Tag Archives: build identity

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).

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.

Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide On How To Attract Local Clients Via The Internet

I know what you’re wondering: How do I attract local clients who do a Google search for law firms in my area?

In this post, I’m going to give you two ways to attract local clients – and both are free and easy enough to do in an afternoon. Let’s get to it:

First Things First

A word of consideration: As you read this article, keep in mind that there may be some ethical do’s and don’ts when it comes to soliciting or promoting online reviews of you or your law practice. Always check with your state bar association’s guidelines on what action is permissible.

You need an online presence. Forget Yellow Pages and billboards to reach local audiences. Did you know that 83% of your prospective clients will perform an online search first to find local lawyers?

You need a website and completed social media profiles. You also need to set up shop on review sites like Google My Business and Yelp. We’ll discuss this in greater detail later in this post.

You must have a responsive website. People aren’t searching the Internet strictly from their desktop computers anymore, especially when finding out information about law offices. When a client wants to find hours and directions to your office, they’re going to do so via their smartphones. Google found that 88% of local searches come from a smartphone. That’s 4% more than desktop computers.

What does this mean for you? It means that you need a website that looks great on smartphones and quickly gives your clients exactly what they need.

The best way to do that is with a well-designed website that responds to whatever device your client uses to access your information. We can help with that.

Make client testimonials a priority. Your law firm will grow based on word of mouth, both offline and online, too. Make it a part of your client outtake process to ask that they share their experience through an online review, or provide your information to others.

That said, be sure to follow the guidelines of each online review site to make sure you’re complying with the rules (more on that a little later).

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of designing your local marketing strategy:

Where Do Your Clients Search?

Let’s get real for a moment. Do your clients know anything about Martindale or even Lawyers.com? Probably not. And you may not either. But everyone knows about Google and Yelp. That’s exactly where you need to be right now if you’d like to attract local clients.
Take a look at these two graphs from the guys at SoftwareAdvice.com:

software-advice

Image Courtesy of SoftwareAdvice.com

In fact, Yelp is the most trusted review site for lawyers, by far. More than twice the amount of people go to Yelp to find a lawyer than its’ nearest competitor, Super Lawyers.

legal-servicesImage Courtesy of Yelp

The other big influencer for your law office is Google. A completely new prospective client who has never heard of you will most likely begin their search for representation with Google. Someone who’s familiar with Yelp (and who isn’t these days?) will likely head to Yelp for recommendations and reviews.

We’ll explore both sites in detail, but remember that you should also get listed on each and every site that speaks to your prospective clients. Although we’re going to focus on Google and Yelp in this post, you shouldn’t exclude Avvo.comMartindale, and Super Lawyers. They rock, too, just not as loudly (yet) as Google and Yelp. In fact, we recommend that you focus your marketing efforts on Google (60%), Yelp (20%), and Avvo (20%).

But, since you’re just beginning your local marketing, let’s tackle the two with the biggest ROI now and then focus on the others afterwards.

Would you like a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Google My Business

Let’s do an exercise right now. In your browser, do a quick Google search for “law firms in insert your city, your state” (for example, law firms in Phoenix, AZ). What comes up? Does your website show in the premium space affectionately known as Google’s local snack pack?

law-firms

Screenshot of snack pack of law firms in Phoenix, AZ

If so, fantastic! Move on to the Yelp section below. If not, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to dominating.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business is a free feature created by Google for any local business that would like to market and promote themselves online.

This feature increases your exposure online. How? When people do a basic search for law firms in your area, your Google My Business listing will show up before the regular search engine results. For this reason alone, Google My Business can be even more powerful than SEO (search engine optimization).

As a local law office, you can’t afford not to be listed through Google My Business. If you’re not on that top three list, your competitors are.

I already have a website. Do I need Google My Business, too?

Yes. While your website should be the central hub of your online activity (i.e. your services, blog posts, bios, and contact information), you also need a Google My Business listing. Google uses the information you provide to better construct their search engine results.

Google is a business too, and they want to provide the best and most accurate information to their customers. Google wants to make it easy for customers to find exactly what they need as quickly as possible.

That’s why they created Google My Business, which distills all of your information into an orderly, easy-to-scan structure. This feature empowers your prospective clients with the following information:

Your Business Name

Address

Phone Number

Website Link

Area of Law Expertise

Directions

Physical Location on a Local Map

Rating and Reviews

Hours of Operation

Photos of Your Practice

Top 5 Related Web Results

zachar-lawScreenshot of Zachar Law Firm in Phoenix, AZ

What is a snack pack?

Google My Business selects three local listings to showcase. We call this the snack pack. They get prime listing above other law firms.

So, why do only three listings make it? It all goes back to mobile. It turns out that the three listing snack pack looks best on smartphones and smaller screens.

How do I make it into the Google snack pack?

There are two strategies you can implement to influence your Google My Business listing and hopefully make it to the coveted three within the snack pack. They are:

Position yourself as an authority. What type of law do you practice? Be sure to get as specific as possible in your Google My Business listing. Indicate if you practice family law, personal injury, bankruptcy, and so on. This will help Google determine where to rank you on their list.

bankcruptcyA Google Search for “bankruptcy lawyer phoenix az”

Get reviewed. Do you have a happy client? Direct them to your Google My Business listing. How? Here comes the creative part.

