Monday, July 7, 2014

5 Quick Summer Reads

Here are 5 quick reads that will help keep you up to date on legal marketing trends and still give you time to get out and enjoy the summer.  

In-house Leaders Offer “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to Legal Service Providers
Want to know what general counsel think? Here is a summary of a panel of general counsel discussing how and why they buy legal services. The panel was hosted by the New England Chapter Legal Marketing Association and moderated by John Cunningham.

2014 Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey
OK this one isn't beach reading but if you want to know what the big law firms are thinking and doing, this is worth a quick scan.

Business Development Starters for Associates
Sally Schmidt shares three ways associates can start building the framework to be future rainmakers.

Content Driven Website Traffic
Catch up on law firm website trends and statics.

Law Firm Blog versus Newsletter
As the website stats and trends article notes, content is king. Here are some things to consider when starting a blog or a newsletter.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Writing Attorney Biographies


Are you loosing business because of an outdated attorney bio?


What is the first thing you do when you receive a referral for an attorney or accountant or even a landscaper or caterer?

The first thing I do is look them up online. Before I call the referral, I review their website and search LinkedIn or Facebook. If I don't like what I see, I cross them off my list and move onto the next name.

When your contacts refer prospective clients to you, the client does the same thing. Your website bio may be costing you business before you even have the opportunity to compete for it.

Don't risk loosing business because an outdated attorney biography. Here are some tips to creating a positive impression with your online bio.

Content Should be Relevant and Targeted

  • Write your bio for your target audience. Only use legal jargon or industry acronyms that your audience will understand.
  • Focus on your current practice areas and areas you want to develop. You don't need to include every type of case you have worked on for the last 20 years.
  • Give examples of representative matters and wins. If you have permission, include client names.

 

Information to Include in your Bio

  • Summary: Start with a summary of your practice. Include your practice areas, strengths, differentiators, types of clients or industries, relevant career highlights, awards or leadership positions.
  • Examples: List representative matters or examples of types of cases. Try using bullets rather than paragraph format.
  • General Information: Include general but necessary information such as education, bar and court memberships, professional certifications and foreign languages.
  • Contact Details: Your contact information, email, phone, fax, address, links to LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or other social media.
  • A Picture! Yes, you should have a professional photo. Prospective clients like to see your picture.
  • Associations: List membership in professional associations, including leadership positions.
  • Organizations: Include charitable and community organizations and volunteer positions.
  • Awards and Recognitions: List relevant awards and recognitions. You may want to highlight some of these in your opening summary.
  • Past Experience: Include past experience only if it is relevant. You do not need to include the summer you spent as a lifeguard in college or an internship in an unrelated field.
  • Publications and Speaking Engagements: Articles, blogs and presentations can help establish your credibility and should be included in your bio. Be sure to keep it relevant and within the last five years.
  • Personal Facts: If you are comfortable doing so, include some of your personal interests. 

Formatting Makes it Easier to Read

  • Use headings and bullet points to highlight key information.
  • Keep it short and concise. Avoid long paragraphs.

Keep it Current

  • Practice Areas: Include your current practice areas and areas you want to grow.
  • Publications and Speaking Engagements: Add upcoming speaking engagements. Delete publications and presentations that are more than five years old.

Make it Easy to Find

  • Include a link to attorney bios in your website's main navigation.
  • Add links to your bio from other relevant pages such as practice areas, contact information and news pages.

Stop loosing business because of your website bio. Update it today!

Other relevant blog posts:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Grammar Tips to Improve Your Blogs and Websites

Here are some useful blogs and websites that provide grammar tips to help improve your blogs and websites.

Attorney at Work 

Attorney at Work's Get to the Point is a monthly column focused on helping you communicating more effectively. The older I get, the more reminders I need. Here are three good reminders:

Happy National Grammar Day! Lawyers’ Top Three Grammar Goof-ups includes I versus me, alot and acronyms.

Tighten Your Writing: Head the Six Signs includes suggestions for deleting extra words and making your writing more concise.

Five Tips for Getting Writing Right discusses legalese and passive voice.

Grammar Girl

Mignon Fogarty provides quick tips on word choice and grammar rules at Grammar Girl.
Here are some of the posts I recently viewed:

Capitalizing Titles. I'm opting for the AP style.

