How to Take Your Old School Marketing Techniques Online
If you think online shopping only takes place on Amazon, think again—more and more consumers are looking online for professional services.
For example, this report from icXlegal found that 80 percent of buyers of professional services will go to your website and evaluate your capabilities, regardless of how they may have heard about you in the first place.
If you’re a lawyer (or another professional service provider, like a doctor or a dentist), you need to be investing in online marketing efforts. Traditional marketing tactics still work, but only when buttressed by positive online reviews and an effective website.
Here’s a look at a few old-school marketing techniques you may recognize, along with a few tips on how to get started with their counterparts in the online world.
From business cards to websites
When you strike up a conversation with someone who turns out to be a potential client, how do you ensure they’ll remember you and reach out for your services? You pass them your business card, of course.
But, in the information age, that’s no longer good enough. A potential client is more likely to look you up online than they are to simply call the phone number on your business card.
Your website is your online business card. Potential clients may look up online reviews of your firm (we’ll get to that in a bit), but they’ll also check to see whether you have a professional-looking website.
At the very least, an effective website for a professional service provider should clearly communicate:
Your practice area, or your area of expertise
Your contact information (including the ability to contact you online)
For example, this law firm website clearly states that it can help with issues involving wills, family law, or civil litigation. It gets bonus points for including an “other” option that offers to point visitors in the right direction if they don’t see what they need.
Scroll further down the page, and visitors have the option to request a consultation or get in touch. Not pictured is the firm’s address, phone number, and contact email, listed at the bottom of the page.
If you haven’t made this information clear on your own website, make sure that you do. Your website can’t drive new business if it doesn’t include a way for a client to reach you!
Don’t have a website for your firm? Services like Squarespace or Wix make it easy to set your first one up quickly.
From public speaking to blogging
Whether you’re presenting at a professional conference or simply giving a talk at a local community event, public speaking can be a valuable marketing tool. It allows you to connect with large groups of people while showcasing your knowledge about a given topic.
As a result, people in the audience become aware of you as a knowledgeable person in your field, making them more likely to seek you out for professional services. For example, if you’re a criminal lawyer, and you give a talk about your practice area at a bar association event, lawyers in other practice areas might reach out to you to help their clients with criminal issues.
However, you can reach a much larger audience—and more clients—by sharing your knowledge online. Similarly to public speaking, blogging lets you talk about topics that might be interesting for people you’d like to connect with.
Just like public speaking, blogging can help position you as a go-to person in your field. And when done very well, it can help attract potential clients to your website.
Here’s an example: Fresh Legal in Ontario wrote a blog post on the first steps to take after a separation. It offers useful information for newly separated couples:
Those looking for the first steps to take after a separation may find this post, trust Fresh Legal for providing useful information, and contact them for their services down the road. (If you want to take a deeper dive into this, check out this post from Wishpond on the reasons why blogging is important for businesses.)
Starting a blog is easier than you think. Start small—brainstorm a few ideas, and then make a little time each week to write. Just be sure to offer useful advice, as simply selling your firm from your blog won’t help build trust with potential clients.
If you’re really nervous, there are professional services that can help you through the process initially. For example, there’s LexBlog for lawyers.
From the phone book to online ratings directories
You may not use the phone book anymore, but we’re betting you still remember it! Clients would find you by flipping through hundreds of pages to see whether a dentist or doctor existed in their area. If you were savvy, you might have paid for a larger ad to attract more attention.
Where do people look for services now? They might use Google—or they might simply search online directories.
Yelp isn’t just for restaurants—there are plenty of reviews of dentists, doctors, and lawyers floating around as well. There are also rating sites specific to certain professions, such as RateMDs for doctors or Avvo for lawyers.
This is important: 84 percent of those surveyed by BrightLocal said that they’d trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation.
How can you leverage these sites in your online marketing efforts? First, claim your page on these sites. You can do this here on Yelp and here on Avvo. Then, add logos and photos and encourage happy clients to leave reviews (Brightlocal also found that seven out of ten clients will leave a positive review when asked). If you get negative reviews, respond to them kindly, constructively, and in accordance with any rules for your profession.
From bus stop ads to Facebook ads
With advertising, you’re simply trying to get people’s attention, so it makes sense to go to where they are. This used to mean paying for large advertisements at bus stops, on benches, or in train stations—especially if you were a local business.
Now, if you want to get someone’s attention, going to where they are means going online. More specifically, you need to get on social media: 30 percent of all time spent online is now spent on social, according to GlobalWebIndex.
Facebook ads can be an effective way to reach potential clients. With their targeting options, you can choose to pay only to reach people in your area, just like with a bus stop ad.
This post from Wishpond outlines the basics of Facebook ad targeting. Put simply, when creating your Facebook ad, you can set it up so that you’ll only pay to advertise to people in your area.
For example, if your law firm is in Greenville, Alabama, you could target only Facebook users who live there:
And if you’re a lawyer focusing on wills and estates, you could narrow things down further to focus on newlyweds, who might want to think about protecting their loved ones:
Your ad might look like this—a link to a blog post on how newlyweds can structure their wills to protect loved ones.
Or, you could use Wishpond to create a landing page, then create an ad to drive site visitors there. If you’re a lawyer, and you use Clio for your practice management needs, you can set this up so that potential clients who fill out a form on this landing page will have their contact information imported directly into Clio.
Whatever you choose, be sure to take the time to try out Facebook advertising. With its low-cost targeting options, Facebook ads can be much more effective than your average bus stop advertisement.
To sum up
Traditional marketing tactics can still be useful, but online marketing techniques can be much more effective in the information age.
Potential clients are looking for you online, so use your existing marketing expertise to create a strong presence there.
If you’re new to this, and you’d like to learn more about setting up your first Facebook advertisement, check out The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising Campaigns for Law Firms from Clio.
About the author:
Teresa Matich is a copywriter at Clio, which makes comprehensive, yet easy-to-use cloud-based practice management software for lawyers. You can find her writing about legal technology and the business of law on Clio’s blog. Connect with her on Twitter @teresamatich.