Category Archives: Branding

Use These Tips to Manage Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation

Have you Googled yourself lately?

I know it sounds silly, but it’s probably the single most important task you can do this week to learn about your online reputation. Armed with the knowledge you’ll receive, you can take control of your online image and turn prospects into clients and clients into superstar referrers.

Online reputation management always starts with a quick search on Google for your name and/ or your law firm’s name. What are the first results that show up when you do a Google search?

Go on. I’ll wait.

Your search results probably look a little bit like this:

YOUR-WEBSITEImage Courtesy of Google.com

You should see your own website, followed closely by review sites like Yelp, Avvo, and Yellowpages.com. You may even find a Google listing with star ratings by your name, indicating your clients’ satisfaction levels.

Some people do vanity searches on Google for kicks and giggles, but when it comes to your online reputation, there’s nothing more persuasive than the first few results that return on a Google search. For many of your prospective clients, this will be their first encounter with your brand.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s play a scenario. Let’s say you have a satisfied client who refers you to one of their friends. Your client can’t remember your website, so he tells his friend to Google you.

While the referred prospect trusts his friend, he may get scared away from choosing you due to negative one and two star ratings on the first page of Google results. And if you don’t have any strategy in place to counteract that negative rating, you may just lose a prospective client.

Another scenario is that you’re competing with every other lawyer in your area. A lot of prospects simply search “family lawyer in town, state”. People often make their decision based on who seems to have the most amount of positive information out there. This includes positive reviews, but also an active presence on these review sites. The final part of the puzzle is your own website that operates as your hub and a library of information.

Let’s take a look at some other best practices for managing your law firm’s online reputation.

Here’s a checklist for how to manage your law firm’s online reputation.

Set Yourself Up for Success

+Set up shop on Avvo

Claim Your Profile on Avvo. While Avvo populates the basics of your profile with information from your state’s Bar Association, you should also fill in the gaps. Here are a few things you should include:

Up-to-date information about your law firm, including your website, phone number, email, and physical address.

A professional headshot. People like seeing who they will be working with. Putting a face to the name humanizes your brand.

List awards you’ve won, publications that have featured you, and organizations you’re a member of. It can improve your Avvo ranking and boost your reputation in the eyes of potential clients.

Get Reviews

+Ask for Reviews*

You’re a great attorney who cares about your clients (or else you wouldn’t be here). Based on this, I know you have clients who care about you, too. Now, it’s time to get them to show it.

How are your powers of telepathy?

Okay, so if mental communication doesn’t work, it’s time to go verbal or at least written. At the end of your case or legal preparation, ask your client to share a review about you or your law firm. You can ask face to face, if your client is in your office, or via email if you prefer.

When asking face to face, I recommend having a review-optimized business card handy. On your business card, point to the key places you’d like for your client to leave a review.

connect-with-us

Image Courtesy of Access Publishing

When asking via email, I recommend that you provide a mini-guide to make it as easy as possible for the client to leave a review for you. Ask for the review, leave a link to your profile (or directions on how to get to your profile), and provide guiding questions such as:

How was our service?

Would you recommend us to your friends and family?

Did we promptly respond to your questions and concerns?

Would you return to do business with us? If yes, why?

Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. That way, you’ll get a lot more people to leave reviews.

*You can’t actually ask for reviews for Yelp. Yelp specifically forbids it. What you can do is inform your clients that you are also on Yelp, and hopefully they’ll get the hint.

Alternatively, instead of asking for your clients to review you on third party websites, you can ask for good old fashioned testimonials. Then, you can put these testimonials on your own site.

While this may limit the amount of people who actually see your testimonials, you have a lot more control over what’s said on your own site. Review sites routinely delete reviews (both positive and negative, real and fake). This means a lot of your positive reviews may be lost forever because of a capricious algorithm.

That’s no fair.

Control the conversation by hosting all of your reviews (both good and bad) on your own website.