Canceled versus Cancelled

Irregardless versus Regardless . This is one of my husband's pet peeves.

Formatting Tips for Blogs

When it comes to blogs and online content, formatting is just as important as grammar. Here are a few tips:

Marketing Quick Tips for Attorneys: Make Your Blog Posts Easy to Read includes advice on formatting and key words.

How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow provides suggestions from selecting a topic to writing a title.

Real Lawyers Have Blogs is written by Kevin O'Keefe and covers a wide spectrum of law firm marketing and social media topics.

Happy writing!
Irregardless Versus RegardlessThis is one of my husband's pet peeves.

Canceled or Cancelled?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Law Firm Blog versus Newsletter

I am frequently asked by attorneys if they should start a blog or a newsletter or if they should convert their newsletter to a blog. Borrowing a common attorney phrase, my answer is, "It depends." In this blog post, I explain some of similarities and differences that law firms should consider when thinking of starting a blog or a newsletter or converting a newsletter to a blog.

Differences between law firm blogs and newsletters

Blogs

  • Blogs are generally one post/article at a time. Newsletters tend to have multiple articles per issue.
  • Blog posts tend to be shorter than newsletter articles. 250-500 words per blog post.
  • Blog posts are usually more timely. Newsletter articles are not as time sensitive.
  • Blogs can be updated quickly and frequently - daily, weekly, monthly. They do not necessarily follow a set schedule. Newsletters follow a  consistent schedule such as monthly, quarterly, biannually and often take longer to produce than a blog.
  • Generally a blog reader needs to take more initiative to read a new blog post such as signing up for an RSS feed or frequently visiting the blog. Newsletter readers have every issue delivered directly to their inbox or mailbox.
  • Blogs create more opportunities for dialogue with the ability to leave comments. Although practically speaking, this does not happen very often with law firm blogs.
  • Blogs can bring in new business. In my personal experience helping attorneys with blogs and newsletters, blogs generate more new business than newsletters.

Newsletters

  • Newsletters generally include multiple articles and topics per issue. Blogs have one post/article at a time.
  • Newsletter articles tend to be longer than a blog post. 
  • Newsletter articles are not as time sensitive as a blog post.
  • Newsletters are issued on a consistent schedule - monthly, quarterly, biannually. They can take several days to format and produce an issue. Blogs are easy to update and can be done any time.
  • Newsletters are emailed or mailed directly to readers.  With email tracking software, law firms can see who is reading the newsletter and which articles are more popular.
  • Newsletters are a one way conversation with attorneys talking to readers; they are less interactive than blogs.
  • Newsletters are perceived as more of a value added client service. In my experience helping attorneys with blogs and newsletters, blogs have been directly responsible for generating new business where as newsletters are one of the extra things clients appreciate (expect) from their lawyers.

Similarities between law firm blogs and newsletters

  • Both blogs and newsletters help promote the law firm's thought leadership and individual attorney's specialty area.
  • Blogs and newsletters can (and should) be promoted through social media - LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and on the firm's website.
  • Blogs and newsletters help with search engine optimization (SEO). Blogs are highly optimized for SEO and will generally result in higher search engine rankings than newsletters.
  • Both blogs and newsletter are time consuming. Depending on the frequency of the newsletter, a newsletter may be less time consuming than a blog.
 

So what's a firm to do? 

Carefully consider your goals and resources. Are you looking to generate new business or are you trying to deliver a value added client service? Can you manage and support a blog on a regular basis or would you be better off with a quarterly newsletter? Making a list of pros and cons can help you decide. And don't worry, if you try a blog and it doesn't work out you can convert to a newsletter or vice versa.


