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LA’s Most Inspiring Stories by VoyageLA: Featuring Principal Megan Braverman

If you had told 21-year-old Megan Braverman she would eventually be marketing for professional service firms, she would have laughed. When you’re a creative soul, as Megan is, working for professional services firms isn’t the first thing you think of. Today, she helms a marketing and PR agency where she specializes in working with those firms and can’t imagine doing anything else.

In its “LA’s Most Inspiring Stories” series, VoyageLA featured Megan, asking her how she became Principal of Berbay Marketing & PR, about the challenges she encountered along the way and what we can expect of the marketing industry over the next decade.

Early in her career, Megan discovered that she wouldn’t have to give up her creative and artistic talents for a job in the business world. She eventually found the intersection of art and professional services and capitalized on that through her career at Berbay Marketing & PR. The Berbay team is known for its creativity in creating the visibility and credibility that fuel revenue growth for professional services firms. Megan explained, “We are proactive and big-picture thinkers, and we never stop at ‘no.’ Our team is incredibly creative. We don’t just think outside of the box; we refuse to even acknowledge the existence of a box. Our job is to recommend strategies and then implement actions that will get our clients noticed – we’re not just order takers.”

On the future of the marketing industry, Megan said: “Marketing doesn’t happen in a vacuum anymore; there’s a more holistic approach to generating business. With so many channels and ways to get your message out, the need for customizing content will be even more important as each year passes.”

She also added that, naturally, online and digital marketing will continue to expand and evolve, but some of the older methods are circling back. Everything old is new again, in this sense. Sending handwritten notes and picking up the phone and calling someone rather than sending an email are once again becoming popular communication tools.

Megan also stressed the importance of succession planning and why starting this earlier rather than later is critical. This will be a continued focus for Berbay’s work with clients in the coming years.

Read the full interview.

If You Want More Clients, Take Business Development Off the Back Burner and Turn Up the Heat!

If you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of business development, a natural reaction is to push the idea to the back burner and say, “I’ll get to it later.” If you want to stay competitive, however, and grow your practice, you need to take it off the back burner and turn up the heat! But how?  And, where to start?

Business development expert Linda Feinholz of Feinholz Consulting was a recent guest on the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast, where she identified factors and outlined steps lawyers can take to find the business development and marketing approaches that best resonate for them and their practices. Linda recommended the following:

 

  • Step 1: Look at the Big Picture

Take a breath, step back and identify your vision for your business and your life because those two are intertwined.  It’s important to understand why you’re in your specialty – what is it that connects with you personally? Was it an opportunity after you got out of law school and you developed a technical expertise, or do you have a passion for a particular topic?

Answering those types of questions will lead you into very different considerations with respect to business development and marketing. When you start looking at what you want your life to look like, where your profession fits in and what you want to be known for, you can then start talking about the strategies and tactics for achieving those visions.

  • Step 2: Determine How Your Profession Fits into Your Life

Start by looking at things such as the type of people or businesses with whom you’d like to work. The kinds of questions to ask yourself include, “Who will make me smile when I’m working with them?” “Do I prefer helping people navigate emotional situations?” This is important because part of your vision is having a sense of who you are and what you enjoy doing – what you want to do eight plus hours a day. 

There are parts of business development you will enjoy and parts you’ll find less attractive, as there are parts of your work you enjoy more and parts you enjoy less. If you can figure out the 80/20 (80% of what you’re doing you’re enjoying and feeling a sense of satisfaction from), that helps you put a stake in the ground.

Once you determine what resonates with you, what you want to be doing when you get out of bed in the morning, then you can start developing strategies to use in business development and the arenas in which you can create a professional identity.

  • Step 3: Develop the Profile of Your Ideal Clients

Carve out a very specific demographic profile of the people with whom you want to work. For example, an estate planning attorney may identify a demographic of entrepreneurs between the ages of 28 and 40 at a specific stage of life in their businesses and at a specific stage of decision-making for their families, and so on.

Once you have identified your specific demographic, that’s the point at which you look to see where to find those people and determine how to market to them

  • Step 4: Develop Pathways – Sources of Business

Many lawyers are told early in their careers that they need to get out and network. Some are very comfortable putting themselves out there; some are not. Some prefer to be standing at the front of a room speaking with all eyes upon them; some do not.

There are different pathways to business development and you need to identify the ones that work best for you. Sort out what you would and wouldn’t be willing to do.

One pathway to not overlook is the people right down the hall from you in your firm. Have lunch together and talk about matters that you’re working on. Another pathway could be to enrich relationships with other attorneys that you know and foster referrals from them. Still another pathway is going back to corporations with whom you’ve worked before, or their competitors, or similar types of organizations of different sizes where there’s no conflict of interest.

