The 7 Surefire Steps to Successful Law Firm Marketing

The 7 Surefire Steps to Successful Law Firm Marketing

Running a successful law firm has two elements: client acquisition and client fulfillment.  Fortunately, law schools only teach you the client fulfillment part—you probably learned little or next to nothing about client acquisition.  There is no point in knowing how to practice law if you don’t know how to find clients that will hire you.

Why do I consider it fortunate for you that law schools don’t teach marketing?

If every law student graduated law school  knowing surefire ways to get paying clients, you would be forced to compete in an amazing competitive marketplace.  Lucky for you, most lawyers have little to no knowledge of marketing a law firm. They end up wasting time and resources, lurching from strategy to strategy, never quite gaining the momentum necessary to grow a practice and dominate a market. You’re not going to waste time and resources.

While we are a digital marketing firm, we fully realize that there are offline strategies that can deliver tremendous results. This guide is going to give an overview of a few of these offline strategies as well as tactics to integrate them with online strategies.

Before we get into the meat of it, here are the 6 steps:

  1. Craft the right message about your practice, figure out whom you need to reach, and when to reach him or her
  2. Establish a marketing budget and stick to it
  3. Build a website that communicates your message through both imagery and text
  4. Become an online authority
  5. Become an offline authority
  6. Tend to your online reputation
  7. Hire a professional to run a paid search campaign for your firm

1. The Right Message, The Right Person, at the Right Time

Good marketing gets the right message, to the right person, and the right time. Before you start spending any money, time, or effort on marketing your practice, you need to determine what your message is, whom you should deliver it to, and when he or she will be most receptive to it.

Craft a Unique Value Proposition

The right message is not a tagline; the tagline is simply a succinct communication of that message.  Why should someone hire you vs. a competitor? What are you able to offer that another law firm does not offer? Why does your practice exist?

Maybe you’re a former appellate prosecutor that has decided to go into private practice.  You can craft a message touting your past experience “on the other side” as an asset to your client.

Maybe you’ve specialized in a specific niche, such as intellectual property in the software industry. By declaring a specialization, you can craft a message around the specialized expertise that you have about your client’s industry.

Regardless of what you have done or whom you are, you should be able to offer some uniqueness in your services.  It is imperative you communicate your unique value proposition in your messaging.

Target “The Right Person”

Most advertising that you’re familiar with is an unmeasurable, “pray and spray” approach to marketing. Daytime television or late-night cable ads for “aggressive local lawyers that will fight for you!” are basically targeting people that don’t work 9-5 jobs (or don’t work at all).  This will include lots of people who are not your target audience.

It is advisable that you start by creating “buyer personas,” even if you do so informally. Imagine the client that is most likely to hire you and your practice and determine that person’s:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Interests
  • Occupation
  • Preferences related to your services
  • Questions that this person may have about topics related to your services

This is going to allow you to better understand the person to whom you are tailoring your message. Let’s make a few buyer personas for a lawyer that focuses on real estate:

Jonathan Ramirez, age 42. He owns a bodega in Philadelphia and nets $45k a year. He is a member of both the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and and the Association of Bodega owners in Philadelphia.  He has a number of questions about what would be involved with converting a small warehouse on Lehigh Ave. into a small supermarket.

Margie Levine, age 53. She is an executive at a fast-growing fast casual restaurant based in Philadelphia.  She is tasked with overseeing the opening of new locations throughout the region and is unsure about how certain regulations vary between Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Deliver Your Message at the Right Time

A regional advertising firm approaches you with a pitch.  They’re going to put an advertisement for your land use firm in every bar bathroom at the Jersey Shore.  For both Jonathan and Margie, this is going to be the wrong time for them to see your message.

While this may be an extreme example, it is not uncommon to hear from attorneys that want to advertise their services on platforms that are new, but entirely inappropriate for their target audiences.  Snapchat may be the newest, hottest social media platform, but it would be an entirely inappropriate place to run personal injury ads.

A Tale of Two Law Firms Marketing On Facebook

Users go on Facebook or Instagram with a certain goal in mind; they likely want to catch up with friends, read about things that interest them, or share the minutia of their day. This is a decent medium for a real estate attorney to place sponsored content about real estate on the feeds of people interested in real estate.  It is a terrible medium for a local personal injury lawyer to share content about slip and falls.

Why is it “decent” for one lawyer yet “terrible” for another? Timing.

The content about real estate will likely be in alignment with why some of the viewers are on Facebook in the first place; they want to read about things that interest them. No one goes on Facebook hoping to read about slip and fall lawsuits.

This is not to say that no one is interested in content about slip and falls—it’s just the wrong time to deliver that content.  The local personal injury lawyer would be much better served by running a paid search campaign targeting searches related to slip and fall injuries.  He should also consider creating a blog/video series that runs through all of the particulars in slip and fall cases in the state where he practices. The right time for the PI lawyer to deliver his message is when the client is explicitly looking for it, not when the client is more interested in cat videos.

