Monday, February 17, 2014

Building An Effective Frequency Marketing Plan For Your Law Firm #lawyermarketing



One of the biggest mistakes I commonly see lawyers make is in creating ineffective marketing plans. The actions I frequently see are sporadic mailings, setup and infrequent use (or no use at all) of social media, and one-time media buys. My favorite comments from attorneys are when they will start a social media / media / mailing strategy and then stop it saying that they “didn’t see any results” and/or they “are not getting new cases” in continuing these efforts. The genesis of this problem typically emanates from too much focus on the “what” of marketing while lacking a true understanding for the “why” they are marketing to begin with.   

THE RULE OF 7

There is an old saying in marketing that your prospective clients need to see and/or hear you many times before they will buy from you. This is why you still see Coca Cola and Ford ads during the Super bowl. Did you not know what these brands were? Of course not. What they wanted to reinforce through these ads was the repetition in which you see them. The “Rule of 7” was adopted decades ago to provide a baseline for how many times (7) this needs to typically happen in a given year. The problem is that this was before the advent of the digital marketing age. With the increasing barrage of information we receive today, I typically recommend that attorneys be in front of their prospective clients and referrals at least 7-12 times a year in order to maximize this effect. The problem is that most attorneys are not.

FREQUENCY VERUS REACH

With the advent of social media, attorneys are now hearing the word “reach” which is used as a measure of the effectiveness of their social media advertising. REACH is nothing more than the total number of people who are exposed to your message. Conversely, FREQUENCY is the total number of times you reach them. To illustrate the difference, imagine you had $10,000 to spend on marketing in one year. Your first option is to create great content on your blog once a year that reaches 1000 people once. Your second option is to create good content eight times a year that reached only 125 of the same people. Which would be more effective? According to the Rule of 7, the eight content pieces to the same 125 people eight times would typically be 5X more effective when it comes to potentially converting them to clients. But what do most attorneys do today? They create high levels of reach over frequency.  

BUILDING YOUR BRAND

There are two types of marketing for attorneys: Branded and Non-Branded Marketing. The difference between the two is simple: BRANDING is what you are (Your Attorney & Firm Name) whereas Non-Branded Marketing is what you do (Your Practice Area/s). Most attorneys go to market today with a heavy imbalance between these principles and as a result, fail to improve conversions and their Return-On-Investment (ROI). The reality today is that there is a heavy convergence between these two types of marketing for attorneys and by forsaking one, you lose with the other. Let’s use an example. Say you have a heavy web presence in Dallas for white collar criminal defense lawyer searches. If you have high visibility for these searches online (Non-Branded) but have little/no name recognition or citations (Branded), what are you chances of that prospective client bringing their case to you? If the average person typically receives 2-3 referrals and looks at 4.8 attorney websites before contacting the firm, then how are you going to be able to convert that (Non-Branded) search into a case?

When people buy, they go through three psychological stages in the process: Need, Proof and Risk. Following the example above, the prospective client had a NEED so he/she searched. When they found your web properties, they found part of the PROOF for the search. The problem now is how does this person really know you’re the best option and mitigate their RISK by choosing you over another attorney? Is your BRAND strong enough to convey this proof and mitigate the risk?

An effective branding strategy is necessary for ANY attorney to establish the following criteria in a prospective client’s mind:

Does your BRAND confirm credibility?
Does your BRAND connect clearly with your target clients?
Does your BRAND emotionally motivate your target clients?
Does your BRAND convey value and loyalty?

Your branding strategy must address each of these areas to be fully effective in your attorney marketing. Here are questions / issues / actions I commonly see dealing with each…

Confirm Credibility: If you want the best cases / clients, what are you telling them about you that makes them want you? Most people today do not stop their search after they find you for a Non-branded search. If they find you but don’t know you (Your Brand), their next search is commonly your attorney and/or firm name to see what comes up about you. Just because YOU might say good things about yourself (on your website) doesn’t mean that your prospective clients aren’t looking elsewhere (Yelp, Google Reviews, Super Lawyers, LinkedIn, AVVO, etc.) to confirm the same. They are and the internet is now enabling this!

