12 tips to market your law practice during the COVID-19 pandemic
Lawyers have a unique opportunity during the COVID-19 outbreak to capture new files and business. In-person events are out these days; however, web traffic is up 27% since the pandemic hit home, according to the New York Times. Now is the time to use a personal touch and double down on digital marketing.
1. Call current and past clients to check in on how they are coping.
It’s never been more important to connect with people. Many clients are sheltering at home and are looking for reassurance. Check in on how they feel. Clients will remember the phone call and know that they are not alone in the plague. These calls are about establishing rapport, not direct selling. Nevertheless, they do produce new business.
2. Turn your attorneys into visible experts online.
Well-recognized thought leaders always get more business. The key is to give clients the information they want to know. Lawyers should have professional photography, an extensive bio and a list of key accomplishments. Their bios should have a link to their notable cases—told as stories, not one-line bullet points—and to videos and podcasts of the expert speaking.
3. Spend four hours per week on business development.
Your goal is to meet two to three people outside the firm each week. There are no new files to find inside the office, so you must get out to meet people face-to-face. This can include coffee with a referral source in the morning, visiting a client for lunch and attending an industry or association meeting. The trick is to mix business development into your existing activities. Attorneys should put business development activities on the same calendar as their appearances, and keep meticulous records about people you have met.
Rainmakers generally engage in these four activities, according to ABA Law Practice Today:
- • They go out and see clients.
- • They are active in a trade organization or business group that includes potential clients.
- • They develop an extensive and expanding referral network.
- • They keep a high profile—speaking in front of crowds, writing articles and serving on the boards of organizations.
At social functions, you can engage quality contacts these ways:
- • Notice something about how the other person dresses or looks, and compliment them. Ask them about it.
- • Ask them about their job or business and what challenges they face. For an estate practice, ask how their parents are. For a personal injury practice, ask their thoughts on texting and driving.
- • Listen. Avoid talking about yourself.
- • If they are talking, you are selling.
4. Beef up your website to get new clients.
An overwhelming 96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine, according to 1SEO.com, and 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website to take action.
That’s why your website must be up to date, have engaging content, and answer the questions of visiting clients. Your website should have at least 200 pages of content.
Follow the precepts in Dale Carnegie’s famous 1936 book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, such as becoming genuinely interested in other people, remembering that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language, and being a good listener.
Then, build a content plan that builds that bond of trust and takes the show-don’t-tell approach. Instead of shouting from the rooftop that you’re the best attorney to handle their matter, show them that you are by creating content that showcases your knowledge about the problem they’re facing.
- • Have solid FAQ pages. Think about the questions that your potential clients ask you when you’re sitting across the desk from them. These are the same kinds of questions that they’re typing into Google. So, if you’re answering those questions on a FAQ page, you’re giving yourself an advantage with search engines.
- • Showcase clients you serve. If your clients are businesses, add a link to “Industries Served” on your website. If your clients are consumers, describe the situations that you help them with. This is information that every client wants to know about.
- • Highlight case histories. Client success stories prove that you have actually won cases and closed deals. A case history can be as short as a paragraph, describing the client, the problem involved, the dollar amount at stake and the result you achieved.
For more ideas, check out my blog article, “7 Habits of Effective Online Marketers.”
5. The more you blog, the more clients you will get.
Aim to write once per week. Fully 72% bloggers who wrote weekly acquired a new customer through their blog.
For more ideas, check out my blog article, “9 Best Practices for Blogging that Gets You New Business.”
Consider the effectiveness of blogging:
• 57% of marketers say they’ve gained clients specifically through blogging.
• Law firms that blog get 97% more links to their websites.
• Businesses that blog get 434% more pages indexed in Google, according to statistics from SEO Tribunal.
When it’s done right, blogging can allow you to become an influencer of people; it helps you attract followers who want to know what you’ll say next, and it can help you become part of the news cycle. Blog posts can help you to declare what you’re thinking about and what you want readers to consider on a given date.
6. Build good word of mouth with online reviews.
According to BrightLocal.com, consumers (88%) trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. The three social sites to focus on are Google, Facebook and Yelp.
- • Identify all the review sites to all staff and lawyers.
- • Create an onboarding process in which you ask the client if they found the firm by an online review.
- • Request reviews after a positive in-person consultation or a favorable settlement.
- • Hand out professionally printed review cards with links to your review pages.