2. Establish a Budget For Your Marketing

Does Your Law Firm Serve Businesses or Private Individuals?

Marketing a divorce lawyer has very different costs involved with it that marketing a firm focused on subrogation.

Marketing law firms that serve individuals

The 2018 Deloitte CMO Survey indicated that b2c businesses spend the highest percentage of gross revenue on marketing at 18%. This would indicate that a startup personal injury firm should consider spending anywhere from 10%-20% of gross revenue to get started.

The Small Business Administration recommends spending 7%-8% of gross revenue on marketing if your business generates less than $5 million dollars in gross revenue annually. Considering that most startup law firms are earning less than this $5 million a year, this might be the right number for your firm.

Marketing law firms that serve businesses

If your practice provides legal services to other businesses, your marketing efforts will be quite different from those of a firm that aims to reach the masses.  The 2018 survey by Deloitte in the previous paragraph reports the “service consulting” industry allocating 12% of gross revenues to marketing. For a firm whose area of focus could be described as service consulting, it may be necessary to spend 5%-15% of gross revenue on marketing, especially in the case of a startup law firm

3. You Need to Build a Website

In 2018, the most common content management system (CMS) on the internet is WordPress.  You’ve almost certainly heard of it before.

WordPress is great for law firm marketing for a number of reasons:

  • It is probably the easiest CMS to use
  • It is open-source and boasts a massive community of users and contributors. If you can dream up a function that you would like your website to perform, someone has likely developed a free or inexpensive addon—referred to as a “plugin”—that can provide that feature
  • For a cash-strapped startup law firm, there are tons of local developers that can get a template WordPress site up to help you market your firm
  • WordPress will allow you to begin blogging.  By writing blogs, you’ll be able to answer the sorts of questions that potential clients are likely to type into the search engine. By answering these questions, you’ll demonstrate your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) to the search engine while gaining an opportunity to pitch your services.  E-A-T is how Google determines the “worth” of your site, which will impact your likelihood to rank. More on this later.

Should Your Law Firm Build a Custom Theme or use a Customized Theme or Template?

This is a hotly debated topic in the world of web design. Our agency rarely builds custom themes because they cost markedly more than a customized theme or template and can deliver the same results.  Here is a rundown of the upsides and downsides of each:

Custom Theme (typically $5k-$15k)

This is a WordPress theme that is coded from scratch.

Pros:

  • When designed right, they can be very fast to load
  • Saves storage space, often 80% smaller than a premium customized template

Cons:

  • Expensive; usually cost $5k-$50k depending on the complexity of the design and the skill/reputation of the developer
  • When designed wrong, can perform worse than a well designed customized theme

Customized Premium Theme (typically $2k-$7k)

This is a premium theme that was purchased and customized to your specifications.

Pros:

  • If it’s a good theme and the developer knows what he is doing, it can also load fast
  • Often widely used, so most bugs have already been discovered and addressed
  • Much more affordable than a custom theme

Cons:

  • They are usually bigger than custom themes, often as large as 15mb-20mb
  • More expensive than a template

Template Theme (Typically $500-$1500)

This is a paint-by-numbers theme.

Pros:

  • Cheap
  • You can get started fast
  • You have a WP site, which some SEOs believe is better for search rank than a Wix or Weebly site

Cons:

  • You are often limited in your customization options
  • There’s a high likelihood that your site will look like someone else’s

You Need a Website that Clearly Communicates Your Message

Messaging is the #1 problem with most attorney websites.

You read the previous section and now you understand what you need to say, whom you’re saying it to, and when you need to say it.  Now it’s time to build a website and make sure that you’re delivering this message.

Most attorneys fall short during this step. They often rely on IT and web designers to deliver their message, despite the fact that neither has a background in marketing.  If you are not crystal clear about what you want to communicate to your visitors, the person building your website will not do so effectively. Unless you are working with a marketing agency to craft your message and build your website, you must have everything spelled out for your web developer.  Fail to do this and you’re probably going to miss out on a lot of business.

Visuals are just as important as the site copy

Visitors are going to look at the photos, graphics, colors, and typefaces on your website before they read a word of what you’ve written.  Craft that message with your images.

Case Study in Using Images to Communicate Benefits, Not Features

We began working with a law firm that handles life insurance claim denials for beneficiaries.  This was the website that they built originally:

boonswang law original site

Months went by and visitors to the site were not contacting the firm for consultations.  The firm that built the site changed to the header image, resulting in this site:

boonswang law second site

The site still wasn’t converting visitors.  This was mostly due to faulty visuals that did not effectively communicate the benefits of having the firm represent beneficiaries.