As of now, the best way to get them to your Google listing is to provide a URL that looks something like this:

https://www.google.com/#q=Zachar+Law+Firm

You’ll create a URL like this by searching for your specific law office name in Google. In the above case “Zachar Law Firm.” If your law office name sounds similar to others, specify by adding your city and state or even zipcode.

zachar2

To solicit reviews, simply ask. Make sure you direct your potential reviewers to your Google search URL (for example https://www.google.com/#q=Zachar+Law+Firm). You can ask in the emails you send out, under your signature, with a sentence like:

Leave Us a Review on Google Here: (provide a link to your Google search URL)

Every so often, you should ask your social media followers for a review. Be sure never to incentivize the reviews you ask for on Google.

Yelp

As we mentioned before, Yelp is a necessary component of your local marketing strategy. One thing you need to know about Yelp is they don’t allow you to ask for reviews. But there are still ways to win on Yelp. Let’s check it out:

What is Yelp?

Yelp is an online review site for local businesses. It’s second only to Google in terms of influence for local recommendations. They average 142 million visits every month. That’s huge.

yelpA Yelp search for “law firms in Phoenix, AZ”

Why do I need to be on Yelp?

You need to be there because your clients are there. More people use Yelp to search for law firms than they do any other review site.

What information does Yelp give potential clients?

Yelp provides the following information in the main listing:

Your Name

Address

Phone Number

Ratings and Reviews

Area of Specialization

Hero Image of You or Your Law Office

One Top Review

In the full page listing, you can add more such as:

Your Website

A Map of Your Location

An Overview of Your Practice that You Write

Does Yelp filter reviews?

It sure does. It’s been said that Yelp eliminates the best and the worst reviews. Yelp also may slash reviews from those without friends, incomplete profiles, or no other reviews. This is why it’s so important to reach active Yelp users who can positively (fingers crossed) promote your law practice.

Wait, I thought I couldn’t ask for reviews

You can’t. But you can ask your clients to visit your Yelp page. It’s a small matter of semantics but you’re a lawyer, so you should be okay with that.

The bottom line is you can encourage visitors to find you on Yelp and hope that they feel inspired to write a review about your wonderful work. You can also place a Yelp badge on your website to further promote your Yelp page. Likewise, add a link to your Yelp page under your email signature with the text, “Check us out on Yelp.”

Final Thoughts

Google My Business and Yelp can positively impact your law firm. Take an hour or two out of your day to set up your profile on these sites. Not sure how to do that? Subscribe to receive a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles.

Would you like a checklist for optimizing your Google My Business and Yelp profiles? Subscribe to receive this free resource.

Local SEO 101: What You Need To Know To Dominate the Listings

Chances are, you’ve heard of SEO. SEO is short for search engine optimization, and it’s the practice of doing everything you can to get as high up in the search engine results page (SERP, for short) as possible.

You see, landing on the first page of Google (or Bing) is not an accident. It takes deliberate effort to catapult your lawyer website (and by extension, your law firm) to the first few results, and there’s a lot of stiff competition vying for that coveted spot.

Here’s a free checklist to help you boost your SEO. Subscribe to receive this extra checklist.

Being on the first page of Google (or Bing) is absolutely crucial to grabbing potential clients. These people are on the Internet right now looking for the very legal services you offer, but studies show that most people never click beyond the first page of the search results. If you want to reach them, you’ve got to be on that first page, too.

What is local seo?

Local SEO is slightly different from normal SEO. Local SEO is about getting your website to hit the front page for a specific location, i.e. your city or state.

For example, the results that pop up when someone searches for “law firms Tucson” have all been optimized for a local search.

Local SEO is important for businesses with physical locations. When Internet users search for a law firm online, they usually want to make contact immediately. They’re not going to spend an hour searching through hundreds of listings to find your contact information that’s nestled somewhere on page seven. They’ll likely go with one of the first few listings on the first page.

So, how do you dominate the local results? Let’s take a look at a few proven strategies.

A Word About Keywords

Before we go any further, let’s talk about keywords.

Keywords are words that you type into a search box to call up a particular topic.

To dominate local results, you need to use relevant and local keywords on your website. If your law firm specializes in family law in Birmingham, AL that’s exactly what phrase you should use to describe yourself on your website. An example of this would be in your About Us page where you describe your practice as “family law Birmingham, AL.”

This small effort makes it much more likely for you to show up in the search results when someone searches in Google for that very phrase.

key-words

Image Courtesy of Google

It would be a mistake to overlook your city name here and go generic. There are hundreds, thousands, or even millions of other websites that could turn up for a generic keyword like “legal advice.”

While Google can put together a list of local law firms, if you haven’t optimized your content to indicate that you’re local to that specific area, you’ll get overlooked in favor of your competitors.

The moral of the story? Make all of your websites optimized for local keyword search inquiries by adding your city name.

By the way, don’t go crazy with keywords. Your site’s ranking on the search engine won’t improve from keyword stuffing.

Keyword stuffing is when you list a whole bunch of keywords (usually at the bottom of your page) in hopes that the search engine will select your site when a specific keyword is searched for. While this was a common practice once upon a time, you can’t trick the search engine crawlers this way anymore.

The good news is there are plenty of ways to still optimize your online presence, and we’re going to delve directly into them right now.

Pay for Ads

You need a paid ad strategy if you’d like to dominate local search engine results. That’s because the very first search results on Google happen to be advertisements.

The ads look similar to regular listings except for the telltale orange “ad” icon. They get a lot of clicks. These ads compete with regular “organic” search results and usually win.

A round of ads are also displayed near the bottom of the page, too.

