Build Better Relationships in 2014

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While social media, mobile advertising, content creation and blogs are important in your new year’s marketing efforts, building strong relationships with clients and potential clients is still your most important marketing tactic. Don’t neglect this foundation of your marketing efforts. Make relationship building an integral part of your 2014 marketing plan.

build better relationships in 2014

How do you go about building better relationships with clients and potential clients? The key is to communicate and communicate often! But all forms of communication are not equal. Let’s break down the ideal process for building a communication strategy that will lead to stronger relationships with clients and potential clients.

Understand Your Ideal Client:

First and foremost – know who you are targeting. Spend some time looking at your client list. Are there common attributes? What types of cases are you looking for? What types of information are important to potential clients? Or is there a practice area you are looking to expand or start? Now think about what types of information you provide or what types of information would be valuable for each type of client. Today’s consumers are driven by information. Providing highly personalized content directly to the right audience will give your firm the opportunity for direct engagement with potential clients.

How Will You Communicate?

Technological advances mean you have multiple ways to communicate to your audience? Ideally you should leverage more than one to get your message heard. Social media, blogging, and email marketing form a trifecta that attorneys can use to distribute content without having to develop individual messaging for each. This trifecta will allow you to reach not only new prospects (through social media and blogging) but current clients and contacts that are also an important marketing opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked. Clients may have need or may have contacts within their sphere of influence that have need for legal representation.

If you haven’t already, develop an email marketing list of all your contacts, clients, former clients and referral sources. This will be the basis of the marketing list you will use for email communications. Simultaneously, create a blog (wordpress is fairly easy) and sign up for Twitter and LinkedIn.

Develop An Editorial Calendar:

Now that you understand what your potential clients are looking for and how you will communicate, develop a content list of what you want to write and a schedule (at least 3 months out, but a full 12 months would be even better) for when you will send each article. Once you have your topics laid out you will have a schedule that will be easier for you to maintain moving forward.

Note that more content does not necessarily mean its better! Some attorneys we work with have avoided developing a content strategy primarily because of time constraints – assuming that every article needs to be a treatise on the law. This isn’t the case. You can create compelling content in 1500 words or less that is easily digestible for the average reader. Ideally your content should be informative and conversational, engaging readers and provoking them to want to find out more information or share what they have read with others. Attorneys – this means skip the legalese as much as possible and write content that is easy to understand for the lay person.

Once you have written the article it can be emailed to your contacts, posted to your blog and shared on Twitter and LinkedIn. This allows you to get maximum exposure for every article you write.

Staying in regular contact with your clients and potential clients by providing them with valuable information builds trust, stronger relationships and loyalty.

When settling into 2014 and preparing your marketing strategy, it is important to understand what your potential client’s needs are. Building relationships and providing informative, engaging content is the key to continued success.

Article by:

Anush Alexander

Of:

RW Lynch Company, Inc.

What Every Attorney Should Know About Their Client Database

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Do you, as a lawyer, have a client database? Do you have a program (any program) that keeps their names, addresses, and phone numbers on file?
If you do, fantastic!

If not, you should.

Creating (and constantly updating) a database is integral to retaining clients. For every person that you meet with, or even contacts you, you should be getting their information and create a database for mailings.

Why aren’t you sending them out a monthly newsletter to let them know what has been happening in the firm? You may be thinking that people don’t care, right? Well, it’s not entirely untrue. I won’t tell you that people are going to read your newsletters religiously (they might!) but if you keep them in the loop, there is no other lawyer in their minds when they start thinking about signing a contract.

Tell them about a few cases you’ve won, talk about a new employee, or how you’re redecorating your office. Keep everyone in your database (or your “herd”) in the loop.

By taking the time and putting in this effort, you’re becoming more trusted and beloved by members of your herd. Not only do they know what’s happening in your firm, but you are making a constant effort to reach out to them and contact them. It really does make a difference. What other attorney in your area is doing that?

If you think of any at all, it’s probably a very short list. Now think of how many attorneys their actually are in your area. The difference is staggering.

These simple things will make you stand out. You will be different and therefore you will come to mind much more quickly.

Those people will also become excellent marketing that you don’t have to pay for. Word of mouth is one of the best tools to have in your arsonal. Being referred by a client to their friends or family creates another level of marketing that you can’t buy.

Even for other ventures, your herd can be of great benefit to you!

Say you decide to put money into an ad that will run in a newspaper or magazine. Those are great marketing opportunities, I won’t lie, but before you hit the green button, maybe include the ad you want to run in a newsletter to your herd. Make an effort to constantly remind those who already love you what it is you do. Even ask for their opinions! They see your ad from another viewpoint and could even be able to give you some genuine feedback! Show your herd that they are still a priority and you want to keep them around.

