You have heard GLSA talk about change in the legal industry, the future of lawyers and legal services and access to justice for over 2 years now – but what really has happened? Has change occurred? The lawyer answer is yes . . . and no. Change has occurred but not really on a national level as some might have suggested. But don’t take this as change won’t happen and won’t impact you or your business – because it will on both accounts. So let’s start with what has happened over the last 2 years.
The ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services did get the ball rolling on talking and thinking about change as it is imperative that we decrease the access to justice gaps Americans are experiencing. They also worked with states, attorneys and legal influencers to get them to consider innovative ideas and technologies to make the practice of law more affordable, relevant and helpful to consumers. Several somewhat controversial ideas including use of non-lawyers and “outside” companies were raised but in the end, no definitive measures were taken on these and the end decisions were left up to the states.
The Commission finalized its two year run with a report that summarized all of its work and it is worth a read if you haven’t already done so: http://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2016/08/futures_commissioni.html. So although no big regulatory or ethical changes were made on a national level, there is definitely a growing movement in states to look for ways to lessen the access gap to legal services. This was required by all State Supreme Court Justices who adopted Resolution 5 https://www.ncsc.org/~/media/Microsites/Files/access/5%20Meaningful%20Access%20to%20Justice%20for%20All_final.ashx.
The Commission also recommended the ABA create an Innovation Center, which has since been developed and the committee members appointed. The purpose of the Center will be as a resource center for innovation in the legal industry as well as to “foster creative, innovative and ground-breaking approaches to bridging the access to justice gap as well as to improve the delivery of legal services.” http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/aba_announces_plan_to_create_center_for_innovation The ABA will also be working on an ABA Legal Checkup which will provide guidance to consumers on what legal needs they may be experiencing as well as where to receive help for those legal needs. Our current president, Keri Coleman-Norris is assisting with the development of the checkup.
GLSA continues to be at the forefront of this movement advocating for attorneys and legal plans as the way to ensure all citizens have affordable access to legal services. Stay tuned for more on the changes in our industry.
Take marketing seriously
It’s an irony of life that we think the work others do is simple while our own work requires careful thought and judgment. Lawyers deal with this all the time when clients try to commoditize what they do (e.g., it’s just a form). Yet, lawyers tend to do exactly the same thing to marketers.
Not every marketing campaign is the same. It takes time, money, testing and measurement to learn what works for you. Even if you are marketing in the same practice area and in the same city as other lawyers, it’s never a good idea to just blindly copy another’s campaign. It’s not “simple.”
To stand out, you need to try something different. Remember, if you look and sound like everyone else, you get lost in the crowd.
What makes you unique from a client’s point of view? How can you uniquely address their concerns or solve their problem in a way other lawyers can’t?
Spend more on marketing
Law firms only spend between 2.4% to 2.8% of their budget on marketing when most companies spend between 9 to 10%. This likely does not mean law firms spend less on marketing because they are getting extraordinary results with the money they do spend.
To put that in real terms, if you have a small law firm that brings in $250,000 per year, you’re probably spending between $6000 to $7000 on your marketing budget whereas a similarly-sized private company would be spending approximately $25,000. That sounds like a lot, right?
By comparison, Google spends 12% of its revenue on sales and marketing, while Microsoft spends 18% and Apple 7%.
Lawyers may spend less for a variety of reasons. Being generally risk averse, lawyers may perceive marketing costs as inherently risky and therefore tend to avoid the expense. But, just increasing your budget is not enough. Investing the time to identify credible and proven marketing consultants is definitely worth the effort.
Measure what you spend
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” according to acclaimed business management thinker Peter Drucker. Yet, how many lawyers among us measure how we spend our marketing dollars and whether we’re getting anything valuable for our money?
It may come as no surprise that many lawyers chose to go to law school precisely because they didn’t like number crunching. And, there is a strong temptation to delegate this duty to measure to your marketing consultant or intern: Don’t!
There’s something to be said for the process of figuring it out yourself. Akin to balancing your checkbook and signing your own checks, it helps you to have a gut feel for where your money is going and whether or not it’s being spent on anything worthwhile.
Key marketing metrics
Cost per lead = Divide campaign budget by amount of leads generated by campaign. This will tell you how many dollars it cost to generate each lead.
Lead conversion rate = Divide amount of leads generated by total number of people exposed to your ad. This will tell you how effective your ad copy is. Try split testing different versions to improve your conversion rate.
Client acquisition cost = Divide campaign budget by amount of clients generated by campaign. This is how much it costs to get a client using this particular marketing campaign.
Client conversion rate = Divide amount of clients acquired by total number of leads. This will tell you how effective you are at converting leads into clients.