- • Send an email to happy clients with links to review sites and respond to all comments—good and bad.
7. Out-market your competition—figure out how much to spend and where to spend.
Fewer than half of law firms even have a marketing budget, according to a new Legal Technology Survey Report by the American Bar Association. This statistic is shocking and creates an opportunity for you to out-market your competition by simply setting aside funds for marketing.
Law firms should plan on spending about 8% of gross revenues on their marketing efforts (personal injury firms must spend more). That percentage does not include the salaries of any of the people that you may have hired to perform the work in your firm. If you’re not spending 8%, you’re not being serious about marketing, and you’re not going to get any results.
For more information, check out the 2019 Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Report.
Budget for luncheon and meeting expenses, your website and blog, creating slide presentations, presenting webinars and podcasts, creating a studio for video marketing, online review management, directory listings management, website content writing, firm e-newsletter, marketing association memberships, an annual marketing retreat, attorney business development reimbursements, charitable and political donations, sponsorships, seminars, attending a marketing conference, and public relations.
Do not waste money on print advertising, billboards or radio commercials.
8. Market with millennials in mind.
Attorneys can reach baby boomers (75 million people) with print, newspaper, radio, broadcast TV, direct mail and yellow pages. However, to reach millennials (80+ million people) attorneys should use online news, podcasts, content marketing, shareable content, and Facebook. Millennials are now the largest living generation. Their expectations:
- • Free downloads, e-books and blog subscriptions
- • Telling stories with pictures, infographics, videos
- • Content to share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat
- • Seeing businesses give back, not just make a profit
9. Make sure your website is easily accessible for mobile users.
Your next new client is visiting your website on a cellphone. Smartphones now account for fully 70% of total time spent with digital media. This means your next new client is visiting your website on their phone—and not on a tablet or desktop. Your mobile site cannot have tiny mouse type, graphics too small to see and links too hard to find.
Essential elements of mobile accessibility include:
- • Easily readable text
- • Click to call button
- • Email firm button
- • Interactive map button
- • Easy drop-down navigation
- • Handy menu button
10. Set up a video studio.
Video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2021, according to TubularInsights.com. Clients and potential clients would rather watch to a two-minute verbal explanation than read a two-page article.
With video blogging you can get visitors to know, trust and like you. After they’ve seen you in a video, people feel as if they’ve met you in person. Take your videos and post it to YouTube, Facebook and the firm’s website. Aim for a time length of 90 seconds.
Creating a video studio can be as simple as getting an HD camcorder, tripod and video editing software for your office. Or attorneys can set aside a dedicated room (without windows), and install lights, a background setting or green screen and lapel microphones. I did the latter when I was editor of Lawyers.com, and we created a library of dozens of practical and entertaining videos.
11. Your attorney bio should not be a dead end.
It’s your virtual “elevator pitch,” and it should be, at most, 200 to 300 words. Your bio should include:
- • Whom you serve
- • Problems you solve
- • How clients can expect to be treated
- • Your journey in law
- • Industry familiarity
- • Case histories of specific problems solved
- • Representative clients and testimonials
- • Hot issues for clients
- • Video
12. For social media, focus on Facebook and forget the rest.
Facebook is by far the most effective social medium. Facebook is social media to consumers. Statistics have shown that 74% of Facebook users log in daily. Meanwhile, 54% of consumers said they’d be likely to hire a lawyer with an active social media presence. For millennials, that rate jumps to 72%. Absorb the fact that Facebook:
- • Has far more engagement with people than LinkedIn or Twitter.
- • Has the highest percentage of daily users.
- • Has the highest average number of daily sessions.
- • Is where most Americans get their news.
- • Is where 34% of consumers find help to select a service provider, such as a lawyer, accountant or doctor.
By emphasizing digital marketing, and acting while others hesitate, marketers can capture new market share and assure the firm’s success when we recover from the plague.
ABA Journal: “50 ways to market your practice”
Larry Bodine is a business development adviser who has worked with hundreds of law firms to get more clients and generate more revenue. An attorney, journalist and marketer, he is a member of the attorney advisory board of LawLytics.com, and he has written a law marketing blog for 10 years.
ABAJournal.com is accepting queries for original, thoughtful, nonpromotional articles and commentary by unpaid contributors to run in the Your Voice section. Details and submission guidelines are posted at “Your Submissions, Your Voice.”