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Lawyer Web sites fail? Blog to be yourself, communicate and build relationships

Spent another day talking to lawyers, in both small and large law firms, about lawyer blogs and comparing them to lawyer Web sites which they already have. Though I enjoy the heck out of a talking with people about ways I can help them, I sure wish we were six months down the road when lawyers will know about blogs and how well they work for lawyer marketing.

I show lawyers blogs we’ve done and they say it looks just like a law firm Web site. They then tell me that their lawyer Web site did not work very well in attracting new clients so they know Internet marketing for lawyers does not work. The truth is, and I need to be careful how I tell lawyers this, that lawyers did not not know what to do with their Web sites so they did not work. Use something incorrectly – don’t expect it to work. My twin boys, age 11, could tell you this.

Law firm Internet marketing, no matter what the medium, is all about being yourself, communicating with people and developing relationships. 99% of law firm Web sites do not do this. Tell me law firm sites use language like lawyers use when socializing and talking with friends – it’s not even close. People get no idea what makes a lawyer tick when reading stuff on a law firm Web site. It?s like melba toast.

You need to let your hair down and be yourself, no matter whether you represent businesses or consumers. Lawyer Web sites (and now blogs) need to be written by you the lawyer, not by some marketing person who does not know you, not by West publishing or Martindale. Otherwise you are just walking around in clothes that do not fit you – they are not your style.

Lawyers need to communicate with people on the Internet. That means talking with people. I understand you are not sitting there 24 hours a day waiting to talk with the next Jane or Joe that drops by your site. But please anticipate what people are looking for and the questions they may have. Then, you can communicate.

You are not communicating when you tell folks what degrees you have, what awards you have and how everyone thinks you are so great. Could you even imagine someone coming into your office and you running out to great them to show them degrees on the wall, plaques you have received and letters from previous clients thanking you? I did not think so. That would be no way to communicate with people looking for legal help.

You communicate by thinking of questions you receive and putting that question and your answer on the Internet. You communicate with people by sharing some information you think would be helpful to folks looking for legal information. Look at Jon Alper’s Florida Asset Protection Blog – good questions and answers – good sharing of practical information that can make a difference in people’s lives. Now that’s communicating.

Lawyer Internet marketing is most of all about building relationships or at least starting them. You would not begin a social relationship by being some walking stiff and not talking with them – so do not do it with some walking stiff lawyer Web site that does not talk.

You began this with being yourself and communicating. Build on this relationship by showing that you take questions by email, that you take comments & questions on your lawyer blog and that you have an archive of people’s questions and answers available on the Internet.

Do this and you have shown people you are approachable. It may not be the person who asked the question or posed the comment who becomes a client. It may be one who likes what they saw via your Internet presence and gives you a call.

I had people drive across the state when I was practicing to meet with me about their case. When I suggested we use a lawyer closer to their home they refused, they wanted me. When asked why, they told me how they had grown to know and like me via my Web site (the pre blog days of the ’96-’98). They felt I cared, that I understood them and that I could help.

I had never met the folks and we already had a relationship going because of my Internet marketing. Amazing, but not so much so, if you really think about it.

So please do not tell me that law firm Internet marketing does not work because your law firm Web site does not attract clients. You just never knew how to market on the Internet.

Why not get a lawyer blog where you write in your own style, communicate with folks and build relationships? It’s not hard, you learn a little about yourself, you become a better communicator and frankly it’s a fair amount of fun.

Plus it works.

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