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This is a hard truth to accept, but your referral network is in fact, broken!
Like many attorneys, you probably get a good amount of referrals. Even in today’s digital marketing world, a lot of business still comes from word of mouth; from past clients, other attorneys, or strategic relationships in specific industries.
However, no matter how many referrals you are currently getting, the data says that you are leaving more on the table! According to a study produced by the business school at Texas Tech, 83% of your clients are willing to refer to you. But, only 29% actually are.
In other words, you are only getting about one-third of the referrals that you should be getting, from people you already know!
This is a big issue that often gets overlooked. With more and more marketing companies reaching out to you every day, selling you advertising, pay-per-click, or promises of a high Google ranking, it is easy to lose sight of all the referrals you are missing out on.
Furthermore, referrals are often better clients than those who find you online. This only compounds the issue. Not only are most law firms receiving fewer referrals than they should be, but when they do spend time, money, and other resources on their marketing, it is often focused on attracting more clients from advertising than it is focused on generating referrals.
Referrals make better clients. They are cheaper to get. And, they are more likely to refer to you because they were referred themselves!
Here is the good news! It’s not complicated to close the “referral gap.” The biggest culprit in this issue is a lack of staying top-of-mind. The days of an annual holiday or birthday card to your clients being enough have passed. We all have too much going through our minds every day. It is simply too easy to forget about you, and what you do.
When the moment arises to make a referral, people just don’t think of it. They don’t make the connection. However, the more you stay connected with your network, and the more you remind them what you do, the more likely they are to think of you in the moment it matters.
At Spotlight Branding, we are passionate about making the internet a tool that you can use to stay better connected with your clients, keeping your brand and what you do front-and-center in their minds.
Marketing strategies such as an email newsletter, a consistent social media presence, and blog content that focuses on people, not search engine robots, can go a long way in keeping you well connected with your network, and ultimately closing the referral gap.
So, your referral network is broken. But, starting to fix it is one of the best decisions you will make for your law firm! Marketing to your past clients and your existing network always produces an ROI. If Spotlight Branding can help, please give us a call at (800) 406-7229 or visit SpotlightBranding.com/schedule.
There are several legal directories out there, all of which provide consumers with access to information about attorneys in their area. One directory, however, has made it their mission to become the #1 hub for anyone who not only needs to find an attorney, but also get quick answers to their legal questions. That directory is Avvo. If you’re still unfamiliar with it, here’s what you need to know:
1) You already have a profile
If you are a licensed attorney, you have an Avvo profile regardless of whether or not you have ever even visited their website. Claiming your profile is free and something you should absolutely do. Unclaimed profiles are generally blank, which means people searching for an attorney in your area won’t pick you when they see your name.
2) Your Avvo profile will show up on the first page of Google
Stop reading this blog right now, open a new tab, and search your name (you may need to attach “attorney” to the end of your search if you have a fairly common name). What comes up? Your website, most likely. But also your Avvo profile.
If people are doing their research on you, having a blank Avvo profile will be a bit disappointing for them. However, an active, robust profile will solidify your credibility and expertise and make the conversion process a little easier.
3) Every lawyer is rated
Upon first glance at your Avvo profile, you’ll likely notice the number rating attached to your profile. If you’ve just claimed it and your profile is blank, your number may be as low as 5, which can be alarming. Although Avvo is pretty secretive about how to increase your rating, we have written about several proven ways you can do it.
With our society’s growing dependence on web-based businesses and technologies, Avvo is here to stay. Don’t get left behind by refusing to claim your free profile that already exists. If you’re interested in learning more about Avvo, check out our six-part blog series we conducted with Avvo founder Mark Britton. If you’d like help getting your Avvo profile set up and maintained, give us a call today.
By now, you’re likely aware that we’re firmly against SEO as a primary marketing tool for attorneys. And while we believe this is a universally applicable belief, it is especially true for small firms and attorneys who have recently started their own firm.