Read some of my other posts on blogs and newsletters here:
 

10 Tips for Creating a Successful Law Firm Newsletter 

Marketing Quick Tips for Attorneys: Make Your Blog Posts Easy to Read

9 Reasons Blogs are Good Marketing Tools for Attorneys

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

10 Tips for Creating a Successful Law Firm Newsletter

Are you thinking of starting a newsletter to promote your law firm or practice? Newsletters, like blogs, can be an effective tool for establishing attorneys as thought leaders and reaching new clients. Here are 10 tips for creating a successful law firm newsletter.
  1. Create your mailing list. Who is your audience? If your audience is current clients, then you should already have their email or mailing address. If you are trying to reach out to new contacts, you may want to consider purchasing a mailing list. Many associations will rent you a list.
  2. Have a clear purpose. Why are you writing a newsletter? What topics will you cover? How often will you publish the newsletter? Write a tag line or sentence to describe your newsletter. For example, "A quarterly newsletter focused on employment issues facing small businesses in Massachusetts."
  3. Determine how you will publish the newsletter. Will you send a printed newsletter or email newsletter? Yes, printed. Some law firms are going back to printed because clients are overwhelmed with email. You may need a design program such as InDesign to prepare a printed newsletter. Constant Contact and MailChimp are two email marketing services that provide templates for enewsletters. They are both relatively easy to use and are reasonably priced.
  4. Assign responsibilities. Know who is going to write the article, who is going to review and approve, who is going to be responsible for designing and sending the newsletter out, and who is going to track the results.
  5. Set a schedule. Consistency is critical to the success of a newsletter and will help you build a following of readers. Determine how often you will publish the newsletter. Newsletters can be time consuming so monthly may not be realistic for many small law firms. Consider a quarterly or every other month schedule. Set deadlines for drafts and final articles. Plan the schedule out for the next 6-12 months.
  6. Content is king. When you create your schedule also identify the topics or specific articles that will be included in each issue. You can always add breaking news. In addition to subject matter articles, consider adding interviews, client spotlights, attorney spotlights, a calendar of industry events, or even a joke.
  7. Keep it short. Articles should be 250-500 words. If you have something longer, try breaking it into separate articles or a series that can be published in future issues.
  8. Write for non-lawyers. Remember your audience and write for them. Avoid legalese and include key takeaways.
  9. Promote your newsletter. Announce the newsletter internally, post it on your website, link it to your law firm bio, post it on your LinkedIn page and the company LinkedIn page, Tweet it, post it to Facebook, add a link in your email signature, include it on advertisements, hand it out at events.
  10. Track your results. Constant Contact and Mail Chimp will provide you a report detailing who opened your newsletter and which links they clicked. This information will help you determine what topics your readers are most interested in reading.
With a little planning, you can create a successful newsletter with a strong following.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

5 Articles for Summer Reading

Here are 5 quick reads that will help keep you up to date on legal marketing trends and still give you time to get out and enjoy the summer. 

4 Ways to Turn Online Business Contacts into Valuable Business Contacts by Lewis Howes on Entrepreneur.com

Current Billing Rates: Marketing Opportunity for Small Firms? by John Cunningham

Beefing Up Your Lawyer Bio? What’s Appropriate from the Legal Marketing Association Ask the Experts posted on Attorney At Work

8 factors to consider when naming your blog by Kevin O'Keefe on Real Lawyers Have Blogs

Take Control of Your Law Firm’s Local Directory Strategy by Mike Ramsey on Attorney At Work
A do's and don'ts on how to help people find you on the web.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Reading List

I just returned from a trip to the library with my children to pick out their summer reading books and decided to get a few for myself. Here is what I picked:

Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth Marketing by Lois Kelly

This book was recommended by a speaker at a recent conference I attended. At first glance, you may ask how can this help lawyers market their practice? Attorneys are embracing social media. They are blogging and Tweeting and liking and friending. But it tends to be a one way conversation. I'm hoping to pick up some tips to help turn it into a two way conversation.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

This will be my second time reading this book. Habits are hard to change and this book is definitely worth a second read.

Law Firms in Transition 2013 Survey by Altman Weil

I didn't find this at the library but it is long enough to be on a summer reading list. The survey, completed by 37% of AmLaw 250 law firms, offers insight into how firms are adapting to the changing legal marketplace.

Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play: Transforming the Buyer/Seller Relationship by Mahan Khalsa

Attorneys frequently ask me for techniques to "close the deal" when pitching new clients. I remind them that selling legal services is still a relationship business and sales is a natural outcome of developing those relationships. I'm always interested in books that can help me reinforce this message. 

Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O'Connor

Okay - this might not offer any marketing tips but you may learn some new stories that you can use to impress your fellow golfers at the next summer golf networking event.