  • Step 5: Develop Tactics

You can write papers, speak at conferences and commission blog posts, but can you also identify what would make you different in the universe of attorneys in your specialty? Let’s say you have a passion for baseball. Why not take a box at the stadium and invite a combination of past clients, current clients, brokers and referral sources to come spend the day where everyone could meet, chat, get up and move around, eat and enjoy the game? In effect, create an event that people enjoyed and would want to be invited back. And why is that important? Because everybody talks to their peers, so they’d go home from that event; they’d go back to the office and they’d tell other people about this event. That starts to create a buzz.

Set up breakfasts, lunches, coffees and just catch up on life with colleagues. Practice having social conversations that lead to referrals.

Another idea would be to leverage your resources and create a day that was by invitation only: an all-day open-house at your firm, where part of it is providing the opportunity for guests to meet with the managing partner or all of the partners or another noteworthy person. Corral your resources and create a social yet professional business development event. This could be a good way to alleviate anxiety (because you’re not going it alone) and foster movement in your business development efforts.

You can also better utilize Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is more about your personal life, but you can add professional elements to it. LinkedIn has always been about your professional life, but what LinkedIn has done over time is added features and functionality to the site that are all about marketing, including database search and messaging capabilities. While you’d pay for the membership level, the actual marketing activities themselves are free.

Interestingly about LinkedIn, many of the message threads you see in group discussions or among people “promoting” themselves is that the language is pretty much “cookie-cutter;” it doesn’t matter what the profession. It’s almost like everyone uses the same template, which is extremely impersonal and not at all unique. Also, people in their informational posts don’t feel all that unique; they’re missing a tone and style of wording that interjects their personality.  When you speak in a more authentic and personal way, people will be more interested in what you have to say, which, on these platforms, could be the beginning of a relationship.  And that’s how business happens – through a relationship that started somewhere.

Closing Thoughts

You need to be and remain curious; don’t be afraid to explore what makes you uneasy. We tend to defer to what comes easily. If it feels like it’s going to take effort or time or take attention away from something else, we’d rather avoid it. Especially lawyers, who have to bill by the hour, are less apt to let themselves explore. But you can chance this mindset.

Typically, the more technically savvy we become, the more we shut off exploring and practicing new behaviors and tactics in new arenas. Particularly today, with so many ways we can do business development and relationship-building, the reality is that you can’t do them all. Pick two or three and be willing to go outside the one that feels automatic. Practice being curious and when you do, commit to doing something – don’t just show up, show up with energy.

Click here to download/subscribe to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast.

Feeling Burned Out as a Lawyer? Here Are 5 Tips to Get You Back on Track

You’re a practicing attorney; you’re doing well. You have a great client list, are making good money and are on track for partnership (or already there). Shouldn’t you feel happy?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. Dissatisfaction among lawyers is more prevalent than you might think. In fact, Judith Gordon, attorney coach, lecturer at UCLA School of Law and founder of LeaderEsQ experienced the same realization after reading an article in The National Law Journal in which the author cited research on lawyer dissatisfaction in the profession.

Judith was a recent guest on the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast. Here are her five tips to get you on the road to becoming a happier, more satisfied lawyer.

Podcast highlights:

Legal education focuses almost exclusively on legal thinking, to the exclusion of the emotional intelligence required. For three years, law students are immersed in case analysis, but other skills that are necessary to not only being great lawyers, but also happy lawyers, are excluded from legal training.

Here are 5 tips to help you be less stressed, more productive and get back on track:

  • TIP #1: FOCUS

We tend to multitask instead of monotasking, but the truth is, the human brain doesn’t multitask; it switches tasks – going back and forth between them. This creates a drain on the brain so that neither task actually gets our full attention, which is why many lawyers feel exhausted at the end of the day. Going back and forth between emails, phone calls, drafting documents and engaging with lawyers, all without giving our brains a rest, is exhausting.

The human brain is really designed to focus on what’s happening in the present moment. When we become distracted by multitasking, we create a brain drain, which is not only exhausting, but also negatively impacts our work product.

What we need to do to focus on a task is take a break, maybe five or ten minutes, where we’re not focused on anything, where we’re just allowing our mind to wander – and then come back to the next task. And it’s important to note, surfing the internet does not count as a break.

  • TIP #2: MINDSET

Research shows that our mindset impacts our productivity, and what’s even more interesting is that how we start our morning impacts our productivity for the entire day. Think about what you have ahead for the day and then choose the appropriate mindset.

