This will be a short post because I am in the middle of several patent infringement cases (some of which involve aspects of social media–yay!). I was recently given an AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale. For those who are not familiar with the awards and rankings, here is a quick explanation:
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. A threshold number of responses is required to achieve a rating. The General Ethical Standards rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities. Those lawyers who meet the “Very High” criteria of General Ethical Standards can proceed to the next step in the ratings process – Legal Ability.
Time to open up Evernote and give you a rundown of all the happenings of Day 2 at the 2012 Avvocating Conference. It’s hard to know where to being. The amount of information that was disseminated today will likely take a while to digest. The quality of speakers and presenters at the conference (sans myself) was nothing other than top notch. I am really impressed with the people that Avvo brought in for this particular conference. So, without further adieu, here are some of my notes from today’s proceedings.
Josh King (@joshuamking) is General Counsel for Avvo. Of all the presenters, I think Josh did the most to assuage concerns that lawyers have about using social media as marketing tools. The key take away from Josh’s presentation was “Attorney advertising rules apply to advertising, not to posts or information about attorneys.” Josh pointed out four areas of potential concern: (1) testimonials; (2) client solicitation; (3) promising results; and (4) bureaucratic requirements. Testimonials are in their early stages and various bar organizations are trying to figure out how to deal with them. Bottom line, you really don’t need to worry about them (unless you have a specific bar rule prohibiting them). But client solicitation was an interesting discussion.
Josh and I spoke after his presentation and I agree with him–the in-person solicitation rules are designed to prevent lawyers from pitching clients on the spot–essentially, situations where the potential client has no choice but to respond. Since us crafty and charismatic lawyers work all sorts of magic, obviously in-person solicitation is problematic because no one can resist us. I agree that bar organizations will have a hard time applying these “in-person” solicitation rules to social media discussions. After all, the potential client can simply stop participating in the conversation. Our wily ways don’t work over the Interwebs. A few other tips from a presentation designed to make lawyers more comfortable with social media and the review process:
State bars can only regulate commercial speech. Definition of commercial speech: “that which does not more than propose a commercial transaction.” Even then, the regulation on commercial speech must be narrowly tailored and advance a government interest.
Don’t overstate your qualifications. Don’t lie. If you are going to talk about your cases, do it in a way that does not imply future results.
Always be professional.
Follow these tips and it is unlikely that you will ever have any problem with your local bar. If you do, call Josh (and he’ll solve it haha). Always remember that clients can say whatever they want–a client testimonial is not an advertisement.
Sachia Bhatia (@sachbhat), Director of Product Management at Avvo, discussed four basic things that every Avvo user should do and then identified three new opportunities to take advantage of. First, the four necessities: (1) Keep your profile up to date–there are few things worse than an outdated, stale profile. (2) Solicit reviews from current and past clients–these reviews are important to your Avvo ranking and also have impact in search engine results. (3) Build out your endorsement network. Find attorneys you can legitimately endorse and request legitimate endorsements in return–the “I endorse this lawyer” line simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Endorsements need to be detailed and descriptive. (4) Answer questions to showcase expertise. Again, answering questions on Avvo helps your Avvo score and it also increases your exposure by exponential factors. Not all of us can be level 20 contributors (some of us have to actually bill hours after all–I’m only a level 10 contributor and no, I don’t have an Avvo rating of 10–who can fix that for me?). But answer questions when you can. Subscribe to immediate email updates for questions in your practice areas and your localities so that you can be a first responder. This will be more important as Avvo rolls out some new features.
Sachia also discussed three “new” opportunities that more Avvo lawyers should be using: (1) Avvo on the go–start getting Avvo updates wherever you are (see the discussion above about “immediate” subscriptions to questions); (2) Bring Avvo Home–make sure that all of the work you do on Avvo and other sites, such as answering questions or publishing guides, pushes users back to your Core Web Presence. Use Avvo to help bring your potential clients to your home turf; and (3) Bring answers back to your site. This is something I plan on implementing immediately. When you answer a question on Avvo, publish that question and answer on your own site. Increase your footprint and show the visitors to your homepage the knowledge you have (and hopefully answer some of their questions along the way).
