Legal Marketing Blog | Navigating The Turbulent Waters In An Evolving Legal..
Legal Marketing Blog is a resource for lawyers, law firm marketing and business development. Follow the blog to learn how to create a marketing plan that aligns with your professional goals, foundational approach to legal marketing – ie, a focus on relationships, reputation, referrals and repeat business.
When you browse the web, you’ll come across websites that are amazing and have eye-catching elements. You’ll also come across websites that look like owner put it together themselves using a YouTube tutorial. What separates the good from the bad isn’t just basic design (even though it’s important), but elements you might need to dig a little deeper to find. So what makes that great winning website? Below we list six elements that are essential to building credibility and establishing authority, which could ultimately increase your referral base.
A winning website:
1. Features at least one prominent call to action
A call to action is important for any business, including law firms. They not only get immediate attention from visitors, but they also ignite action in these visitors as well. It could be signing up for a newsletter, a free resource, or filling out a contact form on the homepage. It benefits the visitors by being able to receive free resources or help from the law firm, but it also helps lawyers catch leads. When you catch leads, it could LEAD you to have new clients.
2. Has free resources
At Spotlight Branding, we tell our clients that having a free resource on a website creates credibility and can also establish authority in the marketplace. This is true, but it also provides value to a person who could just be window shopping for lawyers. This could be the thing that makes the window shopper stop and ask for your services. A free resource could be a newsletter, or a report on a subject relevant to your practice.
3. Is easy to navigate
Some lawyers may practice 20 different areas of the law, but a person could get lost trying to find information on the area they need help in. To mitigate this problem, you should make sure your website is organized and pared down so even a person who isn’t exactly tech-savvy can manage it. Put similar areas on a page together while using bold headlines to separate them out. Not only will this be good from a searching standpoint, but it will also declutter the website in a way where drop-down menus are short and concise and a person can find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds. Don’t overthink your menu, and don’t put all the information on the website that you can possibly think of! Pick the most important aspects and if people have questions, they can always schedule a consultation for more detailed information.
4. Isn’t visually boring
If you have a website and it’s slapped together with a white background, too much text, and stereotypical legal images, you need to reevaluate your choices in design. When people first visit a website, they don’t want to see a landing page that looks like they could have created it themselves. On the flipside, they also don’t want each element on your homepage to have fancy transitions and other technical animations. These can cause your website to be overwhelming, and not to mention slow to load. A winning website should have a balance of sleek and modern design elements mixed with simplicity and structure. It’s more visually appealing, and could save some frustration from website visitors.
5. Establishes credibility
Have you ever encountered a person looking for a lawyer who “just had a feeling” about one they saw on a billboard? Probably not. Just because people see your face and know what you practice doesn’t mean they’ll put any trust in you to handle important issues happening in their life. You need to give people a reason to trust you, and you do that by establishing credibility. Your website should have resources, award badges, and testimonials. It can be anything to make you look like a credible and reliable attorney in whatever area of law you practice. You shouldn’t hide behind your label as an attorney and expect people to want to be a client. You have to put your own personal self out there and actually show people why you should be their number one choice.
6. Features knowledgeable and appealing content
The overall content on the website is important, but it isn’t the only thing you should include. Along with free resources, make sure you have a blog page! You don’t want to have one resource that could be outdated quickly. An updated blog page is a positive feature to website visitors, and it’s a way to drive more traffic to the website. How? By linking the blogs in your social media and sharing links.
Along with the blog page though, you want to make sure all the content written on your website is informative and valuable to visitors as well. We’ve mentioned earlier that drowning your website in words doesn’t help you gain credibility. It may actually hinder it by oversaturating the website and making it harder to navigate. All content on the website should be informative and concise to show visitors you’re the lawyer they’ve been looking for without overwhelming them. It can really make all the difference!
These six elements listed above don’t even scratch the surface on what you can do to create a website that’s unlike any other, but it’s a great starting point. Just remember to appeal to the audience you’re targeting, provide value to website visitors, and don’t be too overwhelming on the visuals. If you’re unsure of how to take all of this information to get started on your winning website, don’t hesitate to reach out! Contact Spotlight Branding for help today at SpotlightBranding.com.
My friend Candace Duff is a litigator, mediator and author. Between the two of us we have self-published 10 books. You can say, “we know the ropes.” And most importantly what a book can do for your practice. We have collaborated here to inspire you to consider what a book could do for you.
When a lawyer can say… “I’ve written a book on the subject.” it’s impressive.
Here’s what a book could do for you?
It’s a big audacious business card. When you speak to prospective clients give them a copy to encourage them to hire you.
It differentiates you from your competition. When it is on your website people doing research will find you and your book.
It helps you get speaking gigs. It is always an advantage for event organizers to be able to promote you as a lawyer and an author in your area of expertise.
It can be a tool to instruct your clients. Some practice areas could benefit from having a guide for their clients.
What it shouldn’t do.
It shouldn’t be a guide to help other lawyers do what you do. This is not the purpose.
It shouldn’t be riddled with legal ease. Define your market and speak to them in a language they readily understand.
You shouldn’t expect to get rich selling your book. It will serve you best by generously giving it away. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t sell and promote it, you should.