For example, if you’re going into court to argue a motion for a summary judgment that has potentially huge consequences for your client, then you need to be in a mindset that is more focused and perhaps aggressive or passionate than if you’re going into a mediation where you want to be in a calmer, more attentive mindset. We need to align our energy with the task at hand and think about what frame of mind we need to be in for the work we need to do.

  • TIP #3: MANAGE YOUR ENERGY AND YOU’LL MASTER YOUR TIME

Know your own biorhythms. For example, if you’re not a morning person, you’re not going to be as effective in a morning meeting as you would be in the afternoon. Common sense dictates then that you schedule high-value tasks, such as meetings, conference calls and drafting documents at the time of day when you know you are at your best.

What are high-value tasks? These are the tasks that move your purpose, or your firm’s purpose, forward. Checking email is not a high-value task, so you should stay away from that when you’re at your best. Check email when you need a break or are tired. Writing an email, however, can be construed as a high-value task depending on the content, so you do need to be at your best for that.

It’s important to understand which tasks are high-value and low-value, because we can waste our high-energy time and then get to the end of the day exhausted or having barely gotten anything done.

Being mindful of the connection between our energy levels, our biorhythms and the work that needs to happen, can be very effective in creating a more productive day.

  • TIP #4: NUTRITION FUELS COGNITION; HYDRATE AND AVOID SUGAR

What we eat impacts our performance, and sugar, in particular refined sugar, actually puts a drag on performance. There’s a myth that sugar gives us energy. Sure, it will give us a spike, but only a momentary spike. The downside is that it actually increases stress for up to five hours. So, it is really important, for example, before you have a day in court, to eat the right foods and to make sure you’re hydrated. Our brains need water to conduct the electrical energy that creates our thoughts. Without water, we’re unable to think clearly and rapidly. As little as 1% dehydration creates a 5% decrease in cognition and 2% dehydration creates fatigue, mood disorders, irritability and headaches.

  • TIP #5: RESPIRATION REGULATES STRESS AND IMPROVES PERFORMANCE

Physiologically, our respiration controls most of our human operating system, so we can, in fact, manage stress using our breath.

What happens is that most of the oxygen receptors we have are in the lower lobes of our lungs.  When we’re stressed, we’re breathing into our upper chest and not getting the oxygen to the lower lobes of our lungs, which gives our brain a message that we’re in danger (stressed). So just by breathing into the lower lobes — it doesn’t have to be long or deep breaths; it can just be slow, even breaths — will oxygenate our bloodstream, sending oxygen to the brain, giving it the message that everything is okay. The brain then releases a whole cascade of calming chemicals.

The other benefit, besides calming the body, is that breathing into the lower lobes makes the brain more alert, because what happens when we’re stressed is that the thinking part of our brain (the executive function) shuts down. If you’re in court and you’re stressed, and you need to be able to think on your feet, the last thing you want is to be unable to find the words that you need.

Click here to download/subscribe to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast.

How Your Competition Closes Business

David Ackert, President, Ackert Inc.

The Legal Sales & Service Organization’s 2018 RainDance Conference kicked off with a working session focused on navigating a pitch meeting and closing business. David Ackert, President of Ackert, Inc., stressed that “close” in the context of an institutional pitch, rarely translates into a buying decision in the meeting, but if you use the “Six Stage Framework,” you satisfy most prospects’ pitching criteria. This advances your working relationship and creates new opportunities for work, whether or not you secure the matter you just pitched.

The six stages of a pitch presentation should include:

  1. Build rapport – How have you been?
  2. Establish relevance – Here’s what we know.
  3. Propose solutions – Here’s how we think we can help.
  4. Field reactions/concerns – Did we miss anything?
  5. Establish action items – There’s a variety of ways we can stay in touch; what would you prefer?
  6. Follow-up – More than once!!

David based the above directly on inside counsel feedback – They said they want to be pitched this way.

The Six Stage Framework gives a structure and roadmap to navigate the conversation for lawyers. It’s essentially a script – a few words to get the conversation started. Lawyers respond well to business development, sales training, etc., if you give them the right tools, such as words, in this instance.

Steps 1 – 5 will get you successfully through the meeting but the real challenge lies in the follow-up. A BTI Consulting survey reveals that it requires up to 14 touch points before a prospect will respond to solicitation. BTI also says 90% of lawyers quit after the FIRST unsuccessful attempt to contact a prospect. Note that BTI does not count client alerts, newsletters, etc., as touch points.

What lawyers may fail to see is that follow-up is a way of signaling your commitment to client service. It answers these questions for the prospect before they’ve engaged you:

  • Are you invested?
  • Are you helpful?
  • Are you consistent?
  • Are you thorough?
  • Are you organized?
  • Are you too busy to take on a new client?

These are all communications you want to signal, and this will help the prospect make a decision.