+Highlight Video Testimonials

If you can get your clients to leave video testimonials, do it! There are few things more persuasive and reputation boosting in the eyes of a prospective client than watching a relatable person tell his or her story.

You don’t have to hire a film crew and make a big production, unless you’re going to use this to create a commercial. If it’s strictly for your website or to market your law firm through Facebook or YouTube, you’ve got all the equipment you’ll need with your smartphone.

That’s right, a smartphone, a chair next to a window for good lighting, and (if you want better audio) a $15 lavalier microphone is all you’ll need to capture a compelling testimonial that will woo your prospects.

powers-law-groupImage Courtesy of Powers Law Group

Keep an Eye on Reviews

While you should make a habit of checking the top review sites regularly, it may be hard to catch every mention of you and your law firm on the Internet. That’s why I recommend setting up a Google Alert to get notified every time you’re mentioned.

Simply go here to set up a Google alert. You’ll need a Google account (if you have a Gmail address, that works). Then, enter any term you’d like to be notified of. This may include your name, your law firm’s name, or even a name of your competitors.

google-alertsImage Courtesy of Google Alerts

Then, set a notification schedule. You may wish to receive a daily email digest, or an email once a week. And you’re done. It’s easy, free, and a great way to monitor your online reputation.

Respond to All Reviews (Even Negative Ones)

So, now that you’re monitoring all mentions of your name, it’s time to make a commitment. Commit to responding to each and every review left about you and/or your law firm.

A lot of attorneys don’t do this, and the result ranges from appearing out of touch to just not seeming to care at all.

The fact is, if someone cares enough to leave a review on a website about you, you should care enough to respond.

Especially to negative reviews.

You may be thinking, why should I get down and dirty with a negative review? Don’t think of it that way.

Instead, think of it as an opportunity to show how much you’re invested in resolving problems. Plus, prospective clients are watching carefully to see how (or if) you respond to negative reviews. Your response also will indicate whether or not you’re argumentative (well, of course you are– you’re a lawyer!– but you’re also an advocate, and that’s the side you should show when interacting with online comments).

Last but not least, respond promptly. Responding a year later doesn’t have the same impact as responding a month after the fact. That’s why it’s a good idea to set up Google Alerts and implement a schedule for checking your reviews.

The First Step

The first step is to set up a website and control the conversation. AmazeLaw can help with that. Let’s talk.

Here’s a checklist for how to manage your law firm’s online reputation.

How to Find Qualified Clients

Whether you have a small or medium-size law firm, one need remains the same: clients. But not just any warm body will do. You need to find clients who are qualified and have a need for your services. That’s a tall order, but one that we’ll fill by the end of this post.

Stick around to find out how you can use the magic of the Internet to find qualified clients for your legal practice. Let’s discuss!

Would you like a worksheet for finding the perfect client? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

Identify Your Ideal Client

The best way to start is by identifying your ideal client. To aid in this, I’ve provided a list of questions to help:

Who are they? Include basic demographics such as age, gender, location, and income.

What do they need from you? How likely are they to reach out to you?

Why do they need your service? If you offer more than one service, consider creating a client persona for each.

Where do they live online? Are they mostly on Facebook, Google (everyone’s on Google), Instagram, LinkedIn, Yelp, Avvo Law, or Pinterest? If you’d like to know which platform you’d be more likely to find clients, check out this post on Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for your Law Firm.

When do they research lawyers? Does your target client wait until the last minute? When they do reach out, what time do you get the majority of your calls? Is it 10 AM? 3 PM? This can indicate a lot about your average client.

Create a Website

Now that you’ve compiled a client persona, it’s time to create a marketing strategy to welcome those clients in.

When trying to find and nurture clients, always start with a website.

Remember, it’s not the 90s anymore. Folks use the Internet (not the Yellow Pages) to find everything from appliances to Zumba. As an attorney, you’ve got to make sure that your services are represented online, too. The way to do that is with a website.

A website is like an “always on” salesperson. Your website works for you even at midnight and on holidays. If you plan it right, your website can provide just as much information as your front office staff (but don’t tell them I said that).

