You heard somewhere that you need to market your practice on the internet. But you interpreted that to mean creating legal advertisements. You made a website. You loaded it up with stock photos, created bio and practice pages, plastered it with free consultation promises and wrote about how experienced you are and how hard you fight. And you probably did the same on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
You also probably read some “stuff” about SEO. So you loaded up your site with keywords (you figured the more, the better), started churning out optimized posts and pages and begged, bought, and bartered for some links.
Then you sat back and waited for the phone to ring.
But it didn’t.
In fact, people in your target audience didn’t visit your website. Sure, you got some international visitors, bot traffic, and maybe even a few people who accidentally clicked through to your page only to quickly hit the back button on their browser.
Over on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, people didn’t “like,” your page, follow your tweets, or connect with you. Instead, they ignored you. As for you “ninjas” that learned about auto-posting, they blocked you or even reported you. As for those links, most did nothing. Some actually hurt. And now you’re scrambling to get back into Google’s good graces.
You see, you talked to people the way advertising talks to people. (Hopefully, you didn’t get punched in the face.) But you probably wasted a lot of time and money. You forgot about how people find and hire attorneys. You failed to effectively communicate the value of your services to potential clients in a way that resonates with them. Instead of marshaling the evidence of your reputation, you shouted, “Lawyer for sale!”
You failed to recognize that, even in the age of Google, word of mouth is king.
Step 1: Stop talking like an advertisement.
Do you like advertisements? Do you fast-forward through your favorite DVR’d shows in eager anticipation of hearing about the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs? Do you click the next button on Pandora to prompt another ad? Do you click refresh on your browser to stare in awe of the creativity of banner ads?
Neither do your potential clients.
Step 2: Fix your website and blog.
Open a new browser tab and look at your website(s) and blog(s). Did they load quickly? Did they render correctly on mobile devices? Is there anything there worth reading, watching or finding? Do people pay you compliments about what you put online?
Do you give people good reasons to link to, share, or otherwise care about your pages and posts?
Step 3: Fix your social networking.
Head over to your Twitter profile and your Facebook page. Do they read like advertisements? Not sure? Does it say “free consultation” somewhere? It’s an ad.
Do you obsess over your follower and like numbers? Forget about the numbers. What do people say about you online? Do they “talk” to you? Recommend you? Share the “stuff” you publish? Have conversations with you?
Think of social networking sites more like public and permanent text messages and less like roadside billboards.
Step 4: Fix your offline marketing.
What does your offline marketing have to do with your web marketing? Everything. Until we are all completely jacked into the matrix, your offline activities can have a significant impact on what people find about you online.
The most obvious examples of the offline world impacting your web presence are client testimonials. Provide bad service in the offline world, and clients will say nasty things about you online. When people look you up online, they see what people have to say about your service.
Start with excellent service. Spend most of your time learning to be a better lawyer. Participate in local organizations that interest you. Participate in local organizations that don’t interest you. Work pro bono. Volunteer. Teach. Say hi to people. Meet new people. Don’t eat alone.
When these people with whom you interact in real life get back online, they might just look you up, follow you, friend you, subscribe to your blog, etc. They might say thanks. They might write about you and link to your website or blog. They might refer a friend to you. Or they might just check in from time to time to say hello.
Unless you’re talking about an awareness or direct response advertising campaign (i.e. ppc, banner ads, remarketing, etc.), fixing your law firm’s web marketing isn’t all about inundating people with your advertising messaging; it is about creating, nurturing and solidifying relationships.
(Photo by: http://gapingvoid.com/2006/05/09/if-you-talked-to-people/)