Friday Scribbles: All Lawyers Are Marketers, But Do They Act Like It?

Every Friday, we’ll deliver some of our thoughts, share our learning, curate some articles (from the legal industry and otherwise), and tell you what we’ve been up to.

In 2015, Quinn Emanuel introduced a new expectation: every one of its lawyers must work on at least one marketing project every year. That participation may be by “contributing to an article, a pitch, doing some background research on a potential case or client, or industry research.” The time involved was nonbillable but necessary to qualify for a bonus. While the initial effort wouldn’t count toward that bonus, “subsequent marketing efforts” might, if they were “approved in advance by the managing partner.”

Talk about a way to make lawyers intentionally focus on marketing themselves—and that’s at a large law firm (that has its own marketing department)!

The pressure for solo and small-firm lawyers to market is markedly higher. In smaller firms, lawyers may feel like they spend their workdays doing everything but practicing law. Indeed, Thomson Reuters’s 2017 State of U.S. Small Law Firms Report found that lawyers in small firms (with up to 29 employees) were only working at 60 percent of their billable capacity. The remaining 40 percent of their time was spent acquiring new business and completing other administrative tasks—in short, marketing.

This brings home the truth of the saying that all lawyers are marketers, in that all lawyers have to figure out how to grow their book of business and keep clients coming in the door. But there’s a fundamental flaw with this approach.

Most lawyers don’t have a clue how to actually go about marketing themselves or developing their business. Worse, they’re never purposefully trained, in law school or later, in how to market themselves or their practice. And most smaller firms don’t have the internal resources to show their lawyers the way: their marketing teams are already strained for resources. Between helping lawyers prepare responses to RFPs, crafting pitches, and coordinating events, they don’t have time for educational initiatives.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The easiest path to successful marketing is to partner with a business-savvy marketing firm: one that can share the marketing and administrative load so your lawyers can get back to their core business. By working with an expert marketer, you’ll save time in numerous ways: no more time pondering potential marketing strategies; devising, drafting, and editing marketing content; and figuring out how to distribute that content. Professional marketers can do all of these activities and more—and because it’s their core business, they can do it in significantly less time. That leaves lawyers with more time to do their core business of serving clients.

The practice of law is all about developing better and more efficient ways to use your professional skills to advise and counsel clients during your billable day, not to spin your wheels trying to learn how to market. Get in touch to learn more about how partnering with Scribe can help you stretch the value of your marketing.

What’s new this week in the legal industry?

Looking for some (more) tips to improve your content marketing?

Need something to talk about at tonight’s cocktail party?

So, what has Scribe been up to this week?

  • Copyediting an association’s report on credentialing
  • Learning about new approaches to software development
  • Drafting sales training about the office of the future
  • Thinking about how artificial intelligence is disrupting the legal technology industry (and more)
  • Writing about collaborative divorce and other alternative dispute resolution techniques

Drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to—we’d love to see how we can help!

Every Law Firm Needs a Blog. Start Yours With These 5 Steps.

Potential clients in need of legal representation typically start in one of two places: references from friends or a quick search on the web. Even if they start with the word-of-mouth method, chances are they’ll then turn to Google to evaluate the law firm for themselves.

But every law firm is on the web. How do you make your firm stand out?

By offering a helpful, accessible, content-rich website that answers prospective clients’ legal questions and explains their general options. The ideal way to build this type of resource is to create a legal blog that focuses on the legal issues that are most lucrative to your law firm.

The key to stealing the spotlight in a sea of competitors is to create up-to-date, high-value content that provides understandable and helpful information. Your blog should encourage your readers to spend time on your site and motivate them to engage with your team.Your website is the online equivalent of a smile and a handshake: it should inspire confidence in your visiting prospective clients. They want to know that your lawyers have previously dealt with situations similar to theirs. They want to know that your lawyers are smart, personable, and capable of handling their legal issues. They want to know that your lawyers will listen to them and advise them in words they can understand.

In other words, a good blog can help your firm build credibility.

Most importantly, strategically drafted content can markedly improve your law firm’s page ranking through tactical search engine optimization techniques. This, in turn, can increase your web traffic, your social media following, and your overall visibility.

While maintaining a blog is a bit of a trickier proposition, starting a blog is relatively painless. If you have just a few hours, you can create your blog and start publishing on it today.

How to Start Your Blog

Get your blog going by following these steps.

1. Choose a blogging platform.

Depending on which web provider you use for your firm’s website, you may already have a blog built in. For example, Squarespace offers ready-made blog pages within its website templates. One of the most popular blog platforms is WordPress, which offers free blogs. Invest in a paid site for your firm blog, though—the advanced features will pay for themselves in improved results.

