Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lawyer Marketing Consultant Choices

Coaches, Coaches, Coaches. They seem to be all the buzz in the marketing world. But what are they? What do they do? Why do you need one? Dave Lorenzo on his Rainmaker Lawyer Blog answers those questions and more.

If you are a lawyer looking for a marketing consultant you have lots of choices. Lawyer marketing seems to be a topic that is gaining interest these days. The downturn in the economy, big law firm layoffs and the growing popularity of the Internet and Social Media have driven lawyers to ask for help with marketing.

As the number of lawyers looking for marketing assistance increases, the number of people who are willing to take their money is also increasing. This means selecting a lawyer marketing consultant just became more difficult. While there are many excellent, qualified people who can help you with marketing your law firm, there are also people who are peddling garbage. These people make us all look bad.

Here are the people to watch out for as you seek assistance with lawyer marketing:

Social Media Coaches

Anyone who tells a lawyer that social media is a standalone marketing strategy is a charlatan. Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn and other social media tools can play a role in marketing but they need to be integrated with the marketing fundamentals and your overall strategy. Social media is just media. There are two other aspects involved in good lawyer marketing: Your message and your target market.

Social media coaches are usually “one trick ponies”. This means they know how to get you 1000 friends on Facebook but they can’t tell you what to do once you have them.

Business Coaches

If you want to learn about how to build a law firm from the guy who works with the local Deli Owner and the local Car Mechanic than a business coach is a good choice for you. Hiring a business coach to learn about lawyer marketing is like using a hammer to drill a hole in a piece of wood. I guess it can work but it is not the best alternative.

Business coaches apply set methodology to each client. Everyone is working with the same template. They use their “system” as a differentiator but ultimately it doesn’t work for professional services, let alone highly regulated, high profile lawyers.

You can compare a lawyer hiring a business coach for help with marketing to a patient with a brain aneurism going to a podiatrist. Seeking help is the right thing to do but you will be working with someone who is focused on the wrong end of the problem.

Part Time Lawyers

These people really bother me. Most often, they go to a marketing seminar and they buy some kind of kit in a box. They then spend a weekend adapting that material to the practice of law and they offer themselves out as an expert in lawyer marketing.

Here’s a question: If they were so good at lawyer marketing, why would they want to share that information with you? Wouldn’t you think they would use their great marketing prowess to build their own law firm? Why do they need a part time gig selling stuff to lawyers – like Amway or Tupperware?

Former Lawyers

These folks are the worst. They used to be lawyers and they couldn’t cut it or they were disbarred. Now they are holding themselves out as experts in lawyer marketing. How do these people expect to have any credibility at all? They are frauds, plain and simple. They are not truly successful law firm marketers because they have little to no experience in marketing and they are no longer lawyers.

Who Should You Hire?

You are probably expecting some kind of pitch for my services now. You will not receive one. I take on less than 20 new clients for one-on-one coaching in any given year, so I am not the ideal choice for most people. Instead I recommend you go through this website with a fine tooth comb and implement some of the ideas you can find here. They are free and there are over 500 pages of them. You can also visit:

www.LegalMarketingForLawyers.com

Watch all the free video tips on that website. Combined, these websites will give you better information than most of the people listed above.

You don’t have to spend money for help with lawyer marketing. You just need to do a little research and take some action.

Please click here for the original article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Six Ways to Spark a LinkedIn Discussion

LinkedIn. In my opinion a powerful networking tool. Unfortunately the company is scaling back its free offerings, and insisting on a paid subscription for even the most basic functions. At its most basic subscription price of $29.95 per month, LinkedIn is becoming very expensive. Still, it is thriving, and deserves attention.

From Amy Dean of Keyword Communication, and Larry Bodine's Law Marketing Blog:

Hundreds of discussion topics are proposed via LinkedIn groups every day. The vast majority of them fail to generate any responses. The ones that do succeed in getting a conversation started stand out like bright flowers in a field of forgotten links.

What makes these select few so irresistible that people can’t help but comment? Following are six ways to spark a discussion on Linkedin.

1. Ask for Real Help
People who are genuine in their request for help typically get it. For instance, one user posted a question asking if she should fork over a media list to a client or protect it like precious intellectual property. LinkedIn users are happy to share their experiences and show off what they know and believe, but they can also tell if someone is asking for help simply to promote themselves.

2. Dish Dirt
If you can tie your intellectual capital to the Tiger Woods scandal or whatever story is dominating the headlines, you have a hole in one. In this instance, you can provide your point of view and ask people to agree or disagree with how you would handle the situation if you were in the news maker’s shoes.

3. Invite Plugs
Inviting people to pitch their products or their skills is popular for obvious reasons. Who can resist a free plug?

4. Request Inspiring Quotes
One of the most outrageously popular discussion starters on LinkedIn simply asks people to share their favorite quote. People seem to relish the opportunity to inspire others.

