A while back, I wrote an article about marketing my new firm, Mumford West & Snow LLC, despite the fact that we didn’t have a “real” website. (I’m not sure Mumford West & Snow LLC has a real website at this point–but that is nothing more than an aside.)
Just recently, my partners and I got together with the partners of two other firms in Salt Lake City. After several discussions, we reached a conclusion: merger. In an anouncement of sorts, Rawson & Goff and Wasatch Advocates have merged with Mumford West & Snow to form: Mumford Rawson & Bates LLC. (And don’t worry, I’m still a partner–and I founding one at that–I just don’t get my name on the letterhead.)
But suddenly I face the same dilemma that confronted me when we started up Mumford West & Snow LLC. We are in the process of getting a website up and running but, in the meantime, how should I start marketing the new/merged firm? This question reminded me of a post I made back when Mumford West was just out of the incubator. Here are some refresher tips that I plan on implementing over the next few days (while we wait for our awesome new site to hit the Interwebs).
Beginning in January (more or less), we started Mumford West & Snow, LLC. Now, if you visit the link to our website, you’ll quickly notice that we really don’t have one. On the priority list of starting a new firm, I guess the firm website ended up fairly low.
Side Note: This was probably a poor decision.
But the past is the past. The point of this post is to discuss how I have been able to market the new firm without a website. Initially, a good firm website is essential to all firms. It provides clients and potential clients with information they need to evaluate whether your background and experience fits their needs and whether it is worth contacting you. This is particularly true when it comes to referrals, and even more true when referrals are given multiple firms / lawyers to evaluate.
While my new firm has been “settling in” (finalizing the firm name, marketing materials, logos, looking at bringing in some other attorneys, etc.), we have been waiting on creating a website. A lot goes into making a quality site and it isn’t something you want to have to repeat several times.
But we’re not completely in the dark. First of all, the firms that merged with us still have their websites up and running (as do we) and with phone numbers ported over, we (hopefully) are not missing many calls / inquiries. More important, at least for my practice, is my presence on Avvo.com, LinkedIn and Twitter (as well as Martindale and Facebook). Those “social” sites have picked up a lot of the marketing slack that normally would result from starting a firm without any place to send potential clients. For example, I can still point potential clients to publications and areas of expertise (even if they aren’t listed on my “firm” website):
Ah yes, the power of the independent blog.I have been able to market myself and my firm through LinkedIn connections and a network of people that were willing to recommend both my abilities and me. I can point to my Twitter presence as an illustration of my efforts and my knowledge of the current state of the law and my ability to stay on top of the latest developments, particularly developments that may affect clients’ businesses or lawsuits.
One of my favorite sites (disclaimer: I am a guest blogger for them) is Avvo.com. As you can tell, I spend a lot of time managing my reputation on that site and contributing to the community:
I have been able to use Facebook to keep in touch with clients I consider friends. Most surprising, I have actually found several new clients through Facebook connections. All of them came through friends of friends who needed some legal advice or wanted to discuss some issues and things continued to progress from there (who knew Facebook chat could actually be productive). All of this without a website–the key component in establishing your firm in the legal marketplace.
The take-away: Have a website. Make it good. Update it frequently. That is where your potential clients are going to go first. But don’t assume that spending thousands of dollars on a killer website is the only solution. Content, connections, and a big footprint among the legal community (and the consumers associated with that community) are an important solution. This blog, my Avvo / Twitter / LinkedIn / Facebook accounts, and long-time presence in the social media world are proof of that. I have continued to successfully market and build a firm without the traditional “key” marketing component of a website. As the Washington Post recently pointed out, more and more, practitioners are seeing social media as a client development tool.
Make sure you are using all the tools that are available to you! How have you used social media as an alternative to your website marketing?