Why is that? It’s simple: The more money you spend on SEO, the better your rankings will be. As a new or smaller firm, you likely don’t have the marketing budget to compete with the mega firms, who are absolutely spending the bulk of their marketing spend on SEO.
That’s why we focus on what we call an “internet foundation.” If you think of your law firm’s online presence like a house, you need a solid foundation for which to build upon. This is where your website plays a major role. It serves as the key foundational piece upon which you’re building your entire brand.
From there, building your referral base with various marketing channels will allow you to grow your business from the inside out. People who know and trust you will send you better business, as opposed to Google, who will only send you people who are price shopping and likely won’t remember who you are in six months (especially if you’re not staying top-of-mind with them).
So what should you do instead? Of course we recommend the services we offer, such as blogging, email newsletters, videos, and social media. But there’s so much more you can do as a new or small law firm to market yourself, such as:
Networking – It isn’t a dying art form. Networking is a great way to get out there, meet new potential sources of business, and let people know you’re there to serve them
Speaking engagements – Putting on a monthly event at your firm or reaching out to organizations about possible opportunities is a great way to get your name out there and establish your expertise and credibility. Business groups are always looking for speakers. Churches are a great place to discuss estate planning. The opportunities are out there, you just have to go find them.
Writing a book – Even if it’s just 100 pages or so, writing a book shows people that you’re an expert and adds so much more credibility to your firm. Even more, the cost to publish a book is less than you think.
Don’t let the loud, overbearing voices of other marketing companies fool you – there is so much more to marketing than SEO. Don’t throw your hard-earned money into the SEO pit only to receive the exact kind of business you don’t want to take. Instead, diversify your marketing. Put some time and effort into it. The internet is convenient, but it’s not easy – you still need to make an effort in order to get your name out there and make sure people know about you.
If you have additional questions about this and other forms of marketing, contact us today!
Congratulations on your new podcast! You’ve taken a big step toward truly building your credibility and showcasing your expertise to your community. Getting started and having the show up and running is the hardest part, so now that you have that out of the way, you can focus on what to do next – building your audience. This blog article will give you a few tips on how to do just that.
1. Spread the Word
Find the places your target audience hangs out online and insert yourself into the conversation. You don’t have to blatantly promote the podcast; instead, you can be part of the discussion and plug your show as part of your comment. For example, a family law attorney may find a single-parent discussion group. To go a layer deeper, you could find a discussion thread about custody issues or dealing with an uncooperative ex. That’s the perfect place to display your expertise and let people know about your show.
You can also make it known at networking events or conferences you attend. It can be part of the conversations you have, or you can simply print up a flyer and place it on a wall or table.
Of course, don’t forget to promote your show on your website, social media, and e-newsletter as well! Adding hashtags like #podcast, #itunes, #episode, and #listening will also help to get immediate eyes on your new podcast.
2. Invite Guests
Whether you’re hosting your podcast all on your own or you have a co-host with you, there is value in having guests on some or all of your episodes. If you think of it as a referral source for your business, having a guest on your podcast not only brings that person’s fans and followers into your world, but it opens the door to reciprocate in some way and bring you into their world for future opportunities.
3. Cross Promote
If you’ve listened to any podcast, you have likely heard a brief advertisement for another podcast that the host believes you might be interested in. You can do the same with your show, especially if you have other connections who do their own podcasting. Many hosts will gladly promote your show in exchange for you promoting theirs.
These are just the start! There are many other ways to go about creating a listener base and getting better rankings on platforms, but simple networking and word of mouth can get the initial group of listeners you’re hoping for. If you have any questions about how to build up your podcast after creating it, contact us here. Happy podcasting!
By now, you’ve likely heard people talking about shows like Serial or S-Town. Perhaps you are even subscribed and listen to these podcasts. Have you considered one for your law firm? No, you likely won’t have millions of listeners, but you also don’t have millions of website visitors – and you don’t need that many, either.
