Reviews are essential to your law firm marketing success … but what about the bad review? First, just a quick refresher on why online reviews are so important to your law firm marketing.
Google loves Google reviews (reviews that are submitted directly on their platform)!
Google does not share their algorithms with us, but webmasters agree that lots of great Google reviews will boost your website’s performance on local search.
People trust reviews. They are more likely to click-through to your website and more likely to hire you if you have a lot of positive Google reviews.
For these reasons, we encourage every one of our law firm marketing clients to be very intentional about getting positive reviews on Google and other platforms, like Facebook and Yelp.
But what about the bad review?
How bad is it, really … and what should you do about it? First — breathe. EVERYONE gets a bad review sometime. The more successful you are, the more people you work with (or decide not to work with), the more likely someone out there is going to get their panties in a wad and rush over to Google to vent their frustration and dissatisfaction. It’s a new fact of our online lives. How bad is it, really? Well, I’m not going to lie. It can be bad. I’ve spoken to several business owners who have definitely lost business due to a single bad review … often an unfair one at that. What can you do about it? You can make it worse … you can make it better … you can learn from it … and you can be pro-active to protect yourself from it. But you cannot delete it. Once it’s out there, only the person who left the review can edit or delete it.
Make it worse. Ah, the knee-jerk reaction that gets you into a no-win, public argument online. The review is unfair or untrue and you — as a trained advocate — can PROVE it. Tread lightly here, my friend. It’s oh-so-easy to look like a jerk online and this is an argument you cannot win. PLUS — the more comments and replies and the longer this thread becomes, the more weight it gets from Google and the whole thing just blows up into a bigger mess than before. Please do not start an argument in the reviews section online. It just never turns out well.
Make it better. There are several ways you may be able to make it better. The first would be to call the person and see if there was just a misunderstanding that can be easily resolved … and if so, take action and then ask if they would please consider editing their review. This happened to me once when I left a terrible review for a company. The owner called me the next day and straightened everything out. I went back and revised my review based on his understanding, willingness to listen, and quick action. Anyone can make a mistake, and I was impressed that this company admitted it and made it right.
Learn from it. A bad review may open your eyes to a weakness in your firm — whether it’s a rude receptionist or a break-down in your processes. A bad review could be a gift, showing you something about your firm that you didn’t know before. Take the criticism, learn from it and do better next time. Respond to the review by thanking the reviewer for bringing this to your attention and state what actions you will take or have taken to correct the situation.
Protect yourself from it. The best protection against a bad review is lots of great ones! Pro-actively request positive reviews from your many happy clients. Most people understand that a single bad review, among many great ones is just something that happens. Over time, the bad review will get buried and, if you didn’t make it worse by getting into a huge blow-up, most people will never see it. And if they do, they will take it with a grain of salt.
There is one more thing you could do. You could consider threatening the bad reviewer with a lawsuit. Since you’re a lawyer, this may be a real option for you. If the reviewer is being vindictive, if their claims are untrue and malicious and you can show harm … then you might think about it.
We have been hurt by a few disgruntled clients who went into a private forum, where we have no access, and wrote bad things about us. A few of our clients who are members alerted us and shared screenshots. Some of what was written is patently false, and of course there is “the rest of the story,” that we had no opportunity to tell. Several of our clients hopped in and told their positive stories … but to this day, we still have the occasional person who backs out of doing business with us because of these two or three disgruntled clients. Very frustrating. But at the end of the day, I consider it a gift. If someone allows these few unhappy clients to sway their opinion — despite our 25 years of success in this market, our many positive reviews, AND the unsolicited testimonials of our clients who tried to set the record straight — then that person may be very difficult for us to work with. I choose to Ho’oponopono and move on.
Law firm branding can seem mysterious and challenging … which may be why attorneys tend to ignore their brand messaging. Like most challenges, ignoring your branding will come back to haunt you later, especially when you’re trying to scale your revenue, boost profits and leverage your time!
To help you get back on track, WealthCounsel has asked me to teach a special session on law firm branding for their practice development program members … and even if you’re not a WC member yet, you can still get in on this training for a small fee!
