Friday, May 28, 2010

Name recognition is critical to your marketing

Name recognition is critical to marketing. Your name is your brand. It is your reputation. It is one of your commodities. At his Rainmaker Lawyer blog Dave Lorenzo posts a great article on name recognition.

Who is the best lawyer in town in your practice area?

The answer depends on education, experience and positioning. Two out of three of these attributes are easily accepted. Education is important because it shows that you have the discipline and the desire to truly understand the principles behind the action. Experience is important because it helps you put things into proper perspective. But most people are perplexed when I tell them that positioning is a determining factor in their career success.

Positioning means creating an identity in the minds of the people in your target market. It is THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in determining how successful you will be as a lawyer. You can be the greatest lawyer on the planet but if you are positioned wrong, you will not be able to attract quality clients or command high fees. It is up to you to influence the perception your future clients have of you. Here are three ways to position yourself as an expert.

Focus on a Targeted Niche

If you want to be perceived as an expert you must become known as an authority in at least one focused niche. There is no better way to tilt the landscape in your favor than to drill deeply into one area of the law and claim it as your own.

I am not talking about practicing law only in one specific area. I am talking about marketing your law firm to a focused group of clients for a specific application of the law. Want some examples?

  • Focusing on immigration law is not enough. Focusing on immigration law related to individuals with extraordinary ability is much better.
  • Focusing on intellectual property law is not enough. Focusing on managed service agreements is better.
  • Focusing on criminal defense law is not enough. Focusing on defense of computer related crimes is better.

You can still accept clients outside of those areas of focus. But your marketing should be exclusively dedicated to your niche market.

Demand Appropriate Compensation

Experts get paid better than generalists. Experts command high fees. Experts can basically charge whatever they want.

My practice is the perfect example of this principle. I focus my marketing efforts exclusively on attracting lawyers. I make recommendations and the clients who implement them achieve outstanding results. In the past year, one of my clients went from start-up to over $370,000 in billing. Do you think he blinked at writing a check for his investment in my services? Three people in my Strategic Advisory Groups have doubled their billing compared to last year (in less than five months). Do you think they mind making the required investment to be in that program?

If your clients want to work with the best, they have to pay for that privilege. Your marketing establishes you as an expert. You can then command expert-level compensation.

Educate Your Prospective Clients

Educational marketing is the most valuable form of promotion. Teaching is leading and everyone wants to work with a leader. Help your clients understand how complex the law can be. Give them a peek behind the curtain at what you do. Let them see that the average lawyer is mystified and baffled when he is confronted with the things you face each and every day.

There is an old parable that says:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

I have an addition to that. My addition is:

Teach a man to fish and he will return to learn how to cook.

The position you occupy in the minds of your clients and prospective clients is entirely up to you. You can take control of it or you can throw yourself on the mercy of the market. You future is too important to leave in the hands of someone else. Take control of it today.

Please click here for Dave's original article.

visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Monday, May 24, 2010

facebook is dead. Long live facebook.

facebook continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. The passion by which people engage on the social networking site is rabid. Marketing books are proliferating with the mantra that businesses must facebook or die. Is there truth in that advice? No, according to Dan Schwabel. Dan publishes the Personal Branding Blog. He recently lit up the blogosphere by knocking both twitter and facebook! Of course a jihad of twitface dearth rained down upon him. I think a lot of what he wrote is right on! Here is what he has to say.

Last Monday, I wrote about how Twitter isn’t a marketing platform anymore and suddenly the web was buzzing. I’ve been blogging since 2006 and I’ve never seen this strong of reaction on my own blog. There were over one hundred comments, seven hundred retweets, and two hundred shares on Facebook. I’ve never felt very controversial, so I didn’t push that post in order to get attention, but now since I have your attention, today I’m going to tackle Facebook as a marketing platform.

Note: What I failed to mention in my last post is that these posts aren’t geared to mega brands (i.e. Lady Gaga or Coca Cola). They’re for the average professional, whose trying to grow their business by using social media tools.