On your website, be sure to create a blog that people actually want to read. Blogs are a powerful tool that can help you educate your site visitors and establish yourself as the knowledgeable pro that you are.

Use Paid Advertising

We’ve discussed how to use paid advertising before, so I won’t rehash it here. Check out how to use paid advertising to dominate the local search listings. Be sure to click on that link because there we discuss what SEO and search advertising really means for your law firm. I also give you the exact formula for how to get on a first-page listing on Google’s search results.

Create a Call-Only Ad Campaign

Have you ever searched on the Internet with your smartphone? Chances are, you’ve seen a little call button to the right side of the top few listings. That’s little button is going to transform your online marketing campaign, and here’s how:

People who search for lawyers with their smartphones are motivated to go beyond “research mode” and into results mode. They want to speak to a live person. Instead of directing them to a webpage, you should offer a call button for quick access.

This is known as a call-only ad campaign.

It costs the same as a regular headline click, but you’ll have a much more engaged prospective client who wants to act now.

In the order of things:

website < phone call < consultation < representation

add-phone-number

Here’s how to create a call-only ad campaign with Google.

By the way, don’t forget about Bing. While Google is the undisputed giant in Internet search, Bing does have 20% of the market share. You can follow these same steps on Bing to find qualified clients there, too. And it may even be cheaper.

Provide Enhanced User Experience

Did you know that a bad first impression of your website can lower your chances of getting clients? It’s true that you can lose site visitors just by a slow website– and by slow, I mean a site that takes three seconds or longer to load.

Three seconds.

No one wants to wait for answers. You’ve got to make sure that your website is fast load and provides all of the answers your prospective clients need immediately.

Even worse than a slow-loading website is one that’s completely disorganized and hard to navigate. If your site visitors have to click a lot of links trying to find the answers they’re looking for, they’re going to give up and hit the back button.

Here’s how to prevent a disorganized website:

Get clear about what information you’d like to share on your website. Here’s a good idea of where to start:

On your Homepage: Discuss what services you offer and who would benefit most from them. Keep it short, simple, and clean.

On your About page: Discuss who you are but keep it client-focused. Craft your About page to help the prospect understand why they should choose you. It’s good to underscore the kind of cases and clients you often work with in this page.

On your Services page: Be very clear about what services you offer and then break it down even further. Remember, your prospective client probably doesn’t know much about law, they just know that they need a lawyer. Use language they would understand. Oftentimes, a layman doesn’t know exactly what something’s called. Here’s your chance to educate and empower them to figure out what service they need from you.

You may also find it helpful to create a separate page for each service that you offer.

Prepare a Thorough FAQ Page: A lot of folks head straight for the frequently asked questions page, if you have one, to decide whether they need your services. This is yet another golden opportunity to answer common questions that you’d normally discuss over the phone. It’ll free up your phone lines for more specific questions, and provide a valuable resource to online prospective customers who are searching for answers.

faq

Image Courtesy of Thurman Law

Follow Up Immediately on the Phone

There are times when you’re just not available. For example, maybe the caller left a message after hours. Perhaps you’re on another line. Whatever the case, don’t let that prospect fade– be sure to follow up immediately whenever possible.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: a prospective client who doesn’t reach you will oftentimes go to the next attorney on the list. Boo. But, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re out. By calling that person back in a reasonable timeframe (by the end of the business day), you may be able to persuade them to choose you – especially if you’re presenting yourself as friendly and helpful.

Unlike emails and voicemails, phone calls are great for gauging interest.

Push the In-Office Consultation

Of course, you don’t want to give away everything in a phone call. It’s so crucial to get the caller into an in-office consultation. This is where you’ll be able to separate those who just want free legal advice from actual paying clients.

Should you offer free or paid consultations?

There’s compelling opinions on both sides. The benefit of offering:

A free consultation – You’ll definitely set more appointments because everyone loves “free”. You’ll also separate yourself from your competitors because they’re more likely to charge for consultations.

