Friday, July 11, 2008

New Google Feature for Law Firm Internet Marketing

Law firm marketing fans reading this column will appreciate a new Google feature that will add a competitive advantage to your legal search engine marketing campaigns.

Google now displays search volume statistics in the "keyword tool" feature. What this means is that lawyers and law firm marketing professionals can now see statistics on the approximate number of search queries matching your law firm's keywords. This data allows you to better plan your budget and pick keywords most likely to return quality leads, which in turn can help improve your ROI.

You can generate keyword ideas to boost your law firm marketing results in three ways:

  1. Select descriptive keywords or phrases. This is a great way to test new keywords for your online ad campaign to see if they might create new leads for your law firm. Just type in a word or phrase in the Google keyword tool, then click on "Get Keyword Ideas."
  2. Website content. Enter a webpage URL from your law firm website to find keywords related to the content on the page.
  3. Existing keywords. When you choose this option, Google will display your best performing keywords in the current Ad Group and suggest keyword variations that can improve your law firm Internet marketing program.
Google suggests that you may want to create an ad group around a single high-traffic keyword that you find particularly relevant to your law firm marketing program. This would allow you to closely target ad text and a landing page to that term.

Here is the "how to" in using the new Google Keyword Volume tool. It's actually quite simple. Go into an existing "Ad Group." Click on "Keyword Tool" to the right of "Add Keywords." You will then be presented with your options for discovering wonderful new keyword options for your law firm's Internet marketing program.

BOTTOM LINE: Law firm marketing professionals will find the new Google Keyword Volume tool to be an excellent way to boost Internet advertising results. As I say in my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients, "keywords are the currency of the digital economy, convertible into cash when site visitors become clients."

Remember, today's law firm must be present to win on the Internet!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Write a Law Firm Marketing Plan

Marketing without a plan is one of the biggest mistakes a law firm can make. We explore this topic as the first blog post in our recently announced series entitled"The Top 10 Legal Marketing Mistakes."

Consider the following questions:
  1. Shall we invest $1,000 to sponsor a table at our client's annual industry event?
  2. The local Chamber of Commerce is offering a special rate of $2,500 for a full page ad in their annual membership directory; is this right for us?
  3. If we can only do one marketing campaign, what should that be?

Law firm managing partners and marketers are faced with these issues on a regular basis.

The best way to conduct an effective law firm marketing campaign is to start with a detailed plan. You will want to specifically identify your business development goals (# of new accounts, $ in new business by practice area), focus on your target markets, carefully identify the competitive environment, create your "unique selling proposition," and identify the campaigns you plan to implement to generate the new revenue you seek.

We recommend using an integrated marketing campaign featuring many complementary communications channels. For example, you will want to include: speaking engagements, article placement, referral networks, educational seminars, Internet marketing, direct mail, print and online advertising, public relations, updated collateral materials, and potential sponsorships.

By the way, here are the answers to the law firm marketing questions posed above:

  1. Yes, this may be a great investment. You will show your support for your client and their industry. Plus you will get some good visibility and networking opportunities. Ask your clients to introduce you to their industry contacts.
  2. With all due respect to the Chamber, a one-time print ad placement in anything will generally not be productive. Viewers need to see your ad a minimum of 5-6 times before they start paying attention.
  3. The best single law firm marketing campaign you can undertake is marketing to your current and past clients.

Click here to see a sample of an attorney marketing plan:

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Market(ing) Conditions Result in Higher Law Firm Borrowing

Last week we wrote about the high cost of inadequate law firm marketing. While insufficient business development efforts may not be noticed in the short run, attorneys suffer longer term when a strong marketing foundation is not in place.

We see evidence of this in the following excerpt from a Law Blog post in today's Wall Street Journal:

"Dan DiPietro, the client head of the law-firm group at Citi Private Bank, says law-firm borrowing was up about 25% in the first quarter, as compared with the same period in 2007. Not only are the billable hours down at some firms, says Mr. DiPietro, but it is harder for some firms to collect from certain clients, many of whom are also pinching pennies."

It is admittedly a huge challenge to sustain a proactive law firm business development program when times are flush. Strong economic conditions translate into a healthy (or even excessive) number of billable hours, priced consistently with a law firm's rate card. New business seems to walk in the door with very little effort.

As we are now seeing, however, deal flow can change dramatically with consumer sentiment and the latest news from Wall Street. The attorney who has been working consistently to maintain a productive referral network, seek speaking engagements, and publish substantive articles on timely industry topics is in the best position to attract those business opportunities that do emerge when the economy ebbs.

There is a bright spot: marketing to your current clients is your best source for new revenue quickly. Watch for our next blog post on this topic.