The initial design was simply of a plaque outside the office, which communicated nothing at all. The contact form and contact information did not really stand out against the design, resulting in a website that did not drive leads.

The redesign addressed the issues with the contact information, but the header image communicated nothing other than “our clients are sad and helpless”—the exact opposite of what a firm should want to communicate.

We rebuilt the site with visuals that focused on the outcome of hiring the firm.  The father is not in the photo, but the mother and the young girl are ok, enjoying a beautiful sunset—the entire reason why the family purchased the life insurance policy in the first place.

new boonswang law website

Law firm website headers most commonly feature pictures of the partners. No one cares about them.  The header of your firm’s website should say something about your client, not you.  If your client needs workers’ comp benefits to pay the bills, get better and go back to work, the header should feature workers in an industry that is prominent in your area. If you’re an expert in land use, show some images of the groundbreaking of a large construction site.  Focus on why people hire you and not who delivers the services.

4. Become an Online Legal Authority

Now that you have a WordPress website, you’ll be able to start working on creating an online reputation.    As I mentioned in a previous section, becoming an online authority in your area of expertise has a number of benefits.  The first is that it helps your site to rank in Google.

Ranking On Google Is Much More Than Being #1 for 3 Keywords

When we began working on the Boonswang Law website (see previous section), the founder expressed that he “had to rank for life insurance lawyer and life insurance lawyers.”  After running pay-per-click ads for 4 years and collecting data on hundreds of thousands of queries, the term “life insurance lawyer” and its close variants only account for roughly 30% of client inquiries that he received.

The remaining 70% of client inquiries came from people that had performed searches such as:

  • What to do when beneficiary of life insurance is deceased?
  • Lawyers to sue metlife over death benefits
  • Can insurer deny benefits over lapsed payments

These, along with the thousands of other relevant queries, are great opportunities for your practice to get in front of potential clients.  To start, it gives you an opportunity to pitch your services while they are on your page. Second, when Google receives positive user signals—meaning that the visitors seem to stop searching after they visit your site—you’ll earn “expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness” in the eyes of the search engine.  This will increase the likelihood that your site will show up for other queries.

Online Content Can Be Much More than Blogs

There are tons of different ways that you can provide valuable content and build your reputation online.  Among them are:

  • Facebook live
  • Webinars where you share your expertise
  • Linkedin videos
  • YouTube videos
  • White papers
  • Infographics (though I’m not the hugest fan of this content)

5. Become an Offline Legal Authority

Several of the most prominent personal injury and workers’ comp law firms in the Greater Philadelphia Region built their practices around their relationships with labor unions.

Do what you can to cultivate relationships with trade associations, chambers of commerce, unions, or any organization that your prospective clients may interact with.  This is a time-consuming process, but one of the most valuable assets that your firm will have.

Speak at as many Meetups, CLE events, conferences, or any other gatherings as you possibly can.  Build a reputation in the market that you wish to serve. When a member of the local organization is injured, you may be the attorney that his friends recommend.  When someone is injured on the job, the union rep may be the person that recommends he hire you.

6. Cultivate Your Online Reputation

According to Review Trackers, 83% of clients check reviews before hiring an attorney.

That’s something that you simply cannot ignore.

In addition, quantity and quality of online reviews are a ranking signal for local SEO, making online reputation management a part of a solid SEO plan.  Your practice must develop a plan to solicit reviews from happy clients and know how to handle negative online reviews.  Having a long list of positive reviews of your firm will help you to close the leads that you have and quite possibly play a role in getting your practice onto a prospective clients’ shortlist.

Doing so can be as easy as creating a template email to send to all of your happy clients.  Within that email there should be a link to leave a Google, Facebook, Avvo, and/or Yelp review. If you can only pick one out of the bunch, my recommendation is to focus on your Google reviews.  After setting up a Google My Business account, you can create a link that will send people right to a box where they can leave reviews.  Simply sending them a link to your Google profile or  knowledge panel will add unnecessary steps and confusion, so learn how to create the link.  This link will show you how.

7. Hire a Professional to Run a PPC Campaign for Your Firm

If your law firm is marketing to the general public and not businesses, you should be running paid search ads.

We’ve heard all of the nonsense excuses; ignore them. We’ve never run a PPC campaign for a law firm that wasn’t ROI positive.  If you’ve tried and haven’t gotten any business from it, it was because you didn’t know what you were doing.

PPC management for law firms is not something that just anyone can do.  You’re going to be going up against professionals that are using sophisticated scripts and techniques that a non-professional simply won’t be able to compete against.

Before you do hire someone, there are a few steps that you need to take:

  • Calculate your customer lifetime value. How much is a case worth to you? You need to know how much you stand to earn per client acquisition and how much you can spend to acquire a new client.
  • Set up robust conversion tracking. By setting various conversion goals and importing them into Google Adwords, you’ll be able to know how much it cost to get a prospective client on the phone.
  • Keep track of your close rate. Out of every client contact that you receive that you can attribute to your Adwords campaign, what percentage turn into revenue?

