Our friend Margaret Grisdela is President of her own unique advertising agency, Legal Expert Connections, Inc., which specializes in marketing and business development for attorneys and law firms. She helps clients with online ads, brochure designs, and social media. (Yes! Lawyers tweet and write on walls, too!) We asked Margaret to shed some light on the world of legal marketing.
Q: Are there any restrictions for lawyers in their marketing?
Attorney advertising was actually illegal until 1977, when the Supreme Court ruled, in Bates v. The State Bar of Arizona, that attorneys could advertise their services. Attorneys are strictly regulated by their respective state bar associations. The Florida Bar is known to be one of the strictest in the country and requires that many ads be filed with the Bar for approval prior to or simultaneous with usage depending on the type of promotion.
Q: Are lawyers permitted to use testimonials?
It varies by state. Interestingly enough, an attorney can give a testimonial for another company (like a florist or accountant) and that is not subject to any restrictions.
Q: Do you find it difficult to market in an industry that some perceive negatively?
Not really. Legal marketing is similar to other industries in that you need to start with a goal, a clear message, a well-defined target audience, and the ability to measure results. Marketing is a process, not an event, so a lawyer should never stop marketing.
Q: How important is self-marketing to lawyers?
It’s essential! Attorneys who can’t build their own books of business are finding that they may be out of a job. My legal marketing book, Courting Your Clients, identifies the key steps attorneys need to take to get more business from current clients while attracting qualified new prospects.
Q: Do you ever recommend that lawyers “demarket” unqualified prospects?
Attorneys should not take every client that comes their way, and they have the right to refuse to offer services within ethical guidelines. On a related note, I always advise lawyers to fire their worst clients (also within ethical guidelines). Not every client is a good client!
Lawyers are heavy users of Facebook and that seemed out of character, so we asked:
Q: Tell us a bit about social media marketing for lawyers.
I call LinkedIn the safe form of social media, because it is easy to use and there are no expectations as to how often you need to participate. Since so many business people are on LinkedIn, the adoption rate for attorneys has been quite strong. Many attorneys are also on Twitter, Facebook or blogging, but in smaller percentages.
Q: What role do social media play in legal marketing now? And how has that changed?
Attorneys who market to consumers, like divorce attorneys or personal injury lawyers, have been early adopters of social media and all forms of Internet marketing. On Google AdWords, for example, the most popular legal keywords can go for $50-$70 per click! Sophisticated uses of social media include the use of videos, webinars, and online databases like SalesForce to attract qualified leads, capture the prospect’s contact info, and accelerate the sales process.
Q: What is the best way for lawyers to self-market in social media?
I advise clients to start with a blog and keep it up-to-date. They can then use their blog to automatically publish posts to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook using a service like HootSuite.