Panel Discussion: Kelly H. Zinser (@kellyzinser), Linda M. Callahan (@DUIAttyCallahan), Peter Gonzalez (linkedin.com/in/peterjgonzales), Rich Sierra (businesslawyer.biz). As was the case yesterday, it was hard to take notes on the panel discussion–to much conversation going back and forth. The panel continued on the theme established by Sachia and discussed how to best use Avvo and how it was working in their respective practices. I hope the panel discussions make their way onto a Avvo / Lawyernomics video post. The information exchanged in the panels was invaluable.
Ari Kaplan (@AriKaplan), President/Owner of Ari Kaplan Advisors. Ari’s presentation was one of my favorites. His creativity in building networks and a working referral base is unmatched. He spent most of his time focusing on how you should be making efforts to help your network increase their personal business and success. For example, Ari scours the web, including sites such as http://www.helpareporterout.com, and then forwards links to those in his network to follow up on. “Self promotion has very little to do with promoting yourself. It really has to do with helping to promote others.” Absolutely brilliant.
He is creating an extremely loyal network by helping his network succeed. His focus is on his connections, not himself. And my personal favorite tip was to do quick video interviews with “important” people as an icebreaker or a way to open that networking door. I was really impressed by this idea. I think it is brilliant. So I went “Ari” on “Ari” and here is the result (it will play upright, I promise):
Thanks for the interview Ari. Hopefully it will be the first of many more. For whatever reason, this really resonated with me. What a great way to build a network, especially with those who otherwise might not give you the time of day. I was so impressed, I got Ari’s book.
Vanessa Fox (@vanessafox) is a search guru. While her presentation was entitled “Marketing in the Age of Google,” it quickly became apparent that the subject de jure was “How do I convince people to hire me.” According to Vanessa, “Search is valuable for figuring out what people really want.” And figuring out what people want is extremely important because these three steps are necessary to convince people to hire you:
Know who your audience is.
Know where your audience is.
Know what your audience wants.
Figure out what your audience is searching for and make sure that you are found there. Speak their language. Enough with the “Environmental Remediation Litigation Specialist.” How about “environmental cleanup lawyer” or some other layman term that might actually get searched. “Remember to talk about things in the same way that your audience talks about them.” Also remember that SEO “is about solving people’s problems.”
Two bits of invaluable advice: (1) Every page of your site is the home page–you never know where a user is going to land so make sure your important information is available on all of your pages; (2) How to rank well in search engines: Have great content that people love.
Mark Kelly (@chair10 / @mkelly7777), President and Founder of Chair 10 Marketing. I am going to be honest here. Mark gave one of the best PPC presentations I have seen (and I have seen a lot). I’ve requested his slides and I am going to do a full post on PPC once I have a chance to distill all that information. If you missed Mark, you missed out. (I was also fortunate to have Mark help critique my “elevator pitch” at the Avvo social hour on Thursday night.) This is one bright, bright guy. A quick tip for now (and plenty to come later): “Make sure your page headings match your PPC or search terms; when someone searches a key phrase, they want to see that key phrase listed in the page’s title so that they know that clicking the link will likely get them the information they want and need.”
Duane Forrester (@duaneforrester / web: http://www.bing.com/webmaster). Look, when your web address is “Bing Webmaster,” I’m pretty sure you are going to have some important things to say. Similar to Mike Blumenthal’s presentation from Day 1, Duane presented explicit details about the Bing algorithm, particularly how Bing includes social media in its search rankings and results. It is too complex for me to describe here but how about some statistics:
1/4 searches deliver successful results.
42% of sessions require refining.
44% of sessions are lasting more than a day.
And look what happens when “social” comes into play:
90% ask family / friends before making a decision.
80% will delay making a decision online.