The session then paired attendees into teams to discuss missteps attorneys may make in each stage. A few of the ones mentioned include:

  1. Building rapport:
    • Forgetting to do this at all
    • Using the first step to talk about themselves
    • Not doing advance research and therefore not being prepared to start the conversation
  2. Establishing relevance:
    • Not framing the information or research in the right way
    • Not demonstrating the firm’s experience and how it relates to the prospect
    • Not taking the time to ask if “what they know” is actually on target
  3. Proposing solutions:
    • Offering a solution before all of the facts or information is gathered
    • Basing a solution on attorney sitting in the room versus holistic solution from a firm-wide standpoint
    • Not fully understanding the prospect’s decision-making process
  4. Fielding reactions/concerns:
    • Skipping this step and moving right into asking for business
    • Regurgitating what prospect said to them – “what we heard the scope of work to be”
    • Getting defensive and not actually addressing concerns
  5. Establishing action items
    • Not establishing any action items
    • Not establishing a decision-making process
    • Asking for the business on the spot
  6. Following up
    • Not following up in the prospect’s preferred manner
    • Afraid to follow up so it never happens
    • General follow-ups rather than tailored follow-ups

But the biggest faux pas David addressed: if you get to your 14th follow-up and still haven’t received an answer – ask for the business.  It’s appropriate to ask for the work then.

To combat the above, attendees then discussed best practices for lawyers to be more effective in obtaining new business. A few key practices included:

  • Prepare like you would for a deposition; be just as prepared for the building rapport stage as the offering solutions stage.
  • Show visuals to facilitate discussion in the meeting.
  • Ask a closing question – what else do we need to do to earn your business?
  • Establish preferred method of follow-up – timing and format.
  • Offer something of value in the follow-up, e.g., a recent webinar on issues that matter to the prospect.
  • Document what worked well, or didn’t, in the pitch meeting and apply to future meetings.

At the end of the day, if you don’t get the work, stay in touch; timing may just not have been right.

Overcoming the Fear of Specialization to Increase Firm Revenue

Many attorneys and law firms continue to have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) when it comes to specializing in one or two practice areas. Law firms answer every RFP because they fear if they don’t, they’re losing out on business. We addressed this topic in our Marketing Partner Forum recap “FOMO Is Killing Your Firm’s Profitability — Here’s What You Can Do About It” and thought it warranted further discussion.

Benefits of Specialization

When law firms specialize, it makes it easier for them to scale and become more profitable. Specialization also positions the firm as a resource and subject matter expert, which, in turn, can increase the firm’s visibility. Over time, the firm becomes known as the go-to for insurance coverage litigation, for example, rather than competing with hundreds of other firms for general litigation matters. The firm’s pitch, therefore, becomes even more important in terms of communicating expertise, and that depth of expertise needs to also be conveyed on the firm’s website and in all attorney bios. What firms often fail to see in this focused strategy is that work outside of insurance coverage litigation will still come in the door, but now the firm can be more selective when determining what work to go after.

Overcoming FOMO

So, why aren’t law firms good at specialization? It could be because they don’t have the right financial or tracking systems in place to identify where the largest matters are coming in from. Anecdotally, firms may think they know where business is coming from, but when the data is in front of them, it may tell a different story. There’s also a cultural shift that needs to take place – a management mindset to shift the focus and say “no” to some work that comes in over the transom that diverts attorneys from higher value matters.

What to Consider

When evaluating whether or not to go into a specific area, consider: how big is the market; does this industry fit with the firm’s culture; can you realistically compete with other firms in the same space? Also, make sure the geographical area you practice in can support your niche practice, or you’ll be racking up airline miles.

Keep in mind that the narrower your niche, the more targeted and potentially effective your marketing and advertising will become.

For a more in-depth look at specialization and its benefits, view our webinar “Cliff Notes from the 25th Annual Marketing Partner Forum.” Watch now.

7 Tips to Maximize Your Time at a Conference

Conferences and trade shows pack a one-two punch of marketing and networking opportunities. These industry events are places to learn about the latest trends, catch up with colleagues and get your business card in the hands of potential clients. There’s a lot you can accomplish, so it’s important to have a strategy to make the most of your time, whether you have just a few hours or a whole week.

Berbay has a detailed checklist we reference before going to any trade show or conference. It ensures that we don’t waste any time (or any money – these things can be expensive!) and that we put the connections we’ve nurtured to good use.