Paid advertising doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Here’s a simple overview of how Google’s paid advertising works:

  • You choose a keyword phrase you’d like to rank for. This means when someone types in this phrase in the search bar, your ad will return along with the search results, hopefully at the top of the page.
  • You decide how much you’re willing to pay. Google ads are pay per click. Every time someone clicks on your ad, your account will be debited the specific amount you agreed to pay.
  • You can determine how much you’re willing to pay each day. If your limit is $5.00 per day, your ad will disappear after meeting that quota until the next day.
  • You create an ad, paying special attention to making it relevant for the keyword phrase you’re bidding on. Be sure you link to a relevant page on your website that discusses that very keyword, or else visitors will feel like you’ve tricked them. (This will negatively impact your ad campaign and cause your ad to disappear from search results.)
  • You then bid on the ad. You’re not guaranteed to win the bid. Sometimes, other competitors are also bidding for that same keyword phrase. Google doesn’t automatically choose the highest bidder, either. Instead, Google uses a quality score to decide who should receive the coveted spot.

Bing works similarly to Google.

While you’re never guaranteed a spot in the top results, optimizing your content and making sure the ad links to a relevant location will increase your chances.

Utilize Google My Business

We’ve talked extensively about Google My Business in this post: Pick Me! Your Beginner’s Guide on How to Attract Local Clients via the Internet. If you’d like to really understand how to list your law firm with Google, definitely check it out.

While I won’t rehash what we discussed there, I will say that getting listed on Google My Business is one of the smartest things you can do to influence where you land in the local search results.

Studies show that clients are more likely to visit a business with a completed Google My Business page.

google-my-business

Image Courtesy of Greg Gifford, DealerOn

Make it a priority to list your business on Google My Business today. In fact, you can do it right now. I’ll wait. It’s that important.

Get Reviewed

In that previous post on attracting local clients, we also talked about the importance of getting reviews, with heavy emphasis on Yelp. Be sure to check that post out, too.

While reviews on third party sites like Yelp are important, you should also actively seek reviews on Google.

These reviews help Google determine whether to display your listing in its Google My Business local results. Because an initial trio of listings feature prominently on the search results page (it’s located right underneath the ads and before the organic search results), you need to do whatever it takes to get a spot on this list.

get-reviewed

Image Courtesy of Google

Encourage your clients to leave a review of your law firm with Google. Unfortunately, there isn’t a straight link you can give them, but you can provide a series of short instructions along with a visual reference like this:

get-reviewd2

Image Courtesy of Google

Create a Blog

If you don’t have a blog already, consider creating one. Websites with active blogs rank higher in search results. Why?

Search engines love to see a freshly updated website. While you’re probably not going to change the core information on your website very often (this includes the content on your About page, your Contact Us page, and your Services page), you can provide fresh content on a blog.

This is also another opportunity to appear in local search results for a specific keyword phrase. You can write about topics that your potential clients are likely to search for. An example of this may be “applying for a K-1 visa in Portland, Oregon.” Your blog post can rank near the top because it contains relevant keywords.

create-a-blog

Image Courtesy of Google

This is the most important thing to remember when writing your blog:

Focus on local keywords (i.e. city, state) everywhere especially in:

  • Your blog post title
  • Your meta description
  • The alt tags on your images

Final Thoughts

Local SEO sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Your law firm can totally dominate the local search results if you follow this advice. Ask any questions you have in the comments below and we’ll be sure to help you.

Here’s a free checklist to help you boost your SEO. Subscribe to receive this extra checklist.

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 Use YouTube Video To Attract Clients

When given the opportunity, most people would rather watch a video than read a book. Is that a sad commentary on our society or a powerful opportunity to market your services to a wider crowd?

As an eternal optimist, I’m going for the latter. In fact, I don’t think it’s sad at all that most people prefer watching video. It just proves that most of us are visual thinkers.

While I’m a big champion of the written word, I’ll also argue for the use of video in your lawyer marketing strategy. Video can reel people in, help them “meet” your brand, and add tone and humanness to your online marketing efforts.

Together with written content, video can educate your prospective clients. It can also increase your brand’s trustworthiness. Let’s take a look at why you should consider video marketing in your ongoing effort to attract more clients:

Why Use Video Marketing

It’s easy to get people to trust you.

Prospective clients are much more likely to trust you if they can see you with their own eyes. This includes observing your body language and hearing the inflection of your voice as you speak. Without these social cues, clients must rely on the other content you’ve produced to gauge whether or not to trust you.

While it’s possible to do this through other types of content and visual branding (check out this post on building a visual brand identity that inspires trust), no other method is as direct and fast-acting. There’s a new level of trust you can establish just by showing your face, and you can do it in two minutes or less (more on this later).

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

It’s easy to get started.

Thanks to smartphones and associated apps, producing a video doesn’t need to be a Hollywood-style endeavor. It’s you, a camera, and a microphone. If you want to get fancy, you can purchase an entire light kit for less than $200 on Amazon. This kit includes lights, stands, and three backdrops to add a professional look to your video.

limo-studioImage Courtesy of LimoStudio, Amazon

Some of us are better at speaking than writing.

For me, it’s vice versa. But for you, it may be easier to speak extemporaneously or with a very light outline. If you hate writing and find it easier to just start talking, you can use video to sell your services to potential clients.

It’s great for SEO.

We’re all fighting to dominate the search engine results page, but there’s one secret way that may push you to the top of the results: YouTube video.

