7 Tips When Starting Your Own Legal Practice: There’s Never Been A Better Time To Do It

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Career paths in the legal industry, like every many other industries are in a state of change. For ages, the the typical career path for lawyers went something like this;

  1. Finish law school
  2. Pay your dues for years at larger firm with the hopes of becoming a partner
  3. Eventually see your name on the sign outside the building

In the last 2 decades a variety of factors are disrupting an industry that has been notoriously averse to change and creating an opportunity for entrepreneurial attorneys.

What are the catalysts for these changes? Here’s some big ones;

And while some lament the good ol’ days of grad school internships, yellow page ads, billboards and mahogany lined meeting rooms with leather bound books, many young (and some not so young) attorneys recognize what this opportunity before them is: the best time in history to start your own law firm.

Getting Started

You may be asking yourself, what credibility does this non-lawyer have that I should listen to him regarding career decisions I am making?

The answer is that I’ve ridden shotgun with a number of attorneys (and spoken with dozens more) who have successfully transitioned to running their own practice and seen first hand how they did it. There’s some common denominators to the ones who did it successfully and it’s a science to it that I am happy to share. Here’s the commonalities I have found;

  1. Be highly competent  
    Everything begins and ends here. Good marketing, strategy etc, cannot overcome an uninspired or incompetent attorney. Unless your number one professional priority is to absolutely crush it for people who are spending their hard earned money and putting their livelihood, their family and even their health in your hands, then you’re not the sort of lawyer most people want to hire. I need my lawyer to care about my problems the way I care about my problems. In my experience, the good ones always do.
  2. Start in a niche, then expand
    While your long term goal may be to be the pre-imminent personal injury firm in Florida or the top criminal lawyer in Los Angeles, don’t set your sights on ultra competitive markets like that right off the bat unless you have a massive marketing budget from the jump. The firms who dominate the top of the country’s markets often have six figure (sometimes 7 figure if we are talking statewide) marketing budgets which means you will be fighting for table scraps if you immediately try to slay the biggest fish. Identify some underserved markets in the towns or communities surrounding larger metropolitan areas and win there first. You can always expand once you have victories under your belt and it’s always easier to make big commitments financially and strategically, when you have an idea of what to expect.
  3. Find a marketing partner, not a vendor
    Ok, remember everything we talked about in #1? Let’s apply that same scrutiny to whoever you hire to handle your marketing. Yes you want expertise, yes you want proof of past results, those are givens. But it’s critical that you hire an agency that will take your success (or lack thereof) personally. An unfortunately common story we hear from lawyers about marketing agencies are things like the agency ‘being on autopilot’, not taking accountability for results, phone calls regularly taking days to get a response and an inability to really explain what’s being done to make the firm successful. You need to hire a firm that will have a very close 1-to-1 relationship with your firm, that you can ask pointed questions to at any time and get an honest answer. Once you’ve identified the right marketing partner here’s a few things they should be able to help with:

    1. Build a website that wows your audience
      We say it all the time; your website is the foundation for your online marketing efforts. Too many times I have seen a site built by a friend or relative who dabbles in web design that isn’t up to snuff and comes with a lot of guilt if you want to make a change. Don’t make this mistake. If you asked me where I would spend my bottom dollar to market a law firm, it would be on the website. It’s the foundation for everything you do online. If done right, it will increase the return on every marketing dollar you spent and if done wrong it will undermine your marketing efforts
    2. Understand Your Strengths And Market Them In An Authentic Manner
      Again, I’m no expert, but speaking from experience, this one is important. Perhaps even some conversations with past clients about what they liked most about working with you (and what they did not like – ouch!). Having an understanding of these qualities about yourself professionally speaking will help you to take those strengths and market around them. Have you ever walked past a bakery and looked in their window? They don’t put their ugly cakes there. They put their most beautiful, most aromatic creations to lure carboholics like me into their store at which point it’s highly likely I am going to make a purchase. In that same manner, we want to take your strengths and put them front and center for your audience.  For example, let’s say you’re the empathetic type of lawyer; play that up in your marketing. Make sure your all your marketing speaks to the personal connections you make with your clients and the empathy you have for their situations. Or if you have accolades no one can rival, play that up. Or if you’re the pit bull, aggressive personality type, play that up. The point is there’s a market for all types of attorneys in every practice area. Don’t get caught up in acting like what you think a personal injury lawyer should act like. Playing to those stereotypes is so #2000AndLate and it’s just plain corny. There’s two firms here in Austin that are constantly running the most unintentionally funny ads on TV you have ever seen. My wife (who’s not in the industry) laughs out loud every time they come on. If you live here you probably know exactly who I’m talking about. I’m digressing but the point is, the worst thing you can do with your marketing is set the wrong expectations by simply playing a caricature of the lawyer you think people want to hire. Play the best version of YOU and there will be a market who appreciates it.
    3. Do your own social media
      We get asked all the time if we can help with social media and while we are happy to help get everything setup properly and make sure your content is posting to your platforms, the truth is this; the more real and authentic your social media posts are, the more engaging it will be for your audience. Your social media should reflect your firm’s personality and who else is qualified to project that on social media than you? So unless we are spending copious amounts of time with you or in our office, the most qualified person to put your message on social in an authentic manner is you.
  4. Demand reviews from clients
    That may sound aggressive in contrast to ask for your reviews but it’s necessary to be as emphatic as possible when requesting a happy client leave a review. This is rooted the the law of reciprocity; if I do a great service for you, I have the right to make a small ask. A review takes very little effort and is exhibit A in the “Small Asks Of Clients” manual.  A lot of lawyers get squeamish about asking for reviews but If you are following the first recommendation on this list and giving your clients your best, you should have no trepidation in making this request. In my experience, the easier you make this on your clients, the better. There’s a whole of bevy of apps that exist that allow you request reviews from clients using SMS text messaging and requiring only 1 click from the client. These reviews are going to be critical to ensure that people with similar problems to your happy clients can read about you and your services and connect with you.

It’s Not For Everybody

I don’t mean to make a complex decision seem so simplistic in this article and I understand that it may come off that way. There’s obviously countless opportunities to get invaluable experience and tutelage/mentorship at an established firm. If that’s your career path, more power to you. What intention is for this article, for those attorneys thinking to take the entrepreneurial jump, is to demystify the barriers to entry to starting your own firm.


Interested In Getting Started?

If you are one of those people looking to start your practice, we’d love to chat with you and answer whatever questions you may have. We work with firms big and small alike and we strive to be a true partner to all of clients. We even have some special pricing for solos starting out. So if you’re ready to chat, hit us up and we’ll schedule a call and share everything we know to help make your decision a bit easier.

5 Marketing Trends to Follow in 2017

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What type of marketing techniques did you rely on in 2016? Were you happy with the results? Are you looking to improve your performance this year?

Regardless of what you have done in the past, it’s important to keep one eye on the future. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on what generated the best results in 2016, but this shouldn’t stop you from expanding your strategy.

Now that the calendar has turned and 2017 has arrived, it’s time to focus on the trends that could make or break your business in the new year.

We’ve put together a list of five marketing trends to follow in 2017. Let’s take a look!

The Growth of Social Media

If you’ve ignored social media in the past, now’s the time to adjust your focus. From Twitter to Facebook to LinkedIn (and that’s just the start), there are many opportunities to connect with prospects via social media.

While Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, don’t be surprised if others, such as Instagram, continue to close the gap in the months to come.

The growth of social media is real. If you want to achieve marketing success in 2017, make this a big part of everything you do.

More of the Same from Content Marketing

Content marketing has been a hot topic for the past couple years. But guess what? This isn’t going to stop in 2017. That’s a good thing for companies that realize the importance of creating and sharing high quality, unique content.

Here are two statistics, shared by HubSpot, that will open your eyes to the power of content marketing:

  • 60 percent of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority.
  • Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published 0-4 monthly posts.

While these statistics say a lot, HubSpot also noted that only 32 percent of B2B marketing professionals have a documented content marketing strategy.

You don’t want to be among the 68 percent without a strategy. Instead, this is the year that you should join the 32 percent of people who understand the true power and meaning of content marketing.

Podcast Popularity is on the Rise

You know that social media and content marketing can generate serious results. For this reason, you focus a lot of your time, money, and resources on these two strategies.

That’s okay, but you need to open your eyes to other ideas. One such idea is creating a podcast.

Last year, HubSpot reported that 15 percent of marketers planned to add podcasting to their marketing strategy in the next 12 months.

Did you make this move? Did you hold yourself back for some reason? If you didn’t join the marketers who started podcasting in 2016, you’ll want to do so this year. Letting another 12 months pass you by will put you behind the eight ball. Now’s the time to let your voice be heard!