Here are the top seven tips from the Berbay checklist:

  • Plan your networking strategy. Virtually all industry events will post a list of vendors (and sometimes a list of every attendee) ahead of time. Review it carefully so you can adjust your goals, marketing materials and talking points to match your audience. Note who you need to say hello to and who you want to meet, and if there are any key contacts you want to reconnect with, make plans to meet up. Reach out in advance to get on their calendar; don’t rely on bumping into them at the conference.
  • Use raffles and giveaways to collect contact info. Sure, conferences are great for learning, but everyone really loves the free stuff. Raffles are the perfect way to draw people to your booth, start a conversation and collect their business cards. It even gives you an excuse to follow up with the winners after the conference. If you use this strategy, make sure one person is in charge of managing the raffle and contacting the winners afterwards.
  • Don’t force it. There’s no need to make a hard sell to a passerby who’s clearly not interested. It’s not a loss if someone takes a few materials from your table and moves on. If you offer memorable, informative giveaways, attendees might still give you a call once the conference is over. And for the people who do want to chat, remember to listen more than you speak.
  • Make it look nice. Speaking of giveaways and marketing materials, they should be displayed in a way that’s attractive and easy for people to take. Don’t crowd your table with a million brochures and giveaways – just bring the most useful and relevant materials. Invest in stands and displays so your table is organized and people can take a quick glance at everything, even if they’re just passing by.
  • Keep an eye on the competition. Attending a conference or trade show is a way to better your own business and career, but there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at what others are doing. Scout out the vendors that have a lot of foot traffic, the giveaways that are making a splash and the booths that look the coolest. Next time, adapt some of their strategies to suit your own needs – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.
  • Take notes. Nothing is more frustrating than coming back from a conference and not remembering the name of a potential lead or the giveaway that you wanted to order. Take copious notes about the vendors that stand out, any new connections you make and the trends and challenges being talked about. Write down your successes and stumbling blocks so you can improve for your next event.
  • Put it all into action. The real work starts when you’re back at the office. A debrief meeting is essential to chat about new opportunities that you discovered, tell other coworkers what you learned and plan your next course of action. Make sure to follow up with leads and put contact information into your database ASAP. Then, get ready to do it all again at the next conference.

New Trends in Search: An SEO Workshop

Speakers:

Guy Alvarez, Chief Engagement Officer, Good2bSocial Mary M. Trice, Digital & Marketing Communications Manager, Winston & Strawn LLP
 
Jennifer Buechele Schaller, Managing Director, National Law Review
 

 

You hear about it all the time and know it’s important for your firm, yet you might feel as if you need a master’s degree to understand search engine optimization (SEO). The SEO workshop at LMA Tech West 2018 offered actionable tips and insights to help bridge the gap between theory and application.

Below, we begin with an overview of the four components of SEO. In section two, we discuss how search engines rank content based on relevance and domain authority with insights on technical, on-page and off-page SEO to make your site perform better. In the third section we discuss how to create SEO-friendly content with insights on ideation and copywriting, as well as tips for creating multimedia and writing article titles that attract attention and clicks.

I. Overview

There are four components of an effective SEO strategy.

  1. Technical SEO

Technical SEO allows Google and other search engines to properly crawl and index your site, making you generally easier to find.

  1. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO includes keywords, page titles, meta tags and meta descriptions, some of which are also aspects of technical SEO. It influences the relevance search engine bots accessing and crawling your site’s content, but more importantly, it should make it easy for human clients to find you based on their own semantics.

For example, clients aren’t going to search for “premises liability,” they’re going to search for “slip and fall,” or something to that effect.

  1. Off-Page SEO

This has a lot to do with domain authority, which is strongly influenced by the number and quality of links you have linking to your site. Domain authority is a rating determining how well a site will rank on a search engine results page. Not all links are created equal, though. Having a link from a high domain authority website is going to get you a lot more juice than getting a link from a mom and pop blog.

  1. Local SEO

Even if you don’t have a geographic focus, you need strong local SEO, including a physical address. Google looks to over 100 online directories to make sure your physical location appears in them. “Local SEO is emerging as a very important factor in how your site ranks,” noted one speaker.

II. Semantic Search: The Future of SEO Relevance

“Google evaluates content according to its relevance—and not by inclusion of individual keywords.” – Searchmetrics

Google does its best to keep people from gaming the system, and it has become far more difficult for people with poor quality or irrelevant content to rank using search engine “hacks.” SEO has more to do with being genuinely helpful and user-friendly than being technically clever.

The cornerstones of semantic search include keyword placement within content, mobile-friendly, well-designed sites and high-quality, relevant backlinks.