Selling and Promoting
List it on Amazon, with an authors page and be mindful of the categories you select. There are many other sites but it must be on Amazon to gain credibility, fast.
Promote it on all your social media by announcing the launch, every month pull quotes from chapters and find ways to talk about it.
Find publications that will run excepts from the book.
Now that you know how writing a book can help you establish your expertise, gain exposure, and grow your practice, the next question is how to actually write the book itself. The obvious answer is to acquire what one bestselling English writer refers to as “bum glue,” paste yourself into your chair every day, bang out a draft manuscript, and refine it until it’s ready to be sent to an editor. If the thought of sitting down and typing out a book gives you hives, there are other ways to get the job done.
Seven ways to write your book—FAST!
Dictate the Book
If you are a prolific speaker but a terrible typist, you could dictate the book and then have the recording transcribed either by a human being through a service like Rev.com or by someone you hire on Fiverr.com* or Upwork. Alternatively, you could run the recording through transcription software like Dragon Naturally Speaking or Dragon Professional. The software is not cheap, but it boasts a 99%accuracy rate and you’ll have it available for all your transcription needs.
If you use this method, it’s best to outline the book first so you know where you’re going and stay on track when you dictate it. You can speak much faster than you can type. With this method, you can achieve speeds of up to 5000 words an hour and get the first draft of your book done in a week if not a weekend.
Use PowerPoint Presentations
Take the PowerPoint presentations you’ve given in the past, use them to help you outline and structure your content, then dictate your book. This option allows you to test your material with live audiences prior to writing the book to see if it is well received.
Hire a Ghostwriter
You don’t have to write the book yourself. Instead, you can hire a professional writer (a/k/a a ghostwriter) to write your book for you. You can find ghostwriters on Upwork, through writers associations, word of mouth, referrals, etc. You and the ghostwriter agree upon a fee. They usually ask for a down payment and then receive final payment upon completion. You enter into an agreement that allows you to put your name as the author of the book, keep all the rights of the book, and keep all future book royalties.
This arrangement relieves you of the responsibility of writing the book yourself; however, it still requires an investment of time spent in meetings or interviews with the ghostwriter, in reading and revising or suggesting revisions, in getting the book edited, formatted and getting a book cover.
If you decide to hire a ghostwriter, be sure to get samples of their work and ask for references. You may also want to test them first by having them write articles or blog posts for you prior to writing the book.
Organize an Anthology
Another option for writing a book is to organize an anthology – in other words a collection of short stories or articles or chapters from various authors. If you decide to take this route, you could find other experts in your area of expertise to participate and submit chapters or articles. Then, you would only need to write an introduction, the conclusion, and one or more of the chapters or stories.
You will have to enter into an agreement regarding what happens with respect to the rights to the articles and/or stories contained in the book, any proceeds or book royalties derived from the sale of it, and any expenses incurred in connection with the book.
You would also need to establish a deadline for author submissions and a theme or topic for the book, and recruit authors who would be a good fit for the work.
Hire an editor to create your book
Under this option, you would outline and dictate the book, and then hire an editor to transform the transcript into a viable tome.
This is different than option #2 in that, under this arrangement, the editor takes on the responsibility for revising and editing the book, getting information from you to fill in any gaps, and putting it into final form for publication. You would be asked to review the draft and provide any comments or suggestions prior to publication and to pay a fee for the service. If you decide to take this route, be sure to negotiate a contract that clearly states who owns the rights to the book, the book royalties, etc. You want to make sure that it’s you.
Coauthor the book
In this case, you and another author would agree to collaborate on the book and divide the responsibility for writing it in any way you see fit. I’ve seen arrangements were each author writes different parts of the book, or one author writes the first draft and the second author revises the book, or one author creates an elaborate outline, character profiles, and fiction beats for the project and the other writes it, or any mix of these arrangements. There are a myriad of possibilities.
Create a book comprised of interview transcripts
You could have a colleague interview you or hire someone to do it, then have the interview transcribed, add some additional content, and create both an e-book and an audiobook out of that. Alternatively, you could interview a number of industry experts or thought leaders around a specific topic, get the interviews transcribed, and create a nonfiction book out of that. Or, you could interview someone who has a compelling story and a great hook and create a book out of that.
In this arrangement, you would be responsible for getting the book edited and otherwise finalized for publication. You also want to be sure to get releases and have contracts in place outlining everyone’s rights concerning the book and any royalties derived therefrom.
With all these options, you’ll still have to revise and organize the book, and find a copy editor, cover designer, and book formatter to finish it, but the most painful part of the process – writing the first draft of the book, will be done quickly.
If you’re serious about wanting to get more clients and increase your credibility, consider what a book could do for you and your practice.
What do you think the No. 1 factor is in determining whether or not a customer returns to a restaurant? Most people might say the food. If the food’s great, they’ll be back. But that’s not usually the case.
Service tends to be the leading factor. After all, poor service will drive customers away even if the food is good. And great service will keep them coming back.
This principle applies to your law firm as well. The quality of the service you provide is more important than anything else when it comes to client and customer retention.
So, here are several key strategies to keep your clients happy.
