Capturing Value on Invoices

Invoicing for services delivered can be an arduous task for any professional services firm regardless of its size. While the invoicing process is often tedious, there is a tremendous opportunity to use invoices as a marketing tool to demonstrate the value you bring to your clients.

This is especially true in the legal services industry, where law firms and lawyers detail how every hour worked was spent. Instead of listing “internal meeting” on your invoice, think about how you can describe it in a different way in terms of what the value is for the client. For example, instead, consider “Participated in internal meeting to strategize on XYZ intellectual property matters.” This not only demonstrates what your role was, but also helps distinguish between what could possibly be several general meetings on the invoice.

There are a million ways for a lawyer to add value to any client relationship, but when a client receives a bill for several thousand dollars, they will appreciate the extra time and attentiveness to the invoice.

You Are Not Who I Thought You Were

Let’s face it. Aging isn’t always fun. Our hair turns gray or falls out, we develop wrinkles, and our health begins to deteriorate. That is life, and there is no way around it.

The online world often serves as a platform for older professionals to portray a younger version of themselves because of the privacy it provides. Understandably so, older professionals believe that a potential client might be turned off by their age, thus passing them up to find a younger professional. We’ve worked with several lawyers, accountants and real estate professionals who have opted to keep a headshot up on social media or company website that is egregiously outdated, refusing to have a photo taken that accurately reflects them.

What happens when the client does actually hire you and realizes that you are nothing like the picture portrayed on your website and LinkedIn? It’s almost like a bait and switch, which can be a major turnoff for clients.

It’s important as a player in the online world that you are transparent, which means portraying an accurate version of yourself. Our advice? Get your headshot updated!

The Marketing Melting Pot: Every firm member has a role to play in marketing

As Independence Day, America’s greatest holiday, comes and goes, we are reminded of all the freedoms we have. America is truly a melting pot of different people, styles and theories all mixed together.

The same can be said for professional services firms, where you have varying levels of expertise, ideas and beliefs melded together to make up the culture of a firm. Everyone is working together as one to advance the firm, whether it is a law firm, accounting firm or real estate company. With that said, it’s important that all professionals within a firm understand that they can play a vital role in marketing.

Here are five ways that marketing can be applied to every professional’s role:

  1. Everyone has a client – While not everyone within a firm is servicing the external client, we are all servicing someone, whether it be a coworker or boss. This is known as an “internal client.” The way we service internal clients has a direct impact on the way external clients are serviced. No matter who your client is, the work is equally important.
  2. The devil is in the details – Not everyone plays an obvious direct role in bringing in new business to the firm. When it comes to service standards these days, the bar is extremely high. Good service may go without remarks because it is expected. However, when the quality of service doesn’t meet the bar, it will be apparent. Paying extra attention to the little details, such as ensuring documents are pristine, can have a huge impact on the client’s experience.
  3. Become knowledgeable about all areas of the business– While you might work exclusively in real estate, take time to get to know the employment practice so you can understand and listen for the triggers when you are out in the world. No matter your role, everyone within a firm can benefit from familiarizing themselves with all of the services offered.
  4. Tell a story – How many times have you been asked, “So, what do you do?” If your response is generic, such as, “I work at an accounting firm,” it’s time to dig a little deeper. Think about how you want people to remember you on the chance they want to refer business to your firm. An alternative to the generic might be, “I work at an accounting firm that helps small businesses plan for the future.”
  5. Marketing and business development is a portable skill – No matter where you go in your career, marketing and business development is an expertise that can be taken and used anywhere. It’s a skill that gives you confidence not only in the workplace, but also in your personal life.

With these ideas in mind, each person within a professional services firm can be equipped to play a role in marketing the firm.

The SEO Apocalypse Is Coming!

Panda, Penguin…What’s next? You might recall these cleverly named updates from Google over the past few years, but just when you think Google has slowed down, they have reinvented the wheel.