How Defining Your Brand Can Help You Get Unstuck
Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, ET
Presenter: Jennifer Goddard, IMS
WHAT WE’LL COVER:
As your practice grows, are you finding that things are getting harder instead of easier?
Does it sometimes feel like there’s a glass ceiling on your income and you just can’t seem to break through?
Almost everyone who tries to scale their business runs into this at some point. These are common symptoms of “Brand Chaos.” As your practice grows and expands, so does your network of stake holders — staff, clients, referral sources, and more. Your message gets watered down, edited, and changed along the way — just like in the children’s game of Gossip. Over time, the brand message is so convoluted, it’s unrecognizable.
That’s when you run into revenue roadblocks.
During this session, you will discover the 12 classic brand archetypes, which one best fits your firm, and how brand alignment crashes through that glass ceiling and gets you back on track to scale your revenue and profits.
One of the most frustrating aspects of estate planning marketing is the toll it often takes on the attorneys and their personal lives. It’s not just about serving clients … which, honestly is stressful enough. It’s about managing referral relationships, staying in touch and making each one feel valued and special … carving out time for lunch meetings …
Or … it’s driving all over your market area to deliver yet another seminar or workshop … in a local restaurant, nursing home, public library or rented conference room. And it’s not just all the driving … it’s the time away from home … and even away from the office. When things go well, there’s hardly any time to get the work done, unless you stay late or go into the office on the weekend. And then, of course there’s hardly any time left to actually lead your staff, build your team or implement great new ideas.
And when things aren’t going so well … it’s the white-knuckle, gut-wrenching feeling you get when you look at the firm’s bank balance and wonder how you’re going to meet payroll or pay the office rent.
Did you know it’s that way by design?
All those self-proclaimed gurus who told you that the way to market an estate planning or elder law practice is by building your referral network and/or hosting live workshops … they set you up for this.
Those out-dated estate planning marketing strategies are designed to keep you busy, fill up your time and create a glass ceiling on your income.
It does not have to be like this.
The key to scaling your practice and taking back your life is to LEVERAGE YOUR TIME.
Just say no to more working lunches.
Just say no to hustling around to even more live workshops.
Learn the simple strategies our clients use to get off the hamster wheel of seminar and referral marketing.
Book a free Discovery Call. In this FREE session, we will work with you to craft a step-by-step game plan to hit your income goals for this year, whether that’s $10,000/month or $200,000/month … AND for attracting the exact the clients you want … a game plan that won’t have you doubling-down on even more lunches or seminars!
By now you’ve probably heard the news, but if you haven’t, I’m here to enlighten you. In a growing trend businesses, including small law firms, are being sued for the lack of accessibility on their website.
So What’s the Big Deal?
You may be wondering if this is a ploy developed by your fellow attorneys or if this is a serious concern that you need to take action on. The bottom line is yes, you should be taking efforts to ensure your website is accessible and complies with ADA guidelines.
However, before we can jump into what your law firm should do, we need to set the foundation for what the law says about ADA compliance online.
Well, the actual law does not have a set standard or framework for what an ADA compliant website looks like. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not mention what is required of a business’s online property, but courts have interpreted Title III of the ADA to include websites and online assets.
Historically, Title III of the ADA applies to physical aspects such as having a wheelchair accessible entrance, altering the width of doorways, and other accommodations to ensure public premises are accessible to all. Now, the interpretation of Title III has expanded the stipulations beyond a physical location to digital locations as well.
So, what does your law firm need to do about it?
What ADA Compliant Looks Like
Having an ADA compliant website is all about ensuring that your website is accessible to all your online visitors. While ADA is the legal side of the issue, website accessibility is the technical and design side that allows visitors with sight, hearing, or mobility disabilities to peruse your site and take full advantage of all the site’s elements.
Now we are at the point where we dive into what an accessible website looks like (congratulations on making it this far!), especially when we don’t have a legal framework to follow. In recent rulings, U.S. courts and the Department of Justice cited the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA success criteria as the standard to measure whether your website is compliant.