People use friends: 2.5x more of than city guides; 4x more often than online reviews; 10x more than check-in sites.
Parting wisdom from Duane: “90% [of social should be] about others / 10% about me.”
Stephen Fairley (@stephenfairley), where to being. He is the founder of the immensely successful Rainmaker Institute and the guy is full (and I mean full) of passion and energy. As @Mark_Britton pointed out, even listening to him might make you tired (haha).
First and foremost, remember “The people run your systems. The systems run your law firm.” Get systems in place, teach people how to use them and let the systems run the show.
Stephen offered up so much valuable information, I’m just going to cut and paste it from my notes. He didn’t mince any words; you’ll get the gist of it from the following:
2nd most expensive area in your law firm (after payroll).
Never ending process.
Need to continually produce more and more leads.
First Rule of Marketing: You Are Not Your Client:
#1 reason you’re not getting more referrals is lack of your clients’ education. Failed to educate them what a good referral looks like.
Explain why you value and depend on referrals.
Explain what a great referral looks like.
Explain how to make a referral to your office.
Explain how are you going to treat the referral.
Explain what to tell referrals about you and your firm
Explain what information they [your clients] can give:
White paper, special report, etc.
#2 reason you’re not getting more referrals is lack of client communication.
One tip (very cost effective): newsletter.
Keeps you connected
Adds fresh content to your website
Helps cross-market your services
Generates more referrals
Promote website and blog.
Evaluate CPL (Cost per Lead) versus CPC (Cost per Client):
CPL (Cost Per Lead)
How many leads are produced in a given time frame.
How much money did the firm invest in marketing during the same time frame?
Divide $$$ by # needs.
Compare month v. quarter v. annual
(CPC) (Cost Per Client)
How many clients retained during that time period.
How much money did you invest in marketing during the same time frame.
Divide $$$ by # clients.
Compare month v. quarter v. annual
Establishing a running average.
How much is each of your clients worth? Does the worth of your client justify the amount of money you are spending on obtaining leads that actually turn into clients? Although there is much, much more to Stephen’s presentations (including a multi-day seminar put on by The Rainmaker Institute), here are some final parting thoughts on lead conversion:
Five stages of conversion:
Number of leads in the top of the funnel.
How many leads turn into appointments.
How many appointments actually show up.
Number of appointments sign up at the IC.
Number of appointments who sign up later.
Find the areas in those five steps that are failing and fix them. Now. It will lead to immediate success.
Mark Britton (@Mark_Britton) and Co. Definitely one of my favor parts of Avvocating. 20 cool things in 20 minutes. (It was nice to see that I am already using a lot of the “cool” things that Mark and his cohort identified). For those who missed it, here is the list:
If you want to know what each of these tools does, go check it out. The creators will be much more capable than I at explaining the value of their products. Personally, I’m checking out the Jelly Fish Art first.
And that’s a wrap on 2012 Avvocating Day 2. Once again, I was overly impressed by the speakers, particularly Ari Kaplan.
Look for a post here (and likely on Avvo’s Lawyernomics Blog) covering what I learned at Avvocating and why I think it is important.
Great event. Great speakers. Great organization. Thanks to @MeganOlendorf and her entire team for putting on such a great conference. Megan, send me the names of your crew so I can give them their proper credit and due respect (before I post the video of all of you jumping for your “celebratory” this-is-over picture–yeah, I got that on video).
Here is a quick wrap up of some things I took away from the first day of Avvo‘s 2012 Avvocating Conference. First and foremost, Seattle is rainy. Second, there are a lot of people here who are a lot smarter than me. Here is a quick run down (and yes, for those of you who listened to my panel, I am using my jottings in Evernote to flesh this out):
Rich Barton (@Rich_Barton) is somewhat visionary. Consumers are empowered these days. They are also impatient and demanding. “42% of consumers surveyed indicated they would contact another service provider if they have not heard back within one hour.” Not only are consumers empowered, they are using that power to review and rate nearly everything, including you, your abilities, your service, and your law firm. “If it can be reviewed, it will be reviewed.” Rich’s vision is obvious from has past and current endeavors: Expedia, Zillow, Glassdoor.com, Trover, Netflix, Nextdoor, Avvo, etc.