They’ve told us all the importance of professional services firms having a mobile-friendly website, and now they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Google recently announced a significant change to its algorithm expected to roll out on April 21.

It is currently estimated that over 60% of local and national searches are done on a mobile device. Therefore, it seems fitting for Google to restructure their mobile algorithm to ensure a high quality user experience. Google has already begun to introduce new ranking changes, based on information collected from indexed apps. There are various factors that will now influence your rankings, but the bottom line is this: if your website is not mobile friendly by April 21, you can kiss being ranked high in mobile search results good-bye!

If your professional services firm – law firm, financial, real estate – doesn’t have a mobile-friendly website, now is the time to develop one. Not sure if your website is mobile friendly? Google offers this test to see if your firm complies and, if not, provides guidance on what action needs to be taken.

Don’t get left behind…

Wedding Bells: The Importance of a Follow-Up for the Big Day

In an industry with more event vendors than I am convinced there is work for, how do you find the perfect fit for one of the most important days of your life? You want someone who is reliable, reasonably priced and who you will enjoy working with.

When I began planning my wedding less than five months ago, I was completely taken aback by the number of vendors in every category – from DJs to caterers and beyond. I started by obtaining referrals from friends, using online wedding planning tools, such as The Knot, and of course social media sites, like Yelp. I narrowed down my vendors to three in each category and from there took the next steps, which included in-person meetings and detailed phone calls.

One thing that really struck me was the complete lack of follow-up demonstrated by some of the vendors. I understand that they receive countless inquiries that might not pan out, and maybe that impedes them from going the extra mile to attract new clients. However, my ultimate test for the vendors was whether or not they followed up with me. It’s a large part of my job; therefore, I am a huge advocate of it. If someone didn’t follow up with me, they were immediately crossed off my list. I didn’t have time to chase people down, and, after all, they should be the ones trying to get my business.

One potential photographer really sticks out to this day. We met at her studio for more than an hour. She prepared a tailored brochure for us and we discussed a lot of details. When I left that day, I never heard from her again. Not even a “thanks for the meeting” text message. I hadn’t spent that much time on any vendor and it irked me that I didn’t warrant follow-up. I wanted to book her services, but as the days and the weeks passed, nothing. It’s crossed my mind to write a Yelp review or send her an email.

In the end, I wound up with a great group of vendors who have been tremendous in responding to me quickly and pushing things along. It’s amazing how a little follow-up can go a long way, especially in the professional event services industry.

All Eyes on the United States

Good news abounds for the economy, according to John Stumpf, Chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, whom I had the pleasure of hearing speak at the fourth annual Real Estate & Law (REAL) Symposium, held in Stanford, California.

Mr. Stumpf gave an electrifying presentation about where the economy is headed. He seemed to truly be in good spirits about the recovery, which put the audience at ease.

A few takeaways from his presentation include:

  • The U.S. has experienced 50 straight months of job gains.
  • Commercial real estate is booming everywhere.
  • Q2 2015 will be stronger than Q1 2015.
  • The millennial generation views the banking industry differently, but this could be the last generation to use a debit card or credit card.
  • Consumer confidence is at a seven-year high.
  • Low gas prices are providing a feel-good emotion for consumers.
  • Residential real estate is the only area that is not recovering as fast as others.

Mr. Stumpf said he is bullish about the economy, and when asked what keeps him up at night, he replied “cyber risks.”

The REAL Symposium is presented by California State Bar, Real Property Section and Stanford Professionals in Real Estate (SPIRE). Berbay served as a media sponsor for the event, and Account Manager Erica Hess served on the planning committee.

Lawyers…On Uber?

Uber has become a phenomenon in many large US cities, quickly diminishing the need for the traditional yellow taxi cab. In early 2014, Uber co-founder Oscar Salazar saw a need in the health care industry and took Uber one step further. He developed an app called “Pager,” which offers doctor house call services for those in Manhattan and Brooklyn from 8 am to 10 pm, 365 days a year. Various other apps/services in the health care industry offer real-time video conferencing with doctors, text message checkups and more, all eliminating the need to actually go to the doctor’s office.