1. Deliver on commitments.
Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. If you simply deliver on the commitments you make, you’re going to separate yourself from most businesses out there.
The fact that most people won’t do what they say they are going to do may be depressing, but it represents an opportunity for your law firm. Take deadlines, your communication and your commitments seriously. Do this consistently, and you’ll build a reputation for dependability and reliability. Many clients will remain loyal to you for that reason alone.
This should become a core value for you and for your team. Don’t continue to employ people who can’t or won’t grasp this concept.
2. Create solutions.
It’s very likely clients will ask you for help in areas that are beyond your scope of services. In my internet marketing business, for instance, clients often ask us for help with printed marketing materials, which is something we don’t specialize in.
Rather than just telling them we can’t help, we’ve invested a lot of time into creating a long list of recommended vendors and service providers that can assist our clients. As a result, our clients know they can come to us for solutions. If we’re not the solution, we will point them in the right direction. This is something people legitimately value, and it’s not difficult to do.
This extends beyond vendors and service providers — it includes problem-solving as well. If a client has a problem, whether or not it’s your fault or even related to you, make an effort to help them solve it. If you’re not able to solve the problem, at least point them toward another solution.
3. Be honest.
Prioritize long-term relationships over short-term revenue. Be honest with your clients. Don’t sell them something they don’t need. And don’t up-sell them if the higher-priced package or product doesn’t make sense for them. This approach might take money out of your pocket in the short-term, but it builds goodwill, loyalty and lasting relationships.
For example, I don’t know anything about cars. I can change a flat tire, but that’s about it. So, I depend on a mechanic to help me take good care of my cars. Unfortunately, I’ve had bad experiences — incidents where I knew for a fact that I was overcharged or sold something that wasn’t necessary.
Several years ago, I was finally able to find a mechanic who I trust — a guy who has, on more than one occasion, passed up easy opportunities to sell me services I don’t need. Unless something changes, he’ll be my go-to mechanic for years to come, and the revenue that I’ll continue to bring him will easily offset any short-term gains he missed out on.
Build a reputation for honesty, and do right by your clients. This creates loyalty and long-lasting relationships.
4. Accept responsibility and make things right.
Sooner or later, you’re going to mess up. You’ll make a mistake, you’ll give bad advice or your team will provide poor service. There’s no getting around this — it happens to everyone.
While it’s obviously not something you want to happen, it does present an opportunity. Many people — and businesses — respond to a mistake by trying to wash their hands of the situation and move on as quickly as possible, regardless of whether or not the customer feels good about the solution. For that reason, your response when things go wrong is a powerful way to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Keep in mind that when something goes wrong, there’s not always a clear way to determine who is at fault. For example, in my business, if we design a website that a client isn’t happy with, is it really our fault? What if the client wasn’t clear about what they wanted, or didn’t communicate with us or sent us mixed signals? If you deal with subcontractors or other vendor-partnerships, they may also drop the ball at some point.
Regardless of whether or not it’s fair or even accurate, your default response needs to be accepting responsibility and creating a solution. This may include offering to coordinate efforts with other providers that are involved in the process or project. I’ve seen it time and time again — people are impressed when you accept responsibility for a mistake and find a way to create a solution. In many cases, you’ll end up with a stronger relationship than you had previously.
5. Address emotions, not just facts.
When something goes wrong and a client is upset, the first response for most of us is to jump straight into the facts and solve the problem. But in many cases, the more pressing threat to your relationship with your client is the emotional fallout, not the logistics of the issue.
Take time to acknowledge the emotions your client is experiencing. Empathize with them. Let them see that you care. Then, once you’ve addressed the emotions, work on the solution. Train your staff to do the same. The feelings your clients have about your practice are more important than anything else, so pay attention.
Creating life-long relationships with your clients is critical to building a sustainable, profitable practice, and these tips will help you make it happen.
When we ask lawyers what they need their marketing to accomplish for them, the most common answer by far is “I need more clients.” But we’d like to challenge that mindset. Do you really need more clients… or do you need better clients?
Take a moment and think through the clients you’ve worked with over the past several months. How many of them:
1. Didn’t pay you on time, in full, or maybe didn’t pay at all
2. Consumed a ton of time and energy in the engagement/consultation process before hiring you (or worse, not hiring you despite the time you invested)
3. Were rude or disrespectful towards you, your time, and/or your team
4. Didn’t trust you
5. Needed help with matters outside of your area of focus
6. Drained you, rather than energized you
Here’s an analogy for you. Think retail.
On one end of the spectrum you’ve got Wal-Mart – cheap, always open, stores all over the country, and you can get almost anything there – although the quality may be questionable.
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus. Expensive, restricted availability, and a very narrow selection of extremely high quality merchandise.
Wal-Mart makes money through volume. They have tiny profit margins, but they’re so efficient and they sell at such high volume that, as a company, they’re very profitable. Neiman Marcus and other high-end retailers make their money through higher margins. They sell to a much, much smaller number of customers than a Wal-Mart, but they’ve built a brand that allows them to create much higher margins than Wal-Mart. And so they don’t need a high volume of customers. They need the right customers.
For them, it’s not about quantity… it’s about quality.