By keeping tabs on how much it costs to generate revenue for the firm, you’ll be less likely to complain that “Adwords is expensive.”  If it costs you $600 to acquire a new client that is likely to generate $8k, that $600 cost is money well spent.

What’s the difference between SEO, SEM, and SMM?

SEO, SEM, and SMM are Marketing Channels

  1. SEO is an abbreviation for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to get search engine users to your website.
  2. SEM is search engine marketing.  This includes SEO and paid search (the paid ads that you see at the top of Google when you perform a search).
  3. SMM is an abbreviation for social media marketing. Social media marketing includes paid Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram ads as well as non-paid social media marketing efforts.

All three abbreviations are commonly used when discussing online marketing. Most successful websites engage in some combination of these marketing channels, including most of the top websites that you visit every day.

 

We added a video below, so scroll down if you’d prefer a video to reading!

 

SEO stands for search engine optimization, but what does that mean?

SEO used to be about gaming the algorithm

20 years ago, search engine optimization largely involved writing as many times as possible the keyword that you wanted to rank for. Google came along and heavily weighed the value of backlinks, resulting in a new focus on acquiring links from other sites to the site that the SEO worked for.  SEOs promptly began engaging in practices to manipulate the search engine results page, resulting in measures by Google to penalize sites caught trying to manipulate the results.

Today’s SEO is about providing value

In 2018, the goal of SEO is to gain the trust of the search engine by giving people what they want. This is accomplished by designing websites that:

  1. are easily crawled and understood by the search engine
  2. solves people’s problems
  3. serve as an information resource to other websites
MAKE YOUR SITE EASILY CRAWLED AND UNDERSTOOD

There are a number of ways that you can help the search engine to understand and navigate your website:

  1. Create a sitemap and submit it to Google.  If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, this gets generated automatically and can be found at www.exampledomain.com/sitemap_index.xml.  Go to Google Search Console —> Crawl —> Sitemap.  Submit your sitemap there.
  2. Use title tags as well as H1-6 tags.  By using header tags you will make your content more “skimmable” to visitors as well as the search engine.  It’s a great opportunity to place keywords relevant to your article.
  3. Link to other articles and pages within your site.  The search engine wants to understand which pages you consider to be the most important and authoritative; link to your most important articles that are relevant to the piece that you are writing.  If you’re writing an article about painting your kitchen and you did a piece about priming and sanding, link to the priming and sanding article.  It is both relevant to the current article and could provide value to future visitors.  Additionally, it can potentially pass some link equity that will help the other article to rank.
SOLVE PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS
  1. Focus your content on solving people’s problems. Google has a number of ways to determine whether a website is solving people’s problems.  It is collecting all kinds of data on the way people interact with search engine results and websites; if your site seems to provide the knowledge on a given topic, you are likely to be worthy of consideration when the next person does a search on a similar topic.
  2. Google is not interested in “rewarding your website”—it wants to provide the best, most relevant results to searchers.  If you are able to demonstrate that you are able to provide the value to searchers that they need, you will be trusted and more likely to be recommended as a result for queries related to your content or business.
SERVE AS A SOURCE OF INFORMATION TO OTHER WEBSITE
  1. Create unique content that provides value to other sites.  How-to articles, information related to your industry, anything that another website would want to reference will eventually earn your site links.
  2. Contribute to a community.  My experience has been that sites seldom earn links on their own. Usually sites earn links when their contributors are members of a community that refers to the content, makes its existence known in that circle, then earns links via references.

 

SEM Stands for “Search Engine Marketing”

Search engine marketing includes SEO, but also includes paid search.  I did a comprehensive guide on paid search that you can follow to learn the best practices in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

 

SMM is “Social Media Marketing”

FACEBOOK ADVERTISING

This is a term that many marketers were using up until around 2016.  SMM has largely morphed into “Facebook Advertising” since Facebook has captured such a large percentage of the money spent on social media.  Additionally, it’s become largely a paid channel since the organic reach of FB pages is now so limited.  Today, Facebook marketing largely means “paid advertising.”

INFLUENCER MARKETING

Much—if not all—of “influencer marketing” is done on social media.  A brand reaches out to the representative of an influencer such as Kim Kardashian and pays her to put up a post related to the brand on social media.  Influencer marketing is arguably a subset of social media marketing, though it is rarely described as such.

 

What is a Go-to-Market Strategy?

What Is A Go-To-Market Strategy?

A go-to-market strategy is the plan that a business follows to achieve maximum market penetration and profitability.  It consists of the entire life of a product, including its:

  • development
  • distribution strategy
  • introduction into the market
  • promotion
  • client service

Note: it is important to stress that a go-to-market strategy is not a a product launch; rather, the product launch is simply the introduction of the product into the market, a step in the process of a go-to-market plan.

