The No. 1 mistake I see lawyers make when marketing themselves is failing to be active online. LexisNexis® just announced new research by The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG) that reveals that 3 out of 4 consumers seeking an attorney over the last year used online resources at some point in the process.* This means that attorneys must have a Web page or blog as the cornerstone of their online marketing. Further, every time a new article or blog post is published, a lawyer should share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
To build a following, a blog should be updated at least once a week, if not more often. A blog allows attorneys to demonstrate their expertise and discuss legal issues that consumers face. The more content that is created, the more there is for Google to index.
This can be a lot of work, so I recommend that attorneys enlist help from LexisNexis, which can set up your blog and Web page and actually write a first draft of all the material you put online.
- It's important for lawyers to publish FAQs ("frequently asked questions") online that discuss a potential client's problem — not just practice area descriptions — because people often start by researching their legal issue, not by searching for a particular lawyer. Smart lawyers put content online that gets them found early in a person's search.
- An attorney must be facile and comfortable with the Web, blogging and social media. With the huge growth in social media, a potential client's friends, co-workers and colleagues are online — and so the attorney must be online too.
- Along with online sources, referrals are a significant source of new business for lawyers. Accordingly, attorneys should find their counterparts and set up express referral arrangements. For example, a litigator should seek out transactional lawyers. Social media is a great way to meet referral sources.
- Smart lawyers join and become active in trade associations and organizations that their clients belong to. Many associations have online groups and networks, and they make it easy for an attorney to meet a potential client online — and then pursue the relationship in person.
- The new TRiG research shows that Lawyers.comSM is the top-cited online legal resource mentioned by consumers who sought an attorney in the past year, following Google.* Consumers are accustomed to reading reviews online, on websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. When a consumer cannot find any information about a lawyer online, this is a major turnoff. Furthermore, consumers don't like it when they cannot find a rating of a lawyer online. The place to turn is Lawyers.com, which carries profiles of hundreds of thousands of lawyers, who can invite their clients or fellow attorneys to rate them. Consumers want to know a lawyer's clients rate them highly, and whether fellow lawyers respect them.
The "old-fashioned" methods for finding lawyers are still in use — people will always check with friends, family and co-workers to find a lawyer. But there is one thing you can be sure about — people will double-check that recommendation online.