Whilst 2015 is well and truly upon us, if your law firm hasn’t yet started to embark on a law firm marketing strategy, then this podcast is worth a listen.
Larry Bodine is one of the World’s most recognised law firm marketing experts. His name is synonymous with a number of publications and platforms, including Lawyers.com, National Trial Lawyers association and more recently, Ken Hardison’s Law Practice Advisor.
In this podcast, Larry identifies 5 of his biggest recommendations to get your firm well and truly on the front foot in 2015.
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Dan: Larry Bodine thanks for joining me.
Larry: Hello Dan and it’s always good to talk to you, how are you today?
Dan: I’m great thanks Larry, what’s going on in the world of Larry Bodine? Plenty I suspect.
Larry: Well actually I’m the guy who creates the content that intends people to come to manage one is the national trial lawyers which is a national organization of plaintiff attorney. The other one is personal injury.com which is a directory of personal injury attorneys the third one is the law practice adviser which is a site that offers lawyers and small firms articles on marketing technology and I update the content on each one of those sites every day and I got to tell you it keeps me busy.
Dan: Absolutely yeah I know in Ken Hardison’s Law Practice Advisor it is a great website.
Larry: Well I really enjoyed that because here’s what we want to focus on marketing technology and management but as it applies the small law firms and I know Dan you’ve written a couple of terrific articles on technology marketing and that’s just one of the subjects that we cover we also get into personal sales and end-of-the-year tax techniques you can use the save money and lots of marketing articles on how to build your practice
Dan: yeah and Ken’s been such a stalwart in this space for a number of years too hasn’t he? So it’s just great to see law practice advisor sort of living up to his expectations.
Larry: right you know I think he’s a real leader when it comes to marketing for particularly trial lawyers because there’s a lot of good marketing organizations out there but they are aimed at big defense firms, or they’re aimed at the marketing director on the staff but there’s really very little out there or a plaintiff lawyer is her and that’s what the law and practice advisor is all about.
Dan: Larry how do you sort of, commandeer all of this work? I mean we were talking off-line about how great it is to be online and be almost sort of virtual 24 seven to be able to work in locations you know that 10 years ago we never would’ve expected we’d work from.
Larry: I can give you a quick example about the and National Trial Lawyers as affiliated with a couple of law schools and there is a legal journalism program heading up and I work and I work with for students to assign them court case is, verdicts, opinions of note and I “uploaded on the not base camp where they find the assigned assignments and then they write their drafts online in WordPress where I can review and edit it and then will have a face-to-face, either on Skype or Google panel or on iPad FaceTime and the students are all thousands of miles away from me and each other but with the Internet we can be face to face and work directly. It’s really a wonderful thing.
Dan: yeah I agree Larry, as you know last year I was based in Nova Scotia for four months and fast firms never missed a beat as you know we’ve got an incredible team and we’re all located in different locations or regions across the globe that technology is just so good these days.
Larry: very true in fact let me give you a technique that I use, a good marketing tip I use Google hangouts live. So I’ll and then connect with someone else who is in one of my circles and I can start a recording you can go back and forth like you when I started the broadcast begins to record a YouTube recording I can push a button to show who’s face is was face is showing and that usually the person speaking and then when it ended its automatically uploaded and I’ve for personalinjury.com I have already interviewed about half of and that’s a great way to get in touch with attorneys who made a presentation or leading up on the charge some particular kind of case and talk to them face-to-face and reported and here is the.
Dan: yeah absolutely, absolutely and that, and that technology is pretty good these days with their Google hangouts I mean in the early days when they launched it was a bit patchy it’s considerably improved hasn’t it, since then?
Larry: yeah the trick is that you need to have a fast enough connection to handle the video throughput and I went old and invested in at $70 Logitech camera that I coupon to my monitor it’s much better than the Web Cam and produces a really nice sharp picture has microphones in it that also make good sound.
Dan: yeah amazing. It’s a long way from those days when you and I caught up in New Jersey you’re somewhere in New Jersey when you are working for the lawyers.com you are doing the redeye flights out there each week you must not have missed that too much?
Larry: no I don’t miss the travel although I miss all the good people that I met and the tremendous amount of fun that we had working on lawyers.com and I love the technique that you did and whenever you would meet people you would say all right let’s do a quick in the interview took a copy and you sort of stand up here in the street on hold for us with a good marketing tip I really thought that was a great technique and I commend you for doing it.
Dan: I think went to Harry Caplin actually Larry I think he sprung the kimber on me and you on a few occasions.