Here’s a brief taste of the WCAG 2.0 Level AA success criteria:
You need to provide text alternatives for any non-text content so that it may be adapted to different forms (e.g. large print, braille, speech, etc.)
Your content needs to be adaptable
You need to make it easier for your visitors to see and hear content
You need to provide ways to help your visitors navigate, find content, and determine where they are on your website (i.e. breadcrumbs)
You need to make text readable and understandable
Seems pretty simple, right? Well, there are 33 more guidelines provided by WCAG for you to follow.
Should My Law Firm’s Website be ADA Compliant?
With a foundation in ADA compliance and how it affects your law firm, what should you do next?
Well, the simple answer is – do something!
Don’t sit around and wait until the daunting moment when you find yourself under fire for not playing by the WCAG rules. Take action now to ensure that your website is ADA Compliant.
Taking action on this issue can help your law firm:
Even though there is no written law concerning your website in the original text of the ADA, that fact remains that your law firm’s digital assets are being interpreted as a public resource for online visitors, thus holding you accountable to website accessibility standards. Nobody likes being sued, so minimize your risk by making sure your website is compliant.
Expand Your Reach
By making your website accessible, you are actually expanding your reach. First, you are able to reach a previously non targeted clientele that was previously unable to use your website. Secondly, having an ADA compliant website can also improve your SEO scores with the use of technical improvements (e.g. meta tags, alternative image text and video transcripts).
Boost Your Reputation by Doing the Right Thing
Not to be cliche, but do the right thing! When you take steps to make your website accessible, you are ensuring that everyone that comes to your site will have the opportunity to engage with your law firm and get the service they need. As an added bonus to doing the right thing, users will take notice of the steps you are taking, having a direct affect on your reputation.
Bringing It All Together
Are you ready to make your law firm’s website ADA compliant?
You can use accessiBe, an AI powered web accessibility tool, to automatically transition your site into a completely accessible website. To see what accesiBe can do, take a look at our website and click on the accessibility icon in the lower left corner.
The first quarter of this year is over … is your estate planning practice on-track to meet your revenue and profit goals?
It’s not too late … but it is time to stop procrastinating and get down to the serious work of marketing your estate planning or elder law practice now.
If you’re not yet meeting your revenue goals, and you’ve been trying to get there for a while, then take a hard look at what you’ve been doing, and the way you’ve been thinking about your law firm.
Have you gotten where you want to go?
Have you achieved the things you wanted to achieve?
Are you hitting your goals consistently, month in and month out?
If so, that’s great!
But if not, rather than beating yourself up, let’s take a deeper look at what needs to change in your business, so you can generate consistent revenue every month for the rest of the year …
and know that your marketing is dialed-in to scale your practice to whatever revenue goals you set next year … and the years after.
The question to be asking yourself now is:
“What can I do TODAY to put myself on the trajectory to meet my revenue goals this year?”
I want to share with you exactly what we have our clients do to grow revenue while working with their ideal clients at profitable fees.
#1 – Believe It’s Possible
While this may seem a bit obvious, I definitely feel it’s worth mentioning and here’s why…
Legal marketing … and especially law firm business coaching … is littered with misinformation.
It amazes me that, in this day and age, there are law firm business coaches out there who would tell their clients that, in order to grow their business, they need to hitch their wagon to a financial advisor and beg for referrals … or buy half-page ads in the local newspapers and promote their seminars and workshops.
Who honestly wants to give up control over their law firm to someone pitching mutual funds? Or believes they can single-handedly save the newspaper industry by throwing thousands of dollars into paper-and-ink advertising?
Two sure signs that you’re following a poor business model and the wrong strategy are:
Your financial livelihood depends on the kindness of strangers; or
You’re investing marketing dollars in dying industries.
But it frustrates me that the naysayers are so rampant and so quick to give you out-dated advice that burns up your budget and lets others pick and choose your clients for you.