Google actually owns YouTube. If you create a YouTube video and assign a relevant keyword, your video may rise above everyone else’s content to occupy a prominent spot in the search results. Observe:

great-seoGoogle Search: How to pay for an old ticket

great-seo2Google Search: Do I own my music if it isn’t registered

Some of these results are seven years old. In Internet years, that’s equivalent to 60. Pair this knowledge with the fact that Google’s search bots are constantly looking for relevant and updated information to give to its users. If you can create such a video, you’ll knock these ancient videos off their throne and become the new leader. The king is dead; long live the king.

Three Types of YouTube Video to Use

Now, let’s take a look at how you can use YouTube video to advertise your law firm and get more clients.

A Brand-Focused Commercial

Create a commercial for your law firm. This is your opportunity to connect with viewers and make them like you. No stiff body language and monotone voices, please. Rigid and robotic only work if you’re an animatronic character on stage at Chuck E. Cheese. Even then, it’s still creepy.

chuckecheese

Image Courtesy of Giphy

Here’s what you should do in your commercial:

  • Speak in everyday, relatable language. Odds are, your client isn’t a lawyer and doesn’t understand legalese. Talk to him or her in terms they can understand.
  • Make it about them, not you. Instead of listing what services you offer, discuss benefits. For example, don’t say, “We have 25 years of experience in helping folks file bankruptcy”. Instead say, “We’ll help you protect your assets, stop creditor harassment, and start over fresh.”
  • Inject personality into your video. Sure, you’d like to maintain a professional persona, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to the same script everyone else is using. Spend time thinking of fresh and original ways to introduce your law firm to others. It doesn’t have to be gloomy and serious, especially if your area of expertise is on the more creative end of the spectrum (such as sports and entertainment law).

Testimonials

There is nothing more persuasive than watching a relatable person share his or her experience. It’s called social proof, and it’s the top way to get people to buy what you’re selling.

If you have a client who is happy with your work, don’t just rely on him to tell others about you. Put him on the spot and ask if he’d agree to do a video testimonial for you. The worst response is a “no,” but you may be surprised at how many people are willing to shoot a short testimonial.

The key there is short. Don’t try to slice and dice a 30 minute video in 30 seconds. Keep it short by asking a few specific, open-ended questions (not yes or no) to get the response you’re looking for.

Educational

Use videos to educate your clients, both current and prospective. Let’s take a look at two types of educational videos to use:

Answer frequently asked questions. I’m sure there are a few questions you’re asked time and time again. In addition to writing a frequently asked questions page, create a YouTube video for each.

Be sure to use the frequently asked question as the title of your video. For example, entitle a video, “How long does it take to finalize a domestic adoption?”

By creating a YouTube video to answer these questions, you’ll bring in people who have specifically searched for that question in YouTube and/ or Google.

While the prospects of them finding your FAQ page is hit or miss (so many other law firms may have similar questions/ answers), you can separate yourself from the pack with a video. Most likely you will rank higher in the search engine results because of your video, and that means more people will click on your link.

Discuss what to expect. Your prospective client probably has no idea of what to expect. He’ll be forever grateful if you can provide a cogent list of what to expect during the case, trial, procedure, hearing, you name it.

Be a guiding light and help your viewer figure his way through this previously uncharted path.

Best Practices

Get a clear idea of who you’re targeting with your videos.

Don’t set out to make viral videos or entertain everyone on YouTube. Get narrow with your focus. Only a small group of people on the Internet will pay for your services. That number is likely less than 1000 people in a pool of billions that could potentially stumble up on your video. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to appeal to everyone – only those people who will retain you matter.

Select testimonials from those who represent the types of clients you’re actively seeking. These testimonials will attract and be much more relevant to those prospects.

Keep your videos short.

No longer than 2-3 minutes. After the two-minute mark, you’ll lose over half of your audience.

Be authentic.

Don’t stick to someone else’s script. Sound like yourself on your video, not like what you think people expect.

Invest time and money into editing your videos.

The average viewer will give you 10 seconds to get to the point. If you don’t engage your viewer quickly, they’re going to leave and never look back.

The smartest YouTube videos start with the end and then work their way back to the beginning.

Choose Keywords

A keyword is a word (or a collection of words) someone types into the Google search bar. Think like your prospective clients and consider which search term(s) he or she would most likely use to find your content. Next, use that exact search term to title your video. Support your video with other keywords that are related to that search term.

An example of this may be to title your video, “How to File for Divorce in Boulder, CO.” Your supporting keywords could be “divorce lawyer”, “Boulder law”, and “divorce Colorado.”

Add a Call to Action

End each video with a call to action. Ideally, you’ll want to send your clients back to your website to get even more information. But don’t just send them to your home page. Instead, send them to a specific landing page or contact page where you can encourage them to call you. Incentivize this page with freebies, such as a free ebook or a complimentary consultation.

Final Thoughts

Don’t overlook video as an effective way to build trust and appeal to a wider audience. You can dominate search results and be visible to more people than you would by just sticking to written content only. Fortunately, video is easy to produce thanks to the all-present smartphone, and it’s absolutely free. All you have to do is press record.

If you have a video, leave your link in the comments below.

Would you like a printable guideline for the do’s and don’ts of online video?

How To Craft An Email Newsletter Your Clients Will Actually Want To Read

Are you subscribed to an email newsletter?

If you’re like most folks, the answer is yes. In fact, you probably have several newsletters sitting in your inbox right now. Some you may find useful, while others are destined for that great “unsubscribe” button in the sky.

So, what makes one newsletter interesting and the other one blah? Why do you read one, and discard the other? You subscribed to every newsletter in your inbox, but some of them are just not worth the click.

