Category Archives: Legal marketing

How to encourage professional service providers to relax their style

“How do you encourage professional service providers like lawyers, accountants & engineers who’re used to using a more formal language style in their comms to adopt a more relaxed & social attitude?”

How to encourage professional service providers to relax their style

This question was posed recently by Julie South in the LinkedIn group: Social Media for Lead Generation in Professional Services firms. It’s something a number of professional services marketers struggle with.

Here’s how I responded:

“I do understand why many professionals do find it hard to relax their style particularly when their day-to-day work requires formal language and they’ve been trained that way. There are a few things that worked for me when I worked in firms and that have worked since. 

1. Interview them and then write the piece yourself – I’ve found this much easier than editing and the professionals I’ve worked with tend to like it because it’s easier for them.
2. Interview them and put the piece out as audio or video. If you’re sitting off camera and asking the person questions, they tend to come across as more relaxed.
3. Get them to dictate their piece, have their PA type it up and then edit that! Again, spoken language tends to be more informal. Tell them they just have to go with stream of consciousness and not to think too hard – they can edit it later.
4. Ask them to imagine they’re talking to a particular client and have to persuade them / or tell them exactly why X is a big issue, or they need to act on Y.
5. Give them some specific questions they need to answer.”

Have  you tried any of these tactics? Which have worked best?

Are there other things you’ve tried that have worked well? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

Image Credit: www.lawcrossing.com

Law firm social media success story: case study

Michael Denmead is a solicitor at Barr Ellison Solicitors in Cambridge, UK.

He is an active social media user who runs both the social media for solicitors group on LinkedIn and the community of the same name on Google+. He also looks after his firm’s social media presence.

I talked to him about:

  • which social networks he uses,
  • why he uses them,
  • what’s worked well for him and his firm, and
  • what tips he’d give to lawyers wanting to build their practices using social media.

Why should lawyers and law firms use social media?

I believe the conservative approach needs to be dropped. If lawyers and firms can determine how they want to communicate their brand via social media and stick to this then they’d be mad not to use these networks. You have the opportunity to be in front of your target market and to clearly communicate your messages. If you have the necessary resources then you’ve got to use these networks in order to be visible to your target market.

Which social networks do you use and how?

On Twitter we RT (retweet) everything to do with our local market and community and initiate conversations with other Cambridge-based businesses and people. It’s really easy to connect with others using Twitter. I’ve even had one client set up a meeting with me via Twitter and then DM (private message using Twitter) me to tell me she was going to be late. She knows I’m on there and it’s her communication tool of choice.

Google+ is another tool that makes it easy to connect to others. Using Google+ is about being visible. It’s still underused in the UK market so getting traction has been slow but other businesses are now starting to use the platform.

All our 25 lawyers have a professional profile (completed to a minimum standard) on LinkedIn.We expect them to connect with their clients and key referrers to help them stay visible to these people. It is difficult to have one to one conversations on LinkedIn and it’s hard work, but we need to be there and to be seen.

I’ve connected all our accounts to our company page and use Socialoomph to push out our content. Socialoomph allows me to post information to relevant lawyers’ accounts. For example, if we write a blog post on a commercial property issue, I will go into Socialoomph and schedule a LinkedIn post to go out from each of the commercial property team members’ accounts at different times. It means we don’t have to rely on them putting out this info themselves. They can concentrate on doing their jobs.

Socialoomph automatically distributes content according to your instruction. It’s irritatingly difficult to get to grips with when you first use it, but now it takes me 10 minutes max to set everything up. It has an automatic workaround for Twitter to ensure you don’t post the same Tweet twice. The only network it doesn’t work with is Google+. At Barr Ellison we practise in 7 areas of law so I have set up 7 queues of content in Socialoomph.

Each of our seven practice areas is expected to blog once a month (sometimes one post will cover two areas so there are months when we have less than 7 posts going out). Teams can share the responsibility of compiling a post to prevent it from becoming too onerous.

