Failing to plan is planning to fail. Rapid changes in technology are generating a multitude of new marketing options – which makes marketing planning more complicated and more important.
Today, most family lawyers agree that having a website and social media pages plays an important role in attracting prospective clients. However, many lawyers don’t realize that there are many other ways to promote themselves, particularly online. In order to get the most out of your marketing efforts in 2017 and beyond, having a solid marketing plan is key.
Watch this marketing planning seminar and you will learn:
- How marketing has changed in the last 15 years.
- What ad hoc marketing is, and why it’s hurting your business.
- The importance of going beyond just building a website.
- Social media’s role in your success.
- The steps you need to take to create a successful marketing plan.
- The benefits of hiring a marketing professional to work on and execute your marketing plan.
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Martha Chan and Peter Smith:
Today, the topic is about Marketing Planning for Success. All the tips and strategies are directed at family lawyers, but certainly all of them are applicable to other professionals.
The seminar is going to cover a number of topics, including: how marketing has changed in the last 15 years; what ad hoc marketing is and why it’s hurting your business; the importance of going beyond the website; social media’s role in your success; the steps that you need to take to create a more successful marketing plan; and finally, the benefits of hiring a marketing professional to work on and execute your marketing plan.
How Marketing Has Changed in the Last 15 Years
When we started this business 21 years ago, marketing among the profession was not very prominent. But through the years, we’ve seen different changes. When we first introduced the concept of having a website, 15 years ago, everybody in the industry was looking at me like, what are you talking about, why would I need a website? Today, I dare say, the majority of the people have websites. When we first introduced social media 10 years ago, I would hear comments like, “I wouldn’t be caught dead having a Facebook page.” Now things have changed. A lot of our clients are asking us to create pages for them – Google Plus, LinkedIn, Facebook, those are the three primary ones of interest to date. Certainly lots of people are doing blogs now; as far as quality and frequency goes, there’s a lot left to be desired and we’ll comment more about that.
As far as content that family lawyers put out, whether it’s online or collateral material, there really wasn’t that much when we first started, and now we’re seeing more and more of that. Primarily when technology has changed so much, new devices coming up, all kinds of sizes, any material that you put out online or to your website needs to adjust and adapt to the latest technology. The most powerful combination would be adopting technology and marketing and using them to the fullest. Having talked to so many family lawyers and divorce professionals on a daily basis, the younger and newer family lawyers are totally embracing both of them. The bottom line is, marketing has changed, have you? We’ll go into the next topic here, which is, what is ad hoc marketing, what it is and why it’s hurting your business.
What Is Ad Hoc Marketing – and Why Is It Hurting Your Business?
Basically, ad hoc marketing is throwing things at the wall and seeing if it sticks. You try different things once or twice, you do it sporadically, and in all fairness, it’s not going to help you at all based on your efforts. These efforts might include pay-per-click advertising, magazine advertising, paying a company to improve your search engine optimization, or having them write blogs. It basically is, you’ll get an offer by someone and you’ll say, hey, I’ll allocate some expenses to that and see if it works. If you’re not planning, you’re not going to get a benefit out of it. In fact, it’s going to hurt your practice because you haven’t strategized the plan moving forward on how to grow your business.
For example, I’m sure lots of you have received emails from somebody that you have never heard of saying: I can put you on page 1 of Google, guaranteed in a matter of three or four weeks. It just sounds so irresistible. I don’t blame my clients for saying, I took them up on it and it didn’t work out. Well, there are many, many reasons why it didn’t work out, and like I said, I don’t blame you for taking up on these offers just because they sound so good. But the problem is, they do work, but you have to find the right people and do it the right way. How it hurts you in this example is that you throw some money at it, do it for a few months, and then you come to the conclusion that pay-per-click marketing doesn’t work, SEO doesn’t work, when in fact they do.
The Importance of Going Beyond Just Building a Website
One of the number one things we suggest when talking with our clients is the importance of a website, but it’s not just the building of a website, it’s what’s behind it. Most people say, great, I got a www address, and with that, they’re happy, they’re satisfied. But what they don’t understand is that your digital billboard, that is what your referral sources are coming to, that’s what they’re seeing and that’s how they’re making the choice to either continue, because there’s a compelling trigger point on your website, or they’re dissatisfied and they move on without even contacting you. It’s very important that you have a dynamic modern site. Over the last 20 years in the advent of websites, there had been many changes that have gone by, including responsive sites, which means it shrinks the site down to a mobile technology.