Mark Britton (@mark_britton) is extremely (extremely) impressive. Founder, CEO, and President of Avvo. Here are some highlights. Target three things: (1) your audience; (2) your time; and (3) and your spend. Having a strong Core Web Presence (“CWP”) is essential. It doesn’t have to be a $10,000 website–it can be a strong Avvo profile or a solid blog (like this one haha). But your CWP is imperative to your marketing efforts and ultimately your success. Everything should link back to your CWP. Looking forward, three things that are changing: (1) the social media opportunity; (2) the video opportunity; and (3) the mobile opportunity. “Video is changing everything” and, if you are forward thinking, you should be optimizing your web platforms for mobile devices. My favorite tidbits: (1) don’t get wrapped around the “risk axle” and avoid potential opportunities. Write down all of the opportunities before you start looking for the risks and/or negatives; and (2) be proactive on Twitter–don’t wait for consumers to come to you, go out and find there groups and become a part of their community.
Carolyn Elefant (@carolynelefant), author of MyShingle.com. Carolyn really hammered home the point of hyper-local practices and marketing. She is an expert (through experience) on developing a niche practice (and even a niche within that niche). When it comes to social media, offer things of value–things that other people value to the extent that they want to pass them along to their friends. She also suggests making basic legal forms free to your clients as a business development tool. The information is out there. Consumers will find it. They might as well get it from you so that you can offer up some value-added services to these same consumers.
Matt Homann (@MattHomann), founder of LexThink and the NonBillableHour.com blog spoke on retaining existing clients. Advice: just because you write it, tweet it, blog it, or post it, it doesn’t mean that it matters or your clients care. Lawyers need to spend more time on improving their clients’ service experience. Think about the stages of the “service experience.” (What does the client see? What does the client hear? What does the client wonder? What will the client tell others?) Breed client loyalty by making your client smarter, more successful, and sexier. In my mind, the most valuable point he made is that you need to focus on your clients’ “influencers.” In other words, who (or what) influences your clients and their actions? Hone in on them and utilize them. Maybe this is where to target some of your marketing dollars. After all, these are the people that are really driving your clients’ decisions.
Panel Discussion Moderated by Matt Homann: Mischelle Davis (@MischelleDavis), Kelly Phillips Erb (@taxgirl), Tyson B. Snow (yours truly, @tysonESQ), and Tim Flynn (@clarkstonlegal). Candidly, I was having too much fun participating in the panel presentation to provide much insight here. All of the panelists were great. Mischelle has me more interested in Facebook as a marketing platform. Kelly is simply brilliant, both in her approach to blogging and social media, as well as in life in general. Tim is a real world guy who is implementing all of these techniques and doing it successfully. His advice to “always remember you are a lawyer first” should not be ignored. I learned a lot from all of them. And Matt did a great job of moderating. For whoever was watching, feel free to give a panel summary in the comments.
Mike Blumenthal (@mblumenthal) is a Google / search engine guru. Mike is simply brilliant. I consider (or like to consider) myself a tech nerd. After all, I did pay my way through law school by running PPC search engines (back in the day of ah-ha! and Overture–even before Google Ads had hit the scene). But Mike blew me away with his presentation. I feel like I need copies of his slides so that I can study them for hours (in order to properly understand them). This guy knows search. His understanding is so deep that it can be difficult to comprehend. Google’s search algorithm is extremely complex–Mike seems to know all about it. Follow this guy and you will learn a lot. A lot.
Now, two general observations. I am really, really impressed with Mark Britton. Whatever he is selling, I am buying. He is innovative, thoughtful, and quite charismatic. He cares about his product (Avvo) but he cares more about the users of Avvo and whether the product is resulting in success stories. Meeting and speaking at length with Mark will definitely be one of the highlights of this trip. He is one good guy.