Larry: when the you know with a cell phone now you can make a recording and pass the make button for, it’s technology the knowledge he has become such a long way
Dan: Absolutely, Larry we’re here today to talk about what law firms can do this year I mean we’re well and truly into February so it’s nearly March, you know to actually enhance their marketing and better position themselves and make 2015 an absolute cracker. You’ve got five ideas for five of your key sort of recommendations why don’t we start with them do we want to go back to front from 5 to 1 or 1 to 50 do you want to play it?
Larry: well yeah let’s do a reverse top-five countdown. So number 5 is that if you’re an attorney and you’re looking to attract clients, you will need to establish social and what they mean by that is glands want to see an attorney they note 3, of a Google close page, have a really good profile on LinkedIn and maybe even a Facebook page that’s updated because this is how people communicate and though. They communicate online and in social networks and there is sort of the wisdom of the crowd that to the follow somebody if they see them in a please that there already looking and where they’re looking today Dan is on social media.
Dan: yeah absolutely what’s your thought on Google close? I know ministering at least it hasn’t been probably received the same amount of traction as it has in the US are you starting to see the penetration with it over there?
Larry: definitely, I never miss putting a meeting Google plus so on the site that I would that link in and headline it in a little report about it and then outweigh the boat often over and do a search on the title and sure enough it would be the first or second item in Google because basically is going to favor its own products so on Google plus is going to come up in the rankings and that also goes for those Google live loads I was describing the moment to put it online if you search for the title or any of the people where being welcome to the top of the leasing group.
Dan: yeah we should actually mentioned that I mean the great thing about Google plus but lawyers is that if you build that network out enough you know it’s to your past clients and existing clients then when they do a search you know for a particular maybe practice area or some sort of legal topic your search result or you, you spring to the top don’t you?
Larry: That’s right, I think in all of the steppingstones for social media Google plus is one that you definitely got to hit
Dan: absolutely Larry what do you got next?
Larry: Well number four would be content marketing and this is something I know we’ve both written about and with all of the Google algorithm updates that of the tricks and techniques that people were using and what Google is favoring no are websites that have new content at least 300 to 400 words, updated frequently and something that’s completely original and of course are really fun to the site that it appears on and that turned out to be probably the most effective way to market online is by talking about old days they caused that everyday but done: you know we were talking of air about how difficult at times lawyers find it to write content and sometimes they outsource it of you got any thoughts about that lawyers should adopt adopt when he writing great content I mean my hunch is you get stuck on and is nice and he was the flavor in that the underlying the story, interesting yet is you want to find a reputable company and you want to avoid the really inexpensive grind out a lot of poor material, stuff that’s thinly re-written from news stories and ultimately will hurt you in your search engine rankings.
Dan: Yeah, they just churn it out don’t they?
Larry: yeah it’s true you really get what you pay for and firms with content as well and all of the people that are writing the material for us are attorneys who have practiced experience in the topic that they are writing about and I think that makes a big difference.
Dan: Larry you mentioned SEO, what are you recommending the law firms in Mark I know that law firms completely get myopic and completely where the ranking will be and they’ll go and spend you know thousands of dollars I’ve heard some firms spending $15,000 on trying to get better ranked in Google. What do you say to them?
Larry: If you’re gonna take the SEO approach the key thing that you need to inquire is what exactly they’re going to do for you there are a lot of companies that will say we’ll host your website and do ongoing SEO and you’re really spending money but you’re not getting anything for. So you want your search engine optimization company to do a case study your firm, to spend a lot of time figuring out what you want to promote what are the terms that you want to be found for and you also want a company that avoids black hat tactics such as connecting your website to the link farm in an effort to create a lot of in-bound links you know that’s gonna just destroy your rankings with Google. So we really need to find out what the company is doing and make sure none of it is surreptitious.
Dan: Yeah, I agree completely and what I’ve been saying to firms is that each month actually ask your SEO provider what they have done in terms of getting you better ranked and in particular where have they linked you and making sure that those links are to hostile locations as you mentioned like link farms.
Larry: Yeah exactly. So let me go on to number three which is a video. I think 2015 is going to be the year that law firms discover video. It’s still a novelty among many law firms and frankly if you’re not doing a video you’re missing a huge opportunity because if you put up a video on and you tell a good story and maybe give some practical information and engage viewers you’re basically providing all your potential clients with an audition and you know that’s how you should look at it so it’s really makes a lot of sense to spend the money and have a video crew come in, record a bunch of videos, and tell stories, tell stories about what you’ve done for clients, how you work with clients and what it’s like to work with you.
Dan: And there’s some great resources out there isn’t there I mean Jerry Oglinski has been banging on about videos for years now and he’s got a bunch of great stuff.
