When starting your own law firm, there is one big part of the equation that can be a challenge from the start – getting new clients. Part 1 of this series covering challenges of solo and small law firms covers how to grow your business, get new clients, and establish yourself as a thought leader in today’s online environment.
The legal field has truly transformed over the past couple of years thanks to a big leap in legal technology, which means how you grow your book of business has transformed too. Word of mouth networking and rubbing shoulders at in person events isn’t the only way to reach new potential clients or grow your reputation in the legal field. Digital marketing, SEO content pieces, landing pages, and strategic outreach are all ways to grow your legal business and reach potential new clients while establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.
Creating a digital footprint is key to a successful digital marketing strategy. The goal is to use technology to work for you by providing valuable content that shows up on the first page of search engines (with a strong emphasis on Google). Each component of your digital footprint will establish online authority, making it easier for you to connect with potential clients and easier for potential clients to see if you’re a good fit for their legal needs.
When done strategically, digital legal marketing builds upon itself to exponentially increase your exposure. Content built around Search Engine Optimization (SEO), landing pages and calls to action that build Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and location-based online ads or content all work together to create a multifaceted digital marketing plan to grow your legal business.
This sounds like a lot when you’re running a solo or small law firm, but you don’t have to go at it alone. There are many contractors and companies that assist in building your digital footprint. In many situations, you’re more likely to see a greater ROI if you hire freelance services for some of these components. Here’s a list of what we recommend doing yourself and when we recommend looking for outside help:
DIY Content to Grow Your Legal Business
These content pieces are standalone webpages that direct the site visitor to take a specific action like contacting you for more information or signing up for your newsletter. The truth is you know your expertise best, so writing out the different components of a landing page or at least a strong outline of what you want included on your landing page is a more seamless fit compared to hiring out the content creation portion. As a solo or small firm owner, this is going to be an important part of establishing new leads for potential clients. Here’s an example of a landing page that drives people to stay connected with Practus.
Bios are one of the top places potential clients use to research their attorney. This is the spot where you should highlight what makes you different, why you would be a good fit, and how you can relate to the potential client. Your story is unique to you, so it helps to write out this content yourself. This bio page will be seen by just about every person that looks at your website, so it’s key to use it as a way to share your personality and experience. If you’re part of a solo or small firm, it’s critical you do both to make you stand out compared to full-service or larger law firms. Here’s an example of an attorney bio page that actually landed a new client.
Website Home Page
Building an email list is one of the steps that people miss when they first start establishing their digital footprint. Newsletters are a direct line to your clients, potential clients, and anyone interested in your legal services. These newsletters can highlight what’s new in your practice, share your content, or send helpful reminders about changes in law that could affect your audience. Your email list can drive new client engagements while keeping your legal services at the top of mind for previous clients. Because this is communication from you, it’s usually best done in your own words. You can subscribe to the Practus newsletter here! (Note: different states have different rules when it comes to legal newsletters. Make sure to check your state’s ethics rules when implementing this content piece.)
Leveraging Outside Partnerships
Legal blogs take time. Time is money in the legal industry, regardless of how tech-forward the law firm is. Here’s the thing: if you’re passionate about writing and have SEO-focused topics that you’re ready to pump out, then this is something you can do yourself. There are some attorneys that do this amazingly well on their own (including many of our Practus attorneys). However, hiring a ghostwriter that’s familiar with SEO and SEM will likely have a higher ROI than writing a blog yourself. Their expertise in providing language and formatting that performs well with readers and Google bots is usually worth the price. Working with your ghostwriter on blogs covering your legal insights is where the partnership can really take off. You provide your legal knowledge on a topic of your expertise in the form of an outline or bullet point list. The writer can then form it into an SEO-driven article, using the best of both skill sets to create a finished content piece that takes minimal time on your part. If you’re a solo practitioner, these legal blogs can showcase the type of law your practice to potential clients and be a deciding factor in whether or not your firm is a good fit for them.
There are several systems to get up and running to start your digital footprint: Google Systems (analytics, search console, ad planner, etc.), CRM (to track your performance and manage leads), website themes or custom build outs (wordpress.org is our recommendation for ultimate customization), RSS feeds, formatting the site, etcIt’s easy to set up these systems the wrong way when you do it yourself, and when you start off on an incorrect path, it’s a lot harder to remedy going forward. Hiring a freelancer to set up these systems the correct way from the start saves you a lot of time and inevitable frustration. Many solo and small firms hire a website manager to make sure their site stays up to date and performing smoothly.
When you start thinking about what it takes to stay up to date with the popular platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube), you realize it’s a lot.
It takes a lot of time and creative thinking to be successful in each platform, which is why it’s best to focus on 2-3 to grow your legal business and establish yourself as a thought leader. You should register and have some content on each platform to allow anyone to find you from wherever they spend their time scrolling while increasing your digital footprint, but focusing on the few that actually help you grow will get better results in the long run.
