Adapting Your Marketing Approach: What Lawyers Need to Know

At the recent Avvo Lawyernomics Conference in Las Vegas, I had a chance to catch up with personal injury attorney Barry Goldberg, who I met more than ten years ago. Barry has a flourishing practice because in addition to decades of legal experience, he practices malleable marketing, adapting his business development tactics to an ever-changing market. It was instructive to hear how his marketing evolved.

He started out with the opinion that good work and word of mouth were all it took to develop a practice; however, he saw the success that other attorneys were having with business development in general and then with their websites, so he launched his first site. Professionalism is a hallmark of all his marketing. Indeed, prospective clients have commented to him that this quality was the reason they contacted him.

In order to keep his web presence fresh and useful to prospective clients, he has a disciplined habit of regular blogging. He focuses on imparting information of value as opposed to creating the vast amount of content for its own sake that was de rigueur in the early days of web marketing and SEO.

He noted that younger lawyers are quite skilled at generating leads via the Internet, but they often lack the experience to effectively handle the work once it’s in the door. As a result, for the first time in his career, he has started accepting cases from clients who were not satisfied with their initial legal counsel. His experienced eye often makes the difference in what otherwise would have been a poor outcome.

Barry has found Avvo a worthwhile aspect of his marketing program. He pays attention to his profile and sponsors (advertisers) for specific key words and geographic areas.

I give Barry credit for his willingness to revisit and revise his marketing. As another lawyer I spoke with at the conference remarked, the Internet has given many people the false sense that with so much information at their fingertips they can now do everything themselves – even something as highly specialized as law, which actually requires the experience and strategy of a trained professional.

To stay relevant in such a crowded and frequently indifferent marketplace, it is more vital than ever to take a page from those attorneys who continue to adapt, evolve and try new things.

Barry Goldberg is the founding attorney of Barry P. Goldberg, A Professional Law Corporation, a personal injury firm which represents victims of auto and truck accidents. Learn more at www.woodlandhillsaccidentattorney.com.

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Feeding the Power of Focus: George Salmas, The Food Lawyer

We are pleased to have George Salmas, attorney and founder of the The Food Lawyers, as our guest blogger this week. With more than 25 years of experience representing the food industry, Mr. Salmas is their go-to guy.

One of the most important steps you can take to market yourself successfully is to focus. The idea of narrowing your focus to one area may fill you with misgivings because it seems as if you will be narrowing your prospect base, but in fact a more streamlined focus helps you establish yourself in your niche – and can even lead to greater opportunities for expansion down the road. Encompassing a wider range of services may seem like a safer route, but it actually dilutes your brand and makes you more difficult to remember.

I was reminded of this truth recently when I ran into George Salmas, The Food Lawyer (www.thefoodlawyers.com). George wanted to position himself as the go-to attorney on all food-related matters but was hesitant to fully make the leap. At one time, he had two different websites: one dedicated to his expertise in the practice area of food industry-related legal matters, and the other a broad overview of his general practice. However, several years ago, he decided to really go for it, establishing himself as “the food lawyer” and consolidating his online presence with one website instead of two. How did this more targeted approach to branding work out for him?

As soon as he decided to jump feet-first into his specialty, things began to snowball for him rather quickly. He became established as the go-to guy for legal matters related to food regulation, manufacturing, and so on – and his greater visibility in that niche leads to work in other practice areas, as strengthening his brand has helped clients to perceive him as more memorable and reliable across the board. He said that he already knew how to be a lawyer, but he had to learn how to be a businessperson, and this experience helped him do just that.

No matter what field you’re in, the power of narrowing your focus and committing fully cannot be overstated. Pick your niche and dive in!

George Salmas is the founder of The Food Lawyers, a firm which represents food sector clients with regulatory matters, litigation, trademarks, antitrust, contracts, real estate and all other legal matters. Learn more at www.thefoodlawyers.com.

GUEST BLOG: Do You Measure Up?

We’re pleased to have David Ackert of the The Ackert Advisory as our guest blogger.  David is recognized for his ability to bring out the business development “best” in those he works with.  

