“Managing attorneys care more about the ends, rather than the means… prove Inbound’s ROI and the rest is easy.”

As a midsize law firm CMO, or owner of a small legal practice it would be in your best interest to consider the idea of inbound marketing for your law firm marketing plan.

Unfortunately, your peers might make this rather difficult due to the many inbound marketing myths and misconceptions floating around about this relatively new marketing methodology.  Despite factual, contradicting evidence, many attorneys buy into these misconceptions which are often created from a lack of understanding or incomplete information.

Here are nine inbound marketing myths attorneys should stop buying into in order to start reaping the benefits of the most cost-effective and beneficial marketing strategy available today for your law firm marketing plan.

1. Unprepared for Inbound Marketing

A common misconception that many attorneys buy into is that their law firm is unprepared for inbound marketing. The truth is if a law firm has a presence on the Internet including a website and social media, then the basic foundation is in place for inbound marketing.

A well-functioning modern day website is essential for inbound success, and if you current website is lacking, you may not be ready. A critical factor for successful inbound marketing is your law firm’s ability to create and publish content through your website. If the website is not set up to do this properly the results of inbound will be minimal at best. Publishing content should be a weekly goal and always make sure to optimize the content published for both the end-user as well as the search engine as best you can.

If your law firm has not done so already, you should also create and establish a presence on social media websites. These will help promote and push any content you create directly towards your audience.

There is also a great misconception about what inbound marketing even is. Some people associate inbound with simply giving away free content in hopes of building an email list. But in reality, regardless of your industry, inbound marketing’s core goal is to create useful content that appeals directly to an audience who needs it most. That will greatly increase the likelihood of converting visitors into potential prospects.

2. Our Clients Are Not Searching the Internet

It’s easy to harbor the misconception that only young people use the Internet, or that people only search for something when they are making a purchase. This is especially true when it comes to social media websites as most people associate these websites with staying in touch with friends.

However, people of all ages refer to the Internet to look for a lawyer or find answers to various legal questions. It is the preferred search method for everyone. Even all the way back to 2011 76% of people polled preferred searching online to find local business information.

The internet, and search engines specifically are an extremely useful tool. They are available at all times to all users on all devices, whether they are at their desk, or on the go. Today in just a few seconds a search user can pull up a local list of attorneys specializing in the legal services they need the most.

To assume your audience behaves any different is a mistake.

3. Inbound Marketing is Risky and Expensive

The idea that inbound marketing is risky and expensive couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, according to research conducted by the Search Engine Journal, outbound leads actually cost 60% more than inbound leads. And according to recent statistics, outbound advertising and marketing methods seem on their way out for good since:

  •        200 million Americans have registered for the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list
  •        91% of customers have unsubscribed from a company’s email they originally opted into
  •        86% of people skip TV ads

Alternatively, inbound marketing’s suite of lead generation tools has proven to deliver the following:

  •        57% of companies brought in a customer through their blog
  •        62% of companies landed a new customer through LinkedIn
  •        56% of websites that blog once monthly brought in a customer
  •        70% of companies that blog one or twice weekly brought in a customer
  •        65% of B2B websites acquired customers through LinkedIn
  •        77% of B2C websites brought in customers through Facebook
  •        Organic leads have a 14.6% close rate compared to 1.7% for outbound leads
  •        45% of businesses reported inbound as their primary source of leads

4. Our Clients Won’t Fill Out Online Contact Forms

It’s true that very few people enjoy filling out forms on a website. But that often is the case when being asked to provide information and getting nothing in return. Many people do not wish to give away their contact information unless necessary.

However, when providing valuable content to your existing and potential clients, they will exchange their contact information for access to your legal insight and authoritative guidance on a great number of legal matters. It is also critical, the content or offer is commensurate with the level of contact information you ask your prospects to provide. Asking for too much information can have an adverse effect to generating more leads and lower the number of conversions.

5. We Have Nothing to Blog About

Anytime I hear this, immediately I have to believe the person speaking these words does not understand what a blog actually is. The word in and of itself is off putting. Some attorneys assume a blog is a “news” section for your website that talks about recent events with the law firm. Other’s think it might be a sounding board to discuss the firm’s activities.

A blog in reality is a chance for your firm to showcase its expertise and insight on any number of given topics. It is also a chance to expand the information you provide to your prospects, clients, and site visitors which can help your website’s visibility across the internet for a great number of searches.

For example, the average legal website may have one service page, per practice area. So, a page for divorce, criminal defense, bankruptcy, etc.

How much can really be said about divorce or any other practice area on one page of a website?

There are hundreds if not thousands of relevant topics related to divorce, all of which would benefit visitors greatly from your firm’s insight and help. Most law firms specialize in more than one area of law, and that makes the opportunity to develop a large body of ongoing content much easier than you might think.