A paid consultation – You’ll get more motivated prospects. People who are willing to pay an initial consultation fee are more likely to sign a representation agreement.

A happy medium? Consider charging a consultation fee but then crediting it back to their account if they choose to retain your services.

You can also explain your process over the phone and on your website to help drive the in-office consultation.

Polish Your Profiles

By now, you know how important it is to have a website, but that’s not the only way to represent your law firm online. You also need to expand to social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter

We’ve actually covered this in-depth here: Choosing the Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand. If you need help figuring out which platform to use, be sure to check out that post.

Being on a social platforms helps you extend the reach of your online marketing. You can start amassing followers and then updating them through your social platforms. While they may not always come to your website, they can always be connected to you through your social media updates.

Also make sure you’re fully utilizing online review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Avvo. We’ve also gone in depth on those topics here: Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide on How to Attract Local Clients Via the Internet.

Prospective clients may head to these review sites first before even starting a Google search. What will they find once they get there?

Negative reviews are one thing; negative reviews without a follow up from you are a death sentence. Don’t make that mistake. Follow up on all reviews, trying to resolve those that you can, but acknowledging everyone else with a heartfelt thanks for their feedback. No sarcasm, please. Remember– you’ve got an audience.

Final Thoughts

Remember how we discussed that a website is fundamental to finding qualified clients? We can help with that. Let’s talk about building you a site that you can be proud of.

Would you like a worksheet for finding the perfect client? Subscribe to receive this extra resource.

How to Build a Visual Identity for Your Law Firm

It may be unfair and hopelessly shallow, but clients will judge you based on how you look. You know to dress the part in the courtroom, but what about your website and social media presence? Does it look like you: polished, professional, and worthy of a client’s trust?

Be honest. Be brutal. Your clients will be.

A strong brand identity relies on the fine balance of cohesion, presentation, and personality.

There’s a sea of law firms out there that look either out of touch or overly generic. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of these law firms just copy and paste their entire visual identity from other brands. Yikes.

That may be okay (it’s not okay) for fly by night, side-eye worthy amateurs, but not you. You’re the best, and you’ve got to look the best, or no one else will know it, except for me and your mother.

By the end of this post, you’ll learn exactly how to create a visual identity that looks smart, savvy, and purposeful. This visual identity will make your brand more memorable and more trustworthy. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Psst… Would you like to get 12 tools for creating a stunning visual brand? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

What message would you like to convey?

Here is the best place to start. Would you live to cultivate a friendly persona or an intellectual one? They aren’t mutually exclusive, however you’re looking for the dominant tone in your visual identity.

Perhaps it’s best to think of your ideal client. Are you in family law? Are you an entertainment attorney? Do you work primarily in real estate? Your target clientele shifts depending on what type of law you specialize in. Keeping that client in mind, you can create a brand identity that reaches and relates to them.

How can a law firm that specializes in entertainment be satisfied with a dated and bland visual identity? Or, how can a firm that focuses on family law create a visual identity that’s aloof and unsympathetic?

Actually, it’s easy and a lot of brands do it unintentionally. However, it’s also easy to create a visual identity that deliberately gives off the vibe you wish to present. Let’s take a look at the components that create your visual identity.

The Components of Your Visual Identity:

Color

Color has a profound impact on us. One color can make us feel calm, another can make us feel creative. Studies show that the color called drunk tank pink can actually reduce violent and hostile behavior. There’s little doubt that color influences our psychology.

This is why you need to think about what colors to use in your visual branding. Each color affects us differently. Depending on the message you’d like to convey, use a corresponding color to subtly but effectively echo it.

