The law firm marketing space is quickly becoming crowded indeed, as more and more law firms are becoming aware of the return potential of marketing for lawyers done well. While that might not be news to you, there is every indication that this will become more clear and pronounced in 2017.
In other words, 2017 will be the year to ask, “Am I keeping up?” more than ever.
After all, it’s no longer enough to have a website, to be active on social media, or even to write loads of content.
Lots of firms are doing these things now, upping the ante and forcing each other to take their marketing more seriously – at least, if they plan on it helping them build their brands, grow their firms, and get real results.
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So should you hire a lead generator?
Regardless of the potential quality and ethical problems, many lawyers do hire lead-generation firms, and it seems to work quite well for many of those that do. I think it is far better to build your own referral network, which doesn’t (shouldn’t) come with referral fees. Relying on lead generation to grow your practice means committing to paying for leads. And while you may build a small referral base from former clients, it won’t be anything like what you can build if you actually focus on getting out and networking.
But let’s not ignore the potential quality and ethical problems. Quality you can overcome. If you can make enough money from the quality potential clients who filter through, you can probably hire a lawyer to do your screening for you, and still turn a profit. If you are solo, you would need to choose your lead generator carefully.
And those ethical problems are a concern. To help avoid them, stick to more well-established lead-generation companies, and do some research into their practices to make sure you are comfortable putting your stamp of approval on their methods.
Even if you do decide to engage a lead generator, do not ignore networking. Paying for leads does not build a book of business. Only good lawyering, a good reputation, and lots of networking can do that.
Ads and marketing copy must comply with ethical rules, whether they are online or offline. Make sure they are accurate, and that they do not set unrealistic expectations or make inaccurate claims about your services. Make sure they don’t suggest things like “specialties.”
What sort of linkbuilding does the company engage in? If its strategy includes blog posts or comments, ask to see some examples. Does it write posts about vaccuum cleaners just to embed a keyword-rich link about lawyers? Does it post on spammy websites? Does the company buy text links?
Link spamming and link buying are on search engines’ no-fly list. Even if they result in short-term SEO gains, they result in long-term damage to the sites on both ends of the scheme — including yours, if it is involved. Plus, getting involved with spammy marketers makes you look like a douchebag.
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Despite the fact that over 40% of all Google searches and over 50% of mobile searches contain some kind of geographic keyword (like "Philadelphia" or "Pennsylvania") or are local in intent, and that its algorithm will try to match searchers to local results, a surprising number of businesses are ignoring local SEO altogether.
If you aren't familiar with it, local search engine optimization is just what it sounds like: an effort to not just bring targeted buyers to your business website, but to ensure that those who are closest to you geographically can tell that your business is in their neighborhood. This is critical to companies like restaurants and retail shops, for obvious reasons, but it can also be important to other businesses, too.
Many of your colleagues have been applying online marketing to help them become more visible to potential clients. You want to try that strategy and see how it will work, but how do you begin?
You are used to promoting your practice through brochures and listing your law firm in the Yellow Pages, but as someone who is capable of being open minded to possible alternatives, you are gradually considering digital marketing as your tool to reaching a larger number of potential clients. But how do you make the transition? Many digital marketing companies out there are ready to lend their hand to firms like yours, but are they worth it?
Go for the ones who know your industry well enough to come up with marketing strategies that will suit your business. If not, your law firm may just suffer in the long run.
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