The other thing is actually having a mobile-specific site, two different technologies. You have to understand that when people are looking at these things, they’re ranking you on how they feel. You’re branding your main messages, and why your clients should choose you should be all interpretable on your site. It should be easy and useful to consume the content. Today’s increased use of videos and podcasts is on the more prevalent websites. You have to know how your website earns its search engine rankings and how quality backlinks and relevant content are purposeful for organic growth. We suggest the importance of things like videos and podcasts, because that’s what the next generation of people are looking for.
Not only that, when we use the term “easy to consume”, we just mean that it is effortless on their part. Believe it or not, reading online is more onerous on the person visiting your site versus just opening up a video and just watching it or listening to a podcast while they might be going about other things. The point about understanding that covers also understanding how your visitors rank your website. In terms of ranking your website by search engine, that’s another big category. What I’ve got down here just barely scratches the surface of this topic: the importance of SEO, increase the quality of backlinks. When I say quality backlinks, I’m referring to websites that are providing a link on their websites that link back to yours. What is considered quality backlinks?
First of all, the site that is linking back to you needs to be an authoritative site. What Google would consider to be a quality website would be a website that has lots of traffic and lots of highly relevant content. For example, if your firm is about family law and divorce, getting a link back from a website that is about family law and divorce would be highly relevant. For example, Divorce Marketing Group owns DivorceMagazine.com, which has a million page views every year. We also own DivorcedMoms.com, which has 3 million views a year. If you were to get a backlink from those two sites, that would be a quality link. The last point we were talking about is relevant content for your website. You need to be posting highly relevant content on a regular basis, but we’ll touch on that point further down in one of the slides later on.
Social Media’s Role in Your Success
There’s so much to do in social media, and there’s so little time: there’s blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, SnapChat, etc. Most people don’t understand it and don’t understand its importance. For example, Facebook accounts for a three times larger amount of referrals than Google, most people don’t realize that. LinkedIn has twice as many referrals as Google. When we look at how people post on Facebook, it’s like you see them post once in a year, nevermind daily like they should be. When we talk about Facebook posting, it’s also important not to just post on your own Facebook page, but to post on other people’s Facebook pages – driving people back to your site and to your Facebook page.
Often our clients ask us to set up a page for them, and we do. We offer the service of doing regular posting for them, but they say, hey, my paralegal will do that for me, but that would only last for so long, because you have business to attend to and they just don’t have the time. In terms of not just playing in your own sandbox, how many people have liked your Facebook, how many people are following you on other social media pages? Likely one hundred, two hundred, right? But on our social media pages, we have 10 thousand, 20 thousand followers. If you were to comment on our Facebook, that’s a completely different reach as far as reaching potential clients go.
Reaching out to others, just not by yourself, is very important. Frequent regular and relevant engaging posts are also important, because that elevates you from a nobody in the social media world to possibly as high as the influencer depending on how often you engage in it.
When it comes to relevant posts, all a lot of family lawyers post is, “I just became a Super Lawyer” or “My company moved.” People on social media are not necessarily that interested about those things, they’re looking for information that they could use or some information to help to inspire them through the divorce process, so look at it from a different perspective and your posts will be different.
When you’re looking at people in their social media and what they’re posting, we suggest to keep your character count down to under 175 characters. When you are actually in the process of reading, people want to go through social media quickly, that’s why videos are the number one engagement on social media at 77%. Backlinks are actually 22% and texts are down to less than 1%. We want you to have something that will drive people to your site and that goes along with the videos in the backlinks.
We know some clients of ours are buying posts. The most prevalent ones are mass-produced blog posts. If they would even take the time to read them, these posts are so irrelevant to their practice and irrelevant to the people who might even think about reading them. Majority of the time these blog posts are fairly cheap: it sounds irresistible, they will write it, post it onto your website every week, you don’t have to worry about it. Well, that is supposed to represent you, your firm, and your point of view on the subject that matters to your visitors, which is divorce.
A lot of these mass-produced blogs have nothing to do with the law from your state; they write about celebrity divorces, because that’s about all that they can write about. They have no depth in the divorcing business, so they couldn’t possibly write something that has any relevance to your visitors. If you’re buying them, I encourage you to take a look, and then some people ask someone else to write it for them. I really believe that if you’re going to produce blog posts, make sure that the content comes from you. We have a suggestion as to how you could produce blog posts on a regular basis, and one of the ways we do it is we do a podcast recording as well as well as a video, we transcribe them and turn them into blog posts.