Podcasting can be a great marketing and branding tool for your law firm. This blog outlines 4 reasons why:
1) They are actually pretty easy to create
Technology is moving fast these days and you might feel like undertaking a podcast project requires you to learn a bunch of new software, but that’s not necessarily true. A podcast is only as complicated as you make it.
While the most polished shows include music beds with intros, outros, and segment breaks, you don’t necessarily have to do that if it doesn’t fit the format of the show you want to create. Maybe your show is a few minutes long and covers a legal concept. If it’s longer, you can easily hire a creative freelancer to create short interludes for you.
All you need is a microphone and a computer. From there, you can upload your episode to a host like Libsyn, which syndicates it to podcast platforms like iTunes and Stitcher. From there, you just spread the word.
2) It helps build your credibility
You know you’re well-versed in the law, but does your community know that? A podcast is a great way to show off your expertise. You don’t need to tell someone how to represent themselves in court, but you can break down the pros and cons of different business entities (if you’re a business lawyer) or explain the various custody options available in your state (if you’re a family lawyer).
Also, I know all of you lawyers are perfectionists, but you don’t need to have a polished show that is free of errors. A podcast is a live show with natural conversations. If you stumble a little bit, that’s okay! Keep going, because it actually makes the listener feel more connected to you as if you’re talking directly to them. I promise no one will think you’re unprepared or don’t know what you’re talking about.
3) It’s a solid alternative to video
Not all of us are professionals in front of a camera. If you’re not comfortable on video or you’re self-conscious about your appearance, a podcast is a great alternative! You can cover the same legal concepts on a podcast just as you do in a video. You could arguably expand more in a podcast since most people listen to podcasts while driving, working out, or sitting at their desks doing other things. A video, on the other hand, usually requires someone’s full attention.
4) It can improve your speaking skills
If a lot of your casework involves litigation, you may already be a seasoned speaker. But for attorneys who do a lot of transactional work, there is value in having your own podcast. As you build your reputation and your credibility, other opportunities could arise, such as being asked to speak at an event. If you have several episodes of a podcast under your belt, you could feel more comfortable getting in front of a group of people.
Podcasting can be a great marketing and branding tool for your law firm. If you’d like to talk about what a podcast might look like for your firm, or if you need some additional direction on how to get started, we’re happy to help! If you’d like to see an example of how to pull this off, check out our podcast the Law Firm Marketing Minute.
Happy New Year! We hope 2019 will be a great year for your firm.
If you haven’t already done so, the start of a new year is always a good time to think about how you plan to market your business for the calendar year. This is the ideal time to take on a new marketing initiative, and this blog will provide you with some ideas, along with a few reasons to get started today.
For example, is your website outdated and due for a makeover? Is your message and branding on point with what you’re doing in your office and communicating your expertise and reputation? Are you staying in touch with your referral sources and maximizing your opportunities as much as you would like?
If you don’t have solid answers for those questions, consider these reasons for getting started on a new marketing direction now:
1. Achieve Your Goals with a Healthy ROI The new year is a time to not only make personal goals, but also business goals as well. How much do you want to grow your business? How many new clients do you want to work with? Putting the right marketing in place can help you realize those goals for the year and help you focus on what you want your 2019 ROI to be!
2. Availability in Your Budget Hopefully, you have an idea of your budget for the year and know what you want to spend and where. Don’t wait until later in the year when your budget gets sucked up by lower priorities. For many of us, being reactive with our spending usually ends up with our money going to lesser priorities. At the beginning of the year, there should still be availability in your marketing budget. Put it to good use!
3. Capitalize on the Momentum of the New Year There is momentum with the new year…energy and enthusiasm for the year ahead. Capitalize on that and get an exciting new marketing initiative going! Even more, few marketing initiatives see immediate results. Start early and reap the exponential benefits as the year progresses.