What successes have you seen as a result of your social media activity?

We were recently asked to bid for some work for a large business in Cambridge. That business is a big user of social media and our social media presence helped to put us in the frame.

On the whole successes are hard to quantify because we’ve always been committed to marketing and social media is simply another set of tools we’re using to communicate with our target audience. Things we can say are:

  • We measure revenue and know that roughly 20% of our revenue comes from the web. 
  • We recently tested the effectiveness of Google Adwords by making a deliberate decision to drop it for 4 months. We saw a substantial drop off in web visits and revenue. We know that for every pound we spend on Adwords we get back between £4 and £7 in revenue.

Our aim is to be on page 1 using a combination of Adwords, Google Places and SEO. We include long tail keywords in our blog posts and blog in the local paper too.

What’s worked well for you?

Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, blogging and Adwords are all working well for us. It’s a matter of repeat, repeat, repeat as this is vital to get noticed.

Our new WordPress website is also working well. We know that revenue has increased since its launch. It allows us to produce better content, display video (not yet launched) etc. and because of that our social media activity is a lot more confident.

Having a good website is really important if you’re doing social media, as is getting out content regularly. It’s hard though so you have to make it an easy process for people. Our team members need to write and own their content (they can dictate it) but once they’ve drafted it I’ll make sure that everything else is done for them, including putting in the image, coming up with a headline, building in SEO, posting and distributing it via their accounts.

What hasn’t worked so well?

Facebook is hard work for law firms. It has been slow to get traction. It seems to be the general interest posts that people want to see – for example, we do a Charity Run at Christmas and posted some photos. We got a lot of likes and comments on that! I’d say we’re getting there slowly!

What advice would you give to other lawyers and law firms wanting to leverage social media?

Take your time and do it carefully as you need to look good and polished. If you’re starting out, adopt a listening strategy focusing on your target market as this will inform your activity. Everything you do and say needs to communicate to your key market and have your key market in mind.

Then never lose that focus. Remember not to express a political or religious opinion because you WILL offend one of your clients.

Lastly, be consistently active. 

What other tips would you add to Michael’s? 

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Image courtesy ddpavumba at Freedigitalphotos.net

10 tips for lawyers and accountants to avoid being pigeon-holed

“Clients don’t know what we do” 

Does this sound familiar?

It’s a common complaint I hear from those in law firms, accounting firms and other professional services firms.

But why should clients know what you do?

Or care for that matter?

They only care about how you can help them.

It’s very easy to get pigeon-holed (I know I have been – lots of times). You help a client out in a specific area. They see you as someone who specialises in that area but they don’t automatically know how else you can assist.

Sending them a credential statement, a brochure or having a single conversation with them won’t cut it.

Understanding their needs (ask probing questions if you don’t already know) and then regularly sharing helpful content that helps to address these needs and, at the same time positions you, will. It’s a bit like subliminal advertising (only it’s legal) in that you share information about tax often enough, people are going to start associating you with tax. And when they have a need, you’re more likely to be top of mind than your competitors who haven’t been as proactive.

Of course you want to be front of mind should your clients have a need in a particular area that falls within your expertise and be looking for help. In order to be in their choice set you need to use the full range of tools/channels available consistently over time…and gradually perceptions will change. I’ve really focused on this with one client in particular and have recently got work in an area they would never previously have considered me for.

How can you change perceptions and let clients know how else you might be able to help? Here are 10 ideas. On their own they don’t amount to much, but collectively they will make a difference.