You ABSOLUTELY CAN grow your law firm without giving up control or sacrificing your personal life to the tyranny of referral and seminar marketing.
I’m not saying that to blow smoke, I’m saying that because we’ve done it … and we help our clients do it every day.
You don’t need to cold-call financial advisors or investment firms and beg to take someone to lunch … five or six times a week.
You don’t need to buy big ads in the local newspaper and serve punch and cookies to half-full rooms of people who just want to learn … what you know.
You don’t have to give up your evenings and weekends to host seminars.
And you don’t have to let someone else choose your clients for you.
But it comes down to this…
If you don’t even believe that digital marketing will send you better clients, at lower costs, with more consistency to scale your law firm … then you’re never going to give it an honest and fair shot.
#2 – The Right Strategy
The bottom line is this: you need the right digital strategy to reach your ideal clients online.
Growing your estate planning or elder law practice can feel a bit like running through a minefield at times, with certain obstacles you have to work through, right?
That’s just part of being a business owner…
On the other side of that minefield is the law firm that you want…
The freedom you want…
The lifestyle you want…
The impact you want for your clients…
It’s all there. The challenge is that you need to step strategically through this minefield.
If you take a wrong step, you could land on a mine and blow up everything.
This is why it’s so important to have the right strategy.
There are law firm coaches out there (well-known ones) who are teaching out-dated strategies…
They are teaching strategies that lack integrity, and don’t have your results as their #1 priority.
They are teaching hat-in-your-hand strategies that will ultimately end up making you work WAY harder and make it so that you can’t possibly serve your clients at a premium level.
So why does legal marketing feel like such a minefield?
Because, most of the time, you don’t know these strategies are BAD until you go out there and waste a ton of time and thousands of dollars trying to implement them.
If you have a bad strategy, putting more time, or more money, or more energy into it isn’t going to give you the law firm of your dreams.
Giving away control, putting your financial future into someone else’s hands, is never going to get you a profitable, enjoyable and satisfying law practice. No one else out there has your dream at the center of their efforts.
It’s YOUR dream. And it’s up to YOU to fight for it!
So, how do you tell the difference between a GOOD strategy and a bad one?
The answer lies in finding a great coach who has been there, done that, and can help lead you through the minefield.
When looking for a trustworthy coach, here’s some things to keep in mind:
1- Is this person already getting the outcome you want?
2- Are their clients succeeding as well? (This shows they are able to repeat the result).
3- Are they teaching a step-by-step strategy to get you to the outcome you want? (or is it 90% fluff?)
4 – Are they actively USING their own process? Is what they are teaching the exact same system they use for themselves?
5 – Is their business expanding?
6 – Does your gut tell you this is the simplest strategy?
If not, they have no business being your coach.
Our strategy at Integrity Marketing is simple –
We teach lawyers how to take compelling messages online to find and attract their ideal clients and get them into your office.
This is the strategy we use in our own business. It’s the strategy that our president, Kyle Krull, uses in his estate planning practice … and, it’s the strategy our clients use to build and grow their firms as well.
If you want to reach your revenue and profitability goals this year and you want to follow a proven strategy that works, then reach out and talk to us.
We’ll talk about your beliefs – (Do you really believe you can do this and that it’s possible for you?)
We’ll talk about the strategies you should be following.
And, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process our clients use to grow their firms with reliable, affordable digital marketing.
If you’re serious about growing your law firm this year, then we’re ready to help you with that…
This is a true story about our client “Susan.” She is a solo practitioner in estate planning and elder law. She loves helping her clients solve some of life’s biggest challenges.
But here’s the thing …
After nearly ten years on her own she was still struggling to show a profit from her law firm.
“I really had to face the fact that I could make more money as an associate in someone else’s firm,” she told me.
Like you, Susan had done some online marketing. But she never fully committed to using the power of the internet to grow her practice. She listened to all of the so-called marketing gurus who told her she needed to do more “networking,” or host more seminars.
But Susan is 50 years old and never was much of a schmoozer. She couldn’t see herself calling up financial advisors and inviting them to lunch.