4. Ramp Up Time – Don’t Fall Behind! Remember, quality marketing has a reasonable onboarding period. For example, a great website takes at least a few months to deliver from start to finish. Companies that promise you a website in a week or two aren’t going to provide you with a great product. Don’t settle for “good enough,” get started now so that you don’t get too deep into 2019 before launching a new campaign.
5. Perfect Timing for a New Strategy or Refined Message
The new year is a great time to reconsider your current strategy and messaging. Do you want to focus more on a particular niche? Do you want to do more to tell your story of why you are passionate about helping your clients? Is there something that simply is not communicated as effectively or poignantly in your marketing as you would like? Make 2019 the year that it changes!
Whether it’s working with Spotlight Branding or another company, we hope you will take the steps to launch a new marketing direction for 2019. If you have any questions about where to start, we’re happy to help! Contact us today to get started.
As an attorney, you might believe that social media is just something a bunch of millennials are into. But it’s so much more than that. Having an active social media presence can go a long way toward building and enhancing your online brand.
In working with attorneys over the last few years, I’ve heard two different lines of thinking from those who chose to forego any type of social media presence:
“I don’t understand it so I don’t want it.”
“It’s a waste of time because it doesn’t generate leads.”
In this article, I want to explain the purpose of social media and hopefully answer some lingering questions you might have about this incredible tool.
Why Is Social Media Important?
Social media is a key branding tool because it’s an easy way to expose your business to your community with the push of a button. If you’re doing an e-newsletter or any kind of direct mail campaign, you can look at social media as a small, daily version of that kind of marketing. Where social media has an advantage, however, is that you can reach your entire community (or the entire country if that’s your target market) with your social media content.
If your email or physical address list is pretty small, social media allows you to reach the rest of your market. Whether you live in a city of 500,000, or a smaller town of 60,000, social media allows you to reach the people you serve for a fraction of the cost of other forms of marketing.
Even though Facebook, social media’s biggest platform, has recently curbed the influence advertisers like you can have on everyone’s timelines, there are still ways you can reach thousands of people in your community every month, and it’s something we have continued to do successfully despite Facebook’s changes.
Beyond Facebook, regularly making posts on Twitter and LinkedIn can enhance your brand and give you influencer authority and credibility as the expert in your city. From there, the referrals can grow. If a personal injury attorney needs to send you a family law case, a strong social media presence only increases the chances that attorney will think of you first because they’ve seen your content posted across social media.
Can Social Media Generate Leads?
Sure it can. But you could also generate leads by standing on the side of the highway and holding a sign with your logo on it. In other words, social media isn’t necessarily going to be a big lead magnet for you.
The more beneficial approach to social media is to use it as a way to reach people in your community and create a consistent touchpoint with those people, making you a truly unforgettable figure in their lives. You can promote your website and the things you’re doing outside of the office to show people that you’re not only an expert and the go-to attorney for your practice area, but that you’re committed to actually helping people rather than chasing down a big payday.
What Channels Should You Use?
At Spotlight Branding, we push our clients’ content to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. While some have more users than others, these outlets provide the most value for an attorney because chances are all but a small percentage of your market is on one of these sites.
Other services, such as Instagram, are becoming more and more appropriate for businesses, including law firms. But when it comes to Instagram, it’s best to use it as a “behind the scenes” platform to show people what you’re doing in the community and in the office.
Another visual platform, Pinterest, is also gaining steam. And while some businesses are seeing great results with both Pinterest and Instagram, it’s coming from industries that provide a physical product, such as clothiers or food service providers. As an attorney, your sweet spot is on the bigger networks that we focus on.
What Should You Post?
It’s okay to promote yourself on social media. After all, how else will people know what you do and how you can help them? But you need to provide a balance of other content.
Constantly promoting yourself and telling people to call your office every single day is just going to turn them off and contribute to the stereotype that attorneys are just about the money. It’s all about providing value and becoming a source of solid, relevant, and authoritative content to your audience.