If you are converting leads into clients through initial phone consultations, how quickly are you following up? Did you know calling a new lead within a minute of their inquiry boosts conversion rates by 400%? Did you know it can take up to 6 call attempts to contact a lead?
Return on investment = Divide total revenue generated by campaign by amount spent on campaign. This should give you a number greater than 1; otherwise you’re losing more money than you’re spending on your marketing campaign.
The ROI on all marketing campaigns should equal or exceed 10 (assuming you spend 10% of your revenue on marketing) because your marketing creates all revenue.
In a professional climate marked by the proliferation of social media, lawyers can tap a variety of outlets to effectively market themselves and their respective positions on thought leadership within the legal field.
The first step in appropriately branding yourself is setting up an online profile. LawQA, Google+, and YouTube are just a few of the most interactive sites that attorneys can utilize when beginning to establish an online presence. Personalize your profile with a series of professional photos—your target audience, peers, colleagues, and clientele will naturally want to put a face to your name. How many friends do you have on LinkedIn without profile photos?
The written content on your profile should be defined by concision, quality, as a reflection of your professional capabilities, and devoid of grammatical errors. Readability is critical—you want to avoid turning off your viewers with marginalizing jargon. In the age of the smart phone, your content has to be readily accessible and digestible on mobile devices as to maximize your potential readership. You’ll want to ensure that any written content is organized, suitably titled, and conveniently navigable within the confines of your profile.
While a number of lawyers may be prone to outsourcing the production of their profile content to their web marketing firms, you’re the expert in your respective field—and thereby the most viable candidate for producing content that’s relevant, genuine and engaging. For example, understanding exactly what penalties certain charges carry in a particular city or state may impact the way a tourist makes decisions when away from home. Other attorneys in your field of practice can gain insight into your views on a new or revised statute that could affect future clients. Your experience with clients and precise knowledge of your field make your content valuable for anyone who comes across it.
In addition to blog articles, you can bolster your profile with high-quality videos to deliver material to your viewers. Ill-conceived or shoddily-produced clips can hurt your image, so don’t skimp when it comes to developing videos that will also directly reflect your professionalism. For your viewership, one to three minute videos can serve to showcase not only your knowledge on legal expertise, but also provide brief insight into your personality and business acumen.
Videos are just one of the number of visual vehicles that you can implement to communicate with your target audience. Graphs, illustrations, maps, and other graphics are all aesthetic mediums by which you can disseminate information relevant to your area of expertise. Well-constructed visuals have the capacity to both synthesize and complement denser pieces of writing, making your content all the more accessible.
In order to heighten your own visibility, however, you should take the liberty of joining groups in social media that are topical both in the capacity as peers and potential clients. LinkedIn outpaces other sites by providing hundreds of legal groups, open and closed and general to specific, that will give you access to exclusive peer knowledge and an untapped clientele. By maximizing your profile’s exposure among peer and professional circles, your profile will be more likely to get more hits and increase the likelihood of your ideas getting circulated.
Once you’ve developed a profile complete with your photo, well-written blog posts, visuals, and videos, you need to keep in mind one last pointer in order to stay relevant in the saturated social media echo chamber—consistency. Challenge yourself to keep to a regular timeline by employing a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly publishing schedule to keep your readers anticipating your next piece of writing. Avoid sacrificing content quality for the speed at which you publish—your posts should embody the ingenuity to which you hope to influence your readers, not exude the appearance of someone who is just trying to pick up new leads and clients. While the visual appeal and visibility of your profile are instrumental components of social media success, the quality of your content will determine whether you are simply a thought follower or pioneering thought leader.
Welcome to our inaugural GLSA Blog! This short note announces this new feature on the website and our plans for content.
We are very excited to start blogging to both provide information and education as well as thought leadership opportunities for our members. We are committed to publishing weekly on Thursdays to start. The contributors will include the GLSA Board, members, and sponsors.
The education committee chair, Tom Martin, will provide a monthly posting that recaps that month’s webinar. Matt Hahne, who chairs the Newsletter committee, has committed to publishing abstracts of the long articles that will be posted each month plus a link to full text. We will start each month with a Board member blog on a wide range of topics. Talented members and sponsors will fill out the remainder of the weeks. Our blog topics include tips on social media, firm culture, marketing tips, substantive law, and more.
Our next post will be from new member Seth Bloom on social media. The first board member post comes from Nicolle Schippers and examines the ABA Commission on the Future on Legal Services and Legal Plans. We would like to showcase our members’ talents and provide valuable insights each week. If you are interested in contributing to the blog, please email Board member and Marketing Committee chair Mary Juetten at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entitled “Back to the Future of Legal Services,” the teleconference included an interview of Nicolle Schippers (ARAG) and Dan Lear (AVVO) moderated by Tom Martin (LawDroid) and hosted by GLSA. (more…)