  1. Hold an annual planning meeting with key clients designed to uncover their key issues and focus over the coming year and to showcase your expertise by providing them with some initial advice/tips/guidance that they will find valuable.
  2. Call your top 5 clients when issues arise that they need to know about. Let them know how these issues may impact them and offer to talk to their staff about this. Better still, call them when you become aware of issues to give them a heads up. Be the person to put an issue on their radar.
  3. Keep close to your clients. Catch up with them regularly (on the phone or over coffee) and ask how things are going and what they’re doing. Follow their social media accounts and share, comment on or like their posts where appropriate. If you can position yourself as a sounding board and someone who adds value they’ll likely come to you before engaging others anyway.
  4. Go and visit your client’s office/site. Really get to know their business. You may come away with some ideas to help them that you can then sound them out about.
  5. Put together an Infographic setting out the full range of your services and linking it back to specific problems you can help address…or produce a series of Infographics on topics/issues that will be of interest to your clients and share these with them.
  6. Compile and share case studies about how you’ve helped others in the past. Don’t forget to say how these are relevant to other clients. You can post these to your website (both in relevant expertise sections and your bio in written, video or audio format or a combination of these), upload to LinkedIn, include one in each of your newsletters etc. Rotate these so that you deal with a different area each time and keep coming back to them.
  7. Put together blog posts and videos on topical issues or frequently asked questions in each of the areas in which you work and share these on your website, via social networks, via email, in your newsalerts or newsletter etc.
  8. Share third party posts and videos on topical issues related to the areas in which you work. Make yourself a ‘go to’ source of information by doing people’s reading for them.
  9. Consider if you can include the areas in which you can help clients in your email signoff, on the back of your business cards etc. This will depend on your brand guidelines and needs to be done consistently across your firm or your brand look will be inconsistent.
  10. Think about whether there is a way to convey how you can help your clients that will be visible on their desks – e.g. do they have/need a pen holder, a calendar or something infinitely more exciting but still as useful!

The point I am trying to make is that ‘clients understanding exactly what you do’ doesn’t occur overnight. You need to communicate consistently over time, in a variety of ways if you want your clients to truly understand how you can help them. Ultimately, if you can position yourself as someone who can point them in the right direction when they do have an issue, you’ll likely hear about the opportunities first.

What’s your view? 

What other tips would you share? 

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

How to get lawyers & accountants to buy into LinkedIn

Last week a client asked me:

How do you encourage engagement and participation from lawyers on LinkedIn?

How to get lawyers & accountants to buy into LinkedIn

The next day I saw a post by a legal marketing professional asking the same thing.

Here’s a summary of the answer I gave them:

Lawyers and other professionals will only be active on LinkedIn if they can see the benefits: they need to know how they can use the platform to help them achieve their individual (and team) goals, and how it can support everything they’re already doing.

Share case studies

One of the most powerful ways to get lawyers, accountants and other professionals to understand how LinkedIn can benefit them is to share case studies of how others have used the platform successfully. If they see how and why others have used it, they begin to see the possibilities for themselves.

Ideally use case studies from within your firm but, if you don’t have any, then here are 5 great case studies (click the free chapter link and they’ll download. You don’t need to provide any info to see these). 

Perform an Advanced Search

Another good tactic is to sit down with the person, ask them about their ideal client and then perform an Advanced Search. When lawyers, accountants and other professionals see that their ideal clients are on LinkedIn, they realise they need to be on there too.

The Advanced Search feature allows you to search by company, job title, keyword, industry sector, location and more (or a combination thereof and it supports Boolean searches).

Remember though, that the searches will return richer information the more people you are connected to. That’s because, on the free LinkedIn account, you can see full profile information for those people to whom you are directly connected, your second degree connections and fellow group members. You can only see limited info for third degree connections and those outside your network.

Show them how a LinkedIn presence can help them get found online

If the professional you’re working with is on LinkedIn or has a common name and is having difficulty getting found online, show them how LinkedIn profiles appear high up search results. Log out of Google and then perform a search on their name. This will help in one of two ways: if they are on LinkedIn but still have a skeletal profile it will highlight that they need to develop a good profile or remove themselves from LinkedIn; if they aren’t on LinkedIn and have a common name or share a name with a celebrity it will highlight that having a LinkedIn presence can help them to get found.