Now, which end of the spectrum would you like your law practice to operate in? Would you rather be a (relatively) low-cost provider of a wide variety of legal services, making your money through high volume? Or would you prefer to build a focused, lower-volume, higher-margin practice?
I can’t answer that question for you. But I can tell you, generally speaking, that focusing on a niche, building a brand, and working with a smaller number of carefully selected clients will result in the following:
1. Less time working
2. Ability to charge higher rates
3. More referrals
4. More repeat business
5. More fulfillment with your work
I’d suggest you spend some time thinking about this. Figure out what you want your practice to look like. Is it quantity and high volume? Or is it quality and a more focused practice?
Once you’ve identified your direction, your marketing can help you get there. If you’d like to talk to the Spotlight Branding team about this, we’d be glad to have a conversation.
A few years ago I wrote in my blog – In Black and White blog: Are you developing business by optimism and serendipity? Here was some of the insights I shared with readers to develop business with intention and strategy.
Increasing your Credibility: Where can you give speeches to reach your prospective clients or referral sources? What articles would your potential clients be interested in reading?
Increasing your Visibility: Can your potential clients find out about you through the Internet? Do your referral sources see you regularly at bar or industry events? Do you stay in touch with your friends, colleagues and classmates?
A former client who now lives in Tampa, Kelly Charles-Collins took this to heart and has increased her visibility and credibility that differentiates her from her colleagues. She has written a book and given a TEDx Talk. I ran across her TEDx Talk and reached out to congratulate her. I had a thousand questions and I’m delighted to share some of her answers with you.
Kelly, would you tell my readers a bit about your expertise.
I am a Speaker, Attorney, Author, Trainer, Consultant and Coach. For over 20 years as an employment attorney and MBA, I have guided hundreds of organizations – from small businesses to Fortune 100 companies – to discover the hidden truths about their workplace so they can create diverse, inclusive and harmonious cultures and minimize legal risk. Also, as the CEO of HR Legally Speaking, a Professional Speaking, Training and Consulting company I help organizations integrate the “Discipline of Trust,”TM the essential framework of unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion, corporate culture and bystander intervention. I am also an Arbitrator on the AAA’s Commercial and Employment Law Panels and a University level educator on Human Resources and Employment Law. My new book ACE Your Workplace Investigations: A Step-by-Step Guide for Avoiding Friction, Covering Your Assets, and Earning Employee Trust is available on Amazon.
What made you decide to write the book?
I always remembered the question you once asked: Are you developing business by optimism and serendipity? So, I was very intentional.
As an employment attorney, I personally conduct internal investigations and litigate cases that have been investigated internally by my clients. What I have learned over the years is that many people who are conducting workplace investigations lack the necessary skills to do so effectively. But I know that skills can be taught and learned. The bigger issue is the mindset of those conducting the investigations and/or the owners and executive management teams. The #METOO movement uncovered the hidden truths about why people don’t report issues at work: fear of retaliation and futility. This correlates with the mindset of many organizations that view workplace investigations as a waste of time, resources, money and essentially as a CYA tool.
I wrote my book to address this friction and reframe the way businesses, HR professionals, management and employees think about workplace investigations ─from reactive to proactive – focusing on the benefits rather than the burdens. I want them to embrace investigations as an opportunity to uncover what is going on in their business, affecting employee productivity, eroding employee trust, and ultimately, affecting their bottom line. My book is a way to leverage my expertise as a practical tool to help them do just that.
How did you fit it into your busy schedule?
I’m very adept at moving from vision to execution. We make time for the things we really want to do. Writing this book was something I really wanted to do. When I got home in the evenings and on weekends, I fired up my laptop and got to work. Some sleepless nights but worth every minute.
What was your process and how long did it take you?
I developed the framework by repurposing content from my years of training clients. I then analyzed questions I’d been asked, information from the #METOO movement, and the ultimate message I wanted to convey. I also researched the market to ensure I was providing a fresh perspective. I outlined the chapters and wrote about whatever came to my mind that day. I did what felt right for me. I wrote my book just the way I live my life – intentionally, with purpose and unburdened by others’ rules or expectations.
When did you realize that a TEDx Talk would be a good vehicle to reinforce your credibility and gain exposure for your book?
Being a published author and a TEDx Speaker provide a level of authoritativeness and expertise that other “marketing” vehicles might not. But like with everything, just “being “is not enough. You must work diligently and consistently to leverage these vehicles to your advantage. The key is finding ways to make your expertise scalable. For example, I have developed a bystander intervention training program “bySTANDer free zone” based on my TEDx. This training is essential for organizations, schools, and universities that want to create a culture of action takers. This training is also essential for women, particularly in our male-dominated profession.
How did you get accepted and how did you prepare?
I worked with my coach, Soness Stevens, a TED and TEDx alumni and also with a local coach assigned by TEDx Ocala. Soness and I worked through her proprietary process to develop my talk on the Bystander Effect. We collaborated on my application and audition video. Once I was selected, we collaborated for several months to expand my 2.5-minute audition video into a 13-minute talk. Soness lives in Japan so we had some very long, late night Zoom calls. In between those calls, I had homework, including developing new ideas for the talk, practicing the talk for live audiences, and creating practice videos for her feedback. She taught me the art of synthesizing information into compact, but impactful statements and how to effectively deliver those ideas.