This is only possible if you have a database.

Article by:

Ben Glass

Of:

Great Legal Marketing, Inc.

Bedside Manner: The Key to Landing and Retaining Clients

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Practicing law is very much a client-centric business and providing exceptional service is pivotal to a successful practice. Are you providing the service that your clients expect?

Survey after survey will tell you that the #1 reason why clients fire attorneys is “lack of responsiveness” or in general an overall lack of customer service. Correspondingly, the top reason clients hire lawyers is empathy and responsiveness. Keeping clients and potential clients happy is the key to not only maintaining, but growing your practice. The following are a few tips for ensuring that your bedside manner doesn’t impede your ability to attract and retain new clients.

client retention bedside manner law office management

Return Calls Promptly

The legal industry and in particular personal injury law is highly competitive. Speedy response time to new leads is the key to higher conversions (See our recent article about response time:http://www.rwlynchblog.com/the-key-to-converting-more-leads/). But your bedside manner doesn’t end there: lack of responsiveness is the most cited reason for firing a lawyer. Return client calls as soon as possible, even if it’s an email (or a call from a secretary or paralegal) that lets them know that their call is important to you and that you will respond as soon as possible.

Listen

Our most successful attorneys can attest to this advice: listen to everything a potential client has to say about his/her potential case. Yes, some potential clients can run off on tangents that are seemingly unrelated to a case. However, some of the best cases our clients say they’ve landed are cases that other attorneys turned away; simply because they didn’t take the time to listen and ask the right questions. Don’t lose potential clients because “you don’t have the time” to sort through all of the “riff-raff”. Giving your full attention and asking questions will allow you to uncover the important nuggets of information you may miss otherwise.

Don’t Use Legalese

Take the time to explain legal issues in a way your clients can easily understand them. These are complicated issues and clients are often scared and confused. Explaining issues in a clear and concise manner devoid of legal jargon will put your clients at ease.

Above All Empathize

Taking the time to care, explain the process and reassure clients will not only help you retain clients but will create a lasting impression that will ensure those clients will continue to refer new business your way.

Article by:

Brian Lynch

Of:

RW Lynch Company, Inc.

Need Ideas for Your Legal Blog? Here's a Bunch

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If there is one thing I hear over and over again from attorneys when it comes to blogging, it’s this:   “What do I blog about?”

The reason to have a blog is to establish your authority as an expert in your field of practice. You must keep your target market in mind at all times when writing a blog – it needs to be about topics your clients and prospects are interested in, providing good in-depth information on each topic (now more important than ever for SEO) that they can’t find anywhere else.

Still, the creative juices do run dry at times. Which is why it’s so great that the LexisNexis Law Marketing blog has started highlighting monthly events, anniversaries, holidays and observances that have a legal connection.

Here is their list for October/November, categorized by practice area:

Civil Rights Law:

  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • October is Gay and Lesbian History Month
  • Oct. 14: Native American Day
  • Oct. 17: United Nations’ International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
  • Oct. 20-26: Freedom from Bullies Week
  • Oct. 21-27: Freedom of Speech Week
  • November is National American Indian Heritage Month

Corporate Law:

  • October is National Crime Prevention Month
  • October is National Cyber Security Month
  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • Oct. 16: National Boss’s Day
  • Oct. 16: Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day
  • Nov. 3-9: International Fraud Awareness Week

Education Law:

  • October is National Bullying Prevention Month
  • Oct. 20-26: Freedom from Bullies Week
  • Oct. 21-25: National School Bus Safety Week

Elder Law:

  • October is Health Literacy Month
  • October is Long-Term Care Planning Month
  • October is National Organize Your Medical Information Month
  • Oct. 15: Medicare open enrollment begins
  • Oct. 20-26: National Save for Retirement Week
  • November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
  • November is National Family Caregivers Month
  • November is National Home Care and Hospice Month
  • November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month
  • Nov. 1-7: National Patient Accessibility Week

Environmental Law:

  • Oct. 18: Forty-first anniversary of the passing of the Water Pollution Control Act

Estate Planning:

  • October is Long-Term Care Planning Month
  • Oct. 20-26: National Save for Retirement Week
  • November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

Family Law:

  • October is Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • October is Gay and Lesbian History Month
  • October is National Bullying Prevention Month
  • October is National Organize Your Medical Information Month
  • Oct. 17: Get Smart About Credit Day
  • November is Military Family Appreciation Month
  • November is National Adoption Month
  • November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month
  • November is National Family Caregivers Month
  • Nov. 1: National Family Literacy Day

Health Care Law:

  • October is Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
  • October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • October is Health Literacy Month
  • October is Long-Term Care Planning Month
  • October is National Organize Your Medical Information Month
  • Oct. 15: Medicare open enrollment begins
  • Oct. 17-24: Food and Drug Interaction Education and Awareness Week
  • Oct. 24-31: Prescription Errors Education and Awareness Week
  • November is National Home Care and Hospice Month
  • November is National Long-Term Care Awareness Month
  • Nov. 1-7: National Patient Accessibility Week

Insurance Law:

  • October is National Crime Prevention Month

Intellectual Property Law:

  • Oct. 29: 44th anniversary of the creation of the Internet

Labor Law:

  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
  • Oct. 16: National Boss’s Day

Personal Injury Law:

  • October is Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
  • Oct. 21-25: National School Bus Safety Week
  • Oct. 24-31: Prescription Errors Education and Awareness Week

Real Estate Law:

  • October is National Crime Prevention Month

10 Free Keyword Research Tools + How to Use Them [INFOGRAPHIC]

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An old friend – Google’s free Adwords Keyword tool – has gone off the grid for good, leaving in its place the new Keyword Planner. The Planner is a little more detailed, but still fairly easy to use and still free.

A recent post at the GroTraffic.com blog had a list of 10 free keyword research tools you will find useful, as well as a good infographic that provides step-by-step instructions on how to conduct keyword research:

Mergewords – especially useful for creating long tail keyword phrases which are critical to your SEO efforts.

Wordstream – will give you up to 30 free keyword results; after that, you have to subscribe.

SEMRush – the first 10 results are free; a subscription is required for more. Data analysis and keyword performance info is also offered on the site.

SEOBook – this site has a free keyword tool that requires free registration to access.

Keyword Eye – if you are more visually oriented, this site is for you.

KGen – if you use Firefox as your browser, this tool is available as an add-on and will rank keywords on any given website.

Bing Keyword Research Tool – part of the Bing Webmaster Tools.

Keyword Spy – lets you evaluate competitive websites for keywords they use.

Thesaurus.com – this website gives you synonyms for your keywords.

Ubersuggest – suggestion tool for more keyword ideas.

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12 Tips to Increase Referrals & Revenues With Email Marketing

Katten Muchin

Despite all the focus these days on social media, email marketing still remains the most effective way to reach prospects, remind clients, and reconnect with referral sources. According to the latest Pew Internet & American Life Project Report, email remains the top use of the Internet across all age groups.

Far too few law firms properly utilize email marketing to generate more referrals and develop new business. I’m going to lay out a game plan for your firm so you can implement an effective email marketing program.

He or She Who Has The Biggest List Wins!

I have said this to audiences for the last several years, but it bears repeating, he or she who has the biggest list wins! Your list is one of the few tangible assets of your law firm that is of a true lasting value. What makes your firm valuable is your ongoing relationship with your current and former clients, prospects and referral sources-that is to say, your list!

As a business owner, you must do everything you can to build, maintain and grow a healthy list of interested prospects, clients and referral sources. Developing a robust email marketing list should be at the core of your law firm’s business development efforts.

Here are proven ways to build a great law firm marketing list:

Insert a newsletter sign-up form on each page of your website and on your blog. Include a brief summary of the benefits of receiving your no-cost, monthly legal newsletter as well as a link to a sample they can read.

Promote your newsletter on social media. A growing number of law firms are using social media as a low-cost method to promote their law firms. Periodically include snippets from your newsletter in your social media.

Invite your connections on LinkedIn to join your list. Send out an email invitation to all your connections on LinkedIn asking if they would like to join your newsletter.

Use networking events to grow your list. If you’re like most attorneys, you have a stack of business cards somewhere on your desk from people you have met at networking events and you haven’t done anything with those names since then. Instead of letting them collect dust, put them on your newsletter list. It is the easiest way to stay connected long-term.

When you have a speaking engagement, provide a sign-up sheet for your complimentary newsletter. This technique has a very high response rate because the audience has already expressed an interest in your practice area by virtue of attending your presentation.

Partner with other non-legal professionals who serve a client base similar to yours. For example, if your area of practice is estate planning, financial planners, CPAs, tax attorneys or real estate professionals might have a target client similar to yours.

The overall goal is to continually grow your list and produce top quality content of interest to your list so they start to see you as a thought leader in the field.

Creating an Email Marketing Program for Your Law Firm

If you do not already have a regular email marketing campaign in place – like a monthly e-newsletter – here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you embark on your list building efforts:

1. Use every opportunity to build your list. Every prospect your office talks to on the phone, every person who fills out a form on your website, every business contact you network with, every visitor to your website or blog, every contact on social media, every referral source you meet for lunch, and every new client you sign up-invite them all to join your monthly newsletter.

2. Give away a free report on a topic of interest to your prospects when they sign up for your newsletter. This is a great way to entice reticent people to divulge their contact information.

