The whole idea of attorney advertising is novel within the legal profession. Lawyers aren’t used to advertising. Leaving personal injury lawyers aside, many businesses have tiptoed into the advertising pond unsure of where to start and what message to send. The global economic downturn has, of course, changed many lawyers’ thinking concerning advertising. With massive layoffs spreading like wildfire across the legal landscape, firms are looking for new and innovative ways to obtain new clients. While most law firms have web sites, they could not tell you how or why those web sites are designed the way they are. As importantly, they have put little thought into how to convert people who come to their web site into prospects and prospects into clients.
The Internet is a different form of advertising media. Many people simply go to the web looking for free information. Many lawyer web sites provide a tremendous amount of “brochure” information about their attorneys and practice areas. A relative few actually provide expertise and advice on how to deal with specific issues. This is perhaps the biggest failure of most law firms on the web. They assume that a web site visitor who sees that they practice in the area of “trademark infringement” that someone is going to pick up the phone and call them. But web visitors aren’t looking for a marketing message per se. They are looking for information. And by providing free expertise online, lawyers are not only telling web visitors that they are “attorneys” and practice in a particular area, but they indeed have the expertise concerning the particular issue facing the prospect. I’ve always believed that attorneys who fail to share their expertise online are making a big mistake. Web visitors tend to drift through Google results. Once they leave your web site, the chance that they will actually come back is slim. You need to capture them while they are there. This not only needs prominent display of “contact an attorney”, but live chat applications, embedded marketing messages within the content of the site and specific information concerning niche issues which prospects might face.
Let’s assume that you’ve designed your web site to not only attract traffic, but encourage prospects to contact you. What happens after they fill out your contact form on your web site? An email will route to someone in the firm. That person needs to be in a position to respond in a timely fashion with specific information. What is it you want to tell the prospect? We have developed standardized responses depending on the problem which not only lets the prospect know the expertise to handle the problem, but actually provide a list of deliverables for engagement of their legal problem and a flat fee price. So our response email is actually a proposal for engagement.
Many firms simply engage in an email conversation with the client trying to explore and obtain more information about the legal problem. Given the volume that a law firm might receive off their web site, this is not an approach which will last. Attorneys get tired of spinning in circles within email responses and replies with prospects who may or may not be capable of paying an attorney fee. You need to get to the pitch. You need to propose a project and let the prospect know what it will cost. Our flat free defined deliverable pricing model works perfectly in this regard. It also helps “pre-qualify” prospects who are able to pay from those who are simply looking for free information.
When things start to get light around the office and lawyers are looking for more work, they should do more than send an email to the prospect. Your online form should capture a phone number. A telephone call always creates a higher potential of being retained. While there is more time and risk that the prospect may not be able to pay attorneys’ fees, a phone call during a down period of work is a great way to increase the likelihood that you will turn prospects into clients.