How you present a TED style talk is unique. As attorneys we advocate, argue, and advise. But at TED, you share ideas to enlighten, explore and encourage. It’s hard to explain the distinction in words but it’s so clear when you hear it. Soness’ coaching was invaluable. The morning of the talk, I was so sick – terrible cold and throwing up. But I was not nervous at all. I was so well prepared that I knew if I had 15 good minutes, I could nail it. And if I can brag a little, I nailed it. I encourage people to go to YouTube and watch the video and share with others.
What advice would you give lawyers who want to do the same – write a book and/or give a TEDx Talk?
Be prepared to do the work. If you are not willing or able to invest the time, energy and money, don’t do it. I believe that whatever I put my name on has to be the best reflection of me. Therefore, once I’m in, I’m all in.
What’s next for you?
I will be launching my “bySTANDer free zone” program and merchandise line. I’m also researching the issue of “trust.” My background and experience have taught me that trust is the foundation of everything. But maybe that’s not true for everyone. To test that theory, I have created a quick 13 question survey to learn how others feel. I would love to hear from your readers. They can complete the survey here – Trust survey link
My findings will be used for training clients and to provide them tools for developing and maintaining trust in their organizations and relationships. And since I’m always doing something, it will probably end up in a book of some sort. Stay tuned.
As you can see, Kelly has increased her credibility and visibility. She is focused on business development with intension and has differentiated herself in a unique way that is relevant and timely. You my friend could do the same!
A left brain/right brain lawyer, Kelly Charles-Collins is an analytical free-spirit. Kelly is as real as it gets – a true “salt of the earth.” Unafraid to share her own challenges and triumphs, Kelly gives you the good, bad, and ugly. Kelly’s mission is to be the light for others — revealing their passion, purpose, and greatness. A true believer in legacy building, Kelly guides organizations –small businesses to Fortune 100 companies – to discover the hidden truths about their workplace. An employment attorney with over 20 years of experience, Kelly guides organizations to nurture trust and respect so they can create diverse, inclusive, and harmonious cultures that deliver results.But she’s not just an attorney, Kelly is a skilled public speaker, author, consultant, and HR expert. Kelly’s book ACE Your Workplace Investigations: A Step-by-Step Guide for Avoiding Friction, Covering Your Assets, and Earning Employee Trust, is available on Amazon or at www.kellycharlescollins.com.
We are excited to welcome Mike Stetz, to Legal Marketing Blog; he is the managing editor at Cypress Magazines, which publishes The National Jurist magazine, the nation’s leading publication for law school students.
Mike has written an eyeopening article that outlines the state of happiness in the legal field. His finding are not just for law students. It’s for every lawyer who is unhappy and looking for a change. I caught up with Mike to get a behind-the-curtain understanding of his research.
For those who haven’t read your article could you give us a quick overview?
Stetz: Sure, we wanted to see what makes lawyers happy. A number of studies show that lawyers suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse than people in other professions. So we wanted to see why that might be and to hopefully bring awareness to law school students about that. Our publication, The National Jurist, is aimed at law students.
When doing your research, what was most surprising to you?
Stetz:I was mostly surprised to find that money plays a very small role in happiness. A good number of lawyers make a good amount of money. It’s one of the reasons the field is attractive. It’s kind of funny because I’m a journalist, and one of the biggest complaints in our profession is that the pay is too low. But the experts I spoke with for the story noted how happiness and earnings aren’t highly related. Happiness comes from personal connections and a sense of worth. That’s why a number of researches have found that public interest lawyers report the most happiness. They feel they are making a difference in people’s lives. That’s not to say you can’t be happy in Big Law or private practice. The research didn’t show that. You can be happy in those jobs if you have a sense of autonomy and feel you are contributing to a greater cause. It’s these internal factors — not externals ones, including prestige — that bring a greater sense of self-worth and happiness.
What did you expect you would find?
Stetz:I did think I would find ample evidence that lawyers are unhappy. It’s a tough job. It’s combative. You’re constantly dealing with other peoples’ problems. The justice system grinds slowly. It can take years to settle one case. And then it might be appealed! In Big Law, you work a lot of demanding hours. You face a constant assault of emails, texts, phone calls — at all times of the day and night. I’ve interviewed enough lawyers over the years to know how taxing the job can be.
Stetz: It was spot-on. She was a great example of how a lawyer can so easily become overwhelmed and unhappy. It’s amazing how it seems to occur. These are bright, hard-charging people who apparently lose sight of what makes them happy. Maia was such a person. She was super-successful. Indeed, you might wonder why should would be unhappy, given her accomplishments. But, as she told me, she felt empty. She needed to be a part of something bigger outside of her work. She was so focused on work that it was draining her self-worth. She wanted to give back. She wanted to be part of something bigger. So she started volunteering for a local Jewish organization and found a path back to happiness. It was inspiring to hear.
What advise would you give lawyers of all ages?