Larry: Yeah that’s really true and he’s a perfect example of someone who knows how to be cheerful on camera, he goes to interesting locations but one tip is to get interesting backgrounds he takes his video camera with him on vacations and he’ll position himself in front of some luxury resort with a very picturesque background and he’ll offer some practical advice there it’s very engaging, it makes the video interesting and it’s something that any attorney could do as well.
Dan: Yeah absolutely couldn’t agree more. So online reviews which is I think your second recommendation .
Larry: That’s right online reviews have really zoomed up in importance, something like 88% of people say that they trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation and you’ll find online reviews on Google Plus, they’re on Avo, they’re on personalinjury.com; one of the sites that I operate and it’s very important that lawyers ask their clients to write reviews about them. What you want to avoid is to basically be a blank slate; you have no reviews, you’re really not offering anything for consumers to base a choice on and more and more consumers are going to these review sites to compare Attorneys and there’s no way of opting out of online reviews because Google plus is there any of your clients can make a comment about you anyway and so since they’re going to happen I think it makes a lot of sense to ask clients after the favorable condition of the matter to write a review for you.
Dan: there will be firms out there that will go to Yelp and Google plus really don’t have a strong prominence here in this country but it soon will be the case that they do how do they prepare themselves, this?
Larry: you can always ask the client to write a testimonial or a favorable review. If there isn’t a particular prominent review site put it on your own website and going back to my earlier comment nothing is better than a video of a client’s just simply how well they were treated, how the firm cared about them, you know more about the experience of dealing with the firm. That kind of thing is really persuasive and it’s what will people are looking for.
Dan: yea I agree, it’s a huge trust mark, isn’t it?
Larry: and then to the top of our countdown you list number 1 will be Mobile Marketing and the reason that’s come into the forefront Dan is that Google is now labeling websites as being mobile friendly. So you get a little rankings boost from that. They’re also penalizing sites that are not mobile friendly and just to show you how important Google thinks this is they are actually sending emails from Google to website operators saying that ‘your website has mobile usability problems” which means that when you look on a lot of law firms’ website and you can of will make out the pictures, you can’t make out the type, you can’t even recognize the logo; you’ve got mobile usability problems and where this is all going is that having a good mobile site that looks great on that little 3 * 4 inch screen that’s gonna make a big difference and how well you’re found in the search ranks.
Dan: Some designers are now starting to work with mobile first so when they sit down with a client they’re thinking how is this all gonna be presented or how is it gonna play on a mobile device? That’s the first thing that enters their mind.
Larry: I think that’s a smart move, people are obsessed with their cell phones and they use them to text, to set an alarm, you can even start your car remotely with a cell phone, set your thermostat and it’s very true that when many people, I think we’re kind of in the tipping point right now where the number of searches and visits to the web are on cell phones is now equal to or surpassing that on desktop computers.
Dan: Yea, incredible isn’t it?
Larry: Yea, it’s a big shift in the way that they will see a change in a way that clients communicate, instead of 22 inch screen it’s a 4 by 5 inch screen, instead of emails its texts and so you really need to design for that handheld device if you want to get consumers.
Dan: Yeah long gone are the days of the yellow pages and that’s all you have to do as a law firm was just put your advert in there and then the rest is history.
Larry: Yeah that’s true but you know frankly I think all of the internet marketing, the reviews, the videos it’s just so much more fun there’s more opportunities to be creative than the yellow pages ad so I’m glad to see the yellow pages go.
Dan: Yeah, me too absolutely and I love the interactivity with this whole new trend in digital marketing and as you mentioned Google hangouts. It’s great to see lots of law firms these days starting to embrace webinars; it’s fantastic.
Larry: yep okay that’s true I give a webinar just a week ago. We had about the 150 attendees and it’s got ewe are ready to everything, it’s got sound, it’s got action, emotion, a PowerPoint slideshow and we’re all together in this one online community for an hour and the only thing that’s missing is the physical presence but we had everything else.
Dan: Yeah absolutely awesome. Larry it’s always a great pleasure to catch up I think you for joining me thanks for those great 5 tips. Where do people find you if they want to reach out?
Larry: Well you can go to larrybodine.com so it’s just my name .com and you’ll find my own website and that will lead you to all of the other sites that I work on.
Dan: Awesome, thanks very much Larry.
Great chat there with Larry Bodine and I would encourage you to head across to Ken Hardison’s Legal Practice Adviser, there is some excellent content over there. Thanks again for joining me and next week how to get your C grade website to an A minus with another good mate law firm Web Designer from New York, Great Jakes, Robert Algeri.