Ad hoc. That’s the primary theme when it comes to most people’s business development. When our schedule lightens up, we do some networking. When things get busy, business development grinds to a halt. What’s the ROI for all the lunches and meetings and mixers and tweets? Most of us don’t bother to measure such things. It all seems to get stirred into the generic bucket from which our referrals trickle out.

Ever heard the expression, “You can’t change what you don’t measure”? Well, here are a few things you can measure in 2014 to change your book for the better:

  1. New relationships: If your goal this year is to expand your network, set a target for the number of prospects and referral sources you intend to meet.
  2. Existing relationships: Some of the smartest time you can spend is on the relationships you’ve already developed. How many of these key contacts will you deepen in 2014? How often?
  3. Referrals you give: If you’re giving more than you get, it’s time to have a conversation with your referral sources. Either they don’t understand the concept of reciprocity or you haven’t done a good enough job branding yourself and your services.
  4. Referrals you get: If you’re getting more than you give, list your top referral sources and make a concerted effort to send them a relevant introduction (or at least treat them to lunch a gesture of your appreciation).
  5. Non-billable business development hours: Create a budget for this so that you have a minimum number of hours you intend to invest, as well as a maximum so you don’t burn yourself out with unrealistic expectations.

In my opinion, business development is more art than science, but metrics can be helpful as you seek to convert time and energy into tangible results.

David Ackert is a business development consultant, the president of The Ackert Advisory, and the founder of Practice Boomers, a business development e-learning program for law firms. Learn more at www.ackertadvisory.com

GUEST BLOG: Why You Should Think Twice Before Skipping Your Class Reunion

July — invitations for college and other fall school reunions are arriving. If you can attend your college reunion without great effort or expense, go. If it takes more effort or expense than is easily comfortable, you should at least think hard about going.

Apart from the inherent pleasure of these events, there are several good reasons for rainmakers to attend their college reunions. Most of your college classmates did not become lawyers: many of your classmates hire lawyers occasionally; some of them hire lawyers regularly. A few of them hire lawyers often, or work in or operate companies that have in-house counsel. Everyone you meet at your college reunion has friends who fall into these categories. You get the idea.

So far, I have described people who could be at many sorts of gatherings. Why are college reunions special opportunities? Generally, people who attend reunions want to help their fellow alumni. It is likely that you and your college friends had some serious bonding moments. Even in the case of people you did not know in college, if you believe your college served you well (or if you just feel good about the place), you probably also want to help fellow graduates regardless of whether you knew them or were in their class. Except in unusual cases, we want to help our college friends, and one of the best ways to help is to send work.

At college reunions classmates and friends from adjacent classes visit, reminisce and catch up. We re-bond. This bonding enhances what social scientists refer to as the “cohort effect”, in this case in the context of career trajectory. People of similar vintages who know and like each other want to help each other’s careers. People of roughly the same age tend also to have similar levels of responsibility within their respective organizations, and people of roughly the same age tend to trust others of their cohort, and particularly if they shared another common experience, such as going to the same college. As a junior lawyer, the best client development advice I got from partners at my law firm was to become friends with the financial analysts at the investment banks — the analysts don’t hire lawyers, but they are likely to do so in the not too distant future, and the cohort will move up in his or her career on parallel tracks.

As in all rainmaking, start by giving, not asking. Offer what you can in a simple conversation. If possible, do some preliminary research about the people who will be attending. Many colleges will share their RSVP list with attending alumni. Once you have seen your “besties”, you can seek out the people whose work you understand. It is even better to arrange to meet particular people, at particular times and places. Simply transmitting information or an educated opinion about someone’s professional life is helpful. (An earlier VLS blog discussed offering information, http://victorls.com/teach-what-you-can-and-give-generously-of-your-time/.)

There is special warmth between people who helped each other grow up or had a common experience in a common place. That warmth extends to wanting to help the adults we have become. When you share what you have, it often comes back. At worst, you will probably have a good time.

K.C. Victor, of Victor Legal Solutions, serves the legal industry as a business consultant and executive recruiter. K.C. began this work almost 30 years ago, after having practiced law in both the private and public sectors. She can be reached at KC@victorls.com or by telephone at 310.440.9320. 

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