Legal Marketing: 10 Tips When Writing for an Online Audience

November 27, 2010

Book Stack

Writing effective online articles requires a much different approach than any other type of writing so leave the “legalese” for your legal briefs; here, your words should be short and your message clear and direct.

Online readers scan quickly for content and move on if they don’t quickly see  information of direct relevance to them. Your copy must be concise, easy to scan and objective.

This type of writing may seem simple but is harder than it looks. Remember these 10 tips when writing for an online audience:

  1. Brevity is key. Readers want to find information quickly, get the facts and get out. Don’t you?
  2. Your post should be information rich. “No frills” writing will allow you to create a substantial amount of information into a few paragraphs.
  3. Keep headlines short, simple and focused on the point of the article. Include key words that will help get your article picked up by search engines.
  4. Sum up the main point of the article in the first paragraph. This lets the reader know exactly what the article is about and what knowledge they can expect to take away at the end.
  5. Readers will be turned off by promotional writing, so don’t sell. Blogging is a much more subtle type of marketing – the purpose is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your area of specialty by sharing your expertise. The minute you talk about your firm’s benefits, readers lose interest.
  6. Use meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
  7. Highlight keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others).
  8. Use bulleted or numbered lists. Readers love them.
  9. Keep your articles within 350 to 450 words, or about 3 to 4 short paragraphs.
  10. Include at least one high quality graphic.
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Legal Marketing: Your firm’s marketing and business development departments should be in sync

November 11, 2010

Hands creating teamwork

Gain a competitive advantage by bringing marketing and business development together.

Most large firms have a marketing staff as well as a business development staff. Even though they work for the same team, they don’t always come off that way to prospects.

In a firm, marketing and business development have the same goal and hope for the same outcome – more clients. So why don’t they have the same point of view? Why aren’t they on the same page? What happens during that dreaded “hand-off” or time gap when the marketers hand off clients to the business development team? Why are both teams trying to sell so many different ideas and services?

You will gain more clients, which ultimately leads to more money, if you integrate these processes. Make sure you are hiring people that can handle your firm and all of its practice areas. Have a public relations person/team, a social media expert, writer/editors and business developers. All of these people must have the firm’s principals at the core of all their decisions. This not only helps you to gain more clients, but it also strengthens and demonstrates your expertise and intellect. You don’t want to be the firm known for not having a concise plan. You want a consistent brand message across all your marketing channels.

When you are selling these ideas, whether through marketing or business development, make sure all ideas are well-researched and can be backed up with white papers, articles, and expertise in that legal area. Once you establish these strategy, make sure you are pitching the same ideas throughout your firm. Don’t focus on selling too many different services, but rather on a few well-thought-out practice areas. Create a process that is clear-cut and gives roles to each department. With this process, there won’t be any knowledge gaps and hand-offs between the marketing team and business developers will go smoothly.  Like I said before, stay on the same page!

Working as a collaborative group will lead to many more future prospects and CLOSING the deal!

To read more about this and to see survey results and graphs check out, Getting Marketing and Business Development on the Same Page in the Legal Marketing Reader.


Legal Marketing: The Eight Word Mission Statement

July 30, 2010

Hands Holding Mission Statement

Your law firm’s mission statement can have new business value and measurable results.

Most firms have a mission statement. Most are filled with wordy jargon that is often forgotten, misremembered or flatly ignored by staff and is meaningless to prospective clients. Your mission statement should foster clarity.

Kevin Starr, executive director of the Mulago Foundation, has created a compelling approach to developing a focused and useful mission statement that warrants the attention of law firms.  Starr insists that the companies he funds, express their mission statement in under eight words.

The Starr Method: Clients must follow this format: “Verb, target, outcome.”

This concise method is a fresh approach to developing a usable mission statement that will clarify thinking and keep the firm focused on a single issue. This way your firm can incorporate the mission statement into all printed and online materials, including social media. Having a clear-cut mission statement will set the tone for your social media plan and policy. You should create your mission statement before starting any social media projects – it will get everyone on the same page.

For example, “Representing Businesses in Times of Transition,” or “Helping People Through Divorce,” or even “Helping Clients Prepare for the Future through Estate Planning.” (Okay, that last one is 9 words, but you get the idea.)

How long is your firm’s current mission statement? Do you think you could get it down to under 8 words using the “verb, target, outcome” format?

Try this exercise and share it through the comments’ section below.


Legal Marketing: Celebrate New Clients

July 22, 2010

Balloons

No matter where new law firm clients come from, it’s important to celebrate each one and recognize the originator.

Getting new clients is tough. Especially in this economy. Whether your firm has a full-time business developer, or if new business is brought in by each attorney, getting new clients is nonstop hard work and often goes unnoticed. But it’s vital for the growth of your firm, so it’s important to stop and take the time to celebrate each new business victory.

Here are 5 reasons to celebrate your law firm’s new client wins:

  1. It gets your law firm focused on the future. Reminding your attorneys that new business is the lifeblood of your law firm is a good thing.
  2. It creates buy-in for your law firm’s new business process. Your new business pipeline needs to be a well-oiled machine, a process that creates a consistent flow of new potential clients. Consistency is key, and recognizing wins will make others want to be a part of the process.
  3. It provides an opportunity to recognize everyone who contributed to the effort. Oftentimes, the staff doesn’t realize who was responsible for the initial lead, so make sure the originator gets recognized and feels appreciated for their efforts. Even if the new business comes from unlikely sources, like your receptionist or intern, encourage them and recognize their efforts.
  4. It breeds a positive attitude among the staff and creates excitement about the firm.
  5. It builds a reputation that your firm is on a hot streak and draws the attention of other prospective clients. There is a natural curiosity that comes to those who break out of the pack among their competitors.

Law firms often fall short on internal communications, so I thought I would pass on some ways to communicate wins and control the message so that your staff isn’t hearing about new business for the first time around the “water-cooler.”

  • Have a celebration with the entire firm.
  • Provide a monetary payment to the staff member who provided the initial referral.
  • Build buzz with a press release. Include “appropriate” photos from the celebration.
  • If your firm has one, communicate new business wins through your firm’s newsletter.
  • Share information about new business, if appropriate, via your social media outlets.
  • Add new clients to your Website, along with a copy of the press release too.

If you would like to share some of your law firm’s new business wins here, please feel free to do so in the comment section below.