Connect Clearly: I cannot tell you how many times I have had attorneys who target consumers asking me if they should maintain their AV Rating and promote it. My answer is simple: does your target audience understand what an AV Rating means? Think about WHO your target client profile is and what they do and don’t know first before you assume they know anything about attorneys, the law, your profession and you.

Emotionally Motivate: Most people are not happy when they have to seek out an attorney. Because of this, they are both logically and emotionally driven in their search and evaluation. If I am getting a divorce, being sued by a business partner or arrested for a DUI, how do you think I feel when I need legal help and most likely have never worked with an attorney before? How do you best connect to that emotion and convert them to a client? The good news is that most of your competition fails at this – you do not have to.

Convey Value & Loyalty: The third most active page on an attorney website is typically the case results and testimonials pages. Why? Simple; people need to satisfy the PROOF of what you can provide them and mitigate the RISK they take in choosing you over another attorney. Both of these factors are increasingly confirmed off of your website as well so just telling them on your website alone is no longer good enough. Did you know that 70% of people now indicate that they trust online consumer opinions about you? What should that tell you…

BUILDING AND EFFECTIVE FREQUENCY MARKETING PROGRAM

Effective frequency marketing for lawyers incorporates all of the elements above into one coordinated and cohesive strategy. It gives symmetrical balance to both your BRANDED and Non-Branded marketing elements as well as your marketing REACH and FREQUENCY. Here are some steps to help achieve this for your law firm:


  • DIVERSIFY YOUR REACH: Referrals and prospects all respond differently based on the target audience and individuals so maximize your reach by diversifying your marketing mediums. Find out where their eye-time is by percentage and break down your marketing accordingly. This should be an ONGOING process and never assume that what is working today will work tomorrow. A lot of buggy whip and AOL stock owners learned this the hard way.
  • BUILD FREQUENCY: Identify your target audience and make it a goal to have them see or hear from you 7-12X a year. If you have a limited budget, YOU MUST balance your reach and frequency to support the Rule of 7. Say for example you have two options: 1.) you can only afford one TV commercial (large audience) compared to 2.) being able to blog twice a week, build your social media and send out one mailing a month (smaller audience), which one is a better option? The best options are always balance of Reach and Frequency – DO NOT neglect one for the other.
  • BUILD YOUR BRAND: If you have historically invested heavily in non-branded marketing (most attorney can raise their hands now), it is time to start balancing the scales. Do you have a system to get your happy clients saying good things about you on review sites? Have you created a profile on Super Lawyers to help get nominated? How good if your LinkedIn profile and network? Did you know that nearly 93% of all attorneys are on LinkedIn?
  • FOCUS ON COVERSION ROI: Marketing is no longer linear for attorneys – there are simply too many points of citation to go with only one. It is no longer easy to simply track-back a lead source when they may have found you through a referral and/or online (website, blog, social media, Google Local, etc.) looked at your reviews on Google and Yelp, saw you on Super Lawyers, read your LinkedIn profile, etc. – all of which took place BEFORE they ever contact you. Now how do you calculate your Return-On-Investment (ROI) for just one of these contact points? You can’t anymore. The only true measurement you have now is the cases and clients you generate as a result of ALL of these mediums working as part of a unified approach.
  • UTILIZE LEVERAGE POINTS: 10 years ago, attorney marketing was much easier than it is today. In most instances it was build a website and run yellow page ads and there you go. Fast forward to today and you will see that nearly EVERYTHING your referral and prospective clients do has an online component (PC, smart phones, iPads, etc.) to it and those piles of phone books sitting in the trash make great doorstops. The world is rapidly changing and becoming more complex – especially online. The bottom line: I would no more advise an attorney to handle all of their marketing any more than I would advise a patient to perform brain surgery on himself. The world of law and marketing is becoming increasing competitive and complex leading to specialization. If you want to succeed in growing your business of law, hire a lawyer marketing specialist who can help you achieve it. If you want to simply practice law, do the same. Either way, you can end up with the same result. 
#lawyermarketing #attorneysearch #brandmarketing #seo

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