We’re not going to allow that to happen to your newsletter. Your newsletter will be worth the click every time, and you’ll earn that distinction by following the tips below.

Since you’re here, I bet you already know the value of an email newsletter. If not, check out this primer: Why You Need an Email List for Your Law Firm & 7 Easy Strategies to Create One. In the above post, I also discussed a few of the very best practices for creating an email newsletter.

Below, let’s expand on some of the ideas introduced in the previous post, and also discuss advanced strategies to take your newsletters from “oh, not them again” to “yay, I love their emails.”

Start with an Email Newsletter Service

I have some good news for you– you don’t have to send email newsletters from your inbox. That would take a lot of time, and it may even get you in hot water with your email provider.

Instead of sending emails from your inbox, you can send them through an email newsletter service provider. There’s plenty to choose from, but I highly recommend MailChimp.

MailChimp is easy to use for complete beginners. It’s free up to 12,000 emails a month and 2,000 users.

mailchimpImage Courtesy of MailChimp

MailChimp also integrates beautifully with AmazeLaw.

Because it’s free, easy to use, and works great with sites built by AmazeLaw, I recommend that you start with MailChimp. Setup takes less than five minutes. We’ve actually created a detailed guide to help you through the setup process here.

Don’t forget to create a signup incentive!

Also known as a lead magnet, a signup incentive persuades your website visitors into subscribing to your list. In exchange for their email address, you’ll give away a free gift, generally in digital form (an ebook or a resource guide). But you’re not limited to digital goods. You may also offer something service related, such as a free 10 minute phone consultation.

Would you like more signup incentive ideas? Check out this post: The One Thing You Need to Do to Grow Your Email List.

Have a Purpose for Your Newsletter Other than Updates

Here’s the thing: Boring company updates are just that– boring. Your clients (both current and prospective) aren’t on your list to hear about you. They’re on your list to hear about them, specifically what you can do for them. It’s all about them.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share information about your law firm. Just remember to present the information in a beneficial way.

For example, introduce the new paralegal on your team by explaining how he or she helps your practice provide better service: “Mindy, our newest paralegal, specializes in real estate law, and brings her extensive knowledge and research skills to our law firm.”

It’s a matter of shifting your perspective (and wording) to engage your readers and make the information relevant to them.

Now, let’s take a look at the different categories of email newsletters.

Newsletters fall into three categories:

Educational

Use your newsletter to answer questions and educate your clients about the law.

Promotional

Use your newsletter to announce upcoming events, advertise new services, and share coupons.

Nurture and Build Trust

Use your newsletter to stay at the top of mind and turn prospects into clients.

Segment Your Newsletter

Segmenting is one of the best things you can do for your newsletter, but if you haven’t heard of it, don’t feel too bad. Most law firms haven’t heard of email segmenting at all, but it’s a proven strategy that will help you create more relevant emails for your subscribers.

Would you like a list of easy ways to segment your email list? Check this out!

Segmenting is when you group people together based on behaviors or demographics.

Let’s say your law firm specializes in family law. You provide services in the areas of child support, divorce, and adoption. Your clientele is varied, and those who sign up to your newsletter will naturally want different things. Some may want ongoing advice about child support, others may want to know the laws surrounding adoption, and others still may want to know what to expect during divorce proceedings.

While there may be some overlap, your audience is likely to need different content. In this case, one size doesn’t fit all.

Enter segmentation.

You can separate each group in your email newsletter service provider and then send relevant emails based on the needs of that group. If there’s a new law that affects adoptions in your state, you may only wish to send a newsletter to the group that’s most interested in adoption.

Start the segmentation process immediately upon signup. You can have a general signup segment for everyone who subscribes on your home page. Then, create another signup segment for those who subscribe on your adoption information page, or your divorce information page.

If you already have an active email list, you can easily send out a survey via email, asking each subscriber what type of content they’d like to receive more of from you in the future. Armed with this information, you can go to your email newsletter service provider and group your subscribers based on each individual answer.

Get to the Point As Quickly As Possible

Email is no place for long, sweeping content. Make your point immediately and then give your audience direction on what to do next.

Ask yourself: What does the subscriber want to get or learn from my emails? Then, set about delivering that type of content every time.

The average email newsletter should be way shorter than the average blog post. Shoot for three paragraphs, maybe four. If that seems too restrictive for you, consider increasing the amount of email newsletters you send out from once every month to twice a month, or even twice a week, if both you and your subscribers are up to it.

This way, you can share more information without forcing your subscribers to read too much at one time (they won’t anyway).

Of course, another option is to segment your subscribers so that you can send each group targeted information without getting too wordy.

Include a Call to Action

A call to action is a simple directive you offer to the reader, telling them what to do next.

Every email newsletter needs a call to action, preferably one that drives subscribers back to your website. Give them a reason to return by teasing the benefit to the subscriber, for example, “Learn more about X on the blog” or “Download this ebook now.”

End each email with a call that gets your subscriber to take the logical next step. It may be obvious to you, but not to them. Spell it out.

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Send on a Schedule

Humans like routine– this extends to the humans on your email list. Create a pattern of trust by showing up in their inbox every second Thursday (or whatever schedule you choose).

The last thing you should do is constantly switch up when you send your emails. Sending two email newsletters this month and then waiting six months to send a third is never going to work.

Instead, commit to a schedule that your subscribers can rely on. If you don’t, they’ll quickly forget who you are and may even hit “spam” on you.

Let’s pinky swear on this: set a schedule and stick to it.

