Almost all attorneys are potential marketing experts for their own practice. As attorneys, from the time we conquer the LSAT filled with logical, conceptual, and social problem-solving, to the law school grind and beyond, we are learning some of the best marketing principles and strategies that are disguised as legal concepts.
At the end of the day, every concept learned in law school is designed to teach persuasion. What is marketing if not persuasion?
If you are trained in effective storytelling, successful jury selection, careful and strategic fact analysis, and excellent presentation of yourself, your client, and your case to any jury, then you are halfway to a successful marketing campaign. The difference lies in the volume. Instead of a jury of 12, you are constantly in front of a much larger online audience, and you are telling the unique story of your own law practice rather than a client’s case.
An important relatable legal concept for a personal injury case involving corporate defendants is the designation of a company representative, also known as a Rule 30(b)(6).
This federal rule, or any of its similar state versions, simply asks: who speaks for your company?
When it comes to your online legal presence, your website speaks for your law firm. Your website should be able to earn the respect of the people looking for information, protect the interests of your law firm, minimize risks, and bring you the success you are looking for. In short, your website is your 30(b)(6) representative for your firm online.
If you are preparing your website for tough 30(b)(6) questioning, here are some strategies to keep in mind:
I. Audience (Your Jury)
As an attorney or a law firm marketing professional, you are in communication with clients, which gives you a unique advantage.
By having an in-depth conversation about their experience in locating your firm and diving into their problems, issues, expectations, disappointments, frustrations, and fears, you can begin to better understand how to serve future clients. For example:
Are your clients comfortable obtaining police reports after an auto accident injury? If you find this is an issue, perhaps you can prepare and optimize your website to highlight how your firm assists clients with requesting and interpreting police reports.
Or, do your clients typically need assistance with a simple insurance claims? If so, perhaps your 30(b)(6) representative can provide a simple online asset showing website visitors the effective steps in filing an insurance claim that will be more likely to lead to more financial recovery.
An additional aspect to communicating with your audience effectively is through proper intake procedures. Intake is a very broad topic that requires a much longer discussion, but first and foremost, it is incredibly important to have properly trained staff who treat your prospective clients with respect and appreciation.
You must develop a standardized process that allows every single person who calls and/or visits your website to leave with valuable information that they can return to if they do have a more serious matter in the future.
You can further strengthen relationships by following up with leads that do not turn into cases through other means as well. Consider sending handwritten notes, firm-related merchandise, emails, etc. Top-of-mind awareness is key.
II. Relevant Content (Scope of the Deposition):
As in any (30)(b)(6) deposition requiring the deponent to provide only limited and relevant content, your website will speak on your law firm’s behalf effectively only if it is designed and optimized with relevant and valuable content. By using the feedback from your clients and prospects, and the data-driven suggestions from your online marketing vendor, you can provide answers to the questions your prospective clients ask when they need a competent attorney the most. Show your prospective clients that you are the most competent, compassionate, and effective attorney in town through your website, before they call your office to ask.
One of the most common misconceptions about relevant and valuable online legal content is that it needs to read like an appellate brief. In fact, it is the opposite. Your website content needs to be written so that a 5th grader can understand it and be persuaded. Attorneys get caught up in way too much legal jargon, and things often get lost in translation. For that reason alone, writing relevant, valuable content is perhaps best left to your online marketing team. Alternatively, your firm can designate an in-house content partner (preferably a non-attorney) who engages with your clients and prospects on a daily basis, and can help your vendor draft the most relevant, effective, and personalized content for your firm’s online properties.
III. The second tier to your online 30(b)(6) representation: Images, Videos, and Testimonials.
Even when your website is designed and optimized to speak well on behalf of your law firm, it is important to make it personal and unique. The images, videos, and testimonials on your website create the second layer of who speaks for your law firm online.
Since 1999, we at Consultwebs have built and optimized hundreds of successful websites exclusively for attorneys and law firms. One of the consistent elements of a successful website comes down to the quality of the images, videos, and testimonials, which reflect the human side of the law firm to your prospects. The visual storytelling is just as important for your online presence as it is to any jury.
So, who speaks for your firm’s website? Is it the managing attorney alone? Is s/he so well-liked and followed in the community that it is worth magnifying his or her personality over all others? Do you have a team approach to managing and marketing your firms? Are the images of these team members accurately portrayed to your audience?
IV. Who speaks for your law firm elsewhere?
As you carefully consider who and what speaks on behalf of your law firm and your brand, keep in mind that your law firm probably does, and certainly should, have other online properties, such as social media pages, paid advertising, and online legal directories. Keeping your message, image, and approach on your website consistent with these other online properties is just as important. This consistency creates repetition, and we all know repetition helps with branding and memory.
Your law firm’s online persuasion power depends on careful selection of relevant content, strategic placement of visual assets to reflect your law firm’s compassion, competence, and unique value proposition, and consistency of your message, visual presence, and storytelling across all your online properties, including your website, social media, and legal directories.
As a personal injury attorney, you already know how to depose a 30(b)(6) representative and extract only the most relevant and valuable information while exposing its weaknesses and lack of knowledge or care. It is time to teach your website how to do that as well, because your law firm’s most valuable prospects are already coming to your website asking for it.