SEO is not Dead

There is no denying the fact that search engine optimization continues to change with each passing year. What worked in 2011 will get your site penalized in 2017. And of course, what works this year may not have a positive impact on your company in the years to come.

Even so, this doesn’t mean that SEO is dead. In fact, it’s alive and well. You simply need to know what you should be doing, what you should avoid, and how to create a strategy that the search engines will fall in love with.

You know that higher search engine rankings result in more traffic and more leads. What you may not know is the steps you can take to boost your rankings to the top of page one.

Don’t set the goal of creating as much content as possible. Don’t set the goal of building as many links as possible.

Instead, focus your energy on creating the highest quality content in your space. Along with this, high quality, relevant links are more important than ever before.

In the past, we’ve discussed some of the most common SEO mistakes. Keep these in mind as you create and carry out an SEO strategy.

Here’s an interesting statistic we like to share with clients and prospects:

“Organic search drives 51 percent of all visitors to business websites.”

What do you think about that?

Video Marketing is a Big Deal

This isn’t something that every business in every industry can use to their advantage. Furthermore, it may not be something you’ve thought about in the past.

You may not have a solid grasp of how video marketing works, but it can generate serious results if you take the right approach.

Get this: more video content is uploaded to the internet in a single month than television has created in three decades.

That’s a statistic that should get you thinking. That’s a statistic that should push you toward this marketing strategy in the months to come.

Yes, it takes a lot of work to produce high quality video content. And yes, you may need to put yourself out there for the world to see. Even though these challenges exist, the potential reward is more than enough to put a smile on your face.

Conclusion

There is no way of knowing how 2017 will play out, but these marketing trends have a good chance of impacting your business over the next 10 months.

You may not get involved with all five of these strategies, but each one is worth your consideration. You never know when you’ll make a change that pushes the results of your marketing plan to the next level.

First Steps to Building a Strong Online Presence for Your Law Firm

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For your law firm to grow and thrive, clients need to be able to find you. At one time, that meant simply listing your firm in the phone book and possibly even paying for an ad. However, the Internet has changed the way consumers look for information. With so much competition for online search rankings, it’s important that firms find a way to stand out.

Today’s businesses use social media and online content to capture the attention of search algorithms. Here are a few things you can do to make sure customers searching for an attorney can find you.

Think Local

According to Google, local searches are growing 50 percent faster than mobile searches as customers use a variety of devices to find information relevant to them. This is especially important for law firms, which often spend the vast majority of their time catering to a local clientele. To reach out to someone nearby who has recently been involved in an injury-related car accident, for instance, a firm will need to be recognized as being local to that customer, as well as handling personal injury cases.

One of the most important things you can do is to set up your Google My Business profile, which will provide an overview of your information during searches, and show your business information in the map:

googlelocal

 

This will also put you on Google’s map, another feature that will help local customers find you. You should make sure your page has the name, address, and phone number for each of your firm’s offices. If you cover a specific area of town that might be called up in Google searches, be sure to mention that somewhere in your content. Your “About Us” page could specify that you “serve the areas of” and list various communities nearby by the name locals call it rather than the city names the postal service uses.

Set Up Social

It’s important to know the difference between various social media platforms and which ones are most likely to attract your target customers. For many law firms, Facebook is the ideal place to reach out to local customers, since so many adult consumers focus the majority of their social media time on that platform. Start by setting up a page and ensuring it has all of the information customers need to contact you.

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Invite your own clients and colleagues to like your page and consider boosting a few posts to expand your reach in the first few months.

Once your page has established followers, regularly post and interact with those who comment. Your followers will begin to see your page as a place where they can get useful tips and advice. Join local community groups and chime in when someone has a legal-related question. Soon you’ll find that local people recognize you as a vital part of the community. Try to avoid constantly requesting that people contact you for more information on their cases, since this will be seen as self-serving and spammy.

Establish Thought Leadership

Law firms are in the enviable position of having information consumers want. This gives them an edge online, since their advice can dominate search rankings. If you haven’t already, set up a blog on your firm’s website where you regularly cover topics of interest to potential clients. Link those posts on your various social media feeds to create content that your followers will find useful. In addition, regularly link other insightful articles related to your specialty area. This will give your followers a reason to keep coming back, especially if the content can help them with their own legal battles.