Along with promoting your website’s blogs or videos, you can also mix in relevant articles from outside sources and inspirational quotes. People on social media really love quotes, and it’s a great way to spark engagement with people on your page.
How Is Social Media Different from Other Marketing?
Think of it like this: Social media is a digital version of every kind of print and physical advertising you have ever done. Where social media has the advantage, however, is that you can change up the message on a daily basis for a fraction of the cost. If you’ve been running your law firm for years, you’ve likely bought ad space in a newspaper, phone book, or even a billboard. These advertisements cost thousands of dollars for a static advertisement that is seen only by the people who subscribe to that publication or drive along that particular road where the billboard is located.
Social media, on the other hand, can transmit a different message every day to a custom audience based on the demographics of your ideal client. If you’re a business attorney, you can target people who have interests in business and entrepreneurship, and even narrow it down to people whose job titles include things like “Founder,” “Owner,” etc. Whereas a billboard along the interstate could cost you up to five figures for a month and reach an unknown number of qualified people, a finely tuned social media audience can target thousands of people in your market.
As you can see, social media is more than just a time-wasting diversion that your kids stare at all day. It can be a helpful tool to grow your referral base and establish your credibility and authority as THE legal expert in your community.
Effective marketing isn’t easy—and there are always plenty of ways you can waste your time and resources. This is particularly true for small business owners, since most of us can’t afford to spend countless hours each day refining our marketing tactics while we’re also responsible for growing our company in other ways. That being said, there is one specific marketing mistake that stands out from the crowd: The failure to have a plan.
Without a marketing plan, you’re flying blind. Your initiative may seem like a great idea, but with no central purpose, you’ll find it impossible to achieve the long-term results that you’re looking for.
You might think a marketing plan is similar to a 50-page research paper that a professor made you create during your college career—but that’s not what we’re talking about here. In fact, creating an effective marketing plan is easier than you think. To get started, just answer these key questions:
What makes your business different from the competition? Is it your years of experience? Your use of technology? Your ability to keep costs low?
What is your company brand? How to you want your audience to perceive your business?
What benefits do your products and services provide? Why should a consumer choose your products or services over those of a competitor? What’s in it for them?
Who is your target market? Are you selling to businesses or consumers? To locals in your area, or to an international audience? Men or women? And so on.
What are the most effective channels to reach your market? Now that you’ve defined your audience, how can you best engage them? Internet marketing? Social media? Direct mail? Print advertising?
Answering these questions is the first step needed to create an effective plan. It’s essential that you do this before spending another dime on your marketing—because without a cohesive plan, chances are you’ll be wasting resources. If you’d like help taking the next step, get in touch with us today!
When it comes to customer service, what is your goal?
For many business owners, the answer is just “satisfied customers.” They strive to provide a quality product or service and create a pleasant enough experience to ensure that the customer walks away satisfied… and that he or she becomes a repeat customer.
But in reality, you should consider whether or not just aiming to simply satisfy a customer is setting the bar too low.
Instead, your goal should be to create raving fans.
Raving fans are customers that aren’t just satisfied, it goes above and beyond that—they’re customers who can’t stop singing your praises to anyone who will listen. Raving fans will recommend you to their neighbors, their family, their friends, and anyone else they can find. And because there are few marketing tools more powerful than sincere word-of-mouth recommendations, these types of customers are valuable assets.
But what’s the drawback?
Creating a powerful fan base requires an investment of additional resources on the part of a business owner. But when you consider the benefits, both short and long term, it’s an easy decision.
Below are four practical steps that you can take to create more raving fans of your business:
Ask your customers what they want. Customer surveys are a valuable tool—at the very least, make it a goal to send out a survey annually. You can do this via snail mail, email, or online (utilizing free platforms such as Survey Monkey). Ask them what they like about your business, what they’d like to see changed, and what (if anything) you could do to meet their needs even more effectively. This gives the customer the impression that you listen and care about their needs.