Figuring out which platform will perform best depends on your client base. If your clients are mostly businesses or executives, LinkedIn is a great fit. If your clients tend to be personal injury plaintiffs, short videos on TikTok and Instagram may be better.
Social media involves a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best, all while staying up to date with each platform’s constantly changing initiatives. Hiring out a social media manager can take this all off of your plate while growing your personal brand and establishing your digital footprint. Working with a social media manager to fine tune the tone and aesthetic of your posts helps your content become easily recognizable to potential new clients.
Unlike systems, it’s pretty hard to mess up starting a social media page because the platforms walk you through each step. You can start off on your own to get an idea for which platforms you want to start developing before hiring a social media manager – this way you have a better sense of how you can leverage this outside partnership.
A Comprehensive Approach
So far, we’ve touched on different components that build a digital marketing plan. Each of these components on its own is unlikely to make an exponential difference in growing your solo or small firm. However, each of these content pieces fuels your overall strategy and gives you valuable data to grow your legal business. But what does that strategy look like??Here are some of our favorite tips for developing a comprehensive approach to digital legal marketing:
- Get started – don’t wait until you have the perfectly clever title or Instagram-ready photo of you at court. Start by creating your website content and using that to fuel your social media content. The sooner you start, the sooner your digital footprint will take place.
- Grow your email list – by creating a landing page and CTAs on blogs/social media posts to sign up for your mailing list, you are growing the number of people you have direct contact with even if you’re not quite sure what you’ll include in your newsletters.
- Post regularly – get in the rhythm of posting weekly or bi-weekly blogs and 3 social media posts per week. Repurpose your blog and website content to create social media posts, saving you time while developing a consistent schedule. As you get comfortable with this, you can increase the amount of content you produce regularly.
- Collect data – use your CRM tools and Google Analytics to learn what resonates well and what doesn’t. Having this information handy from the start will drive your strategy moving forward (which is why we recommend hiring someone to set this up the right way from the beginning).
- Establish outside partnerships – find the people that can help you develop your systems and get you up and running.
- Have fun while you create – the whole purpose using digital marketing strategy to grow your business is to reach more people in a more human way. Showing your personality in your content and highlighting what makes you different should be fun! If it’s not, that’s when you know hiring someone else to help is the best option.
Keep in mind you don’t have to do every single content piece that exists to have a successful digital marketing plan. As a solo or small firm, it’s very rare that’d you have the time or resources to do them all. But, the more pieces you do develop, the more you can see how it all comes together once you get the hang of it and find the right people to help. It’s a great way to grow your solo or small firm – and grow it quickly. Here are some success stories from the Practus side of things highlighting direct results from this business development strategy:
Website leading to client engagement
One client discovered Practus through a Google search (SEO win!). They were so impressed with the modern design of our site as well as how easy it was to find an attorney that matched their needs that they reached out through the website to the attorney directly and quickly hired her to work on their legal issue.
Attorney bio page solidifying a good match
A client was recommended by a colleague to work with one of our Practus attorneys for her current legal issue. She wanted to do some research on their own before reaching out to the attorney, so they headed to his bio page. After reading his bio page, she realized they had a lot in common – their love for baseball, the school they both attended, and the same favorite band! This common ground was what let the client to reach out and hire the attorney.
We announced our No-shave November in our firm newsletter. One of our attorneys’ former clients is a beard maintenance company. The attorney forwarded the newsletter to the client saying their product is a perfect match for our new beard growers at the firm, and it turned out the client actually needed some additional legal services. From the newsletter, they formed a new engagement with the attorney on this issue!
Thought leadership through SEO
At Practus, our marketing team constantly researches and implements best practices when it comes to SEO strategy. We combine legal insights, ghostwriting, and SEO analysis to create several blogs that appear on the first page of Google. That means that anytime someone searches a term like “What is a virtual law firm?”, we’re the site that pops up. By having several search terms on the first page of Google, we’ve established ourselves as thought leaders in the modern law firm space, which helps us recruit some of the most talented attorneys across the Americas.
These success stories are just a few ways that digital marketing has helped us grow as a firm while getting new potential clients. One of the benefits of working at Practus is that we have a team dedicated to growing the firm using these marketing strategies. We have someone constantly looking at the data, a legal ghostwriter, a social media manager that creates consistent content, attorneys that share their legal insights, and someone who takes each component to create consistent, sustainable business development strategies.
While our marketing team focuses on growing the firm as a whole, we also host Snack & Learns where we dive deeper into helping our attorneys grow their personal brand in conjunction with the firm’s brand. These strategies do work, and we urge you to start implementing them today to see for yourself! If this is a challenge you don’t want to take on at your solo or small law firm, consider joining Practus instead (check out our landing page for prospective attorneys here).
And don’t forget to subscribe for Part 2 of our solo and small firm challenges series to learn more about conquering the logistical and administrative side of running a law firm.