Guest blogging is a great way to boost your online presence. Search for posting opportunities that allow you to link to your own law firm within the content, even if it’s only in your bio. Google rewards sites that are linked on external sites, so the end result will be an improved search ranking. You’ll also be introduced to the audience for the blog where you’re posting, increasing recognition of you as an authority in your field.

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By building a strong online presence, your law firm can ensure that when nearby customers seek legal representation, your firm will be among the first they find. The key is to maintain active social media pages while also working on ways to remain prominent in search rankings. Use analytics to regularly evaluate results and determine which efforts are working to avoid wasting time.

Is Your Marketing Strategy Working in a Mobile Era?

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Consumer Internet use is no longer confined to desktop and laptop computers. As smartphone usage has grown, so has the way people interact with information, whether they’re looking up a great restaurant or searching for reviews before making a purchase. In addition to creating mobile-optimized websites, brands (more…)

7 Things Every Subject Line Must Have for Effective Email Marketing

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Email is one of the best ways to reach out to customers, giving businesses the opportunity to bring in more sales. However, as the medium has grown in popularity, brands face increasing challenges to be heard over all of the noise. The average office worker receives 121 emails each day, leading many to scan past salesy content to find the information they need in the moment.

The key to reaching today’s busy consumers is the subject line. As device users scroll through their inboxes, they’ll be looking at items that capture their attention. Here are a few tips for creating subject lines that get results.

Action Verbs

Experienced marketers know that action verbs drive action. In the context of a subject line, that means issuing a directive rather than stating a fact. “Check out our new beverages” is more powerful, for instance, than, “Our new beverage line is now available.” Research has revealed that just one word can make a big difference in how consumers process a message. Using power words like “free,” “you,” and “instantly” may boost results. Studies have also shown that when customers are given a reason to take that action, they’re more likely to respond.

Personalization

First you should do serious research into your audience and create subject lines that are likely to grab their attention. If you can split your email messaging to address specific groups of customers, take advantage of that tool. Inserting a person’s first name into subject lines can also get results, but alternate this technique with other ways of personalization.

Urgency

For existing customers, urgency can make a big difference. Letting customers know that this is the last chance to save 50 percent will not only convince them to open the message, but they’ll also be more likely to take action. Some brands use this technique regularly, launching a new sale only weeks after the last one to consistently drive customers to their website.

Humor

When done professionally, a little humor can create a bond with customers. They’ll begin to see your emails as lighthearted and fun and look forward to reading them. Your funny subject line could be connected to the products you’re selling or be completely unrelated. One brand poked fun at outdated technology to sell its cloud services. When businesses inject humor into their subject lines, they show that they don’t take themselves too seriously, which actually endears customers to them.

Short

Experts recommend keeping subject lines below 50 characters and between five and seven words. Since so many consumers now read emails on their smartphones, longer subject lines can be truncated, which means the shorter, the better. If you’re trying to capture someone’s notice while they’re reviewing hundreds of emails at once, a one- or two-word subject line may be even more powerful than one that is longer. Try to put yourself in the vantage point of a customer with an inbox full of messages and come up with a subject line that would get your interest.

Straightforward

Sometimes simple works best. A subject line that states exactly what the message wants to convey can often work best. “20 percent off your next order” can be more effective than turning the subject line into a teaser with, “A special offer enclosed.” The latter is an example of a spammy-sounding subject line that customers see constantly, making them more likely to scroll past.

A/B Testing

Since each business’s audience is different, it’s important to monitor click-throughs and use the information to create more effective campaigns. Through the use of A/B testing, you can try out various approaches and study the results to see which works best. In the case of subject lines, you could try a call to action with one group of emails and first names in a second and see which works better. This approach requires careful measurement to be effective.

With so much competition, it’s important for brands to find a way to stand out in a customer’s inbox. By choosing powerful subject lines, businesses can find success. It’s important to continually test different approaches to determine which type of subject lines work best for your unique customer base. Over time, you’ll create a strategy that consistently gets results.

7 Things Every Content Marketer Should Know About SEO

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of any content marketing campaign, yet there are many misconceptions about the practice. The days of keyword stuffing are long in the past, but search algorithms still use keywords as a basis for rankings. For professionals launching a content marketing campaign, it’s important to understand how keywords factor in today’s environment.

Although algorithms constantly shift, there are a few basic things that every business should know while creating websites, blog posts, and articles. Here are a few of the most important things every content marketer should know about SEO.