And seminars? She and her husband were just starting to enjoy their empty nest … which meant she wanted to spend more time on date nights than work nights.
If those were her only choices … she would rather close down her practice and work for someone else.
But she just wasn’t ready to give up … yet.
Instead, Susan made a single, life-changing phone call.
She called me to find out if there were other options. What are others doing to drive new business … even if they have been at it for ten years?
Susan didn’t close her practice. She went all-in and upgraded to the New Essential Solution, at the Premium level.
So we had a simple challenge ahead of us – grow her revenue and profitability quickly and without sending her out to build more referral relationships or host seminars.
Okay – no pressure. We got this.
We completely transformed her marketing strategy and made major changes to the way she positioned herself, and within 4 months, she had her first $40,000 week.
So here’s the bottom line: it doesn’t matter if you’ve been struggling for a week, a year or ten years.
It also doesn’t matter if you think you’re “too old” … or if you would rather go out with your husband (or wife) than yet another financial advisor!
The TRUTH is that if you have a burning desire to scale your law firm to profitability…and if you’re willing to invest in yourself and do the work…
…then we can give you the step-by-step game plan to make it happen.
Book a call and let’s talk. We’ll get on the phone for about 45 minutes and we can do a deep dive into your practice. We’ll get you clear on:
The exact client you want to be working with…
What’s working (and not working) about your marketing and positioning…
And the EXACT next steps you should be taking to scale your practice to $1 million a year … or more … by finally harnessing the power of the internet.
It’s all here for you. You just need the strategy and the support to make it happen.
Let us help. Book a call. Let’s see how far we can take YOUR practice.
If a 50-year old woman with 10 years of struggling can make over $40,000 revenue in one week, why can’t you? The only difference between you and her is that she reached out, booked a call, and got the help she needed. Do the same by clicking here.
I had coffee this morning with an estate attorney whose practice is stuck because of the fall-out of referral-based marketing.
Brilliant lawyer, excellent business man …
But the conventional wisdom about how to grow an estate planning law firm has failed him.
You know the drill. All the “experts” say you grow an estate planning law firm by building referral relationships with financial advisors.
Well, this attorney has done a GREAT job of that and now he has a GREAT BIG problem to solve.
Maybe you do, too?
Here is what he told me is wrong with his practice:
• The firm has too many “eggs” in one “basket,” with the majority of referrals coming from one source and less than half from all other sources combined.
• The financial advisors have too much control over the client relationships.
• Clients are confused about the relationships, even calling their financial advisor when they want changes to their legal documents
• The firm is missing out on at least half of their target demographic who are now self-advised and don’t work with financial advisors.
• They are not getting any business from online marketing because they just don’t know how.
I have good news for him!
** First, it’s not his fault. He followed the advice that nearly every so-called marketing expert in this industry doles out. And got the EXACT SAME results that every estate planning attorney gets when they rely on referral-marketing.
** Second, this is our specialty! It’s what we love to do and what we do every day. Other agencies just build websites. We build law firms. The right way. We help estate planning lawyers build a solid pipeline of new clients without relying on financial advisors or hosting seminars.
In fact, you can learn our exact step-by-step strategy in my newest training. When you’re ready, book a call to see if we can help you, too.
Here is an actual email from a law firm. But read the whole article before hitching up your judgey-pants. Could this happen to you?
(Names removed for obvious reasons)
A prospective client went on our website and completed a”Personal Information Form” (which is a 4 page form people usually print out, complete by hand, and bring with them to their first meeting with the attorney.). This person said she filled one out online on the website, and sent it back to us. Is there a way to somehow retrieve a completed form if it was sent back to us on the website? Neither the attorney or myself received this in our emails. The person who sent this to us is very upset that we did not receive the completed form and is worried that personal information is floating somewhere on the internet.
How did this happen? Could it happen to you?
Very possibly if you don’t get your online act together!
Is Your Website Secure?
Visiting the lawyer’s website the first red flag is that their site is not secure … When you go to your website, is the address http://www.mylawfirm.com or is it https://www.mylawfirm.com?
