Sales Enable Your Law Firm Web Site
By Amy Campbell
Is your law firm web site helping to make the sale? As your firm moves to implement a sales and service business model, make sure your web site evolves with it.
The importance of your firm's web site in your sales process should not be underestimated, even in a relationship business like legal services. Let's face it, what's the first thing people do once they get a specific attorney referral? They "Google" the attorney, read the bio and peruse the firm's web site. For large and small law firms alike, your web site plays a key role in the discovery process and sets the tone for how a potential client evaluates your firm. Remember that perception is reality. And first impressions count.
Once you've met all the basic marketing prerequisites
a nice looking site that defines and positions your firm in the
marketplace, with lean practice area descriptions, bios with flattering
photos of your attorneys and easy-to-find contact information it's
time to move beyond the descriptive "electronic brochure" stage
and begin transforming your web site into a real sales tool.
At last summer's LSSO Raindance conference, Chris Turk of HubbardOne cited two revealing statistics:
- 74% of large law firms gained clients whose first awareness of firm was through web
(Touchpoint Metrics study of 12-month period).
- 64% of general counsel use the web sites of firms they hire
(Internet Marketing Attorney)
According to Turk, clients are demanding value outside of the billable hour and as they shop around, they want firms to "demonstrate specific, recent, relevant experience." It was so simple, and so spot on, I wrote it down and later printed up cards with the phrase.
Law firms can spend megabucks on branding and differentiation
with limited success, because, as much as we hate to admit it, most firms
and attorneys are pretty much the same. As Bruce
Marcus writes in a recent issue of RainToday.com,
"If differentiation is impossible to truly accomplish, or to specifically
define, there are still many ways to project your firm's distinctive qualities."
One of those ways, according to Marcus, is "to demonstrate
demonstrate, not tell that you can be more useful to the client,
particularly in the practice areas in which you specialize." If that's
done well, says Marcus, then differentiation takes care of itself.
So take a look at your web site from a prospective client's
viewpoint, and ask yourself, does our web site tell them what they need
to know? In addition to clear descriptions of your services, show your
special expertise and industry knowledge by providing useful and relevant
"information of value."
Here a few items to get you started on your web site's sales tune-up.
1. Keep it current.
If your two biggest, most recent deals aren't on your web site, then they aren't helping to demonstrate how you can help a similar client who is perusing your site. Does each practice area description have recent examples of work? Are attorney bios up to date and do they feature their most important recent work? Are their most recent articles and speeches easy to access from their bio? Remember, potential clients and referral sources (as well as search engine spiders) come to your web site looking for specific information to support the belief that you might be the right fit for them — don't send them away empty handed.
2. Showcase expertise.
Address client concerns head on by publishing regular articles, updates, and news on current and relevant topics. Publicize attorney accolades, speaking and seminar activities and share presentation materials when appropriate. The idea is to promote your firm's attorneys as subject area experts through publishing and speaking activities and documenting it all on the web site in an organized and systematic way. This requires time, effort and the skills of an experienced managing editor.
3. Make it easy.
Your web site is the public face of your firm. A visitor's experience with your web site is his experience with your firm. Is your site easy to navigate, well organized and logical? Does it have a useful search function? If not, a visitor may not find what she is looking for, become frustrated and leave. A web site that doesn't perform as expected can leave the impression that the firm is poorly managed, does not value customer service, or has poor attention to detail. In today's sales and service environment, a good web experience can impress, a poor one can be a red flag. And remember, fancy and expensive is not always better than simple and direct.
4. Edit copy to be client focused, not firm focused.
Web messaging should address your clients' needs and concerns, not the firm's oldest partner. When writing or editing for the web, repeat this mantra: It's about them, it's not about us. Law firm "About Us" pages are famous for long-winded histories that start off with phrases such as, "We were founded in 1939 by Joshua R. Smith and Samuel M. Smith," or "We are organized into three divisions." While there may be a place on the web site to communicate your firm's rich history, it ranks low on the relevancy scale. What visitors really want to know is how you can help them. The quicker you begin to demonstrate that, the closer you will be to the sale.
5. Ask for the business.
In conjunction with demonstrating your relevancy and providing all this information of value, don't forget to build in calls to action. Encourage the reader to take the next step (whatever that may be), and make it easy for the reader to act.
6. Drink the Kool-Aid.
Your marketing materials may talk the talk, but does your firm walk the walk? A disconnect between the culture promised in your marketing and branding and the one experienced by your clients/prospects when they interact with your attorneys and staff, can cause a credibility problem. Close integration of marketing, sales and customer service is required to help make sure everyone is on the same page and the same team.
These are just some of the ways to increase the effectiveness
of your law firm web site. For more information or to inquire about a
web site audit, please contact Amy Campbell.
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