A Go-To-Market Strategy Answers 4 Questions

What Are You Selling?

Sometimes this is simply a question of “should my business sell ice cream or water ice?” Other times, it’s quite more complicated.

photo of ice cream standA go-to-market strategy will analyze the opportunities, costs, and potential risks involved with different products, then help the organization to determine what product it should offer.  The business will often perform market research and develop a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) that will help it to make a decision.

Part of this research is the identification of a unique value proposition. A unique value proposition offers a unique value to customers that differentiates it from other available options.  Points of differentiation can involve many aspects of a product, such as its price (ex. it’s the most expensive on the market and conveys prestige when I own it), its ability to be customized (ex. getting a birthday cake from a bakery vs. a convenience store), or its performance (ex. it’s the biggest, fastest, smoothest, etc.)

“Jobs to Be Done”

It is important to note that identifying what you are selling is often not so obvious. In one well-known example, McDonald’s ran into roadblocks when trying to increase sales of its milkshakes. After spending time and resources refining the texture and flavor without seeing any increases in sales, it looked deeper into why its customers actually purchased the milkshakes.

It came to learn that the company sold a large percentage of its milkshake sales to morning commuters. Upon further research, it learned that the commuters bought the milkshakes because it held them over until lunch and it alleviated the stress of their morning commute.

In this case, McDonald’s wasn’t selling breakfast; it was helping people to handle the stress of their morning commute. By understanding the underlying value that it delivered to customers, it could then move forward in developing products to sell to other commuters or even upsell its milkshake customers.  This theory, proposed by Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, is known as the “Jobs to be Done” theory.

By understanding the “job to be done” by the product that you’re selling, you will be more likely to recognize opportunities that you would otherwise have not seen.  Marketers readily understand that “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”, but the truth is that they don’t want quarter-inch holes either.  They want access to something, or they want to affix something to another object, or they want to let something out of another object.  In other words, if a drill bit manufacturer learns that people primarily buy a certain bit just for gardening, maybe it should create a standalone product for that market segment.

To Whom Are You Selling Your Product or Service?

Identifying a target customer segment is a key step in a go-to-market strategy.  This will impact your distribution, sales, and promotional strategies significantly.

Depending on whom you decide to sell your product to, you will have to map out that customer segment’s buyer’s journey. Who is the gatekeeper? Who is the decisionmaker? What about the influencers?  How do they make a decision? Do they deliberate and research? Are they amenable to cold calls? Would an inbound strategy make more sense?

Let’s take the example of a web design company that is deciding whether to offer its services to law firms or small colleges.  The buyer’s journey of each of these differs tremendously: for example, a law firm is likely to contact the agency directly in response to advertising, while the college likely has an RFP process that would not be at all impacted by ads.  The web design agency will take measure of its ability to reach decision makers in each market. It will consider the profitability of each market segment.  It will review its abilities to fulfill the needs of each segment and how it could potentially differentiate itself in the eyes of decision makers.  Finally, it will decide to target one vs. the other, a decision that will guide its distribution and promotion strategies.

How Are You Going To Get It To Customers?

A go-to-market strategy will also answer the question of how to deliver a product or service to customers. This is referred to as a distribution strategy.

A well-researched distribution strategy will identify the most profitable channels to sell a product.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of distribution channels that a business can consider and choosing the wrong strategy can potentially spell doom for a product that otherwise would have been successful.

how to deliver a productThe go-to-market strategy will answer questions such as:

  • Are you going to sell through retailers?
    • Will your product sit on store shelves? Is is something that will require installation? Who will perform the installation?
  • Will you sell through wholesalers?
  • Will you sell directly to consumers? If so, how will you reach them?
    • Are you going to focus on trade shows?
    • Will you build an ecommerce site?
    • Does multi-level marketing make sense for your business?
    • Will you use door-to-door salespeople that will deliver the product on the spot?

How And Where Will You Promote Your Product?

The “promotion” part of a go-to-market strategy is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of marketing.  There are thousands of different ways that one can promote a product, most of which are dependent on the distribution strategy.

An axiom of advertising is that a brand must “deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.” What do we mean by this?

  • A Super Bowl commercial would be cost-ineffective for a company that employs door-to-door sales to promote a product.
  • SEO would benefit a local car dealership more than it would benefit a local gas station
  • Promoting a local law firm by going door-to-door around dinner time would likely do more harm than good for the firm

A Go-To-Market Strategy Can Make Or Break A Product

There are so many things that a business can get right or wrong when developing a product.  It’s likely that a business will find itself choosing to offer the wrong service, trying to sell it to the wrong consumer, distributing it through the wrong channel, or promoting it in the wrong way.

