We pick this up very early in our careers. Fear of missing a deadline. Fear of advising a client incorrectly. Fear that the other guy is smarter than us. Fear of failure. How often do you wake up in the middle of the night in a panic over something related to work?
This can be beneficial in that it can focus our minds as we help our clients with their legal problems. But it can also hold us back – not to mention being a very stressful way to live!
The thing is, the way legal services are provided and packaged is changing. The way we reach out to the public and interact with them is changing. And if we don’t change, we will struggle. And struggling sucks.
I have been part of more than one discussion –both online and in person – where it has been debated whether companies like Legalzoom are a threat to the way we practice law. Many lawyers react with indignation – “I am not in competition with a website! I am a lawyer! I provide professional legal services!”
And while I agree that there is a big difference between a real live attorney and a web-based company like Legalzoom, to say that we are not in competition with these companies is just willful ignorance.
We can pretend that they are not competition, but that doesn’t make it so. I am sure Blockbuster Video never thought that they would be in competition with a red DVD dispensing machine. They likely held onto that thought all the way to the bankruptcy court.
Point being, we need to adapt. That doesn’t mean that the level of service needs to change or decline, but the way we deliver those services and the way we interact with both clients and potential clients is evolving – or to be more accurate, has evolved, and we need to catch up.
Lawyers are Pros at Content Marketing (or at least they should be)
Content marketing is really nothing more than sharing information with people in order to attract them to your website, law practice, etc. Attorneys have been content marketing for decades. Even before lawyers could formally advertise, they were marketing their practices with content.
When I first started practicing law the firm I worked for made all of the new associates join the local Rotary Club. One of the main goals in joining an organization like this would be in hopes of being able to speak to the Rotarians about an area of the law – to share content with them in hopes that they would then see us, and our firm, as the authority in that area and would in turn want to hire us. And not only that, but while we were sharing content on our area of the law the audience would see who we were as a person. They might even…like us?!
Whether it was at the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, or some other group, attorneys have been out there sharing content in the form of a speech, written articles in newspapers, journals, and magazines – all of which are content marketing.
Legal Marketing in Today’s World
Blogging, podcasting, and social media are simply new (and improved) ways to get our message and our content out to a much larger audience. And the great thing is not only is the audience larger but these platforms allow us engage more intimately with potential clients.
We can build relationships of trust that will result in a higher retention rates of those people of walk into our offices and result in clients that are a bitter “fit” for the way you practice law and who you are as a person.
Think of that. You will like your client and they will like you.
Face Your Fears
I have found that there are two reasons lawyers don’t get involved in actively marketing their law practice. First, they don’t think they have time. Second, they aren’t sure what to do or how to do it.
As to the first, it is true. You don’t have time. We work in a profession that keeps track of our days in six minute increments (seriously, how awful is that!). I don’t doubt that when you look at your day you do not see any free time available to devote to marketing.
You are going to have to make time. You are going to have to become more efficient with your day and schedule time to write, to record your podcast, and to participate in social medial. You alternative is to pay people to do these things for you.
That is a bad idea for two reasons: (1) it is expensive, and (2) it is ineffective. Marketing your law practice in the age of new media requires that you sell not only your services, but sell who you are. If you are outsourcing this task your potential clients aren’t going to get a genuine picture of who you are, they won’t connect with you, and likely won’t hire you.
If you are going to do this, do it yourself.
Second, you likely don’t know exactly what you are supposed to do. Or maybe you are worried that you will spend a ton of time and get no return on your investment of time.
You will find that there is a lot of information out there on the Internet about blogging, podcasting, and social media. Very little of it approaches it from the view point of an attorney and even fewer attorneys are the ones dishing out advice.
That is where JDBlogger comes in. Just like you I am a practicing attorney. I know the stress associated with running a solo practice. I know that most solos don’t have any real marketing budget. So, you are faced with the dilemma of needing to market but not being able to afford it.
The good news is that by putting forth a little effort in learning the art of blogging and marketing your practice online, you can compete with anyone out there. Seriously. Anyone. It will take some work on your part, but the return on your labors will be greater than you are likely imagining now.
That is my goal with the this site. To be a forum where tips, tricks, ideas, and concepts in marketing the solo/small firm law practice can be kicked around. I look forward to the journey!