Matt Homann is one of the best presenters I have ever seen. That guy is nails on stage. The combination of humor, entertainment, and quality content mixed with his presentation style and skills went unmatched. I would recommend him to any firm or organization looking for a consultant or a speaker for any event. This guy is legit. I can’t wait to see him present again.
Finally, let me add that it was awesome to be associated with a group of so prominent, so successful people. I look up to and admire all of these people and it was a pleasure to share the stage with each of them. It was also fun to talk with Kevin O’Keefe off-stage (at length). Kevin and I have been Twitter friends for a long, long time.
Great first day. My apologies if I missed anything important. Feel free to contact me with any additions you think are warranted. Having written this up, I’m even more excited for Day 2!
Thanks Avvo for the opportunity and for putting on such a great presentation. As I come across other summaries, I will add links so you can get perspectives from others in attendance.
In a world where social media “experts” are a dime a dozen and everyone is a marketing “professional” (or even better, a Twitter / Social Media / Technology “evangelist” — I love the evangelists) it is nice to come across actual useful tips that are easily implemented and yield results. (The only question is whether and why I would want to give these tips away haha.) Even better, how about something that is free.
I recently listensed to a presentation by Stephen Fairley, founder of the Rainmaker Institute (someone who actually is a “professional” and successful marketer) and picked up a tip on Facebook Pages and vanity URLs. The tip was, essentially, “if you don’t have one, get one. In fact, get more than one.”
I’ve never been a big fan of using Facebook as a marketing tool; of all the major social media outlets, it tended to fall towards the bottom of my list. But, after listening to Stephen’s emphatic plea, I decided to give it a shot. I setup a page for “Utah Employment Lawyer”. At first, it was just a random page with a random URL with basically no content. But once you get enough likes (25 or 30), Facebook will allow you to choose a “vanity” URL (assuming the URL you pick is available). And that is when you can really start to make things happen.
Back to the story. So, I invited a bunch of my friends, reached the “like” threshold, and chose “utahemploymentlawyer” as my vanity URL. In other words, http://facebook.com/utahemploymentlawyer will now take you to my fan page.
The search engine results, especially on Google, were almost immediate–and somewhat shocking. As you can see from the screenshot below, my Facebook page is an organic result on Google’s first page for searches for “Utah Employment Lawyer”. While there are several paid listings and SEO’ed sites ahead of mine, I am still on the first page, within days, for free–and by visiting my page, you will notice that I have done very little work (which will now change given my search engine positioning). Here is the proof:
Now, I am sure we all recognize that when someone is searching for a lawyer, they might not be interested in going to a Facebook page (as opposed to a law firm website). But people are also willing to click a few different links. And if your fan page contains adequate content and links back to your firm’s website, you have built another “connection” to your practice. In this case, the result is very clear: “Utah Employment Lawyer” in big blue (or purple if you have visited the site) letters, on the first page of Google’s results for a set of terms that are likely to be searched by someone who is looking for a utah employment lawyer. Plus, this is a great way of reminding your friends that you are someone that might be able to help them out if they need some legal advice.
So get to it. Just visit http://www.facebook.com/page and take a couple of minutes to setup a page. I am sure there is plenty you can do to dress up your fan pages (feel free to give me some suggestions in the comments). Suddenly, you have a new, free, marketing resource that took $0.00 out of your budget. And since you will be on Facebook anyway, feel free to like my Facebook Fan Pages:
For what it is worth, in the time it took to write this post, I setup a Fan Page for Social Media Esq., sent out “like” requests to all my friends (I wasn’t shy about it) and received numerous “likes” within minutes. I then sent out a request over Twitter. From there, it only took an hour or two to get to the number of likes I needed to claim http://www.facebook.com/socialmediaesq
This is something you can do and you can do it quickly and easily. Regardless of what business you are in, I suggest you take a little time and do this. One of the best free marketing tips out there. Enjoy!