With the changing economy, medium to large-sized law firms have been shedding staff as clients reduce their needs and legal budgets. In California alone, the State Bar Association recently stated that “too many attorneys are graduating from law school” and that the industry could not afford to support the number of new entrants into the marketplace.
This paradigm shift has resulted in a new wave of attorneys opening solo or small practices, where they can offers clients $100 – $200 an hour fees and personalized, efficient service – creating a niche in a market previously dominated by large firms whose fees were in the $300 – $500 an hour range.
But solo practices often lack the infrastructure management and marketing resources of medium or large firms, and that’s left many attorneys struggling for more clients in a business where few clients “last forever.”
Marketing has gone social
Few attorneys believe that they don’t need a website or a strong Google presence anymore, but fewer realize the potential benefits and pitfalls of social media marketing combined with smart business telephony. Having a strong presence (and a high volume of reviews) on sites such as Yelp and Google Local not only create trust but create a demand from potential clients that even the most expensive website can’t offer. And just as important, making sure that potential clients from such sources actually convert to a phone call is a lost thought for many.
Sites such as Yelp, Google Local, Avvo, and Lawyers.com may offer traffic for a price, but without a high volume of reviews, the conversion rate – the percentage of visitors who become phone calls or emails – will pale in comparison to the competition who has such review volume.
And what happens to such leads 40% of the time when they are actually generated? First, let’s explore the ways in which basic social media marketing can generate a phone call.
What not to do
Caveat emptor: First, don’t write your own reviews, or solicit past clients (or friends) to write reviews on your behalf. Most websites will catch the IP address of where you are writing such reviews and/or detect a sudden amount of reviews in a short period. Many sites will “flag” your profile or listing, making it much harder for you to get real, organic reviews!
Most attorneys complain that they are not competitive enough on Google, or don’t have enough reviews on Yelp, but the truth is that the old adage “Content is king,” holds true even for the legal industry.
By creating articles, tips or how-to’s for potential clients and publishing them online, small law firms create content not just for search engines but potential customers who are likely to read such information and engage with a follow up question, i.e. they will email or pick up the phone and call.
Create a call to action
The simplest is to install a secure form that has an “Ask a Legal Question” on your small law firm website. Obtaining a form can be done from sites such as GoDaddy and can be installed by anyone that knows basic web programming. Do tell your potential customers who visit this page that the form is “secure.” Certain State’s may have ethics in marketing guidelines that will require you to display a disclaimer stating that asking such questions does not constitute a formal attorney-client relationship.
Don’t miss calls
Assuming that an attorney has done all this and put in the time and investment to create a strong presence, volume of reviews and a compelling call-to-action, don’t commit the mistake in missing the last critical step of obtaining new clients online – answering their phone calls.
Most lawyers assume that if they don’t pick up the phone on the first few rings, that the client will call back or leave a message. They won’t.
In fact, recent studies suggest that nearly 70% of potential new clients will not leave a message. Most of the time, they will continue to dial another law firm who answers the phone.
In addition, more than 50% of new clients will actually engage with the first live attorney they speak to!
Set up a feature besides the old business phone sitting on your desk
Many attorneys will set up shop in an office or commercial building that provides them a business phone that’s tied to the building. There’s nothing wrong with that (depending on how much the building owners are charging you each month for the phone) but it doesn’t provide four essential features that are needed to maximize the potential callers from web marketing campaigns –
1) Call hunt group: Instead of bringing clients to a voicemail greeting, this feature allows a call to ring your office phone first, then your cell phone next. It increases the chances of a client getting a live voice significantly.
2) Call logging: It’s likely that the business phone sitting on your desk does a horrible job of telling you which calls you’ve missed. A call logging feature not only does Caller ID much more efficiently, it will leave a record of which calls you’ve missed or were unable to answer. In addition, it will also allow you to keep track of the amount of call time you’ve spent with current clients, making for a much easier billing experience.
3) Auto attendant: Many solo practitioners partner with other solo practitioners who together, act as a single entity to clients. An auto attendant feature allows you to set up a professional greeting with a menu so that a client can reach multiple extensions whether it’s your intellectual property partner in another city or your mobile phone number for emergencies. While not necessarily a feature for new clients, potential clients hearing a professional auto attendant are more likely to leave a message than when just hearing a voicemail greeting.
4) On demand live receptionist: The ability to fail over to a live “on demand” receptionist who will answer the call 24/7/365 is a must have feature. While answering services were previously prohibitive for low-volume practices (making them only a service for high-dollar, high-volume small businesses such as doctors offices) on demand answering services tied to an on demand business telephony system now allow for law firms to pay a couple of dollars for each call answered – without flat monthly fees or expensive business commits. This is perhaps the single most important feature that not only makes your small law firm seem bigger, but ensures that even if you’re on the phone with another client, that a live human answers the phone each time.
Halloo is the answer – literally
I’m obviously biased, but Halloo has just the right feature set for solo law firms –
1) Easy to set up
2) Extremely low cost
3) Reliable (not Voice over IP)
4) Works with your existing business phone sitting on your desk
5) Has call hunt groups to ensure your phone rings wherever you are
6) Has call logging to easily capture which calls you’ve missed
7) Can be tied to a live receptionist when you can’t answer
8) Can be tied to a toll free number
You can get all of this on a single service for just pennies a day, without hiring a secretary and without buying a new phone system. Try it here.
Statistics say that if Halloo saves you three missed calls, that will likely lead to one new client. How much money is a new client worth to your solo practice?