We went to law school to practice law, not to become sales people. Yet, for most of us, retaining new clients is something we either spend time doing, or spend time worrying about. According to a study by the ABA, worrying where your next client or case will come from is consistently a top concern for lawyers. Whether we like it or not, retaining new clients (aka sales) is a big part of being a lawyer,
To illustrate this point, my job is to not to be a lawyer. My job is make the phone ring at Right Lawyers. Marketing the law firm is what I do everyday. No motion writing, no drafting discovery, or attending court for me. My job is to wake-up every morning asking myself “How am I going to make the phone ring today”. If the phone doesn’t ring with new clients, then there is no “lawyering” to do.
Referrals use to be all you did to get the phone to ring. Hand out a few cards, do a good job for current clients, and the phone would ring. This is no longer the case. The internet is now the number one way clients find, and choose a lawyer. The internet has even influenced referrals. Studies show clients will research you on the internet before they call you.
To be successful at online marketing I read and test every idea I hear about. If it smells of online or has a hint of being digital we’ve tried it; SEO, maps (a must do), legal directories (yep, must do these too), Avvo (good service, slightly irritating salespeople) , Youtube, Facebook ads (starting to gain traction), Yelp (can we get a review please), display ads (too bad they don’t allow divorce attorneys anymore), LegalMatch (doesn’t work in Nevada), emails (my second favorite), etc.
We have billboards, and radio ads. We hold seminars, and send out newsletters. And we work the referral angle as much as possible. But, most of our clients come from the internet, so most of the marketing ideas we use invlove the internet.
So, the main point of this blog is to share with you what we’ve tried, what we are doing, what we are thinking of. By sharing our experiences and thoughts with you, maybe you can learn from our mistakes. By sharing our knowledge, we might save other lawyers time and money learning how to do something, or discovery whether it works for lawyers. Or, at least whether it worked for us.
Marketing is not rocket science, but it can feel like it sometimes. Each Rocket you launch, you launch with prayers and a hope. Marketing ideas are the same way. Some ideas explode, and come crashing back to earth. Others take you to the stars. Either way each time you light that fuse you learn something; good or bad. This blog will share those experiences with you.
The first story we want to share is how we accidental learned how to add $400,000 in divorce retainers, and how you could probably do the same with your practice.
The story starts around 2010 when the power of SEO was starting to be felt. For those new attorneys, let me give you a little history lesson on attorney marketing. Before Google, Bing, or Yahoo, attorneys either fought over being the first attorney listed in the Yellow Pages or they relied on word of mouth. Then, bam, the internet was invented. At least Google was invented. Customers starting abandoning the Yellow Pages and started searching for lawyers on the web. And customers referred to an attorney by a friend would visit the internet to research them.
I’m not telling you anything new when I say Google killed the Yellow Pages. When anyone is looking for an attorney or has a legal question, they simply pick-up their phone and Google it. In 2012, Google reported they do around 100 billion searches a month. That is a lot of searches.
Anyway, Google started ranking websites and we all followed, optimizing our websites with keywords, meta tags, and other technical things lawyers have no business learning. SEO (search engine optimization) became the new battle ground. We use to fight over the being the first listed attorney in the Yellow Pages. Now, we fight over being the top attorney when someone types in “divorce attorney”.
Our firm was no different. We followed suit. We built a website, hired SEO guys to make sure our website would rank for “divorce attorney” keywords. After a year, our site started ranking, and our phone started ringing. Around 2010 we grew to about $800,000 a year, hired a few lawyers to help with the case load, and added a staff member. Business was fun. Growing a business is always fun. Then we plateaued. Business isn’t so much fun, at least not for me, when you aren’t growing. It’s the same reason I don’t run on treadmills. Running in place doesn’t inspire me. I need to feel like I’m getting somewhere.
We wanted to grow, so we tinkered with everything. We optimized the site for more keywords. We changed out all our basic “blah, blah” content on our website to more in-depth questions and answers content. We hired, and fired, more SEO guys than you go through dentists. We would change something then test. Change something then test. We tried it all. Nothing seemed to be making a dent in the rankings.
Then, all of a sudden, the phone started to ring more. I checked all the organic rankings and they hadn’t increased. What changed? Why was our phone ringing more? We started asking our clients how they found us and they said; Google Maps. By the way if you are new to this lingo read this blog post; What is the Difference Between Maps Listings and Organic Listings. It will bring you up to speed.
Google had changed the look of their maps. They reduced it from six listings to three, made it bigger and changed the ranking system. Now the maps listing was bigger, and Right Lawyers was on it. When anyone in Las Vegas typed in “divorce lawyer” , our listing was right there with only two others to compare to. We happen to have more reviews than our competitors so clients called us first. A small change in Google’s Maps made a big difference in our revenue. About a $400,000 difference.
That’s it. That is how we accidentally grew by $400,000. We didn’t do anything purposefully. We were just lucky to have added reviews to our Google listing. I know, what an anti-climactic ending. But, that’s not the end of the story. What we’ve done since then with our Google Listing has not been an accident. Read our Get Found on Google Maps post to learn the details of what we did, and still doing to stay the top divorce lawyer on Google Maps.