Stetz: Well, I feel kind of sheepish giving advice because happiness can be so elusive. I think the biggest thing — and it’s sometimes the toughest thing — is to reach out for help if you’re feeling unhappy or unfulfilled. I’m not talking about clinical depression or anything that severe. Rush, rush, rush to get help if you’re in that boat. I’m just talking about people who may feel that there may be more to life than what they’re currently experiencing. Don’t let it fester. You can’t be the best lawyer you can be if you’re not feeling good about your life’s work.
Mike’s finding may not be surprising to many of you, because you’re living it! I would tell you that if you are unhappy do something about it! You owe it to YOURSELF and your family.
Mike Stetz is managing editor at Cypress Magazines, which produces a number of titles, including The National Jurist magazine, the nation’s leading publication for law school students. Before this, he worked at the San Diego Union-Tribune, where he served in a number of high-profile writing positions, including metro columnist. Born and raised in Baltimore, he now calls San Diego home, for which he is very thankful.
We are excited to welcome Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D to Legal Marketing Blog; he is the managing partner at Hinge Marketing.
Today we are going to explore how thought leadership marketing works.
Black: When did thought leadership take hold in the world of marketing? Frederiksen:Although it may seem like it’s been around forever, the concept of “thought leadership” is relatively new. The term first appeared in the 1990’s and was initially used to describe individuals with a reputation for developing ideas that might be considered highly advanced and influential. Today, thought leadership has evolved to include anyone who is an intellectual leader. And as it pertains to business and professional services, has become a powerful marketing tool.
Black: What is thought leadership marketing? Frederiksen: Thought leadership marketing is the process of promoting specialized expertise and accelerating market influence to accomplish marketing goals, such as building brand strength or generating new business. Thought leadership marketing is powered by valuable, insightful content that positions your firm and key individuals within it as experts in a particular topic or industry. That content is then distributed to your target markets via their preferred channels to make that thought leadership visible.
Thought leadership is often confused with content marketing; however, content marketing is a much broader discipline. It involves using content to attract, educate and close new business. Thought leadership is a specific strategy within the broader concept of content marketing.
For example, a firm might publish helpful content without offering any innovative or advanced thinking. Another firm may offer entertaining or humorous content. Both of these are content marketing strategies, but neither would be considered thought leadership.
Thought leaders are individuals or firms recognized for their specialized expertise and their influence on the development of their discipline. They are both subject matter experts and influencers, driving professional discussion and advances within their field of expertise.
Black: What are the benefits of thought leadership? Frederiksen: Thought leadership benefits both the subject matter expert and their firm:
Faster growth Thought leaders’ single biggest impact is their ability to drive firm growth. Highly visible thought leadership attracts clients who want or need greater expertise. The leads are more qualified and easier to generate. Prospects close more quickly with less effort and greater success.
Higher billing rates There is a direct relationship between the visibility of a subject matter expert’s thought leadership and their billing rate.
A stronger brand Combining thought leadership with greater visibility creates a significantly stronger brand that will increase value, growth, and profitability.
Better talent The best people want to work with industry leaders. Thought leadership helps demonstrate the quality of your firm and attracts top talent who also want to become thought leaders.
More opportunities Leading subject matter experts not only attract better clients and more talented employees, they also foster better strategic partners and business relationships.
Black: How do you develop thought leadership content?
Frederiksen: While there is no magic formula that can guarantee you will become recognized as an insightful, influential thinker, there are specific steps that will help strengthen your expertise. Deeper, more relevant insights make better thought leadership content.
Narrow your focus Our research on high-profile experts shows that narrowing your focus greatly increases the likelihood of deepening your expertise. The narrower your focus, the faster your ascent to leadership. You’re able to accumulate experience and insight faster, which will accelerate and improve content development.
Do original research Conducting original research on a topic gives you a huge advantage. It is one of the key paths to thought leadership. New research findings are the raw material of thought leadership content. High-quality research produces new insights that can be applied to clients’ challenges and shared with others.
Become a contrarian A contrarian perspective doesn’t mean being quarrelsome or negative. It means looking at a problem from a novel angle. A fresh perspective is another hallmark of thought leader-level thinking. When everyone is looking at a topic one way, explore the opposite view.
Create a novel expertise niche Sometimes great insight comes from applying the methods and thinking of one discipline to another — putting expertise in two seemingly unrelated fields together. For example, combining a scientific theory approach to legal services.
Play well with other experts Having a good working relationship with other experts provides access to the most advanced and influential thinking. The thoughts and ideas of others will help you become smarter and develop more insightful content of your own. And don’t forget colleagues. They add credibility to you by association. As a member of an “influential experts club” you’ll have access to shared ideas and possible new business referrals.
Black: How do you share thought leadership? Frederiksen: Unlike promoting a tangible product, promoting thought leadership can be challenging. Thought leadership is invisible so it must be demonstrated to be experienced. Generally, there are three traditional approaches:
Writing Writing the definitive best-selling book on a topic is the gold standard of thought leadership. However, there are other ways to convey expertise through writing. Articles in trade publications, blog posts, white papers and executive guides are excellent channels to communicate your insights and build your reputation.
Speaking For many experts, public speaking engagements are their single best source of new business leads. Live speaking events are also a great way to meet new people and get fresh input — audience questions can be a source of new insights and inspiration.