  1. General tips
    • Having meta descriptions on all the pages that matter is both important and well within your scope of control.
    • With mobile devices quickly becoming the preferred medium for browsing, having a mobile-friendly site is indispensable. Although it’s become standard with some site builders, it’s not to be taken for granted.
    • Having an HTTPS certification is an important “trust” factor, especially if you have payment processing on-site.
    • There are various ways to get quality backlinks, including reciprocity and guest blogging on other sites.
    • Social signals such as shares, followers, likes and mentions also influence organic search engine rankings.
  1. Internal and external links

Be aware of the ratio of text to the number of links that you have on your page, and be sure your outbound links are appropriate and relevant. Internal links are important as well. Pages on your site that have high domain authority should be linked back to other pages on your site. Internal linking also helps keep people on site for longer periods, which signals to search engine bots that it’s a quality site.

Google has a freshness factor, so newer content outweighs older content, all things being equal. Understanding this can help you manage negative content.

  1. An important note on deleting pages

Make sure to implement a redirect if you ever delete a page (such as an attorney bio for someone who’s no longer with your firm) that has any domain authority. Google doesn’t like 404s. Do analysis before you do your redesign and you’ll save yourself frustration. Know the domain authority of each page and don’t kill a page with an authority of 40-plus without implementing a redirect. This is also a time you may wish to disavow or get rid of links that are performing poorly and dragging down your site’s ranking.

Do site audits with tools like SEMrush to identify broken links and 404 errors.

  1. Keyword selection and research tips

Keyword research is a discipline in itself, but here are some basics:

  1. Use long-tail keywords, which are easier to rank for and target the kinds of clients best-suited to you. For instance, instead of “intellectual property law,” a firm might use “cleantech patent attorney San Francisco” to get in front of the right audience.
  2. The auto populate function in your URL bar and the “Searches related to ___” section at the bottom of search engine results pages (SERPs) are good, quick and dirty keyword research tools.

Google Webmaster Tools is now called Google Search Console. It will show you what keywords your site is actually showing up for. Ask yourself (a) what keywords you want to show up for, and (b) which keywords you’re showing up for that aren’t relevant to your services.

III. Creating SEO-friendly Content

No digital strategy will work without a strong investment in content. Even if you use Google AdWords or paid social marketing, you need SEO-friendly content.

Ideation:

What kind of questions are your attorneys getting from clients? Ask them. Every one of those questions is a potential blog post. Write and crosslink helpful blog entries on these topics.

“Figuring out how to write SEO friendly content is more of an art than a science.”

7 tips for crafting attractive article titles:

  1. Search engines truncate titles longer than 65 characters, so lead with keywords if a title exceeds that length.
  2. Have the “Who” up front, e.g., “California Department of Corrections….”
  3. Use bracketed clarifications, e.g., [INFOGRAPHIC] or [VIDEO].
  4. Titles are not a place for vagueness. Be ultra-specific.
  5. Accompanying photos also increase click through rate (CTR).
  6. Meta should be entered manually or search engines will default to opening lines of articles.
  7. Ask questions in article titles or leads.

7 tips for multimedia:

  1. Using images to accompany text results in 65% better recall.
  2. Most consumers are more likely to contact a business when local search results are accompanied by images.
  3. Search engines can’t interpret photos, so it’s essential to use alternate text (alt text) for visual content.
  4. Articles with images get 94% more views than those without.
  5. In 2017, video content comprised 74% of internet traffic.
  6. Nearly two-thirds {64%} of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service after watching a video.
  7. If you’re spending time on video, go the extra step and embed a transcript for the same reason you would include alt text with a photo.

Copywriting:

Go long. Short form articles are more likely to be tagged as “thin” content. Top-ranking posts exceed 1,000 words because they have greater depth of knowledge, and therefore, greater helpfulness. Long-form content typically means greater time on site, which similarly improves rankings.

Finally, attorney bios are huge drivers of traffic, accounting for around 80% of legal website traffic. They should be clear, relatable and in excess of 300 words.

Why Technology Matters to the Legal Ecosystem

How Law Firms and In-House Counsel Are Navigating Changing Technology

 

Moderator:

Nat Slavin, Partner, Wicker Park Group

 

Speakers:

Jennifer Chaloemtiarana, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, Castlight Pratik Patel, VP, Legal Business Solutions, Elevate Services
 
Mick Cox, Executive Director, Legal Operations, Office of the General Counsel, University of California Office of the President
 

 

“Navigating” is the perfect term for discussing legal technology because it implies both a degree of uncertainty and a method for managing it. We’ll get right to the point:

Technology isn’t a “necessary evil”

Technology is available to help lawyers more effectively provide client services. It is therefore incumbent upon firms to have people that can support the technology. Integrating new technologies doesn’t mean everybody at your firm has to be tech savvy; it requires strong leadership and judgment to bring the right technologies on board and get people to adapt and thrive.