Invest in Creating Your Marketing Plan
We suggest you invest in creating a marketing plan. Failure to plan is planning to fail in other words. What you should do is invest in outside help to create this marketing plan. We all know that you have a law degree, you went to school for law, you didn’t go to school for accounting; therefore, you more than likely hire an accountant to do your financials. Likewise, with the marketing plan, you didn’t go to school for marketing, so go to an outside source for marketing.
When it comes to creating the plan, there are five basic steps. First, you have to define your business objectives. Some law firms we work with are very interested in rapid growth, some are not, they just want to maintain. And some, in fact, are creating an exit plan, so you have to determine your business objectives and you have to define the prospective clients you desire. Some of our clients want high-net-worth divorces, complex divorces, inter-state, inter-country custody cases, so you have to decide which are the type of cases and clients that you want.
Then you have to compose what is called the marketing positioning statement. In that one statement, it clearly states who your prospective clients are, what it is that you have to offer them, and what differentiates you, makes your particular law firm’s services unique, meaning why should they hire you. Then you have to develop your marketing strategy, your tactics, the budget, and the terms. Lastly, consider the best way to implement your plan once you’ve got it together. Look at which part can be handled in-house and by which person within your company and also look at which parts need to be handled by outside experts.
One of the things we look at when we’re looking at our marketing plan is a lot of people want to have immediate results. Immediate results are expensive and tail off quickly as they are more than likely pay-per-click campaigns or Facebook boosts or readily utilized individual tactics that don’t have any longevity. Therefore, you initially create traction only to lose it again. We look at a term that we tend to design plans that are two to three years in length. That allows you to develop an action and a reaction point. You will benefit from advertising your whole marketing budget over years, you will get greater traction and greater exposure of a reach.
Why Create a Marketing Plan That Goes Beyond 2017?
When you plan beyond one year, it encourages you to get a feel about what your longer-term goals are and what your needs are to satisfy those long-term goals. It will also help you stay the course. When you invest in creating a winning strategy, you need to apply it across the board. Apply that on your website, social media, collateral materials, and you need to train your attorneys and your staff so that they could have their elevator speech prepared if they were to meet someone who asks, hey, what does your firm do? You’d be able to say we are South Carolina’s best men’s divorce law firm and we help men who have high assets through their divorce, and we’re very, very good at fighting for men’s rights.
That’s something that everybody should get down pat. When you train your staff and apply this strategy across all of your marketing materials, then you begin to build a brand and then attract the right kind of clients. Brand building doesn’t happen overnight and staying the course has its returns, so that’s basically what you need to do.
It also reduces the ad hoc marketing campaigns that you’re throwing at the wall that don’t seems to stick. You get frustrated and you’re saying, I’m putting out all this money into advertising, and realistically advertising and marketing are two different areas, and when you combine them both, you do get a better deal.
We give better deals to clients who come to us committing themselves to working with us for three years. Obviously we would reward a loyal customer.
Benefits of Hiring a Marketing Agency to Create and Execute Your Marketing Plan
You’re lawyers, you went to law school, you didn’t go to a marketing school or an advertising school. Typically, you have all your experience in law and not in the operations of a business, so you go to an outside source if you cannot afford to hire someone in-house to do it.
When you go outside, the first benefit is the ability to think from outside in. It is really difficult for you to know how to differentiate yourself, and you’re always looking from your own standpoint. The most important things that lawyers say as to why I should hire you is that “I have 25 years of experience.” I’m not denying that that is a good selling point, but if you were to look outside in, as in through the lenses of your pocket clients, you would ask what are they looking for and what are their needs and wants. We develop your marketing strategy that way. Then that’s an outside-in thinking. You also have to ask yourselves, do I have the time, the resources, and the expertise to create and implement the plan and to attend to the plan on a regular basis? The marketing expertise doesn’t lie within you. You may have an interest, but that doesn’t mean you have the expertise.
Every hour you spend not creating income is a loss of income. When you are in a position where you can hire someone to do your marketing for typically less than what you charge on an hourly basis, the financial win is much greater on your paper.
The very last point is, can you keep up-to-date with all the marketing vehicles available today, knowledge, expertise, and experience? For example, we’ve been working with family lawyers for 21 years. We don’t just bring the marketing industry experience, we also bring the industry of family law that we know to the table. You’re benefitting from the experience that an outside firm has, and in particular with us, we work with the family law industry.
Basically, we would like you to take this as a takeaway. We want you to focus on your practice, trust the marketing company such as us – we will help you build, develop, and increase your revenue and your bottom lines. We’ll help you strategize for the future, we’ll help you develop the right clientele to bring to you, we will do everything that you’re looking for to assist you in the marketing and advertising of your business – expanding your reach, expanding your exposure, and bringing you the right clientele.