Direct Interaction and Networking This involves working with people directly, interacting with colleagues, clients, and prospects in meetings, educational settings, or at conferences. The interaction, however, must provide an opportunity for people to sample the thought leader’s expertise.
Thought leadership has become a powerful tool within the realm of professional services. Marketing your thought leadership through your valuable and insightful content positions both you and your firm as experts, ultimately helping you to generate new business.
Black: Generating new business! Isn’t that what we are all looking to accomplish? Thank you Lee Fredriksen for sharing your insight and giving us another tool to help us reach our goals in 2019.
Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D is managing partner at Hinge Marketing. He is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.
Your marketing strategy is the key to growing your law firm. If your marketing strategy is stale (or non-existent) you’re not going to fuel the growth you’re hoping for. On the other hand, an effective marketing strategy will help you bring in new clients, generate more referrals, and even help you justify higher rates. In this report, I suggest some possible “new additions” to help you take your law firm marketing to the next level.
How can you attract the clients and the work that you legitimately enjoy – and free yourself from the economic pressure to take any matter that shows up at your door?
Here are ten ideas to get your wheels turning. Don’t try to implement all of these at once – I recommend focusing on just one or two initiatives at a time. Which ideas resonate with you and make sense for your firm?
1) 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. The key is to come up with a theme and a direction that provides genuinely valuable information to your market. As a business attorney, you could focus your podcast on legal pitfalls that entrepreneurs should be aware of. A family attorney could focus on preparing for and navigating the divorce process, including how to protect and care for the children involved. The possibilities are endless. What are the most common questions and misunderstandings that your clients have? Chances are, addressing those issues would make a great podcast.
2) Host events. Creating and hosting in-person events for potential clients and referral sources can generate momentum and enthusiasm for your practice. We’ve seen clients take this strategy in many different directions – from hosting monthly informational sessions for individuals contemplating divorce, to holding quarterly VIP parties for top referral sources, to organizing seminars featuring expert speakers on topics of interest to business owners. Get creative and find an angle to host in-person events and build a community around your law firm.
3) Sharpen your referral strategy. Referrals are a primary source of new business for most law firms, and clients who are referred to you are typically among the most pleasant and profitable to work with. Are you doing everything can to maximize these referrals? Start by identifying your top referral sources and invest time and energy into deepening those relationships. Identify other individuals who are strategically positioned to send a high volume of work your way and create relationships with them as well. The potential payoff makes it worth your personal investment in this relatively short list of individuals. But, don’t neglect your current clients, your past clients, and your larger network. Ensure that you’re creating top-of-mind awareness and continually educating them on what a good referral looks like. Consider creating referral incentives or even holding regular referral competitions to keep your entire network engaged.
4) Targeted sponsorships. Sponsorships can be a big waste of money if you take the wrong approach. Do NOT jump on every opportunity that comes your way. I’ve seen firms spend large sums of money sponsoring organizations, events, or publications that have little-to-no relevance to their target market. On the other hand, if you can identify groups, events, websites, or magazines that your clients are engaged with, sponsorship can make a great deal of sense. The best approach is generally to identify a small number of organizations or publications to sponsor, and to engage with them as deeply as possible. Sponsor their events and ask for speaking opportunities or other visibility. Sponsor newsletters and ask if you can also contribute content. Do your best to create repeated touch-points for members or subscribers – repetition and consistency is key.
5) Offer an audit or check-in to past and current clients. Oftentimes there is more work to be done for your past and even current clients. They just don’t know they need it yet, or they don’t know that you can provide the solution. Solve both problems by creating an “audit” or evaluation for your clients. This could be a worksheet they complete on their own, or it may be a sit-down with you or (even better) someone on your team. The goal is simple: ask them questions about their business, their estate plan, their family life, whatever it may be, and help them to see that they need your help in these areas. Be prepared to explain how you can help them address these challenges or take advantage of the opportunities that you have uncovered together. This simple strategy could result in a massive influx of new work.
6) Publish a book. There’s arguably no greater tool to establish your credibility and your expertise in your area of practice than publishing a book. While it might 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. If you have a marketing person on your team, assign them to organize this content into an outline. Then, create new content as needed to fill holes and create cohesion. There are a variety of companies out there that can help you lay out and publish your book, and some of them can even help you with the content as well.
Once you’ve had your book printed, the marketing opportunities are endless. Give it away at consultations. Offer it as a gift to past clients. Use it as a door prize at events. It’s a powerful tool that will enhance your credibility and build your brand as an authority in your practice area in a very big way.
7) Network smarter. Networking is a valuable strategy for drumming up referrals and new business, particularly when you’re in the “more-time-than-money” phase of your firm. But it’s important to manage your investment well. Don’t simply attend every event in your area. Instead, identify a small handful of targeted organizations that have great potential and get heavily involved. Don’t just attend, get involved in leadership. Speak at events. You’ll get a much better return from deep involvement in a few carefully selected organizations than you will from surface-level involvement in a large number of groups.
