Archive for the ‘Working with Vendors’ Category

Always Consider Imperfect Tracking Data

The more marketing strategies a law firm implements, the more difficult it is to determine the success of individual campaigns.  For example, a firm that has strong organic search engine rankings, runs a paid ad program, and utilizes lawyer directory top spots will find it challenging to determine the true source of an “internet client.”

Skilled intake personnel can certainly add a layer of accuracy uncommon is most firms, but lead tracking is never an exact science. There are, however, some mistakes to avoid.  One is using incomplete data to assess ROI.

A short story will illustrate.

A long-time client of mine was recently reviewing dashboard statistics from one of the top 4 lawyer directories.  This included a list of phone calls via a call tracking number as well as emails that came directly from the directory website.  Unfortunately, only a portion of the phone calls included the caller’s name.  My client said, “looking through here, I haven’t gotten anything and want to cancel.”

His analysis missed the mark in two ways.  First, he did not consider that the calls without identification info could have produced a client.  More importantly however, he failed to consider the hundreds of visitors that the vendor’s directory was sending to his website, a number we could verify independently through Google Analytics.  i.e. a potential client who started on the vendor’s website but ended up calling from the firm’s website would not be included in the vendor’s caller data.  (The number of visitors in this case was 1,200+ for the year… very significant.)

Rather than assume a program is under-performing based on some data, it’s important to recognize where tracking tools fall short.  In this instance, the client was receiving a high enough volume of visitors from the third party web property to conclude that some would result in new clients for the firm.


Evaluating Law Firm Marketing Vendors

A vendor for one of my clients recently told my client that I really didn’t know anything about their product.  They provide Google Adwords management services for consumer bankruptcy law firms.

While it’s true that sometimes I’m clueless about a vendor’s offering, I actually know more than the average marketing person about paid search engine campaigns.  At the time of this vendor’s comment, I managed PPC programs for six clients and had managed a very large one for the bankruptcy firm at the center of the discussion.   My client decided to give this company an opportunity because they had done good work for firms in smaller markets, and made some enormous ROI promises at the beginning of the sales process.

During the pre-sale conference calls, I said very little while the vendor promoted their “patented program” and proven ability to drive significant business to their customers.  We heard a lot about competition, quality scores, landing pages, and lots of other buzz words commonly associated with PPC marketing.  But there was never anything that sounded more innovative than what every other company was doing for their clients.

In the end, the program underperformed, but we had a number of conference calls during the implementation.  On these calls, it became apparent that the vendor’s knowledge was really skin deep.  I said very little.  Why?  I know what I know.  Proving to this vendor how much I know makes it more difficult for me to evaluate their capabilities.  Of course, I can understand why they interpreted my actions as ignorance and I’m okay with that.

Slow playing a vendor doesn’t have to be malicious.  It serves a purpose, which is to assess what they can really offer and deliver.  It’s fair to withhold knowledge, and can be a very effective strategy in making marketing decisions.


The Best Law Firm Marketing is… Prioritized.

On most days, I will receive at least one email from a client that asks, “Is this worth it?” Following their question is an offer they’ve received from a law firm marketing vendor.  The answer is always yes… and no.  All marketing has value.  Even that billboard in the desert you’ve heard so many SEO salesreps talk about is valuable, because someone will eventually drive down that road.  And when you have an unlimited marketing budget, you do it all.  Unfortunately, all but a very small group of firms are in that position.

The real question that needs to be asked when evaluating any client development investment is: “Is this the best place to spend the next available marketing dollar?”  In other words, the most effective law firm marketing strategies are those that are prioritized.  The key is to identify the products and services that will provide the best ROI for your law firm at that moment in time.  For one law firm this may be a Google paid ad campaign.  For another, it may mean top spots in one or more of the big 3 law firm directories.  And for a third, an ad in the local high school football program may be the best option for getting more clients in the door.  Each of these investments, and an infinite number of others, could be the opportunity that makes the most sense from a marketing perspective.

The key to knowing if an offer is “worth it” is information.  A law firm has to always know how its current investments are producing, as well as all the available options that exist for the next dollar.  Of course, that’s not an easy thing to achieve when you’re busy handling client matters and running the business.  But it is the only way to make consistently smart marketing investments for your law firm.


6 Critical Questions to Ask Before Buying SEO

There are an endless number of companies offering search engine optimization (SEO) services to law firms today.  All make big promises of first page Google rankings, along with “risk free” money-back guarantees, exclusivity, superior ROI, and many other offers, all designed to entice you to spend your marketing dollars with them.

So how do you choose which SEO company to work with? 

The answer is “very carefully.”  Below are 6 questions that should be asked of any company offering to provide your law firm with SEO services.  Of course, these aren’t the only questions that should be asked… but they are the critical ones.

1.            In 10 seconds or less, please tell me the 3 most important things that must be done to achieve strong organic search engine rankings.

2.            What does your company specifically do for those 3 things?

3.            Are all of the people that will be working on my campaign employees of your company?

4.            What are the exact search phrases that you will be targeting, and that I can expect to rank for?

5.            How long will it take for my website to rank on the first page of Google for at least 50% of the search phrases in #4?

6.            Please show me successful results for other law firms that you’ve been working with for at least 6 months… in the same practice area as ours, and in similar-sized markets.

The answers to these questions are very important.  However, how well the questions are answered is equally as important.  In other words, if the company pitching you isn’t able or prepared to answer these questions, proceed with caution.


The Most Powerful Question in Business

I’ve been fortunate to participate in hundreds of meetings with attorneys over a good number of years.  I’ve heard and seen some interesting things… and even a few shocking ones.  But there is one meeting that sticks out among almost all others.  It’s the day a lawyer asked me what I’ve since considered the most powerful question in business, which is–

“What haven’t I asked that I should?”

Like most great questions, the answer isn’t that important.  It’s the impact the question has on the recipient that matters most.

First, it pays a compliment to the person receiving it.  It basically says, “You know this stuff better than I do, and I believe you have more information that would help me make the right decision.”  Everybody likes to feel that their opinion matters.  And in a negotiation or business relationship, you bet making people feel important is important.

Second, it tells the recipient that the person asking the question is a “real deal” business person, and immediately builds respect for the questioner.  I was about 8 years into a very fast-paced and challenging sales job, and thought I had a quality answer for just about any question. But this one stopped me cold.  The first thing I said was, “That’s a really great question that I’ve never gotten.”  And I meant it.  Plus the level of respect I had for that attorney as a businessman rose significantly. Read More »