Pratik emphasized that there are two layers of support you need to provide lawyers:

  1. Categorize and organize work appropriately.
  2. Know whether they have the resources needed to get work done, including data intelligence, technology and workflows/processes.

There’s technology that organizes information within documents, eliminating time-consuming contractual work. Tools like billing software and contract management support are also increasingly needed to support legal functions.

The panelists advised that you seek out a suite of tools that come with support services and integrate well with one another. The best tools cover a number of different functions, including managing and interpreting data and analytics.

Technology can help firms move from making decisions based on tribal knowledge to more data-driven, methodical and informed choices, Mick pointed out. It can digest information far more quickly than people. If algorithms and data can help a lawyer or legal team prepare a more effective brief, they should be leveraged.

Process

One point that’s key to legal marketing is that a lot of the challenges lawyers and firms face relate to the business of law rather than the practice of law.

On that note, Pratik pointed out that “there’s not a mindset of installing process-oriented people around the lawyers.” He argued that there should be.

A bit of process training around how to do consulting work can make lawyers more powerful. Support services for lawyers should empower them with guidance rather than being prescriptive. A good onboarding process begins with saying, “We’re not going to lay out the process for you; we’re just going to guide you through the decision-making.”

One size fits one

This is a theme that came up in one form or another in at least half the sessions at LMA Tech West: Know thy firm. There’s not one solution that works for every firm.

Client Service Relationship Managers who aren’t practicing law are becoming more common in the legal industry, providing business representation to help firms manage their business operations. This is often the person designated to manage marketing technology as well.

Broadly speaking, companies providing legal marketing and business intelligence services need to know a lot about a legal business to capture a prospect’s attention.

Data, relationships and customer service

An aspirational goal for law firms and firms providing ancillary services should always be to use data-driven marketing strategies that solve real problems and guide decisions in real time. Mick pointed out the importance of technical support teams having a sincere sense of empathy for clients and the challenges they face.

If you provide support to law firms, you should be invested in how effectively firms paying for your services are using them. These support services providers help firms to understand usage patterns, strengths and weaknesses so they can use your services more optimally. If your firm uses data-driven marketing services, you should likewise have a handle on how they’re being used and to what effect.

These services matter because data-driven decisions help law firm management marketing executives determine where they’re going to invest their time and money.

Jennifer emphasized the need for quarterly retrospectives examining how effectively technology has been used to guide decisions and how it should be used going forward to meet business objectives.

Pratik spoke of an untapped potential in the legal industry, which is the ability for this audience collectively to influence what happens in law schools. He would like to see law schools train aspiring lawyers to be more well-rounded, to understand client needs and cultivate business partnerships. Customer service matters a lot more in the legal industry than it did 10 years ago.

Strategic conversations and relationships characterized by mutual trust are central to the effective deployment of legal marketing technology. Neither party should have a fixed mindset, or the business objectives of both parties will suffer.

Social Media Master Class

Adrian Dayton, Founder, ClearView Social Stefanie Marrone, Director of Business Development and Marketing, Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP
 

 

The tweet that changed my life

In 2009, Adrian Dayton responded to an inquiry on Twitter for a contract lawyer and landed a client. The opportunity to leverage social media to bring in business was not lost on him. In the subsequent months, he wrote the first book on social media for lawyers. Social media “masters” aren’t just experts at getting noticed, they deliver on business objectives, drive 10 times the traffic of their peers and bring in high-value clients.

Below are some of the insights Adrian and Stefanie brought to the table, including strategy, self-management, content sharing tools and “The Social Media Secret Sauce.”

The principle of karma is alive and well on Twitter

If you provide information that helps people get their jobs done better or solves a problem, this will circle back to you. You show people you’re an expert by providing useful content or responses, not by touting your own achievements.

Social Media Triangle: Empathy, Audience, Content

The number one challenge lawyers face with regard to social media is a lack of focus, which lies at the intersection of the following:

  1. Focus on a growth-phase industry (as opposed to emerging, mature or declining). Pick your target market and double down.
  2. By focusing, you’re going to be able to charge a premium for what you do. Focus ultimately increases the amount of business you can do in a specialized area, your overall volume of work and the amount you can charge, rather than eliminating opportunities, as is commonly believed.
  3. Marketers and marketing technologists can do the same thing, to similar effect.

Content: “When it comes to content, you can be a collector or you can be a creator,” notes Adrian. Collectors disseminate useful information for the benefit of a target audience.

Consider the Venn diagram below (courtesy of Adrian). Adrian points out that your content strategy can be two of these, but never all three. Think of “clickbait.” It’s cheap, fast and low-quality. Being a collector is good, it’s cheap, but it’s time-consuming.

clickbait

Collectors have to share every day. Weekly posts are not sufficient. How can you be that prolific? For example, ClearView Social’s platform streamlines social sharing across multiple social media channels, provides content suggestions, allows posts to be scheduled in advance and measures engagement.

