By Tiana H. Hardison
Editor’s Note: The ABA Journal is pleased to present Mind Your Business, a series of columns written by lawyers, legal professionals and others within the legal industry. The purpose of these columns will be to offer practical guidance for attorneys on how to run their practices, provide information about the latest trends in legal technology, and how it can help lawyers work more efficiently, and strategies for building a thriving business.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, successful law firm marketing had a different tone and message than it does now, and marketing will continue evolving in the coming months. Why? Because effective marketing considers who your ideal client is and what fears and concerns are keeping them up at night. Effective marketing asks: “What will most likely resonate with my ideal client?”
When COVID-19 first struck the United States, suddenly everyone was in survival mode, and life as we had known it came to a grinding halt. We all—our clients included—became concerned for our very lives, and things that had been relevant just a week before were suddenly irrelevant. That was not the time for business-as-usual marketing. Many wise lawyers scaled back their traditional marketing and began inserting PSA-styled content.
Now we are rolling into phase two and three of the “New Normal that Isn’t Normal at All.” Some firms have reopened fully, some only partially, while others are still firmly shut and operating exclusively in remote status. With all the uncertainty across the country, it appears that the months to come will give us more of the same. So, the question is: “What now?”
Consider these marketing pointers:
Tip #1: Now is the time to work on your business
Many law firms haven’t returned to brick-and-mortar status, and fewer clients and potential clients are calling. Thus, it is a great time to spend a more concerted effort on your business since you can’t spend as much time in it. Commit to spending an hour a day on strategies to grow your firm and improve your marketing efforts or to gain clarity and fresh vision. Watch webinars. Read books. Write your own book to market to clients and potential clients. (Books are a great way to set yourself apart from the competition and boost your credibility as an expert in your legal area of practice.)
Tip #2: Up your social media game
Everyone is spending more time on social media than ever before, and most people are accessing it on their phones. Make sure your firm has a presence on every platform that your potential clients use. That includes Facebook, of course, but should also entail YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Post encouraging messages as well as substantive ones. Repurpose them across all your platforms—and don’t forget videos.
Tip #3: Take the vulnerability step and go Facebook Live
It may seem scary at first, but the more you do, the easier it gets. People hire lawyers they know, like and trust. The more they see and hear you, the more they will feel that they know you. Your posts don’t even have to have anything to do with legal issues, so mix it up. You can give a substantive post that answers a few typical client questions in a conversational style, and then post something that’s just everyday life.
Tip #4: FaceTime/Zoom marketing
If you haven’t already, start communicating with clients using FaceTime or Zoom. This is an excellent way for you and your staff to communicate with clients and potential clients. The more your clients feel you are there for them, the greater the likelihood they will refer you to friends and family. The more potential clients can connect with you personally, the greater the likelihood they will take the next step and hire you.
You can also record these conversations and use them to build your video testimonial library. There are apps available that allow you to record FaceTime audio and video, so you can continue amassing compelling social proof, even if you aren’t in your office and able to record traditional videos. These videos can be placed on your website and pushed out on social media—with the client’s permission, of course.
Tip #5: Work on your content
Now is the time to write a few reports you can use as lead magnets for your firm. Take the “Top 10 Questions Clients Ask,” or “Top 7 Mistakes Most People Make in Connection with Their Accident or Claim,” and turn them into a short paper that you can offer online, through social media and on your website. Doing so lets you capture your potential client’s info, and then continue nurturing them through an email campaign. Apps such as Mailchimp make nurturing email drip campaigns easy and automatic.
Tip #6: Leverage videos big time and develop your own YouTube channel
According to a May report from Sandvine, video streaming accounts for 57% of all internet traffic. Meanwhile, the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video. So, make sure you are leveraging videos on your website and across social media.
YouTube is the second largest search engine and the largest venue for the videos. Take time to transfer videos you’ve already done to YouTube and categorize them. Put popular search words in the titles for search engine optimization. Start adding to your library now. Create a simple backdrop, and from your phone or laptop, start recording your own short informative videos. Explain things that potential clients want to know, such as, “What to do after an accident?” and “What to say or not say to an adjuster?” and “How to start a workers’ comp claim?” etc.
Tip #7: Make your website mobile friendly
Unfortunately, many law firms don’t have websites optimized for mobile phones. Most law firm websites were created by web designers using a desktop or laptop. Consequently, the end result may or may not be user friendly for a mobile phone audience. Was your website designed by someone using a desktop or laptop with mobile use only an afterthought? Most people—more than 70%—will access your website on their mobile device; however, many firms’ web designers didn’t design the site from a mobile device or with mobile device optimization as the primary concern.
Make sure you have looked at your website on your own phone and that it is optimized for mobile use. Can you access all the information? The videos? The testimonials? Your lead magnet report or e-book? Are there easy to spot drop-down menus? Is the text easy to read? Do you have a “click to call” or “contact” button? How fast does your site load? Mobile optimization is really critical. Most people won’t stay on a site more than a few seconds if it doesn’t load quickly or if they can’t easily find what they are looking for. If you want to gain several minutes of a user’s time and attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within seconds!
Pivoting your firm forward is possible, even during a pandemic. With ingenuity and effort, you can continue to grow and reach more potential clients. By committing to an hour each a day working on your law firm, you can identify and implement important marketing strategies to help your firm continue to grow!
Tiana H. Hardison is an attorney with 30 years of legal experience and the co-author of the new book Powerful Online Legal Marketing, The Digital Marketing Guide to Ethically Dominate Your Market. She’s also the editor of PILMMA’s Legal Marketing and Management Magazine. In addition to practicing law, she’s spent the last several years helping lawyers grow their law firms through educational training in legal marketing and management and published in numerous blogs, journals, training materials and periodicals.
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