Facebook used to be an amazing marketing platform when the news feed was the only feed available to users. I remember updating my status and receiving a lot of comments from people I’ve met or interacted with all throughout my life. But just like Tivo and Caller ID, Facebook created it’s only filtering system, dividing your status updates into two streams: Top News and Most Recent. Although these names have changed over the past year, their purposes have remained consistent with the Facebook platform. The Most Recent feed consists of content from all of your Facebook friends, while the Top News feed is more selective based on an algorithm. When you login to Facebook in the morning, the default feed is Top News. Most of your content will never even be seen by your friends on Facebook, and we’ve also been enabled to “hide” updates from select friends, which is similar to “unfollow” on Twitter.

My thesis is that Facebook is no longer a suitable marketing platform for your business if you’re looking to convert “friends” into money. Just like Twitter, your message is not viewed by as many people as you’d think, and although the commitment to being a Facebook friend is greater than a Twitter follower, it’s still not strong enough of a bond to yield monetary value.

Facebook is no longer a viable marketing platform.

I’m saying this as a heavy user of Facebook since my University was the 16th school to be signed up back in 2005. I have a maxed out Facebook profile, have a Facebook page for Personal Branding, for Personal Branding Magazine, for Me 2.0, for the Student Branding Blog, and I just launched a page for myself.

The logic

There is a reason why the value of a Facebook friend is $3.50 versus the value of an email contact, which is $948. I guarantee that most of your Facebook friends are either not your friends or haven’t spoken to you in at least two years. Now, I do like Facebook because it allows you to fulfill the “reconnect” rule of relationship building that I’ve discussed previously on the blog. When I say “marketing platform,” I mean that your friends/list become potential buyers, affiliates, partners, etc.

The News Feed algorithm has made it very challenging for marketers. Here is what distinguishes posts that appear in the “Top News” section of your feed:

The News Feed algorithm bases this on a few factors: how many friends are commenting on a certain piece of content, who posted the content, and what type of content it is (e.g. photo, video, or status update). (source: Facebook.com)

Remember that this algorithm is the same for profiles and pages.

What happens to your status updates?

  1. You update your Facebook status.
  2. Depending on your previous status updates, the number of comments that you’ve received, which of your friends commented, and if the content is a video or is in standard text, it will be viewed by those users in their Top Stories feed. Otherwise it will be in “Most Recent” with all of the other clutter, which in some cases could be hundreds of updates depending on the amount of friends they have.
  3. If one friend comments on your status update, that comment goes into their friends’ “Most Recent” feed unless their friends also commented on the same story. This is not the viral effect that you would think because there is generally a lack of visibility with a second degree contact.
  4. If no one else sees the status update, then it’s out of sight and out of mind.

Like Twitter, as Facebook users acquire more and more friends, and “like” pages (which is occurring at an exponential rate), your message get’s lost. Over 100,000 websites have integrated the Facebook “like” button, which has encourages more “liking” and as a result, more clutter!

Key point: It’s not about how many friends and fans you have on Facebook, but rather how much they evangelize your page and use it as a destination.

The facts

As Facebook acquires more users, and your network grows, it will always be harder to make your updates appear in the Top News section. If your updates don’t get into that section, they will get lost. Most Facebook users don’t evangelize product or band pages, so you really won’t get as much mileage on them anyways. This is the reason why most pages don’t have a lot of “fans,” and why Facebook launched the “like” button to encourage friending!

You can’t trust Facebook

In a previous post, I gave you some reason why you can’t trust social networks. I was very serious when I wrote that piece. There is no free lunch. We’ve traded our data for the right to use Facebook, which is a non-monetary cost that we still incur. Yesterday, I read a very critical, and short, post by Robert Scoble that linked to this post by Leo Laporte:

Leo Laporte: “Texas radio station, KNOI Real Talk 99.7 was banned from Facebook for talking about privacy issues and linking to my show and Diaspora. http://knoifm.com/news/1569-facebookdisablesknoi.html” (Robert Scoble’s blog)

As you can see, if you invest in Facebook as a marketing platform, all of your hard work might be wasted one day when they shut your page down.