Final Thoughts

When a client gives you their email address, it’s quite an honor. It’s also a mark that you’ve already impressed them. All you need to do now is follow the above tips to create a newsletter that clicks with your subscribers.

Oh, don’t forget to check out the Busy Attorney’s Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. Pair that post with this one and you’ll be email marketing like a pro.

Check out our list of easy ways to segment your email list!

 

Your Guide to Finding the Best Topics For Your Law Firm Blog

One of the hardest things about law blogging is consistently coming up with topics that resonate with your audience.

Are you struggling to find decent topics for your blog?

Does it feel a bit like reading the tea leaves?

It doesn’t have to. In fact, today I’m going to share with you several ways to find the best topics for your blog, no divination necessary.

Would you like a list of potential topics for your legal blog? Check this out!

Know Your Clients

Understanding who your clients are and what they want most is the first step to finding relevant topics for your law blog. Your blog should serve as a resource of information for your target client. So, the first question to answer is:

Who is your target client?

You may specialize in real estate law, and more specifically landlord tenant law. If you do, come up with housing law topics that these types of clients would be most interested in. These topics may include posts on landlord rights, tenant rights, how to terminate a lease in your state, the eviction process, and/or privacy laws.

It’s tempting to make general and superficial posts that only parrot state law and not much else. However, I recommend that you challenge yourself to give a thorough treatment of each topic that you tackle in your blog. The reason is that your blog will serve as a marketer for your services. If a prospective client comes to your blog via a Google search and finds it useful and authoritative, he or she will view you as someone who:

  • Knows the law
  • Knows the problem the client is facing
  • Knows the solution

You need all of these three components to build trust with your prospective clients. By creating in depth blog posts that appeal to what your specific clients need at the moment, you’re showing them that you know who they are and what they’re going through. That’s the beauty of a blog post done right.

Not sure what type of content your target clients want to know about? Here are a few questions to help you figure it out:

  • What is the most important concern for your clients?
  • What law-related questions do they search on the Internet?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are the most common questions you get from your clients asked over and over again?

Make a list of the answers to these questions, and you’ll start to see a list of potential blog topics develop. Then, start generating blog post idea around each topic. It may help you to break each blog topic down into a series of questions. Keeping with the landlord tenant example earlier, here’s what the process may look like:

Topic:
Security Deposit

Potential Blog Posts:
Is a security deposit the same as last month’s rent?
How much can a landlord deduct from my security deposit for cleaning?
How can I dispute a security deposit deduction?
When should I expect my security deposit?

Ask Your Clients

If you already have an established audience, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them what type of content they’re most interested in. Periodically poll them to research future blog topics from the exact audience you’re hoping to reach. Use all the channels available to you to discover the learn about the topics your audience wants to learn about.

Let’s discuss where you can survey your clients, and how.

Survey Your Site Visitors

Did you know that you can ask for blog post feedback right on your site? My favorite way to do this is with a tool called SurveyMonkey, although there are plenty of other great options available. I like SurveyMonkey because the first 10 questions and 100 responses are free, and if you need more, they have an affordable monthly pricing plan, too.

With SurveyMonkey, you have the option to embed the survey on your blog, show a quick popup survey, or invite readers to participate in a longer survey.

For the purposes of idea generation, I’d recommend keeping it short. Go with the embed survey or quick popup survey.

Survey Your Email Subscribers

If you have an email list, let’s put them to work. You can send surveys along with your newsletter. Directions vary depending on your email newsletter service provider. However, if you use MailChimp, SurveyMonkey integrates perfectly.

Follow the instructions here to create and send your email subscribers a link to your survey.

Ask Your Followers on Social Media

SurveyMonkey to the rescue again!

In your survey creation dashboard, select the “Collect Responses” tab to determine how you’ll gather answers to your survey. In this case, select “Post on Social Media”. This option will give you a short link that you can post across all of your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

surveymonkey collect responsesImage Courtesy of SurveyMonkey

What Should You Ask?

The next step is deciding what to ask. I suggest you go with a multiple choice. Ask something like, “What type of blog posts would you like to read from us in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts!” Then, give them a choice list of between three to five blog post topics.

Analyze Which Blog Posts Do Best

Another way you can find out which blog posts resonate best with your audience is to look at the data. There are two ways to do this:

If you already have content on your blog, take a look at your blog’s analytics. Which posts are the most popular?

The second option is to discover which blog posts do well for your competitors. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out which posts are the most shared. Search for a keyword phrase related to the topics you feel most qualified to write about. In this example, I’ll use the phrase “landlord tenant law”.

buzzsumo landlord tenantImage Courtesy of BuzzSumo

With BuzzSumo, you can narrow the search field by date, such as past year, week, or within the last 24 hours. You can also find out the latest news surrounding a topic (more on this below).

Other Ways to Source Blog Topics

Let’s discuss other ways to generate topics for your blog.

Let the News Guide You

Is there some interesting case that’s popular in the news right now? Analyze a hot topic case for your blog. You can highlight it as a cautionary tale, add your expert opinion on the facts of the case, or attach a do and don’t guide to help readers who may be in a similar circumstance.

Another idea is to discuss new laws or trends that affect your clients that they may not be aware of. Consider yourself a teacher who simplifies the often complex issues in the law by using stories to illustrate your point.

Create a Regular Series

You can create a regular post series on your blog such as “Ask a Lawyer” or “Your Legal Questions Answered.” Once a month, answer a commonly asked question. Hey, when you think about it– it’s only 12 questions a year, but you can cover a lot of ground.

