Is writing a free book an effective way of marketing your law firm? We know from talking with clients and reviewing client visitor statistics that free books and videos are two powerful ways to increase conversions from Web visitors to law firm clients.
Writing a book creates instant credibility with clients and potential clients. By giving the book away as a gift or in lieu of a business card, it will probably wind up on the client’s bookshelf at home, a concrete and constant reminder of your firm. Compare how often you throw away a business card as compared to how often you throw away a book. In addition, a book can create new opportunities for you to market and differentiate yourself and your firm: speaking at clubs and libraries, participating in panels, serving as an expert for local media.
If you’re considering authoring a book as a marketing tool, here are a few tips:
- Writing a book can require time and discipline if you write the book yourself. It is certainly possible and often advisable to outsource the writing, consulting and development to a ghostwriter or service such as Ken Hardison’s PILMMA’s legal book writing and publishing services, but it is good if you come up with some of the basics yourself.
- The topic of the book is of utmost importance. Think about your audience – who are you trying to reach? Clients? Potential clients? Think about the questions that potential clients ask you in initial meetings.
- One popular approach is to use a number in the title: for example, Six Things You Need to Know Before Filing for Bankruptcy, Seven Mistakes To Avoid After A Trucking Accident or The Top Ten Tax Mistakes Small Business Owners Make.
- Another effective strategy is to offer a basic guide to a complicated topic, like The Ultimate Guide to Navigating the Jones Act.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of a catchy title. You can always use a subtitle to spell out the book’s premise.
Ghost or No Ghost?
Should you hire a ghostwriter or write the book yourself? Writing a book requires excellent writing skills, discipline and time. To be an effective marketing tool, a free book should be able to present complex legal concepts in easy-to-understand English. Too much legalese will turn off readers. Discipline is also important. The writing process will be more successful and easier to complete if you have a set time to write and a schedule for completing the work. Many writers set goals to complete either a certain number of words or pages per day. Which raises the final question: do you have the time to be a writer as well as a lawyer? For many attorneys, time is in short supply.
Once your book is completed, make sure you think about the details; a professional layout and well designed cover can make the difference between a book that looks self-published and one that looks professional. Appropriate graphics and images can make a book more appealing and keep a reader engaged.
Paper Or E-Book?
After you’ve designed the book to your satisfaction, you need to decide whether to offer the book as an e-book to clients and potential clients on-line, purchase hard copies to give away, or do both. The days when an author had to contract with a publishing house to provide a set number of printed copies of a book are long gone. Now, most self-publishing companies use print-on-demand technology, which allows you to publish however many copies you want, and to order additional copies whenever you need them. For an additional small fee, usually around $300, you can have your book converted into a format that will allow it to be read on an e-reader.
Numerous companies offer book publishing services. Perhaps the best known are lulu.com and CreateSpace, the self publishing arm of amazon.com. It’s also possible to create your own publishing company by buying an ISBN number and using a no-frills printing service like Lightning Source.
Finished Product! Now What?
At this point, you’ve finished your book. Congratulations! Your book will now offer you a unique marketing tool to inform people of your legal expertise. You can visit and drop your book off at related businesses such as chiropractors, auto repair and applicable medical facilities. You can contact local service clubs, libraries, and other organizations and offer to give a talk, where you can hand out copies of your book. You can also arrange to participate in conferences. As word spreads, you may well be contacted by the local media – newspapers, radios, magazines – for your input involving local news stories or conflicts on your area of expertise, or when journalists want a local angle on a national story. If you offer your book for free download on your website such as the way Hardison & Cochran offer theirs, clients will ask for the book and you have a potential client to add to your database for newsletter and other marketing materials. Additionally, your book may go viral and you will find your prestige and reputation enhanced.
As stated, unless you contract with an outside service, writing a book can require a substantial commitment of time and money. However, it’s a unique and effective marketing strategy that can impress clients, bring in new business and help build your reputation.
To learn more about free books or marketing your law firm, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-515-3549.