5. Tap Industry Controversy
Right now there’s a debate raging (137 comments) in the “Public Relations Professionals” group about the misperception in and out of the industry that public relations and media relations are synonymous. At the same time, in a Business Intelligence group, the fact that BI has fallen down the priority list of senior executives is gaining stream.

6. Request Twitter accounts
Asking members of a group to post their Twitter addresses generates hundreds of replies, which is understandable. It’s easy to do and many people want more followers.

Just as we consider what makes a tweet retweetable and what makes a blog engaging, we should consider how to successfully ignite a LinkedIn discussion.

Please click here for the original article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Batch Printing PDFs. In Other Words, How To Print A File Cabinet Worth Of Stuff!

Anyone who files this blog knows that I follow the Acrobat for Legal Professionals blog. That blogs author, Rick Borstein, does great work. Recently he posted on batch printing in Adobe Acrobat.


Maybe it isn't popular or "green", but law firms still print a lot.

For example, recently I received this email from a paralegal:

Can I batch print PDFs? We received a few hundred files on a CD and the attorney wants me to print them all out. I can't convince her to review them online . . .

While we'd all like to print less, evaluating documents on the computer screen is challenging for many legal professionals for both physiological and cultural reasons.

Batch Printing Illustration

I'll discuss how you can:

* Convert and batch print a variety of types of documents such as PDF, Word, and Excel files
* Preferences to smooth the process
* Tips

Please click here for Rick's entire article.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: Happily Ever After Divorce

Divorce is never fun. To the contrary, it has to rank at the top of the last of angst inducing crises. So many questions. So few answers. As a divorce lawyer I wish I had a pill I could give to my clients that would take away all of the pain, self-doubt, and uncertainty. Unfortunately I do not have such a pill. However, I have come across something that helps!

Happily Ever After Divorce is a charming book written by Jessica Bram. The book recounts Jessica’s experiences as she faced the end of her marriage, the process of divorce, and the start of her new life.

Jessica’s book started as a very quick read. However, as I got into my reading rhythm I began to appreciate how much the author had packed into a couple of hundred pages. I found myself reading the book a second time – that time with highlighter in hand – so that I could more fully drink in her supportive prose and mark-up her sage advice to people going through divorce. Through all the sadness, all the frustration, and all of the despair Jessica reassures the reader that there is hope and life after divorce. She does not sugar coat her own pain, and I think that is important. As I said, there is no magic elixir. Jessica agrees. What her book does teach is that the pain can be managed and survived. It is that hope and reassurance that people going through divorce need. That is why Happily Ever After Divorce is so valuable.

As a divorce lawyer I was especially intrigued by Jessica's mostly positive reflections on working with her lawyer. I also found her practical tips for working through legal log jams invaluable. I did perceive a bit of a female slant, but took no offense and realized that is was reasonable given that the author is a female.

I definitely will suggest to my family law clients that they read Happily Ever After Divorce.

If you would like to learn more about Jessica Bram, and her book, please visit her website at www.jbram.com. Happily Ever After Divorce is available for purchase from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and other online retailers. There are convenient links on Jessica’s website.


Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Logo-A-Gogo

Does your law firm have a logo as part of its total marketing and branding package?

Today I found an interesting post by Carolyn Elefant, on Nolo's Legal Marketing Blawg, about logos. Here are Carolyn's thoughts:

As the saying goes, a picture is worth one thousand words. Nowhere is that statement more true than when it comes to logo design. In fact, the term "logo" finds its roots in the Greek term, logos which literally defined means "word," but actually encompasses concepts like storytelling and analogy. Which makes sense, because in some ways, a good logo succinctly encapsulates a company's story.

If done right, a logo also draws attention, conveys memorability and reflects a business' personality. Even if you believe, as Seth Godin does, that a great logo doesn't mean anything until the brand makes it worth something, if you do decide to create a logo for your firm (and opinions diverge on the need for logo, as discussed below), devote some thought to it or you'll be saddled with something hideous if you eventually hit it big.

So should a law firm have a logo? As with most topics related to marketing or branding, there are two schools of thought.

No Logo Needed

Several years, Tom Kane of the Lawyer Marketing Blog (absolutely not to be confused with this one, as Tom's been around forever!) downplayed the importance of logos, arguing (somewhat like Seth Godin) that if your service isn't excellent, then a logo is worthless. From Kane's post:
The point is, logos can be helpful if your product and service is excellent. Otherwise, it can truly give off negative vibes, and it would be better to not have a logo than to have one that generates immediate disdain. I like logos, but a logo is much less important than the impact of your legal services (both the legal product and the actual client service experience).
Dan Hull of What About Clients concurs, adding that a logo is really nothing more than your firm's look -- the patterns, letterhead and colors reproduced on stationary, business cards and the firm website. Indeed, seems that a number of law firms subscribe to Hull's philosophy; even mega firms like this or this one which could readily afford a fancy logo, instead use simple typography that one might find on letter head in lieu of a logo.