8) Speak. Speaking positions you as an expert and an authority. It’s a great way to attract new clients. Look for opportunities to speak in front of your target market – whether that’s a networking group, a trade association, a seminar or conference, or whatever the case may be. Look for opportunities to educate your audience while building your expertise at the same time. This can include presentations on changing laws and regulations that impact your industry, tips and strategies for your market, best practices for avoiding legal disputes, and more. Just be sure that you’re targeting speaking opportunities that make strategic sense for you – opportunities to reach potential clients in a way that enhances your expertise and your position in the marketplace.
9) Launch a joint venture. Who can you partner with and what can you create to reach a new audience? I know a business lawyer that partnered with a banker and a graphic designer to create a “one stop start-up shop” for entrepreneurs – helping them to address the legal, financial, and marketing needs of their new business all in one place. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here – who can you join forces with to provide a uniquely valuable product or service for your clients? The advantages to this approach are significant – it represents an opportunity to earn additional income from your existing clients, but more importantly it also gives you access to the clients and customers of your partners in this venture. If you’re creative, you may also tap into a whole “new market” by creating a product or service that didn’t exist previously. Many of these people will expand the relationship over time, engaging you beyond the scope of the initial joint venture.
10) Train your staff to recognize and capitalize on opportunities for new business. Finally, get the team involved. Your staff likely knows people that could use your services or will encounter them in their daily life – and they’ve seen firsthand how your firm creates value for your clients. Teach them how to recognize potential clients, how to engage them, and how to connect them with you (or whoever handles the intake process for your firm.) This doesn’t have to be a complicated process and it frankly shouldn’t be hard for your team to execute. They just need to understand who’s a good fit and be able to briefly articulate the value that your firm provides to those clients. You never know who your team knows, so tap into their network as well as your own. You can consider offering some sort of incentive for your team members, if appropriate. Make it a team effort!
We’ve covered a lot of ground here, and hopefully you’ve gleaned a few ideas that could work for your firm. But it’s important to be realistic about this – don’t bite off more than you can chew. I suggest that you identify one (or two at most) new initiatives to start with. Invest the time to get them up and running and carefully track your results. When you find something that works well, make it a part of your ongoing marketing system and then move on to the next new idea.
What do you want to accomplish in 2019? Whether they are big or small initiatives are they worth making a commitment to, or just a hopeful idea?
There is one truth I know for sure, without commitment there is no growth, magic, love or fascination in our lives. For years when I have lost my way, I re-read this:
Commitment by Goethe
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back—Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
It isn’t always enough to set your goals and the strategy you are going to use to get there. Sometime we need a little inspiration or maybe a lot of inspiration! One of my favorite contributors to Inc. Magazine is Jeff Haden and last year he came up with a truly amazing compilation of 50 Quotes to Inspire You to Achieve Your Goals, and I’m sure it will be just what you need to guide you along your 2019 journey to success. Pick out a few quotes that speak to you to focus on when the going gets rough.
Jeff writes “… sometimes all you need is a little push, a little nudge. A little burst of motivation and inspiration. Here are fifty of those nudges.
Pick the one that makes your skin tingle, your heart race, your motor rev, and place it somewhere you’ll see it every day: your monitor, your screen saver, your background and let it help take you to the place you’ve always wanted to go.
1. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” —Walt Disney
2. “Fear is the disease. Hustle is the antidote.” —Travis Kalanick
3. “The question I ask myself almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?'”—Mark Zuckerberg
4. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” —Chinese proverb
5. “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” —Florence Nightingale
6. “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart
7. “Do or do not. There is no try.” —Yoda
8. “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.” —Mark Twain
9. “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” —Lao Tzu
10. “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” —Alice Walker
11. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” —John Lennon
12. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” —Woody Allen
13. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” —Farrah Gray
14. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —George Eliot
15. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” —Henry Ford
16. “You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”— Unknown
17. “Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” —Joshua Marine
18. “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” —Booker T. Washington
19. “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” —Jim Rohn
20.”Rarely have I seen a situation where doing less than the other guy is a good strategy.” —Jimmy Spithill
21. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” —Steve Jobs
22. “The best revenge is massive success.” —Frank Sinatra
23. “My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.” —Richard Branson
24. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou
25. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain
26. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
27. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anais Nin
28. “There is only one way to avoid criticism: Do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” —Aristotle
29. “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” —Teddy Roosevelt
30. “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.” —George Addair
31. “Fall seven times and stand up eight.” —Japanese proverb
32. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”—Robert Frost
33. “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” —Stephen Covey
34. “It’s hard to do a really good job on anything you don’t think about in the shower.” —Paul Graham
35. “What’s money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night, and in between does what he wants to do.” —Bob Dylan
36. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” —Albert Einstein
37. “The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.” —Chinese proverb
38. “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” —Maya Angelou
39. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” —Wayne Gretzky
40. “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” —Nelson Mandela
41. “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” —Confucius
42. “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” —Tony Robbins
43. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill
44. “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.” —Beverly Sills
45. “Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.” —Booker T. Washington
46. “Whenever you see a successful person, you only see the public glories, never the private sacrifices to reach them.” —Vaibhav Shah
47. “Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
48. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” —Ayn Rand
49. “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” —Steve Jobs
50. “Timing, perseverance, and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” —Biz Stone