The new world of Web 2.0 has made things look a bit like the Wild West in terms of law firm marketing. Everything is new, there are no guidelines, and frankly, it can be a little scary at times. I understand. Once I was also surprised by the large number of opportunities.
But, you should take the time to understand your options.
In today’s world, with more options than ever, your law firm will never have a steady stream of prospects calling if you’re not in marketing. And let’s be honest, marketing can be time consuming, has a steep learning curve, and usually requires a lot of expensive trial and error.
Fortunately, once you figure it out, business (and life) becomes a lot easier. And when you have the one-two punch of attracting the right prospects and engaging over 80% of those who call into your office, you now have a real business. [ed note: if you aren’t engaging over 80% of the prospects who call your office, you are wasting a whole lot of your time & most of the money you spend on your marketing.]
I can definitely understand the desire to outsource a substantial portion of your lead stream. Who wouldn’t want someone else to handle what for many of you is the hardest part of your business: making the phone ring?
In response, companies have sprung up claiming they will make your phone ring by harnessing the power of the Internet. Although not all companies are the same. Here’s what to look for when hiring an outside legal marketing firm to help with your marketing:
1. Pay only for results.
Pay for results or (pay for performance) means you only pay if you get results. But, not all results are the same.
Beware of companies that promise to get your website to the top of Google or other search engines. Those are not necessarily the results you want or are interested in. Sure, they can get you to the top of Google for certain keywords, but are those the keywords your prospects are searching for? What about all the other searches? And what happens when people land on your website? Is your website ready to convert those in sight into your customers? If your site is like most lawyer sites I’ve seen, no.
If you’re not ready to spend time and money building a website that converts (we can cover that another day), you may want to find a company that provides qualified leads.
2. No long-term contracts.
Look for a provider that doesn’t require you to sign a long-term contract. If it is pay for results or pay for performance, why require a long-term contract? Either you’re getting the contacts or you’re not.
3. Evaluation that benefits you and not the provider.
I’ve heard a rumor that some pay-for-performance companies filter inquiries and select the best cases for themselves or their friends. I understand this is more common in the personal injury field and I can’t confirm this, but be careful if you are 1 in 5 or 6 attorneys getting contacts in a specific area. Look for a company that gives you ALL incoming leads for your specific area leaving no room for discretion over which leads you get and which you don’t.
If you use these guidelines before choosing a company to outsource your marketing to, you will have very little, if any, risk.
And while you know I’m a big fan of outsourcing so you can be the attorney you’ve always wanted to be, don’t rely on outsourced marketing as your only source of leads. Make pay-for-performance online marketing part of your mix, but make sure you have your own internal systems in place to also become THE go-to advocate in your local community.