If your site address does not have the https, then Google will give visitors a warning that the site is Not Secure.
Every new website we build has a security certificate that gives visitors assurance your website is secure. But if your website is more than a year old, you may have to upgrade to get a security certificate installed and your website reconfigured.
Teaching Point: if your website is not secure, get your act together and contact your webmaster NOW. While security certificates may be very cheap or even free, installing and re-configuring your website may cost you some money. This is a small price to pay for your own peace of mind and that of prospective clients who visit your website.
Do You Have PDF Forms on Your Website?
Do you have a Personal Information Form (PIF) or a Confidential Client Questionnaire on your website as a downloadable PDF?
IF SO, THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU.
A downloadable PDF is not a secure method of collecting client information. I have seen attorneys insist on loading these forms onto their website as a matter of convenience — THEIR convenience — so they don’t have to email, fax or mail the form.
Here’s a clue. NONE of those methods are secure. ALL of them are out-dated. And even if you only have them on your website as a “matter of convenience,” you run the risk that an unwitting prospect will fill one out and try to email it to you. And they may type the email address incorrectly or make some other mistake that sends their confidential information into cyber-space … or literally God-knows-where. Perhaps they only type the first two letters of your email address and their browser “auto-fills” the rest of it with the email of an ex-mother-in-law … who now has all of their personal information, including the value of their estate and a list of assets!
We offer all of our clients a secure website and secure, encrypted data collection as part of an automated, online client intake process so you never have to worry about this happening to you.
I learned to drive when I was 16 … my daily driver in high school was a stick shift four-wheel-drive International Scout. When I graduated, my dad gifted me with a souped-up home-grown rocket in Candy Apple Red with metallic flake, scoop on the hood, chrome on the wheels and four on the floor.
All this to say I have a fine appreciation for driving machines.
So imagine my abject embarrassment when the lady in the toll booth at Pikes Peak Highway asked whether I knew how to use the optional manual shifting feature on my auto-transmission Jeep Wrangler …
I had been driving my Wrangler for TWO YEARS, but before I started driving up the mountain, this lady was asking if I knew how to get down … without burning up my brakes.
And I did not.
I did not even know my Jeep HAD a manual-shift option! The toll booth lady had to show me how to use my own car. Which, as it turns out, was a great favor (even if it was embarrassing). She not only saved my day and my brakes, she probably saved me tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary upgrades. Yes, it’s absolutely possible that after one terrifying descent from the summit of a 14,000-ft mountain I would have driven straight to the dealership and traded my Wrangler for a Rubicon with manual transmission and a stronger transfer case with a lower low range and front and rear Dana 44s factory-loaded with locking differentials and lower gears.
Yeah … that sounds like me.
I wonder … does it maybe sound like you, too?
Is it possible that you have been cruising along in your law firm never even realizing the power that’s right there … right at your fingertips? Like I was with my Wrangler?
What if someone could help you tap into that power? Power that you already have but just can’t quite figure out how to turn on …
That’s what we do for clients in our coaching academy.
It’s about so much more than just knowing some formulas or tracking some numbers. If you’re like me … you already know most of that stuff. I actually KNEW that I could slow the engine and save the brakes by shifting to a lower gear. I just didn’t know that my Wrangler, with its fully-automatic transmission, could actually do that. And even if someone had told me that it COULD do that, it wasn’t until the toll booth lady showed me HOW to do it that I was actually able to drive down the mountain without riding the brakes.
Right now, we’re helping estate planning and elder lawyers diagnose their revenue … find any issues that are holding them back and discover opportunities for increased profitability and growth. But further, we’re showing them HOW to be more profitable and we’re helping them drive new business with the exact clients they want to serve. We don’t just talk about marketing and sales, we actually build the engine and help you drive it to top performance!
Disclaimer: Growing a small law firm to six or seven figures (or more) is not easy. The journey is both challenging and exhilarating. At every step you may be tempted to quit. Those who succeed are committed, coach-able and resourceful. If that’s you, let’s talk.