Find groups to which those they want to build relationships with belong

Help the person to find and join groups to which their clients and ideal prospects belong. To identify these groups you could look at people’s profiles and see which groups they have listed (n.b. some may be hidden but the majority won’t be because the default setting is to display these); or use LinkedIn’s search feature and type in your keyword. If you then click on the magnifying glass and select ‘groups’ from the left hand side of the screen which appears, you’ll see a list of related groups. These will typically be organised from the largest to the smallest.

You can very quickly scroll down the list, see who in the person’s network is a member and either look at the group profile (if it’s a closed group) or look at the group discussions and activity (if it’s open). You can then make a call about whether or not the group is worth joining.

Walk them through how LinkedIn can help them achieve THEIR goals

Lastly, I would go through the person’s marketing plan (or key client, industry sector or practice group plan) with them and show them how LinkedIn (and other social networks) can help them achieve their goals. 

The hardest thing for professionals is knowing what they should be doing beyond creating a profile. In early 2014 I’ll be launching a modular online training course “Grow your practice with LinkedIn: for lawyers” and will then be rolling this out to other professionals. Details will follow in the New Year.

What else would you add? 

How has LinkedIn helped you to achieve your goals? 

 

 

 

 

Building your brand: The power of one click

As a professional you probably regularly consume content.

You may read the paper.

The trade press.

Blogs.

Newsletters.

You may watch things on YouTube.

Listen to the radio or to Podcasts.

And this is all great for your own interests and learning.

BUT you could be missing out on a trick.

Continue reading

Social media: firing up key client & practice group planning

Social networks will never replace face-to-face communication.

But they can lead to more opportunities for in person meetings.

They can play a role at all stages of business development from planning through to client relationship management. I’ll look at this in a series of posts over the coming weeks but today want to focus on the planning stage.

How to use social media for your business development

How can you use social networks at the planning stage?

When compiling your key client, industry sector and/or practice group plans social networks can help you identify key players in specific organisations. This is particularly helpful in a number of situations: Continue reading

18 ways to position yourself as a specialist in your field

Why do professionals need to position themselves?

Clients have a choice – they get to decide who they engage on particular projects, matters, cases or deals and who they spend their money with. According to research conducted by BTI Consulting in 2011 into the top ways clients select lawyers, personal recommendations are key followed by online searches (I assume this would be similar for selecting other professional advisers).

How to Position yourself as a Specialist in your Field

What they found is that the two are not mutually exclusive and that, if someone recommends a professional to a prospective client, the prospective client is then likely to do an online search on that person prior to contacting him/her (although there will undoubtedly be lots of instances of people finding professional advisers online). Continue reading

7 Internal Marketing Tips for Professionals

If you’re looking to build your professional practice, one of your best referral sources is likely to be others you work with. However, in order for them to recommend you to their clients and networks, they need to know who you help, what you help them with, and some examples of issues you can resolve or assist clients with.

6 ways to market to your colleagues

It’s less about cross-selling and more about working together to uncover unmet client needs. Continue reading

How to do social media (well) at corporate level

I am a big believer that social media is predominantly about people connecting with other people. Even the world’s largest brands are using their people to form stronger relationships with their customers and prospects.

Social media at a corporate level

It’s no longer sufficient to hide behind a brand. And I don’t believe that’s ever really been the case in the professional services world. Continue reading

Why sharing your content via email alone isn’t enough

Last week a lawyer asked me why he should share content on LinkedIn if that same content was already being sent to his connections via email.

It’s a good question.

And there are three good answers.

Why share content on both LinkedIn and your emails

1. Don’t assume people read your emails

Even though you send people your email newsletters and updates it doesn’t mean they read them. When people are busy they often ignore newsletters and other news alerts. Often they intend to read them but don’t get around to it, they place them in a folder to look at if needed or they simply hit delete.  Note: If you are using Mailchimp, iContact or a similar campaign service to send your emails you will be able to track who has opened your emails and other key stats. Continue reading