Quality Content Wins

Search engines win when customers are happy with the results of their searches. Realizing this, algorithms now reward high-quality content over pages with sparse, poorly-written text. It’s important to invest time in producing information consumers will want to read if you hope to win out over the competition in searches. If you post a video, include a translation on the same page and focus your video content on topics that are likely to attract people looking for your products or services.

Keyword Research Is Crucial

Before you post the first word of text on your site, it’s important to know which keywords you should use. There are several free keyword planning tools that will tell you the best phrases and words to work into your copy. A law firm promoting its personal injury law services, for instance, could enter those words into a planning tool and see that consumers most often search for “personal injury lawyer” and “personal injury attorney.”

Links Build Authority

Businesses focus most of their SEO efforts on their own pages, but 75 percent of search engine ranking is determined by outside content. When someone links to your page, algorithms see that as adding authority to that site and boosts its visibility. Spend time guest blogging and writing content for online publications, including a link in your bio with each post. When you upload content to your own page, link to other items within your site.

Mobile Is Here to Stay

More than half of all Google searches are now conducted via mobile devices. This means your site must be optimized for mobile, but it also affects the way customers search. Location-based searches are growing in importance, especially if your company is one that is likely to attract someone who is looking for businesses nearby. Use geo-location-based keywords to ensure that your page comes up first whenever a customer searches for you in a particular region.

Think Long-Tail Keywords

Search rankings are based on the way customer searches, which can often be in a long, disjointed series of words. “Kitchen cabinets white new” or “SUV black 4-wheel drive,” for instance. With long-tail keywords, businesses can anticipate how customers will look for the products or services they sell and deliver keywords that match. This also helps businesses utilizing paid search marketing, since they’ll pay less for more specific keywords that don’t have as much competition.

Customers Come First

Search engines spend so much effort customizing each user experience, it’s difficult for marketers keep up. But businesses that focus on making each customer interaction with their sites as pleasant as possible tend to do better in search rankings. As Google and Bing continue to refine the search experience to match a customer’s location, device, and personal search histories, it will become more important than ever that brands tailor content to their ideal audience.

Results Take Time

Experienced marketers know that real marketing efforts yield slow results. This is especially true of content marketing campaigns, since many businesses have stiff competition within their industries. Marketers should plan a long-term strategy and continue to work at it, expecting to gradually see positive results. By monitoring analytics and seeing how many click-throughs they’re getting, brands can tweak their campaign to be even more effective.

Although the search landscape is constantly changing, marketers who use winning SEO tactics will create content that consistently ranks well. With high-quality content and the right keywords, a business can outrank the competition, reaching new customers who will then click over to learn more about its offerings. While results take time, ongoing content creation can be something as simple as a blog that offers customers actionable information they can use.

How to Market Your Law Firm Online to Attract Leads

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Managing a legal website is not a “if you build it, they will come” kind of situation. Think of a website as a digital business card – it must have the most updated information and be present at some of the most popular social networking events in order to stay relevant. Once you’ve invested in a professional legal website you need to begin marketing your site in order to attract more clients and build a thriving firm. Here are 5 key ways you can strategically market your law firm’s website online.

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How To Choose A Domain Name For Your Law Firm

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Choosing a domain name for your law firm is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to marketing your firm online. Your domain name not only helps identify you as a law firm, but it also plays a significant role in your firm’s search visibility, online branding, and even your offline advertising activities.

Unlike the physical world where a building or neighborhood can provide an impression of your law firm or clues to what you practice, the digital world is left entirely up to imagination. This is why it’s important to choose a domain name that helps potential clients understand what your firm is all about. Before purchasing a domain name think about what it says about your law firm. What message does it convey? Is it easy to remember? And even more importantly, is it easy for people to spell without typos?

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Why Digital PR Is Necessary for Every Law Firm

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As a law firm you have a lot of competition and the value of getting your website on the first page of Google cannot be underestimated. But in Google’s never ending battle to be “more human” the search engine giant is now placing more value on social signals and quality content than the number of backlinks, or other technical SEO elements, a website has.

As Google continues to adjust their algorithm to deliver more relevant results, the rise of “Digital PR” is beginning to transform the way we look at online marketing. Here’s what it means for your law firm.

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5 Key Features Every Law Firm Website Should Have

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A well designed website is like an online business card – it lets potential clients know who you are, how to contact you, and that you’re open for business. Nowadays, every law firm needs to have website that clicks. Here are a few basic features every legal website should have in order to have a credible and professional online presence.

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