The real applications

Instead of using Facebook as a marketing platform, try these applications:

  • Customer support: Answer user questions by responding to updates on your page’s wall, and then check back to see if they’ve continued the conversation. This is one of the main benefits of Facebook because conversations are grouped together.
  • Brand awareness: 50% of Facebook users login every day, which means that your brand can be viewed by a lot of users each day, and if people support you, your brand can travel far without advertising.
  • Job searching: Facebook has it’s own marketplace, unlike Twitter, where you can view current job openings in your network. Sadly, not enough people use this feature though.
  • Networking: If you’re looking to connect with your audience, there’s a safe bet that they’re on Facebook.
  • Creating buzz: A lot of brands have succeeded in capturing a lot of followers due to holding contests on their Facebook page. “If you like this page, you’ll receive a pizza.”
  • Recruitment: Facebook’s massive global talent pool makes it attractive for recruiters, and Facebook is already being used for candidate background checks.
  • Researching: You can learn a lot about your target market through reviewing employee updates and if you’re in sales, it can help you connect to the decision maker.
  • Philanthropy: If you want to partner with a charity and raise money, then Facebook fan pages can support your efforts.

As you can see, Facebook isn’t a great marketing platform. I’m not sure why advertisers are promoting their Facebook and Twitter pages instead of their websites. It would be much wiser to invest in a blog as a landing page instead of using a platform, that you can’t trust, and that doesn’t yield monetary results. Recently, Facebook tried to take down the custom tab feature from pages without asking page administrators first. They reverted back once they received a backlash, but the point is that you don’t know what they are going to pull in the future. It’s better to invest in your website than someone else’s!

Your turn

Have you been using Facebook as a marketing platform? What results have you gotten?

Please click here to view Dan's original post.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Skype Is Great Stuff!

Skype is becoming one of my favorite software programs. Making and receiving phone calls around the world, instant messaging, video calls, and more, and more. I am not alone in my Skype love. Colleague, tech and law firm guru, practice management hero Lee Rosen also loves Skype. Because his words are always better than mine, I will share with you what Lee has to say in praise of Skype:


Skype is my most used software package. I use it, literally, all day long. It’s pretty amazing when you really put it to use.

I use Skype, primarily, as my instant messenger client. Everyone in my firm, in all three offices, runs Skype all day and we communicate with instant messages constantly. I use it when I want someone to call me. I send a quick message that says “call me now” or “call me when you get a chance.”

We use it when someone arrives at the office for a meeting to let the attorney or paralegal know their visitor has arrived. We use it to arrange for front desk coverage when the receptionist needs to go to the bathroom. We alert attorneys that a caller is holding when the attorney is on another call. Skype works well between offices and within a single office. It’s also terrific when someone is working from home. Of course, you can send messages while already on a call so you don’t need to deal with a noisy intercom or putting a caller on hold.

That’s just the beginning of what Skype can do. In addition to its messenger capabilities you can also make video calls. Everyone in our office has a webcam and we can communicate, between offices or home/office, with video. I also video chat with my friends, family and some clients who have Skype set up. The quality is fantastic and the calls are free.

Skype just added, yesterday, video conference calling. It’s in beta and it’s only available to PC users (not Macs) for now. It’s free, but they plan to charge late this year for the feature. We started testing it yesterday with excellent results. Skype, of course, also has built-in audio conferencing. The audio conferencing has a feature that highlights the name of the participant that’s talking so you don’t need people to identify themselves when they speak. You can seek their name blinking on the screen as they talk. Skype to Skype audio conferencing is free.

Skype also provides the capability to send SMS text messages from your desktop. This isn’t a free feature. It costs a few cents per text and you can leave funds in your account and pay as you go. There isn’t a monthly minimum.

Finally, of course, you can use Skype to make phone calls. They charge for calls to landlines. It runs two cents per minute in the U.S. or you can sign up for an unlimited plan for $3.00 per month. My mother called me earlier this week from Marrakech on my home phone. That cost her two cents a minute. Skype is almost always the best deal for calling people around the world.

Skype can give you a phone number so non-Skype users can call you on your Skype account. They also offer voicemail and you can forward calls from your Skype number to your cell phone or landline. They offer a free Skype to Go option so you can dial in from any phone and make international calls at Skype rates.

I’ve got Skype with me even when I’m away from my computer. I have Skype on my iPhone and iPad and I use IM+ on both of those devices so I can keep getting instant messages when I’m mobile.

To really use all the goodness of Skype you need a webcam and a headset with a microphone. You can download Skype for free and give it a try. What have you got to lose?