2. Choose a blog theme.

Once you’ve chosen a blogging platform, you may have the option to choose a theme for the site. For instance, with WordPress, you can customize your blog’s appearance, including fonts, colors, and layout. Create something that matches your firm’s branding. If you have the resources, you can hire a web developer to build a custom theme for your blog.

Whatever theme you choose, keep the navigation simple and ensure that your blog is optimized for mainstream web as well as mobile browsers. Many prospects will find you on their phones, so your blog content must be as easy to read on a small screen as it is on a full-size monitor.

3. Pick your plugins.

WordPress or another platform will get the job done on its own, but you’ll benefit from the bells and whistles of some features that are exclusively available through plugins.

One plugin that we rave about is Yoast, which is designed to boost your blog’s traffic through search engine optimization (SEO). There are tons of other plugin tools; experiment to see what works best for you.

4. Create masterful content.

Okay, now we’re getting to the harder part!

At least once a week, post something new for your readers. This will keep your audience engaged and ensure that your firm remains top of mind. Search engines reward sites for fresh content—so long as that content is also high quality. (We’ll discuss the quality of your content more in a future post, or you can reach out to us for some immediate suggestions.)

Make sure you use your blog’s category and tag features to make your posts as easy to navigate as possible. These tools also help search engines understand the structure of your site.

Categories are the broad topics that your blog discusses; tags are narrower subjects. Think of a category as an entire college course and a tag as the subject of a single lecture. So, if you’re an employment attorney, you might have categories for discrimination, harassment, and wage and hour law. Within discrimination, you might have tags for age, disability, race, gender, and so on.

5. Disseminate and amplify your content.

What you don’t want to do is spend hours writing an excellent, insightful, dare we say brilliant blog post … that no one ever reads. You’ve got to get your blog out there in the public view.

That means that once you’ve hit “publish,” it’s time to amplify your message and maximize your blog traffic. You’ll find myriad options for sharing your posts on social media. One tool that we enjoy, and that integrates well with WordPress, is CoSchedule. If CoSchedule is too robust for your needs, try Shareaholic.

Ready for a bigger readership? Consider creating a newsletter that delivers your blog posts directly to your prospects’ inboxes. Give readers the option to sign up for your e-mail newsletter through a tool like MailChimp.

There you have it: that’s all you need to start your law firm’s blog.

Bonus Tip

Keep in mind that the most successful legal blogs are those that follow a clear content strategy to build a comprehensive and useful resource for prospective clients. Take the time in between writing blogs to create your strategy so you can grow your content thoughtfully. Include a plan for how you can reach prospects in various stages of engagement, address all of your key practice areas, and establish a reasonable publication cadence that will build and sustain engagement.

Friday Scribbles: A Quick-and-Dirty Content Assessment

Every week, we’ll deliver some of our thoughts, share our learning, curate some articles (from the legal industry and otherwise), and tell you what we’ve been up to.

1 in 302,575,350: those are the odds of taking home the largest Mega Millions lottery prize in history—$1 billion—in tonight’s drawing. The lottery might be a tax on people who can’t do math, but we have it on good authority that you can’t win if you don’t play.

The odds are somewhat better that someone will (a) read and (b) be impressed by content that you’ve slapped together on your website without any overarching strategy, but why play those odds? Don’t just pepper your web copy and blogs with keywords that searchers might use. There’s a better way to take control of the game and get more engaged, productive traffic.

While content quantity may improve your visibility, the quality of that content is what determines whether visitors explore your site past the first sentence or two. And high-quality content demands that you strategically target your copy to your desired audience and use that content as efficiently as possible.

For a quick-and-dirty version of a strategic content assessment, ask these 10 questions:

  1. Who is your audience, and what questions do they have?
  2. Does your content coherently answer those questions?
  3. How is your current content performing according to your analytics?
  4. Is your audience engaging with your calls to action?
  5. Are you using strong headlines to attract attention?
  6. Are you using images and other visual cues to appeal to your audience?
  7. Have you optimized your content for search engines?
  8. Does your writing have the weight of authority behind it, with evidence, statistics, or influential quotes backing it up?
  9. Is your writing as clear and readable as it can be? (Pro tip: You are not a good judge of this. Ask a friend to read it for you.)
  10. How much mileage are you getting out of your content?

Is even a quick-and-dirty assessment frustrating or overwhelming? Or are you appalled by the results? If so, we know some people who can help.

What’s new this week in the legal industry?

Looking for some (more) tips to improve your content marketing?

Need something to talk about at tonight’s cocktail party?

So, what has Scribe been up to this week?

  • Launching our new website
  • Editing a nonprofit’s report on certification
  • Reviewing collateral for a law firm’s new service offering
  • Writing landing page copy for a law firm’s rebranded website
  • Pondering how the internet of things will change ediscovery
  • Discussing how artificial intelligence is disrupting transactional law practices
  • Being creatively inspired by Karen Costello of the Martin Agency at RVA Creative Mornings

Drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to—we’d love to see how we can help!