3. Only send emails to people who have agreed to receive them. One of the services we offer is “done for you” newsletters for law firms and I will occasionally have a new client ask me about buying a list of targeted prospects. In general, I do not recommend purchase a list of names as they have no existing relationship with you and you will likely receive a lot of spam complaints.

4. Include an opt-out option in every email you send. Make it easy for people who are no longer interested in your content to unsubscribe.

5. Be sure your content is always relevant to your audience. Write about areas they are interested in. Don’t be afraid to take a specific point of view. As famous business author Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad put it, I would rather be loved or hated, but not forgotten.

6. Always include a clear call-to-action. Tell them what you want them to do: Do you want them to call your office for a free consultation? Do you want them to visit your blog for more information on a specific topic? Would you like them to attend your upcoming webinar?

7. Use professional email marketing software to send it out. We recommend a program like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, iContact, or Vertical Response. They are all very easy to use and costs start out around $20 per month. These programs will give you great insight into how many people are looking at your newsletter (open rates), how many people click on a link to “read more” (click through rates), and how many pass it on to a friend (“recommend” rates).

Due to spam blockers and concerns over viruses being sent via email, we do not advise you to send it out via Microsoft Outlook® or even worse as a PDF attached to an email.

8. Send your email on a consistent basis. We recommend every 4-6 weeks, but some of you could send it even more frequently.

9. Test to find out the best time to send your newsletter. The day of the week and the time of day can make a huge difference in the open rates of your newsletter. Email marketing studies show that in general, the best times for sending B2B emails is Tuesday through Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The best times for sending B2C emails is Tuesday through Thursday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. or on the weekend, but your audience may be different and the only real way to find out is to test it.

10. Keep the “from” name consistent. You should use your name or the name of your law firm in the “from” line.

11. Use clear, concise and interesting subject lines. Don’t make people guess what your email is about. Studies have shown the two biggest factors in determining if your email gets open is does the recipient recognize who it is from and the subject line.

Make your subject lines interesting. If you get two emails and you don’t immediately recognize either sender, but one of them has the subject line “10 ways to double your law firm’s revenue this year” and the other one has the subject line “March Newsletter from The Rainmaker Institute,” which one will you be more inclined to open?

12. Keep it short and sweet. You should be able to read your entire newsletter in less than 5 minutes. If you have a great article that is longer simply include several paragraphs in your newsletter then add a link to “click here to read more.” Everyone’s attention span is getting shorter as multiple mediums for messaging continue to grow.

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Promising #1 Rankings is Unacceptable for Legal Online Marketing Vendors

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Every reputable search marketer will tell you that a Web vendor promising number one rankings is blowing smoke. Google’s Matt Cutts warned about vendors that promise number one rankings as far back as 2008, then again in 2012.  Despite these voices, many companies still guarantee number one search engine spots – which raises the question: “Is promising number one rankings really that bad?”

Vendors who promise number one rankings for their law firm clients set unachievable standards for themselves, their clients and the legal marketing profession. Occasionally these damaging black-hat SEO tactics work for a few weeks or months — until Google catches up with them. When that happens, all the money invested into creating your Web presence is wasted.

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You can safely bet that Google’s algorithm will constantly change as the search engine giant places increasing emphasis on user experience. Strategies that may secure top rankings today might be the same strategies that hinder a site tomorrow. No company can be certain as to where their client’s site will rank next, and it is misleading for any company to indicate they do.

A legal online marketing vendor must also account for the fact that high rankings for a law firm website do not necessarily equate with an increase in newly signed clients. Websites have a shelf life. Many factors can affect conversions. If your design is dated or stale, you might need an upgrade before users are attracted to your site again. An outdated site conveys a lack of concern for the firm’s Web presence and image, almost as if you hadn’t refurnished your visitor’s lobby in 20 years. Additionally, a website that does not have calls to action and is not designed for conversions will hurt your ability to convert visitors to clients.

A guarantee of a number one ranking may lead a law firm to have unrealistic expectations of its Web marketing company. A vendor that works incredibly hard to stay abreast of search engine marketing trends, takes preemptive measures to protect their client sites and keeps lines of communication open sets the standard. But even that exceptional vendor cannot, and should not, guarantee top search engine spots. What they can and should do is promise to work tirelessly on a campaign to make it the best it can be. All sorts of factors, such as investment levels and client involvement, will affect a site’s ability to outrank other sites. Those factors are not entirely controlled by vendors, even the exceptional ones.

At the end of the day, what you really want is to be able to convert qualified leads into clients and grow your practice. You may not necessarily need number one rankings to accomplish this goal. What you need is a Web marketing vendor who is just as committed to your firm’s success as one of your partners. If the company handling your firm’s Internet marketing campaign is dedicated, then your campaign will be a success – whether your site occupies the first or fourth spot on a search results page.

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