The traditional way of minimizing this risk is through extensive market research.  This often comes at a cost of time and money, which can potentially give a competitor a head start that will result in a constant game of catch-up, but could also help a business avoid a disaster.  The early bird often does get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

The Lean Startup

In recent years, a movement called the Lean Startup has gained momentum. The idea of the lean startup is to put out a Minimum Viable Product, or MVP, which will allow a business to test the four questions answered by traditional market research.  By doing this, the company will be able to test distribution, product promotion, and other unknowns without pouring large amounts of capital and time into efforts with uncertain outcomes.

This methodology is used by companies to deliver product/market fit through the scientific method rather than surveying a market and taking an educated guess at what will work. Detractors of the Lean Startup, such as Peter Thiel, believe that it limits the possibilities of a product, writing that the method is “code for unplanned” and believes that it is nothing more than “making small changes to things that already exist.”

When Is Lower Production Value Better For Video Content?

Sometimes, people want to see your brand’s pimples and stretchmarks.

“I don’t want any video to go up on our Facebook page unless it is broadcast quality.”

Our client had a brand image that was highly polished and refined.  We were discussing the business’s content strategy, and the topic had turned to video content; specifically, Facebook Live.  Until that point, the website had no video content other than advertisements and case studies of the work that it had done.  We suggested that the site begin featuring more video content, but it was rebuffed as being cost-prohibitive.  We countered by suggesting that the business could shoot “whiteboard-style” videos and behind-the-scenes content with a smartphone, eliminating the high cost of video production.  The owner did not want any video content that wasn’t broadcast quality, and to this day, the blog and social media pages have no video content whatsoever.

Does video content have to be broadcast quality?

Ten years ago, I would have answered “absolutely.”  Any shop that put out video content that looked in any way amateurish could have done more harm than good to their brand, leaving them worse off than if they had simply left “good enough” alone.  Now that high quality video equipment is available to pretty much any small business, the need for broadcast quality is actually less, and in some cases, could actually even be counterproductive.  For a brand that aims to foster trust and exude authenticity, lower production value can help them achieve it.

Wait, how can lower quality ever be preferable?

Today, people crave authenticity.  We have become so inundated with cleverly edited, touched up content that internet users have become a bit fatigued from it all; we live in a state of feeling like we’re being lied to. Additionally, we have become better than ever at sniffing out inauthenticity in what we find online.

It can be argued that many have come to regard much “high production content” as suspect.  We hear the occasional stories of high-profile Instagram models “outing” their pages as inauthentic.  Rapper Kendrick Lamar expressed the sentiments of fatigue with overpolished content, expressing a distaste for Photoshop and a wish to see “stretchmarks.”

This explains the odd success that people like DJ Khaled have had on media like Snapchat.  His Snapchat story about being lost at sea was viewed 1.8 million times.  He posts videos such as this that people love:

Why do people enjoy this content?  Because it is real.  Here, DJ Khaled is inviting us into his life, starring in his own self-produced reality show—a reality show that differs from the high production “reality” shows that we have become accustomed to because it is real.  People see that it was shot with a smartphone and posted to Snapchat; this is the brand equivalent to the “stretchmarks” that people like Kendrick Lamar want to see.

When your business or brand can benefit from “low production value” video

You want to create trust.  If you operate in an industry that needs to foster trust, low production value video can often gain that trust better than a video that could be aired at the Super Bowl.  An iPhone video will better communicate what it’s like behind the scenes at your business—just be sure to hide your startup’s ping pong table and piñatas before you hit record.  In other words, the fact that you are shooting with the smartphone lends authenticity, but you still don’t want to overshare.  As anyone that ever watched Chappelle’s Show can attest, keeping it real can and does go wrong.

You want to create a large volume of content.  For whatever the reason may be, sheer volume of content could be part of the content strategy that your business has adopted.  Being able to shoot and edit on the fly could facilitate this strategy for your company.

You need agility.  If you are creating content to create thought leadership for your brand, weeks are the equivalent of years.  If you want to create content about the latest Google or Facebook algorithm changes, you don’t have weeks to plan, create, edit, and promote your video. Get some decent lighting, a tripod and clip for your phone, and get it out ASAP.

Ultimately, there are advantages to creating video content with a smartphone.

The agility, authenticity, and cost afforded by smartphone video can create value for you and the audience you wish to reach.  For a brand wishing to outflank its larger competitors, this sort of content could be key in doing so successfully.  What are some brands that you’ve seen do this well?  Are there reasons to embrace low-production value video in addition to the ones that I have listed?  Does your brand have plans to implement a similar strategy?  I look forward to reading your comments.

 

Is Yext a Scam?

No, Yext Is Not A Scam.

It Is Ludicrously Over-Priced, However.

If you own a business, they have called you.  They even call us, an agency that does exactly what they do, only at 2% of the cost.  So should you sign up? What exactly does Yext do? Is it a scam?

