Yes, it’s that time again. For 2014 I’ve decided to give you a head start by providing you a shopping list of tactics you can use to give your marketing efforts a boost in the year ahead. To make it easier still, I have broken them down by difficulty level. Can barely lift your head off your desk after the soul-destroying race to the finish line to meet your year-end billing target? Dip a toe into the shallow end by Googling your own name. As long as you’ve still got a pulse, you can manage that one. Or — if you are at the other end of the spectrum and looking to dot the final i’s and cross the last t’s on your comprehensive plan for world domination before downing your kale-infused quinoa protein shake and heading out for your daily 12 mile run — try a geo-targeted video ad on a curated list of selected client industry websites on the Google Display Network. Jump in wherever you feel comfortable – the choice is yours.
- Google Your Own Name. It doesn’t get easier than this. Enter your own name into Google and take an objective look at what others experience when they look you up. Do the results convey the message you want to send? Is your firm bio the only work-related result on the first page? If the results are lacking, you have opportunities to build your online visibility by setting up profiles in your own name on high-ranking social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+), contributing to blogs or client-industry publications, or even adding a vanity url (a website in your own name). Influencing the first page of search results on your name also helps to insulate you from an online reputational attack in the future. You might think the odds of such a thing are remote, but I’ve seen a number of good lawyers at firms of all sizes subjected to spurious commentary online from unrepresented litigants, aggrieved former clients or others with a particular axe to grind, and it is the lawyers who have minimal web profile that suffer the worst.
- Call Up A Client And Take Them For Lunch. Sometimes, the old ways are the best. Plus, you’re rolling now.
- Update Your Bio. Chances are very good that your firm bio is your primary piece of professional real estate on the web. Give it the attention it deserves and invest some time in bringing the information up to date. Emphasize the kind of work you want to be doing, replace the jargon with client-friendly descriptions, and inject at least a little bit of your actual personality into what is often a rather dreary list of generic practice descriptions.
- Check Your Head(shot). Your bio photo is a go-to piece of collateral that gets used in a wide variety of contexts. Make sure yours is reflective of how you look now, and is a high quality shot.
- Leave a comment on someone else’s blog or reference and link to their work in yours. They will notice. Frequently, they will reciprocate. You will both be better off for it.
- Update Your LinkedIn Bio. Your LinkedIn profile is a close runner up to your firm bio in importance – even surpassing it in some circles. Give it the same workup already discussed for your firm bio.
- Try Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that allows you to monitor and update your various social media accounts from a single place. It’s a more efficient way to manage the deluge of information that flows via social channels, and to get your own posts out to the right audiences without having to duplicate your efforts on each network. That’s just smart.
- Review a Google analytics report of your firm’s website traffic. Most lawyers simply don’t know what’s really happening on their website. An analytics report is loaded with useful information – how many visits you’re getting, what geographic areas users are coming from, what search terms they are using to find you, how long they stayed, which pages they visited, what kind of device they are using (pc, tablet, phone) – it’s all there. You should look. It will probably spur ideas about ways to improve your website.
- Google+ to your social mix. Google was late to the game on social, but they are determined to be an important player, and they have the leverage of tweaking search result algorithms to boost the importance of content shared through Google+ to back them up. I know, you need another social network like you need another hole in your head. Do it anyhow.
- Produce video content for your website or blog. Video continues to grow in importance across the entire web. While lawyers love wordy treatises, the rest of the world frequently does not. A short video segment can be a great way to reach a broader audience, or to highlight and draw people’s attention to a deeper set of resources available on your site or blog on a specific topic.
- Test a Google Display Campaign. Google’s Display Network gives you the ability to advertise your firm’s services on over a million different websites through your Google AdWords account. Ad formats can range from simple text ads to static banner ads, interactive ads and videos. You can pick your budget, pick specific websites to advertise on, and geo-target your ads right down to the postal code level (so that your ad is only shown to Forbes.com readers in the area immediately surrounding your office for example). More on this relatively new way to purchase online media space here.
- Set up conversion goals in your analytics account. Once you’ve mastered the basics of understanding how people use your website, you can start to think about how you want them to use it. What would be an ideal path through your website for a group of prospects who you are about to invite to a firm seminar for example? Perhaps a designated landing page with summary information about the event, a video case study of a key issue facing their industry that will be explored further at the seminar, reviewing lawyer bios for your speakers, and then completing the event sign-up form? Setting up conversion goals changes the way you think about making your website work for you, and allows you to track the success of your efforts in this kind of strategic fashion. Learn more here.
There you have it – a dozen ways to make something good happen for your practice in the year ahead. Have fun out there.