Hierarchy of content, with proposed frequencies:

  • Tweet (text only)                            – Multiple times daily
  • Share found content                      – Daily
  • Blog post/original content           – Weekly
  • Video blog                                       – Weekly/Monthly
  • Long-form article                          – Quarterly
  • Webinar                                          – Quarterly
  • White paper                                   – Annually
  • Book                                                – Every few years

How do you maintain a rigorous schedule for creating and sharing content?

The key method suggested to stay on top of publishing regular content was an editorial calendar, and by spending hours writing every week.

According to Google, the ideal length for a blog post in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) is 2,200 words. In Google’s mind, a 2,200-word article is the most likely to answer people’s questions. Long-form content also results in more time on-page, an important search engine ranking criterion.

If you follow people and your bio is similar to theirs, they’re reasonably likely to follow you.

Cycling refers to the tactic where you follow people and, if they don’t follow you back, you unfollow them. If they notice, it’s a good way to get people into your network. Again with the caveat that you have to be engaging and helpful, you can use tags and “mentions” to piggyback off other people’s audiences, including amplifiers, thought leaders and influencers.

A few tools to help with things like content generation and finding an audience for your content are JDSupra, Lexology and Mondaq. These platforms require an investment but can be used effectively to add value to your marketing.

Social media masters are generous with their knowledge.

Social media masters create content that resonates specifically with one customer or type of customer. As IBM said, “Stop selling what you have. Start selling what they need.”

For all firms, the goal of social media marketing is lead generation and business development. It bears repeating that the way to leverage social media for business development is by providing helpful information, not by explicit self-promotion.

And finally, listen. Monitor your posts’ performance. When you strike a chord, keep at it, expanding on the same or similar topics.

Did you know?

Stephanie opened with a few key social media stats:

  • Within the legal industry, LinkedIn is the most important social media platform.
  • More than 70 percent of all visits to law firm websites originate through Google.
  • The human brain processes visual information vastly more quickly than text. Don’t bother posting anything without a visual.

It’s not about the number of followers you have – it’s about who follows you.

She went on to address a couple social media best practices. First, know your audience and which platforms it’s most engaged with. (Hint: In the legal industry, it probably isn’t Snapchat.)

Second, content should be totally centered on your clients at all times. Don’t focus on growing your audience; focus on providing value to those that matter.

To accomplish the above, the following social media tools can be helpful:

  1. Hashtagify.me Provides suggestions for the best hashtags by topic. There’s no reason to use more than two hashtags in a post, notes Stefanie. Beware of overkill.
  2. HubSpot Social Media Calendar A free tool to organize and track your social media content.
  3. The Essential Social Media Image Size Cheat Sheet  Also free from HubSpot; learn the best image size for each platform.
  4. Pic Stitch  The #1 photo collage app for iPhone, also available on Windows and Google Play.
  5. Hootsuite – A social media marketing and management dashboard.
  6. Canva  A user-friendly graphic design platform.

And here it is…

“The Social Media Secret Sauce”

  • Reuse and repurpose content. Create once, publish everywhere. “Content is finite; the promotion of content is infinite.” – HubSpot
  • Show vs. tell. Every piece of content should demonstrate why you’re great, rather than telling others why you’re great.
  • Value-added, client-centric content. Again, the goal of social media marketing is lead generation and business development. Focus on what your clients and prospects want to hear, not what you want to tell them.
  • Giving back. Highlight pro-bono work and community service. The good works of your firm should not be underestimated and can make your prospects and clients see you in a different light.

The discussion closed with two final insights:

Share content at the right time.

In terms of engagement, clicks and shares, the time of day you post to social media matters as much as the quality of your content. For instance, LinkedIn posts get far fewer clicks between 10:45 AM and 4:30 PM than at other times like first thing in the morning and the close of the business day. Having a basic grasp of this will help you generate far greater interest with almost no additional effort.

Social sharing platforms such as ClearView Social, Hootsuite and Buffer can help you write posts when convenient and schedule them out for optimal times.

Use earned and owned media to generate visibility.

Earned media is basically exposure you’ve earned through word of mouth. Owned media is content you’re in direct control of through your site, blog, social media profiles and other platforms. They’re complementary, so think tactically about them. Make yourself part of the story. For instance, make yourself more than an attendee at a conference. Maximize the time your lawyers are figuratively away from their desks.

Social media is an incredibly useful business development tool in the legal industry, so use it!

Berbay Marketing & PR