an outside perspective, including business consultants.
Define Your Core Specialty and Brand
The product your law firm sells is your knowledge, experience and dedication. You may be developing or have already established an expertise, a specialty or a niche.
Let’s say your practice’s goal, for example, is to provide intellectual property counsel for video game companies. Or perhaps you’re the premier provider of immigration legal services for a particular community, with bilingual capabilities to match.
Get a clear idea of your firm’s core mission and brand, and determine 1) why exactly your services are so valuable to your clients and 2) what differentiates your firm from others. You can then create web content that addresses these and enables you to be found online through SEO.
The legal profession is subject to regulations when it comes to advertising and marketing. These regulations vary between states and stem primarily from self-established ethics guidelines. Check your state bar’s website to learn the marketing regulations and best practices to which your firm is subject.
Although not required in all states, it’s generally a good idea to include an attorney advertising disclaimer on all your marketing copy, including your website, blogs, e-books and white papers. This comprehensive disclaimer from Arden Besunder P.C., a New York-based law firm, is a good example. Also note that some practices such as Bankruptcy or Tax require special disclaimers on all communications.
2. Ready to Start Inbound Marketing?
Once you’re ready to start creating and providing content, consider the following:
Write for Your Audience
It sounds like obvious advice, yet sometimes law firms fail to design content that engages their target market.
Say you specialize in trusts and estates for individuals and families.
Your blog posts, white papers and other offerings need to be comprehensible and compelling for non-attorneys.
They can’t be overloaded with legal jargon that requires a law degree to decipher.
On the other hand, your new business pipeline may depend on referrals from or partnerships with other attorneys or companies in other industries (for example, investment banks or real estate firms). In that case, your inbound marketing content should showcase your precise technical knowledge and expertise to engage this audience.
Toolbox and Infrastructure
There are many types of content that a law firm can use in their inbound marketing program. Because these require time and effort, you should consider training staff or outsourcing certain services to run and maintain the inbound marketing effort. A few things to keep in mind:
- Resources. Provide resources on your website – white papers, presentations, news alerts, e-books and more. This is crucial for law firms because it allows interested parties to vet your experience and feel confident in your ability to help them with their needs.
- Blogging. Most experts recommend blogging at least twice a week. Realistically, it’s a tough publication schedule for most lawyers to meet. A specialist, freelancer, or staff member can produce short articles that are relevant to your audience.
- SEO. Make sure your firm, practice and matter/deal descriptions, as well as your bio, contain the relevant terms to keep you at the top of search engine results. Don’t fall asleep at the wheel – keep monitoring your results and adjusting content to stay visible.
- Social Media. Create social media accounts for your firm, and then leverage these cost-effective communications platforms for increased traffic and content dissemination. An added bonus: social media also lets you engage your followers in two-way conversations. For some helpful tips, check out this article.
- Call to Action. Include relevant calls to action in your content that will convert browsers to leads and ultimately to clients. These should be specific actions you want the reader to take, such as downloading a free ebook, or filling out a contact form for a free consultation.
- Responsiveness. As your inbound marketing program generates leads, it’s crucial that inquiries and questions are processed and responded to quickly and with the highest standards of customer service. Make sure your website makes it very easy to contact you, and consider dedicating a staff member to filtering and responding to queries.
- Videos. Posting digital videos on your website and YouTube makes sense for certain firms. Consider carefully the types of videos you post, your purpose for sharing them and your rights to the content. Speaking engagements, community event participations or television appearances make valuable video clips that let potential clients see what you offer.
3. Your Content at Work!
Are you open to changing how you think about marketing your law practice?
Nothing will replace your need to network and manage referral and client relationships. But with a comprehensive strategic inbound marketing plan and some resources in place, you’ll be surprised at how many quality leads will be produced.
The difference is that instead of you spending time to find clients, your clients will spend the time to find you. What can you share with them to let them know you’re the right choice?
About Alex Cancio
Alex Cancio loves helping professional services firms and executives with their marketing, business development and communications needs. He has an M.B.A. from Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, and has several years of marketing and business development experience. A recent transplant to Salt Lake City, he enjoys writing, Utah’s amazing outdoor life, and together with his wife, deciphering his newborn son’s gurgling.