This Saturday I’m giving a live lecture focused on virtual law practice marketing strategy for my students in Concord Law School’s Small Business LLM program. I’m having the students slowly add in components of a business plan with each assignment so that by the end of the semester they have a complete and ready-to-implement business plan for a virtual law practice. Some of them are going to have completely web-based, unbundled practices and others are adding a virtual law office to their traditional, full-service offerings. Each form of virtual practice will require a unique marketing strategy based on their approach to providing unbundled services online and the state of their existing brand development.
I’ve written about marketing issues in virtual practice on this blog before. But because marketing a virtual practice is so dependant upon web-based forms of marketing which changes at a crazy pace, your strategy has to be regularly re-evaluated and revised.
Below are some bulleted tips and things to consider. Be warned, I am not even touching how social media plays into your strategy (which should be a major part) and for once, I’m not going to harp on ethical issues other than to tell you to check with your state bar and use some common sense.
Start out by asking:
1. Who are your clients?
2. Where are they online and off? How do they communicate with friends and family?
3. How are they finding you?
4. What content are they looking for?
Tailor your marketing based on the responses and re-evaluate regularly based on feedback from clients and tools like Google Analytics or those provided by a company like Hubspot.
Traditional forms of marketing, even hitting the streets and focusing on local-based marketing, shouldn’t be thrown out of the window. This is especially true if you have a traditional practice and are adding the virtual law office to it. However, there are other resources out there on those old-school methods and I’ll leave you to find them and focus on nontraditional here.
You need to know SEO and LPO. If you aren’t interested in learning about these concepts, then you need to hire someone who will help you with them. But it’s kind of fun once you get going. You won’t get bored with how quick it changes. Remember to follow the ABA’s Best Practice Guidelines for Legal Information Website Designers and suggested minimum requirements for delivering legal services online and your state bar’s various rules regarding advertising and websites.
Learn these terms:
– SEO: a marketing strategy that involves driving and increasing traffic from search engines using techniques that are not paid for directly but are embedded in the source code of the site or blog.
– LPO: involves the conversion of visitors to a site into paying customers, sometimes called “lead conversion.” It focuses on conversion optimization of the site by focusing content of landing pages based on where the visitor is coming from.
Ways to increase SEO and engage prospective clients on your site and across the web
– List services with prices with buttons linking each service to a video tutorial that walks the prospective client through the process.
– Provide online checklist or comparison chart, risk/benefit analysis between full and unbundled.
– List your unbundled services in the firm’s online profiles and on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, Google, Bing and Yahoo Business Profiles.
–Web calculator, web advisor or other online tools (Can’t create these yourself? Me neither. Check out elance.com to find someone who can and to keep it in your budget.)
– Offer basic legal forms for free or low cost on the site
– Create some “call to action”. Whitepapers, calculators, buttons to follow on social media, real-time chat, etc.
– Tie the site into a service like aWeber or iContact to follow up with leads
Other Key Items to have on the virtual law office site:
– Where you are licensed to practice law
– Adequate and current contact information
– Be aware of your state rules regarding address and contact info requirements
– Date content to show when it was last written/reviewed
After you have done all you can with free tools, consider other forms of paid online advertising such as pay-per-click (PPC) and other
forms of lead generation. Check out Google AdWords and Total Attorneys High Performance Marketing services. Understand the difference between cold and warm leads and the importance of LPO. No matter who or how much you pay for leads to your virtual law office, lead convertion (turning a visitor to your site into a paying client) will always be your responsibility and require work and effort on your part to follow up.
Consider how you will collaborate and/or compete with some of the emerging disruptors to the legal marketplace.
– Check out AttorneyFee.com, Shpoonkle and LawBidding
– Learn about branded networks, law firm franchising and take a look at what is happening in the UK this month as the Legal Services Act opens up their market for legal service delivery
– Legal Q&A sites
– Can you use daily deal sites, such as Groupon or Living Social?
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