Please click here for Lee's original article on DivorceDiscourse.com.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Thursday, May 13, 2010

facebook, facebook, facebook

I am jumping headfirst into the facebook craze. Not really sure how deep the water is, or what direction it is flowing in, but I am going for it. I have long been a huge advocate for technology in law practice, and I have been addicted to the internet since the web got its consumer legs last century. I enjoy the technical side of facebook -- the internet technology at play, the graphics, the add-ons. I am studying up on the apparent value, dare I say necessity, of facebook as a marketing tool. I have my personal facebook page (click here for a visit). I have also created a page for my law firm (click here for a visit). And, I have even gotten involved in the creation of a facebook group for Fellows of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (click here for a visit).

Am I realizing any measurable marketing return from my investment yet? Not as far as I can tell. It is interesting to see where a bunch of people from my high school have ended up. I am also impressed with how much time some people spend logged in to facebook. We shall see what happens!

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Friday, May 7, 2010

Top Law Firm Marketing Methods are Social Media, Blogs, and Search Engine Optimization

What is the best way to market your practice? There are many answers, all of them right. Legal marketing expert Larry Bodine extrapolates data from a recent Hubspot study, and offers his insights on the value of social media marketing.

According to the new "State of Inbound Marketing Report" from Hubspot, inbound marketing is continuing to grow in importance at the expense of outbound marketing. The top three most important inbound marketing techniques are:

  1. Social media
  2. Blogs
  3. Search engine optimization

These three lead generation approaches plus pay-per-click advertising are what Hubspot calls “inbound marketing.” “Outbound marketing” is lead generation using direct mail, trade shows and telemarketing. Importance is weighed according to how much business spend on lead generation. (Advertising, directory listings and printed marketing materials are not considered lead generation methods.)

The three key takeaways are:

  • Businesses are generating real customers with social media and blogs. Some organizations are still unsure about the utility of social media and blogs. Are potential customers really reading Twitter? Does Facebook do anything more than build brand awareness? The answer is, “Yes!” For Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and company blogs, over 40% of our respondents who use those services for marketing have acquired a customer through each of those channels. Social media is not just for brand awareness; it can be used to directly generate leads that translate into customers.
  • Inbound marketing channels continue to deliver dramatically lower cost per lead than outbound channels do. Businesses spending 50% or more of their marketing budget on inbound marketing activities spent 60% less per lead than businesses spending 50% or more of their marketing budget on outbound channels. This number is remarkably consistent with the 61% lower cost businesses reported d a year ago. Clearly, inbound marketing channels are maintaining their low-cost advantage.
  • Social media and blogs are the most rapidly expanding category in the overall marketing budget. Social media and blogs are becoming marketing powerhouses. They are the fastest growing category in lead generation budgets and hey continue to be ranked as the lowest cost lead-generation channel. In addition, more than any other channel, social media was ranked as a source of leads that has become more important in the last six months.

Lead Generation Budget (% of Total)


2009

2010

Outbound

29%

24%

Inbound

38

39

Not classified

33

37


While blogs and SEO grew slightly in importance, social media dramatically increased in the percentage of businesses considering this channel important, from 46% in 2009 to 60% in 2010.

Lead Sources Considered Important (% of Respondents; Multiple Response OK)


2009

2010

Outbound

Direct mail

11%

10%

Trade shows

10

10

Telemarketing

16

10

Not Classified

Email marketing

40

42

Other

16

19

Inbound

Paid search/ad words

32

22

Social media

46

60

Blogs

46

48

SEO (organic/natural search)

55

59

Source: Hubspot, April 2009

Slightly more than half of businesses are increasing their inbound marketing budgets this year, with 37% enacting no budgetary change.

Inbound Marketing Budgets Compared to 2009 (% of Respondents)

Budget for 2010

% of Respondents

Higher

51%

No Change

37

Lower

12

Source: Hubspot, April 2009

More than four in 10 companies overall have acquired a customer from four major social media channels, according to other findings of the Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing report. 41% of companies have acquired a customer from both Twitter and LinkedIn. That figure rises to 44% for Facebook and 46% for a company blog.

Please click here for the original article.

Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information of Harding & Associates Family Law

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

John Harding to teach family law continuing legal education class.

Harding & Associates lawyer John Harding will be a member of the faculty teaching California Family Law From A to Z.

Scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on May 19, 2010 in Milpitas (Santa Clara County), California, this basic level program will provide topical insights, sample forms and important legal updates. This is a must attend for professionals who are new to the field, or who need a timely refresher.

More information here: http://www.nbi-sems.com

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...