If coming up with content topics is no problem but finding the time to create the content is, consider hiring an outside writer to help. There are thousands of content creation services available. Some obviously better than others. And if you are considering hiring an inbound marketing team, they will often offer these services directly as part of their ongoing inbound efforts for your law firm marketing plan.

6. Clients Dislike Marketing Emails

Truthfully, it’s all about timing. Clients don’t dislike marketing emails if they are sent at the right times for the right reasons. Client dislike spam, not marketing emails.

Useful content whether delivered through the blog, email, social media, or the regular website, will rarely ever seem bothersome. You must also be aware of who you are marketing to. For example, a marketing email sent to a prospect versus one sent to a client you’ve known for years would be very different and should be very different.

7. Our Managing Attorney Knows Nothing About Inbound Marketing

This is probably true. And maybe they don’t need to.

If you are your law firm’s CMO, than you are the marketing expert, not them. If you believe in the power of inbound marketing for your firm, there are ways to prove it to others by sharing some simple case studies or statistics. Often, a financial decision maker cares more about the ends rather than the means. Inbound, outbound, social media, SEO, etc. may not even be works in your managing attorney’s vocabulary… and that’s ok.

A CMO is inherently going to know more about marketing than anyone else in the firm. Therefore, educating senior partners on “what is inbound” may not be the best approach. Without a fundamental understanding of marketing, which most attorneys truly do not have, it might be a wasted effort.

Instead focus on the proven benefits inbound will deliver as well as the costs and ROI.

If you are a sole-practitioner, with little to no marketing prowess, consider outside help by as there would be no possible way to manage a high-level marketing strategy as well as operate your law practice.

8. Too Busy for Inbound Marketing

Most law firms are too busy for marketing in general. This is often why instead of spending their budget on more time intensive efforts, they put it towards directory listings, paid search ads, print ads, tv, radio, etc. These are all costly to implement but once established, require little to no effort for the law firm to upkeep.

Inbound marketing is more of a time issue than probably any other form of marketing. For example, our average inbound client receives no less than 40-60 hours of our time every month. And, we are marketing experts, which means the time it takes us to accomplish tasks for inbound is far quicker and of far great quality than that of a less-seasoned marketing team or lawyer simply trying to “wing it.”

I would agree, your law firm is most likely too busy for inbound but that does not mean hiring outside help should be off the table. For example, if you believe in the power of inbound, but the thought of losing 40-60 hours of billable time for your firm is hard to stomach weigh that cost versus the cost of hiring an inbound marketing team.

The national average rate billed by even a low level associate at a law firm in the US is over $200. That means at minimum you would lose $8000 in billable time in any given month by doing inbound marketing yourself. The average inbound customer spends between $4000 and $10000 per month. Therefore overtime you can see why paying a marketing team to handle a powerful marketing strategy can be well worth it.

9. Expanding Our Client Base is More Important

While it may seem counterproductive to focus on inbound marketing despite having a small client base, it can actually prove very beneficial to your law firm.

If I had to simplify the definition of inbound marketing I would say, “Inbound marketing helps generate more leads that convert into clients than any other marketing strategy.”

Inbound is certainly more than just generating leads however. It helps raise awareness about your law firm, creates a higher level of authority and credibility among your competitors, and since a website publishing useful, relevant, and well-optimized content will receive better placement in the search results, you will naturally expand your client base by sharing valuable information, insight and content.

Final Thoughts

Inbound marketing is a critical component to your law firm marketing plan. If your firm is struggling to generate leads or hopes to dig in and create a stronger foothold in the local market, creating genuinely useful, engaging content is going to be crucial to achieving these goals. Your prospects are searching online to find an attorney to handle their legal matters. Take that as an opportunity to showcase your firm’s expertise by helping them answer questions and concerns about their legal matters.

One final thought, many attorneys have expressed that marketing seems unethical or often paints them as ambulance chasers or opportunists. However, marketing (especially inbound marketing) is not about “bull-horning” your name everywhere you possibly can to drum up business. It’s about building awareness by genuinely aiming to deliver useful information to those who need it most.

Dispelling inbound myths is one of many limiting beliefs many attorneys hold about marketing in general. There are several other key marketing challenges you should consider or address to think about developing a stronger overall marketing approach for you law firm. Our eBook 7 Key Legal Marketing Challenges talks about some of the major roadblocks law firms often encounter with their legal marketing plan. Download today to learn about these critical marketing challenges to avoid.

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci

Gerald D. Vinci is a Small Business Consultant and Strategic Branding Specialist. He calls Monterey, CA home and is a life-long musician who spends his free time writing, composing, and producing music. He has also co-authored two books, and is working on his own upcoming book titled, “Small Business Pricing Mastery – Creating effective pricing and defining value for today’s products and services.”

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