Which raises a second point about logos: great, professional design doesn't come cheap. As I'll discuss, there are some low cost and even DIY options, some which are more preferable than others. But if you can't afford more than a generic logo, you may be better off taking the approach that Hull suggests.

Tips for Logo Design

Let's say you want to take a chance on a logo - maybe you have a distinctive idea in your mind or perhaps you feel that it will make your firm stationary and business card look more prominent. If that's the case, here are some tips for getting started:

1. Identify what you like...and what you don't

Do you have a concept for a logo? If not, there are plenty of resources to stimulate your imagination. Steve Matthews of Stem Legal suggests SeekLogo.com, a tool that allows you to search a database of around 200,000 - though as Matthews points out, there are only 59 examples for law firms. Even so, you may find inspiration from other industries.

If you find that nothing resonates, you might find it useful to review examples of top logos, selected by others, such as this top 250 logo list or 20 great and 20 not so great logos. It's also interesting to read a designer's explanation of what makes a good logo. Logo Design Love offers a treasure trove of information on logo design, including samples and discussion of the design and redesign process (not surprisingly, Logo Design Love has a great logo!).

2. Setting a budget

Once you've got a couple of logos in mind, you'll probably want to set a budget. Great logo design costs money, which was something that I never fully appreciated until I actually explored the process. Six Revisions rounds up a bunch of posts like this one that depict the steps in developing a logo, from idea to inception. If you thought editing a brief or drafting a contract was time consuming, take a look at the design process: it's equally involved.

3. Design options for implementation

a. Professional designer or web company


With a budget in mind, it's time to find a way to implement it. If you're able to spend several hundred dollars or more, you might decide to hire a professional designer. Seek recommendations from colleagues, but don't stop there, as your colleague's tastes may differ. In addition to references, you want to look at the designer's portfolio to get a sense of his or her style. Where a designer is local, an in person visit is useful. And for a designer who's in another location, a phone call is imperative. You'll be working with this person intensively, albeit for a brief period, so it's best to get a sense of how you'll interact (a phone call also provides added reassurance that the designer isn't fly by night).

Another option for logo design is to commission the work as part of web or blog design. Again, personal recommendations, followed by a review of the company's portfolio is important. In addition, if you see a logo on a site designed by your web or blog developer, don't assume that the web company did the design. Many times, customers hire a web company and provide their own logos that were prepared by another designer. So if you choose to use your web company for logo company, ask explicitly about their design experience and whether the company actually designed some of the other logos at the site.

b. Online options for more affordable design

If you can't afford a professional logo design now, not to worry. There are plenty of mid-range options that you can locate through the Internet. Results vary, but with some due diligence, you can may be able to find a satisfactory logo at a reasonable price. On line options include:

1. Craigslist and intern websites

Several designers offer logo creation services on Craigslist for fees ranging from $60 to $199. You probably won't get anything high end, but again, check the portfolio and see if the designer's work appeals to you. Another option for low cost work include websites like UrbanInterns or College Helpers where you might find new grads or students looking to build a portfolio and thus, willing to work for less.

2. Elance, Odesk and freelance sites

Instead of hiring someone for a flat or hourly fee, you can also bid out a logo project at sites like Elance.com or Odesk.com. You can sign up and provide some details about your project, and set a cost cap and see what kinds of responses you generate. Both sites include information about a designers' work history and feedback from other customers and provide an escrow type account to hold money in case there's a dispute later on. As an alternative, you can search for designers by project (e.g., design or logo) and directly contact those who've done work that you like.

3. Design Contests

Several sites, like 99 Designs or Cullego allow users to run a contest to select a logo. Essentially, users offer a prize and a description of the project, and designers submit a proposal, with the winner collecting the prize money. While I've seen law firms use contest design sites, I don't recommend them. Though characterized as crowdsourcing, in my opinion, logo contests are a way to get free work on spec, which isn't fair (would you work on spec?) In addition, there are a host of other concerns about logo design contests, including the likelihood of attracting low quality or inferior design, winding up with potentially plagiarized work and the legality of contests. (For another view of crowdsourcing design, see here.

4. DIY Sites

Some online sites allow users to design a logo themselves, by mixing and matching stock images, fonts and colors in an online template. Some of the online sites like LogoYes offer decent variety and themes; you can design the logo free and then pay $69 to $99 to purchase it. Logoease offers a similar concept but it's free, though its choices are more limited.

Conclusion

Though a professional logo can be fun to create and add some distinctiveness and pizazz to your website and business cards, ultimately, your logo won't carry much value unless you do the work to back it up. Oddly, when it comes to something as visual as a logo, seems that substance trumps form.

Click here for the original post.

Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.

Tech Is Gonna Help You to Know Your Judge

To this day -- 30 years later -- I remember a story my law school civil procedure professor told us about his first attorney job. 20 years...