(image credit: Rand Fishkin Why SEO That Used to Work, Fails)
“I absolutely believe the real integration opportunity, and way [for] most small business owners to blow their competition out of the water, is the intentional blending of online and offline tools and tactics around a single marketing strategy.”
- John Jantsch (as cited by Steve Olenski at Forbes)
What is integrated legal marketing?
Most lawyers know that referrals are among the best sources of new business. On the other hand, most don’t recognize the interplay between referrals, social media and search.
Borrowing from around the web, integrated legal marketing involves delivering consistent, seamless and multi-dimensional experiences to potential clients.
It means marshaling the evidence of your good reputation across various channels – television, radio, print, web, search, social, email and face-to-face – in a consistent style that reinforces and complements your professional reputation.
Let's look at divorce situation focusing on paid search, organic search and social media.
A married couple has been going through a tough patch. At some point, one spouse finds some evidence of infidelity on Facebook. She’s thinking she’s had enough and starts contemplating what divorce might look like.
If she's like most people, she's like to begin discussing her situation with people she knows, likes and trusts. At some point, these discussions will likely involve legal questions and finding a lawyer.
Those discussions will take place in a variety of ways. Of course, they're likely to involve face-to-face discussions. But they'll also take place on the phone, via text messages and even on social networks.
From those conversations, questions will likely arise. If our spouse is like most people, she'll turn to the internet to do research and seek answers. More specifically, she'll turn to a search engine, most likely, Google.
She'll likely perform many refinements to her searches and pour over several organic search listings.
Some of those listings are likely to lead to posts, articles and pages published by attorneys.
If she finds what she's looking for, she may be motivated to contact one of the attorneys. Or she may download something from their site or subscribe to receive divorce information via email. She may also just leave and perform more searches.
If those attorneys were implementing paid search remarketing campaigns, our spouse would be likely to see ads from those attorneys around the web.
Before making a decision about any particular attorney, she'll probably spend a great deal of time during further research about her prospective attorney. She'll also likely go back to the people she knows, likes and trusts for referrals and validation.
The attorneys who have developed online connections with the people she knows, likes and trusts will have a leg-up in her consideration set and give them a strong competitive advantage.
How to implement an integrated legal marketing strategy
First, you have to have detailed answers to questions about your target audience. In other words:
Who are the clients you want?
One of the most common mistake lawyers make is developing a marketing strategy for themselves. Most lawyers are not good examples of their target clients.
Second, you to understand what is troubling them. Many people who may eventually become your clients might not yet know that they even need a lawyer like you. Don't presume that your best clients are the ones that are merely searching for:
[city] + [practice area] + [attorney]
This is what everyone else is doing.
Third, you have to understand which channels these people are actually using and which are the best for you to reach them.
Once you know your audience, what they're looking for and where they're looking for it, the next step is being there and delivering that to them.
Hopefully, it's obvious to you that all of this hinges on providing excellent experiences to people. Clearly, this starts with client service. But it really goes beyond just clients. It requires providing positive experiences to just about anyone who might form an opinion about you and refer you business.
Your reputation in the real world is the cornerstone of your ability to earn new clients.
But it's not the shingles. In other words, it's essential, but not necessarily sufficient.
Lawyers that invest time in forging, nurturing and solidifying relationships, are the ones that are winning. And these relationships are evolving both offline and online.