Another benefit to creating a series around commonly asked questions is now you’ll have a place to direct those questions when they come through your email and social media. You can even link to them on forums, too.

Visit Legal Forums

Another great way to find topics for your blog is to scour legal forums. Look for popular questions that are asked (even if they’ve already been answered). To determine the popularity of a particular question, look at the amount of views it has received. This indicates that a lot of people have a vested interest in the same topic.

expertlaw viewsImage Courtesy of ExpertLaw

You probably know quite a few legal forums already, but these are among the most active:

If you’d like more information on creating an engaging blog, check out this post here: 8 Steps to Creating a Law Firm Blog that People Want to Read.

Remember to download our list of potential topics for your legal blog!

Avvo For Beginners: What It Is And Why It Will Benefit Your Practice

Love it or hate it, Avvo, along with other third party lawyer review sites, is an inescapable part of the Internet landscape. Clients (past, present, and possibly imaginary) can leave reviews about your service that can either mar or bolster your law practice, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Or is there?

Like the old adage says, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. In this post, let’s discuss how you can use Avvo to attract more clients, build your brand authority, and win at life.

What is Avvo?

Avvo is a service that provides legal resources. In addition to its function as an online legal directory, Avvo makes it possible for users to review and rate attorneys.

Lawyers can easily interact with the Avvo community at large, either through Avvo’s premium-level Advisor service or through the free Q&A forum.

Avvo is one of the most popular and well respected services of its kind.

Why should I be on Avvo?

If you’re a lawyer, you’re probably on Avvo anyway. It’s suggested that 95% of all US-based attorneys are listed on Avvo– whether they want to be there or not. This is because Avvo populates its site using public information obtained from the State Bar Association.

That said, you don’t really want to leave it with just that basic information, do you? Especially since it’s free to claim your Avvo listing, why not optimize it with the type of information that will win you leads?

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are a few other compelling reasons to claim your Avvo listing now:

+Avvo is great for SEO

If you’d like to get found via search engine (and who wouldn’t?), don’t overlook Avvo. Avvo frequently ranks on page one of search engine results for both individual and generic results, as you can see here:

avvo seo generic

avvo seo

That said, I wouldn’t recommend putting all of your eggs in the Avvo basket. You should also have a solidly built website that serves as your online hub. (We can help with that. Click here for more information.) This website should be search engine optimized and the definitive resource for your legal practice online.

However, actively maintaining a profile listing on Avvo will only help your search engine rankings, and may even drive more traffic to your website.

+Clients use the Internet for researching attorneys

While word of mouth is important, clients also turn to good ‘ole Google to find out more about an attorney before even the initial consultation. Clients don’t just look for your phone number and hours of operation online, they look for reviews, areas of expertise, and a winning smile.

This is why full representation on Avvo is a must. You need to be everywhere that your prospective clients are looking for you.

+Control the conversation

While you can’t exactly change what the reviews say about you, you can make it a two-sided conversation.

A lot of attorneys make the mistake of pretending like a bad review doesn’t exist and never responding. Ignoring an unfavorable review doesn’t make it go away. In fact, it reflects badly on you, making it look like you don’t care.

When you get actively involved on Avvo (and other review sites), you can add your response to a review, whether that review is good or bad.

When you respond, keep in mind the prospective client who will read what you’ve written. Choose words that are professional but warm, with a hint of appreciation and insight. Those are the responses that will win the argument every time compared to a “this client was horrible” type of response.

Here’s a Beginner’s Guide to Using Avvo

In order to reap the benefits of being on Avvo, you must actively participate. In fact, the more you participate, the more you can positively impact your Avvo rating. Here’s a rundown of how to use Avvo effectively:

Claim your listing right now for free, and then optimize it.

After claiming your listing, it’s time to optimize it. Be sure to subscribe to receive a list of our top tips for creating a winning Avvo profile.

avvoImage Courtesy of Avvo

Participate in Avvo’s legal Q&A section.

If you’d like to build authority and raise your profile with site visitors who are looking for answers, get involved with the legal Q&A section on Avvo.

Consider upgrading to Avvo Pro.

Use Avvo Pro to track important analytics, such as how many people are contacting you based on your Avvo listing. You’ll also receive a “Pro” sign next to your name, which indicates that you are invested in the Avvo community (quite literally).

Another benefit of Avvo Pro is the ability to remove your competitors’ ads from appearing on your listing.

Advertise with Avvo.

Speaking of showing up on a competitor’s profile, you can opt in to Avvo Advertising. This service allows you to create an advertisement for your service that pops up on another attorney’s free listing.

One of the benefits of going with Avvo advertising, aside from greater exposure, is the fact that you can also target your ads to a specific demographic.

Get as many reviews and ratings as possible.

Avvo offers two types of reviews: client and colleague. Urge your clients to leave feedback for you on Avvo after successfully rendering a service. Similarly, court peer endorsements by asking for them the same way you would on LinkedIn.

To clarify, your Avvo rating is not the same as a client review or peer endorsement. Avvo ratings are determined by how active you are within the Avvo community, along with professional achievements and other information. For a more detailed look at the differences between ratings and review, check out this post: What is the difference between the Avvo Rating, Client Reviews, and Peer Endorsements?

Join Avvo Legal Services.

Another feature that Avvo offers its customers is a fixed-fee advice session. You provide the service and Avvo works as a marketer. It’s offered only to those local to your geographic area, and it’s not available in all states.

Why should you care?