We’ve seen similar apps coming to market in the legal industry, such as Lawfone, which connects qualified lawyers with potential clients through face-to-face technology. No matter where you are, you can connect with a lawyer right then and there. This could come in handy in car accidents if you need to talk with a personal injury attorney on the spot. It could also dramatically impact the way advertising for lawyers is conducted in the future.

With new technology developing faster than most can keep up with, and the public’s appetite for apps and services that make life easier, I can’t help but wonder if the next advancement in technology will be lawyers available through services like Uber – where you could just push a button and they would be at your front door within minutes.

Stay tuned…

The Top Spot: Cracking the Top 100 Attorney List

Landing a spot on a prestigious list is highly coveted by lawyers and law firms, but your chances can be severely hindered if the publication has never seen your name before. Sure, there is the exception of having a precedent-setting matter so significant that you are an obvious choice, but for many candidates, that’s not the case.

A panel of journalists and reporters discussed what it takes to make headway on their lists at the Legal Marketing Association – Los Angeles Chapter’s event “Turning your Pitch into Press”. In the legal industry, the Daily Journal’s “Top 100” list is at the forefront of many Southern California attorneys’ minds.

The Editor-In-Chief said they receive an overwhelming number of submissions, half of which they easily eliminate. Once they narrow their selection down to about 200, they search their database to see how many times that lawyer/law firm has appeared in the publication in the last 12-18 months. If the result is never, then forget it. If you’ve been interviewed for a story or your cases have been covered, you are likely still in the running.

Don’t let this discourage you, though. In our experience, we found that it can take any professional several submissions before landing that spot. In the meantime, it’s crucial to stay in front of your desired publication by sending them press releases about verdicts, settlements, deals etc., as well as industry trends and forecasts that they can report on. The more visible you are as an attorney, the better your chances. Even if you don’t think your work in a particular year warrants recognition on a list, it is still worthwhile to submit a nomination because you are demonstrating to the publication that you are very interested while keeping them apprised of what you are working on.

In the end, when in doubt about whether to submit for a list or ranking, presuming you have the work to substantiate being on the list, it’s safe to err on the side of yes.

Extending the Shelf Life of Your Webinar

Professionals often ask us whether a webinar is worth the time they will put into it. The answer is YES, with a caveat. That is, if you just present the webinar and don’t engage in any pre- or post-marketing, you are losing a lot of the value. A key purpose of the webinar is the marketing that you can do before and after it – it gives you something to talk about for weeks or even months.

According to a study by BeaconLive, there are many different pieces of content that you can derive from your webinar. We’ve outlined a few tips below.

  1. Pre-event Infographic – Tease your audience with key items that will be presented throughout your webinar.
  2. Pre-event Video Promo – Try creating a movie-trailer style promo/commercial.
  3. Pre-Event Graphic – Create a few snapshots of the presentation deck and use that in your pre-marketing.
  4. Pre-event Presenter Blog – Write a blog about the presenter(s), introducing their credentials.
  5. Attendee Testimonials – Collect comments from your attendees on an evaluation form to use in future marketing efforts.
  6. Post-event Infographic – Create a graphic displaying statistics from the webinar – content statistics, results from surveys/polls, etc. and send it out to your database.
  7. Recording – Be sure to record your webinar so you can post it to your website and send it to your entire database.
  8. Post-event Blog – Author a blog featuring Q&A from the webinar.
  9. Video Snippets – Crop short clips from your recording to use as sound bites on social media.

10.  E-book – Lay out your webinar as an e-book, post it to your website and distribute it via social media.
11.  Presenter Blog – The presenter can author a blog providing further sources and elaborating on the subject.

Next time you are contemplating whether a webinar makes sense for your firm, consider the marketing power you can gain from it.

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