Here’s a breakdown of each color and how the brain interprets it:

Green – Fresh, Organic, Natural, Eco-friendly, Gentle

Blue – Trustworthy, Secure, Peaceful, Calm, Loyal

Purple – Creative, Unique, Vibrant, Luxurious, Royal

Yellow – Friendly, Excited, Positive, Joyful, Energetic

Orange – Playful, Warm, Cheerful, Social, Confident

Red – Passionate, Bold, Strong, Dynamic, Brave

Pink – Feminine, Sweet, Compassionate, Affectionate, Caring

Brown – Reliable, Approachable, Stable, Dependable, Practical

Gray – Modern, Neutral, Conservative, Futuristic, Advanced

Black – Sophisticated, Traditional, Classic, Powerful, Elegant

White – Pure, Good, Clean, Honest, Open

You’ll probably want a combination of two or three colors to create a unique and intentional visual identity. For example, the color combinations of blue and gray say modern yet trustworthy, while brown and pink say dependable and compassionate.

Do you need help deciding which colors should represent you? Browse the most loved color palettes of all time over at ColourLovers. Pick up inspiration by the user-submitted color palettes and use it to jump-start your brand identity.

Graphics

Graphics are a huge part of visual branding. Along with color, graphics are an immediate way to communicate your brand’s unique identity. This includes images, photos, icons, infographics, and other visual elements.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you want to immediately impress your firm’s identity, personality, and tone, you need to intersperse graphical elements into your online content.

On your general website, your blog, and your social media accounts, use graphics to craft a uniquely identifiable visual brand.

When you post an image on your blog or social media accounts, make sure that it:

  • includes your brand logo. In case your image goes viral, you want to leave your calling card.
  • continues the same look and feel as the rest of your brand. Consistency is important for developing a strong visual identity.
  • supports the text if on your blog. Your image should make sense and emphasize the blog post.
  • is high quality. There’s nothing worse than a tiny image that your visitors have to squint to see.

Where to Find Images

Speaking of high quality, there’s no reason to settle for cheesy images when there’s plenty of free and amazing stock libraries on the web. Check out this list of my favorite stock images (and subscribe for even more resources).

500px

Jay Mantri

Kaboom Pics

Life of Pix

Magdeleine

Mopho.to

Pexels

Photocrops

Picjumbo

Unsplash

Be sure to check the license and usage requirements. Most of these sites require no attribution, but terms can change at any moment.

Logo

Your logo is the best way to instantly impress who you are as a brand. Think of your logo as a first introduction. It can immediately convey the tone and personality of your brand before your client has an opportunity to look at your services, testimonials, or blog posts.

Because your logo represents your brand, don’t go ordinary and buy a template that every other law firm uses. To really stand out, commission an original logo from a reputable logo designer. Find designers, and their portfolios, on Dribbble or Logopond.

Fonts

Last, but not least, is your font choice. Your font says a lot about your brand identity. It can say that you’re fun and hip or serious and staid.
Font libraries like Fontspace and 1001 Fonts let you search for fonts based on the type of mood you’d like to convey. Simply type in “classic” or “modern” to find the perfect font for your brand.

Put it to Work

Now that you’ve been introduced to the four components to your visual identity, it’s time to put it to work on your blog and social media platforms. Here’s how:

Your blog

Be sure to include an image on each and every blog post you write. Not only will it provide visual interest to your post, it will subtly reiterate your brand identity.

Facebook

One in seven people on earth use Facebook. No doubt some of your clients use this popular platform. Take advantage of the cover photo as a prime opportunity to reinforce your brand message.

LinkedIn

With 300 million monthly users, LinkedIn is a powerful marketing tool. Use a professional image here to represent your brand.

Twitter

On Twitter, use the header photo as another opportunity to brand just like on Facebook.

Pinterest

Not on Pinterest? Pins last longer than Facebook posts, and can greatly expand your marketing reach. On Pinterest, use similar cover images to create a consistent visual branding.

Psst… Would you like to get 12 tools for creating a stunning visual brand? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Final Thoughts

To create a visual identity that mirrors your brand message, remember to ask yourself what your clients need and expect from you. Once you understand what that is, use these tips to build your visual identity.

Don’t forget to download our extra set of recommended tools to help you create a winning visual brand identity for your law firm.