The service that Yext provides is a local citations service.  They go to around 50-70 web directories and list your website for you.  One time.  Unless you move, change phone number, or change the name of your business, there is no more work for them to do, yet they still charge hundreds of dollars a month in monthly fees.  If you cancel—which some claim is incredibly difficult—all of your listings disappear.  So they get you hooked on their service for a few grand a year after a few hours of work.

Really classy move, Yext.

Can’t I Do This Myself?

Absolutely.  The hard part is finding the directories to list on, but we actually have a list of them in another post.  It’s probably a 5-6 hour job, but it’s a once and done.  We provide local citations services for business owners that are too busy, but if you have a staff member that you trust to handle it, have him or her do it.

Why Do I Need To Do This In The First Place?

The way that you get into Google’s local three-pack results is through local citations.  Essentially, your Google My Business information is being confirmed by all of these other directories; someone performs a search and the algorithm determines what to deliver to them.  If 40 different directories are confirming your info and 3 are confirming your competitor’s, you’re likely to come out ahead.

Can I Expect To Get Business Leads From The Directory Listings?

With the exception of Yelp, Homeadvisor, and some other niche-specific directories (like Avvo, Angie’s List, etc) I wouldn’t hold my breath.  We see the analytics of a lot of local websites, and we see very little referral traffic from directory websites, and even less conversions.  Getting listed in these local directories is valuable, but mostly as an SEO tactic.

 

7 Things You MUST Do Before Doing SEO for a Law Firm in New Jersey

These first tips are applicable regardless of where your practice is.

1. Claim Your Google My Business Account.south jersey seo company

This is your free business listing on Google.  Click here to claim it.

When you’ve searched for a service and saw the big box in the upper right hand side of the search engine results page (like the one to the right), that information was populated by Google My Business.  If you want your firm to pop up there, claim it and maintain it.  Post pictures, respond to reviews, stay active.  If you go to the Google My Business Dashboard, you’ll notice that there are analytics that let you know about people that called you, viewed your business, or asked for directions.  It’s good to keep tabs on this.

2. Get A Mobile-Friendly Website

If your site is not mobile-friendly, you’re missing out on cases.  If you’re really hurting financially, get a site from Wix.com or Squarespace.  If you’re ready for a big-boy website, make sure that it’s not only mobile-friendly, but that it also has tap-to-dial markup and tap-to-email.  It’s really simple to do and shouldn’t cost extra.

3. Set up Google Analytics and Search Console

Have your web designer set up your Google Analytics and Search Console.  Even if you have not idea how to read it, the data will be valuable in the future when your firm grows and you’re ready to hire a marketing agency.

4. You are a lawyer, not an attorney, law office, or law firm

When you start doing your SEO or Adwords, know that people look for “lawyers in ______.”  They are not searching for law offices, attorneys, or law firms, so if you focus on these terms in your online strategy, you’re going to chasing a smaller piece of the pie

These next few tips are insights that we have from working in the Greater Philadelphia region

5.  SEO and Adwords work wonders for B2C practices like PI, family law, or worker’s comp, but not so much for B2B practices such as real estate law or tax law.

Corporations are not really hiring tax attorneys that they find on Google, but the private individuals that work at those corporations do hire lawyers from Google.  If you cater to this population, SEO and Adwords will almost certainly be worth it.  On that note,

6. Adwords works and you should have someone do it for you.

If you have a good Adwords manager, you’ll get clients tomorrow.  If you’re curious about seeing some of the numbers that you’re likely to see if you DIY your Adwords account, check out this other post that we wrote about the topic. In a nutshell, Adwords can be hit-or-miss for a novice, but can be a major moneymaker if you do it right.  Following us on Facebook or signing up for our newsletter can help you get there if you really want to do it yourself.

7. People in South Jersey are including town names when they search for lawyers

This is good to know when doing your SEO and Adwords.  You will find that keywords targeting specific towns that you serve tend to be a little cheaper than the broad “worker’s compensation lawyer”-type keywords.  If you are focused on the town where your practice is located, we have found that ads running location extensions tend to extremely well, so be sure that they are set up

 

 

You Are Not In Business To Break Even

“You know, as long as we break even, I’ll be happy with the work you do.” – Countless clients we’ve worked with

What?  We’re not in business to break even.  If you are spending $95 to make a $100 sale, you are almost certainly losing money once you factor in overhead such as your rent, licenses, and electric bill.  On top of that, it might even be possible that you could make more money by closing up shop, taking your $95 and putting it in an index fund that delivers an annual 10% return.  Let’s get rid of the idea that as long as your Facebook ads, SEO, or Adwords campaign doesn’t lose money, you should be happy with the results.

What is your expected rate of return?