Never say “no.” Clients and customers will often make requests that are outside of the services you offer. Rather than turning them down, refer them to an individual or business that can meet their needs. This simple step will help you build a reputation as a business that always has a solution.
Manage expectations. Expectations play a significant role in establishing your customers’ perception of your business. Promising results in five days and not delivering until day 10 is a disappointment—while promising results in 15 days and delivering in 10 is exceptional. Managing the expectations you create ensures that you are always in a position to impress your customers and clients. As the saying goes, “it’s better to under promise and over deliver.”
Become their friend. Sometimes a customer just wants to be heard. Whether it was a problem with the product, service, or customer support, customers just want to know that a company understands their frustrations and will work diligently to fix it. You don’t have to be the perfect company. You just need to be a company that is empathetic to problems and are willing to fix it quickly for customers. This bond between the customers and the business will help ignite positive word-of-mouth recommendations for your business.
To learn more about the systems and tools that are available to turn your customers into raving fans,contact us today!
This is an abbreviated version of our Commodity Report. If you’d like the full report, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The legal profession is changing rapidly. High levels of competition combined with rapid changes in technology have created unprecedented market conditions. Not only are there more practicing attorneys in the United States than ever before, but the emergence of “DIY” legal services such as LegalZoom and RocketLawyer have created extremely low-cost (or even free) legal solutions for many consumers.
Now here’s the thing: most of these forces are beyond your control. There’s not much you can do to stop change from arriving. What you can control is your response. And believe it or not, there’s an opportunity presenting itself in the midst of this rapid evolution. Most lawyers react to these market forces by panicking, lowering their rates, chasing any potential client with a pulse, and essentially becoming commodities.
That’s the opposite of what you should be doing.
Instead, commit to building a brand and a reputation that positions you as the “go-to” guy or gal in your market. When you establish your brand as a leading expert, when you find a way to provide unique value to your clientele, price becomes much less important because you’re not a replaceable commodity anymore.
Now let’s talk about how to make that happen.
Narrow Your Focus
Focusing in on a single practice area, or at least a group of related practice areas is an important first step in creating a powerful brand identity. You cannot and will not be perceived as an “expert” if your focus is too broad.
Create A Website That Reflects Your Status
For many potential clients and referral sources, your website will create the first impression of your law firm. And for many more, it will play an important “confirming” role in shaping perception – because when you meet someone in person, often the very next step they take if they’re thinking about hiring you (or referring work to you) is to look you up on the internet.
Become Visible On Social Media
Social media is the perfect tool for building your online brand. In addition to your website, it’s the other area of your internet presence that’s going to most shape your perception in the marketplace. You might be surprised to learn how many potential clients and/or referral sources look you up on LinkedIn, check out your Facebook page, or follow you on Twitter. So first and foremost, it’s important that your social media presence is congruent with your brand.
Launch A Podcast
Podcasting has exploded as a media source – iTunes reports over one billion subscriptions, and hundreds of millions of plays per month. Launching a podcast geared towards your target market is an effective strategy that you can use to educate potential clients, keep them engaged, and build your credibility at the same time.
Write A Book
There’s arguably no greater tool to establish your credibility and your expertise in your area of practice than publishing a book. Being able to add the label of “author” to your bio is a huge leap forward! While writing and publishing a book may sound overwhelming, chances are that you have a good amount of content that you have created over the years which could be re-purposed into a book.
In conclusion, unprecedented change is sweeping through the legal profession. Between the growing oversupply of lawyers in the marketplace, the emergence of dirt-cheap online providers, and the growing popularity of third-party “find-a-lawyer” apps, you’re all-but-certain to feel a pinch. The good news is that you don’t have to accept it.
To schedule a FREE no-hassle consultation with one of our Brand Strategists, follow this link.