Friday Scribbles: October 12. This Week at Scribe…

Every week, we’ll deliver some of our thoughts, share our learning, curate some articles (from the legal industry and otherwise), and tell you what we’ve been up to.

Another day, another privacy mess. This time it’s Google’s turn. What’s worse is that the company failed to disclose the breach because it feared potential regulatory action and public backlash, according to the Wall Street Journal. If you’re among the few still left on the platform, here are instructions for how to delete your Google+ account.

While you’re at it, you could also break up with Instagram and Facebook. And here’s a suggested playbook for how to get rid of your personal email account, though no one seems to have quite figured out how to eliminate the deluge of work email just yet. Or maybe you should just chuck your phone instead, since it’s no better than a time-sink and a distraction when you’re at work.

With all the time you’ll have after stripping away these electronic entanglements, maybe you can use some tips on how to hack your free time. Or maybe you can stop procrastinating about your to-do list. Better still, you can try to become a time realist. Or you can make up for all that billable time you’re missing out on: a recent report shows that the average lawyer bills less than two hours a day.

Or—and here’s the best idea—you could invest that time in giving some thought to what your content marketing strategy should look like for the coming year. Need some help? Get in touch with your friendly neighborhood content marketing team and stay tuned for more tips and tools on our blog, starting with our new website launch next week.

What’s new this week in the legal industry?

Looking for some tips to improve your content marketing?

Need something to talk about at tonight’s cocktail party?

So, what has Scribe been up to this week?

  • Readying our shiny new website for launch
  • Writing about ways small consumer-goods companies can compete in a crowded retail market
  • Blogging about how to foster innovation at every level of an organization
  • Helping clients forecast their content needs for 2019
  • Interviewing a social media investigator for tips about how to detect fraud
  • Dodging flash floods, falling trees, and yet more tornadoes

Drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to—we’d love to see how we can help!

Friday Scribbles: October 5. This Week at Scribe…

Our thoughts, learning, article curation, and other goings-on.

We missed Mean Girls Day (Wednesday, October 3), but coincidentally we were wearing pink with our army pants and flip flops and ate some cheese fries, so all was right with the world.

What wasn’t so fetch this week? Learning about the massive data breach at Facebook that started on September 16 and took the company 11 days to stop. We don’t yet know what, if anything, the hackers accessed or stole—or what personal information might be splashed around the web. The European Union’s top data regulator, the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, has already begun an investigation into the breach, which affected nearly 50 million accounts. The regulator is investigating whether the company implemented appropriate technical safeguards and other security measures under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Facebook could face fines under the GDPR that may run as high as $1.6 billion.

The test of the Presidential Alert system (formally called the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system) was met with wide skepticism and some pretty funny late-night quips, regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on (Jimmy Kimmel: “I already get terrifying presidential alerts on my phone—they’re called the news. They come every day.” Three plaintiffs in New York have filed a lawsuit claiming that the alerts violate their free speech and amount to an unconstitutional seizure of their devices.”

Legal Industry Happenings:
Tips To Improve Your Marketing:
Need A Few Interesting Topics For A Cocktail Party?
So, What Has Scribe Been Up To This Week?
  • Creating website content for an international affairs law firm
  • Learning about consumer products marketing strategies
  • Writing about native-format web archiving
  • Sponsoring a local high school mock trial team
  • Helping a lawyer strengthen her writing style

Drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to—we’d love to see how we can help!

Friday Scribbles: Sept 28. This Week at Scribe…

Our thoughts, learning, article curation, and other goings-on.

This week, aside from that little Senate hearing yesterday, privacy has been getting our attention. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office issued the first formal enforcement action under the General Data Protection Regulation and the UK Data Protection Act. The alleged offender? A Canadian data analytics firm that studies data to direct online advertisers to voters. The action demands that the firm stop “processing any personal data of UK or EU citizens obtained from UK political organizations or otherwise for the purposes of data analytics, political campaigning or any other advertising purposes.”

Meanwhile, there was another hearing this week on Capitol Hill that you may not have heard about: privacy experts testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on the possibility of a national privacy law, in the wake of California’s passage of its own data privacy law over the summer.

Legal Industry Happenings:
Other News of Interest:
What We’re Writing:
  • Ruminating about the authentication and admissibility of electronic evidence
  • Trying to figure out how to capture eDiscovery from the new Amazon microwave
  • Learning about who’s driving legal innovation—and how
  • Drafting an e-learning course on sustainable disposables
  • Writing about scams that may affect the older generation

Drop us a line and let us know what you’re up to—we’d love to see how we can help!