Avoid the Biggest Mistake that Lawyers make with their Online Marketing

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biggest mistake that lawyers makeYou are probably salivating right now. What is the biggest mistake that lawyers make with their online marketing? It’s simple really – not asking for permission.


That’s right – not asking for permission. I first heard of permission marketing when I read the great book “Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin. This is such an important idea that I previously wrote about it here. If you take nothing else away from this blog, you absolutely, positively, must understand the power of permission marketing to transform both your online and offline marketing efforts.

Here’s what most lawyers do

I want you to try a little exercise. Google what ever it is that your practice area is with your city/town. What you are going to see is a bunch of other lawyers in your area that are trying to attract your same client. They are your “competitors”. Now take out a legal pad, spreadsheet, whatever, and start making a list of these lawyers that you see.

For the first lawyer, make a note of some of the things about their website, for example:

  • Stock photos of perfect families or their conference room
  • Free Consultation
  • No fee unless we win
  • Call us 24/7
  • We fight for you
  • Insert cheesy catch-phrase here

As you go through each of these websites, continue to make note of the things you see in each. Also make note of how many of these websites provide some type of offer to capture a prospects email address. Make a tick mark next to each similarity that you see on these websites. My guess is that you might find one lawyer out of ten that make this offer, but in most cases you won’t find any.

In my practice area, there is one lawyer that dominates our market (and frankly, most of the state), and he does a great job of online marketing. He does ask for permission, so I had to look to everyone else when making my comparisons. I couldn’t find a single other lawyer that was offering some type of free report or guide in exchange for an email address. This blew me away.

Failing to ask prospects for permission to follow-up is a huge mistake that lawyers make

Ok, wonderful, you are probably saying to yourself. So I have to ask people for permission to follow-up. How and when do I do that? You do it early and often. One of the first things that you should do if you are building a law firm from scratch is prepare an informative guide to send to people. Ideally, this would be a book. Ben Glass, a personal injury/med mal attorney in Virginia, has done a masterful job of this with his law firm. He offers a number of books to potential new clients, including:

  • How to Hire an Attorney: The Truth about Lawyer Advertising
  • A guide to settling your own case
  • Five Deadly Sins – A guide to the mistakes that most people make after getting in a car accident

You don’t necessarily need to write an entire book right away. But you could write a free report on the 5 biggest mistakes that your client’s make, or a guide about how to find the right lawyer for your case.

Once you have prepared the guide, you need to sign up for a service like Aweber and create a “follow-up” sequence to send the prospects that initial guide or report. At the same time, the prospect can sign up for your electronic newsletter. This will give you an opportunity to continue to send the client useful, helpful information about their legal problem.

In today’s internet world it is so easy to create a fillable contact form and slap it on your website. One of my preferred vendors, Aweber, has a number of pre-formatted forms that you can customize to your liking and then copy the code into your website. If you are ready to be a little more robust, then you may want to consider a marketing solution like Infusionsoft. With both Aweber and Infusionsoft, you can create a follow-up sequence that will automatically send your prospects an email with the “guide” attached.

So what’s the next step?

After you have gained your prospect’s trust and permission, you need to make sure you don’t destroy either of those things by spamming the prospect. But I’m going to save that topic for another day.

For now, it is important that you find a way to capture your client’s information in exchange for something of value.

Have a success story about how you have successfully employed permission marketing in your law practice? Please feel free to post about it in the comment section below!

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