Participating in Legal Services gives you more opportunities to increase your ratings. And higher ratings means that you look better in the eyes of prospective clients.

For information about Avvo Legal Services, check out this page: Avvo Advisor.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an attorney, Avvo is an essential part of your online branding efforts. Your name’s on there whether you like it or not, so claim it and control how prospective clients are introduced to your brand.

Check out our tips for creating a winning profile on Avvo!

Your Ultimate Guide to Getting More Referrals

How do I get more referrals?

Wow, what a question. It’s the single most important question you’ll ask when starting and growing your law firm.

Fortunately, I’ve got the answer. Below, I’m giving you the ultimate guide to getting quality referrals for your law firm. Even if you’re a complete beginner, here are the best tips to growing your law firm through word of mouth marketing. Let’s get started.

Network

play-stone-1237497_640Network with anybody you can get in front of. This includes fellow attorneys for sure, but also expands beyond your colleagues.

Consider networking with other small business owners in your area, too. These small business owners have access to a wide group of customers along with their own friends and family.

If you’ve niched down and offer specialized services, consider reaching out to businesses within that industry. Establish relationships with them. For example, if you specialize in prenups, you should cozy up to wedding planners. It’s a congruent relationship that makes sense.

Join groups online and in person, too. LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start. But you can also contact your local chamber of commerce to find out about area events and social hours where you can mingle.

If the word “mingle” gives you the hives, I get it. Believe me, I get it. But if you want more clients, you’ve got to put yourself out there and be personable. Putting yourself out there is quite frankly the only way to get more exposure and earn referrals.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.
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Make Customer Service a Top Priority

Even if you’re a one-person-shop, your customer service should be second to none. It doesn’t cost anything to smile, be friendly, and respond in a prompt and professional manner. And it doesn’t cost much to hire someone else to do it for you, if you find that you’re too busy to answer phones, make coffee, and meet with prospective clients.

When you make the client a priority and go out of your way to offer outstanding service, you’ll find that your current clients are more willing to recommend you to their friends and family.

Be a Referrer

It sounds counterintuitive— you want to get referrals, not give them. But there’s so much truth in the old saying, “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” If you find yourself with a client that’s not the right fit, don’t hold onto them— that’s not going to serve them or you. Instead, send them to someone who’s right for them.

This will do 3 things:

  1. It will free you up for a client that makes more sense for your law firm.
  1. It will build trust with that referred client. He may not need your services now, but he’ll definitely remember you if he needs your services in the future. Plus, you’re demonstrating that on the scale of trustworthy to money-grubbing, you’re leaning way over to the trustworthy side. You’re not just taking them on because you want the money. You’re passing them on to the right person.
  1. You will ingratiate yourself to your fellow attorney you sent the client to. Now, the attorney will be in your debt, and much more likely to send you clients, too.

Woo Your Current Clients

When you have a client, he or she is worth his weight in gold. Not only are they willing to pay you for your service, they’re also have the potential to advertise yours services to their own circle of influence.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to groom them as potential referrers.

And, not just when they’re in your office. Keep in contact with your clients throughout the year. Keep it simple and send a card to commemorate birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries. Make yourself a part of their family. This will keep you at the top of your clients’ minds, so that when the time comes, they’ll be ready to pass your name to their friends and family.

Simply Ask Your Clients

Although I recommend nurturing your clients, there’s no shame in simply asking your clients to refer you straight out. The best time to do so is after successfully rendering a service. This is the time when they’re happy with you and willing to evangelize on your behalf.

Be Specific With Your Ask

When asking for referrals, don’t be vague. Be clear about what type of client you want. For example, if you’re interested in finding musicians to represent, ask your network if they know that specific type of client.

Thank Referrers

Don’t forget to thank those who’ve referred clients to you– this way, they’ll do it again! Whether clients, fellow attorneys, or others that you’ve networked with, send them a small token of your appreciation. Food gifts (cookies, cupcakes, dave and harry pears, omaha steaks, you name it) are always great. It’s a folksy way of saying thank you.

Take Advantage of Avvo

avvo(1)Image Courtesy of Avvo

Avvo is a crucial part of marketing yourself online. As we discussed in our ultimate guide to Avvo (that you can read here), many prospects turn to Avvo to research potential attorneys. Users rely heavily on Avvo’s review system to decide which attorney is right for them.

As you see, Avvo can serve as both an advertiser and a referral source for you.

Be Social

Believe it or not, social media can work as a superstar referral agent for you. Think about it: you’ve got access to a whooping one billion members through Facebook alone.

Use paid ads to extend your reach on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.

If you don’t want to pay for ads yet, you can still make it through organic reach on video channels like YouTube and, to a lesser extent, Vimeo. Make a video to attract clients (we show you how here), and then enjoy the influx of social referrals who would’ve never known about you otherwise.

Buy Radio and TV Spots

if you can afford it, why not go for the gusto and pay for a radio ad, a tv commercial, or both? Depending on your market, it may not be as expensive as you think. For example, a radio ad in Miami, FL may be $1500, but one in Pensacola, FL may only be $250.

Also, prices vary based on what time you’d like for the ad to run. A rush hour spot may be much more expensive than at mid-evening.

The benefits of running radio or TV ads are that you will open yourself up to your community at large. It’s another level of market saturation that can positively impact your referral efforts.

Final Thoughts

Referrals are the bread and butter of most law practices. Use these tips to build up your referral network and bring in more clients. If you’d like ongoing advice on getting clients, and growing your law firm, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.