Without getting too much into MBA talk, how much money do you expect to make off a new customer? (profit, not gross sales)  Taking that into consideration, how much does an Adwords campaign need to make in order to be successful?  There are a couple factors that you should be considering before you answer this question.

  1. How risky is the plan?  If you’re looking at spending money on something whose likely results you are unsure of, you should be projecting a chance of making a lot more money than if you were to do something safe and tested.  If no one in your industry has ever successfully driven business through Snapchat geofilters, it may be something worth looking into, but it your forecasted sales are not sky high, it may be worth doing something with a more proven ROI.
  2. What is your customer lifetime value? When you think about that new customer, you need to consider the entire lifetime of your interaction with that customer.  Here’s a simple calculator to help you figure out your customer lifetime value.
    1. If you know that you have a high likelihood of getting a referral from a new customer, make sure that you take that into consideration.  Let’s say that one in ten customers send you a referral; take whatever your customer lifetime value is and multiply it by 1.1.

Please stop thinking in terms of breaking even.

Know how much you will make over the lifetime of a new customer and don’t spend more that 25%-33% of that number to acquire that customer.

If you are spending $9 to sell a product with a $10 profit, you may think that you’re making $1, but you’re not taking into consideration the overhead costs.  Running a marketing plan and a business like this is a sure way to fail.  If a marketing channel costs your $9 to sell a product with a $10 profit (or contribution margin), you need to pick another medium to advertise in.  Between Facebook Ads, Paid Search through Adwords or Bing, SEO, or any one of the myriad traditional advertising media, there will be a channel that will prove itself profitable.  The key is to recognize which are not profitable, because we are not in business to break even.

 

 

Can We Finally Admit it? “Millennials” Do Not Exist.

By Sagapixel SEO | Web Design | PPC

Before we get into this topic, let me preface everything by stating that I did not take time to search for data on the topic.   I am sure that there are studies out that that support these views; it would be quite incredible if the disparate groups of people placed into the “millennial” category were actually all the same.  If you happen to be familiar with any studies that support some of the ideas proposed in this blog, please comment and let me know.

Who is a millennial?

Can we all agree that a junior in HS and a 35-year old mother of 4 belong to different generations?

The definition of the millennial seems to shift regularly.  When I first heard the term, it included people born between 1979 and 1990; today, it has drifted to describe people born some time in the early 80s up until 2000.  This broad definition lumps together people whose first internet experience was on Prodigy and kids that don’t know what Y2k was.

Generations are defined by events, not dates

The baby boom generation can be defined by historical events: the end of WWII, Vietnam, the 70s oil crisis.  No one has considered this when discussing people born in the 80s or 90s; if we did, we would realize that the biggest events of the last 15 years have impacted “millennials” in different ways, creating groups with significant differences.

Please consider:

  • A 20-year old experienced 9/11 much differently than a 2-yr old did.
  • A 10-year old did not have to pay crushing student loans and while trying to find a job in 2009.
  • A person born in 1995 did not see her home’s value cut in half in a matter of months.

Many of the watershed moments of the last 30 years have shaped the behavior of people of certain ages—it is time to start recognizing these moments and how they have collectively impacted our psyches and spending habits.

“Millennials” are actually several different generations.

Mean Student Loan Balance for 25 year olds, in US Dollars Source: Federal Reserve

Mean Student Loan Balance for 25 year olds, in US Dollars Source: Federal Reserve

Millennials  born in the early 80s

Let’s talk about the experiences of the older “millennials.”

Those of us that entered the workplace before the Great Recession developed spending patterns that are vastly different than those that entered after 2008.  We graduated college between 2001-2006 with manageable student debt and entered a robust workforce; students that graduated 2007-2010 dealt with almost double our debt and no jobs to be found.  Pre-Great Recession grads vacationed, bought overpriced homes, and were burned by credit cards.  Post-Great Recession grads couldn’t find jobs, moved home with their parents, and are currently getting crushed with student loans payments.

A brand that tries to reach these two groups will be targeting people that have had vastly different experiences and have developed vastly different spending habits. It would make much more sense to segment us by our experience with this major economic crisis, as was the “Depression Generation” before Tom Brokaw christened them “The Greatest Generation.”

Millennials born in the 90s

The dot-com bust. 9/11. The Great Recession—these are topics that are largely foreign to the younger half of “millennials.”  Half of them were in diapers and the other half were getting ready for the prom while older “millennials” were struggling with the aftermaths of these era-defining events.  It would be foolish to think that both groups were impacted by them in the same way.  Bunching this generation with those that were out in the workforce when they occurred is nonsense.

Recognizing these differences can help us

When we talk about millennials, we’re talking about groups of people that have had vastly different experiences.  We would be better served by exploring how these different groups think, interact, and spend their money.  While doing so, we should also be conscious to avoid mislabeling typical characteristics of youth as being characteristics of a generation, but that’s another discussion.

 

 

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