Building your brand organically

J. Nick Augustine J.D. is the principal of ALR/PRA Inc., a full service law practice management agency.  Nick advises and assists attorneys in transition in public relations and marketing.  Nick also shares recruiting and staffing experience and tips for legal job seekers.

Attorneys in transition are well-served by building their brand and networks organically.  There is a long-standing tradition set by vendors of technology services.   Many vendors have handed down statements, beliefs and information suggesting that custom requires you to spend thousands of dollars leasing your websites, paying for pricey listing services and passing down the traditional marketing strategies to new associates on how to attract a client.   The assumption is that the vendors know more than you do about how to attract clients.

I suggest that attorneys in transition set a new trend.  Consider the power of consumer activity and expectation.  Consumers, not privy to the ways and means of attorney marketing, expect your online presence on free websites where consumers compare prices and the value of services others have received in the service industry.

Many of the traditional vendors expect lawyers to compare notes with each other and agree that one needs to pay the premiums to get the benefits of online presence.  Many of us have bitten from this apple to no avail.  I can barely count the number of lawyers who have told me they paid thousands for websites and then said “I didn’t get anything from it.”  There is a level of frustration with vendors who sell the top site placements and promise tremendous results.

A suburban intellectual property attorney told me one of the top legal website vendors had produced first page results and this made the phone ring.  At the time, there were few suburban practices focused on copyright and trademark matters.  I hope the attorney took a picture of the moment in time the expensive investment paid off – because things were about to change.  Nick’s question:  “Moving one year forward, do you still get the volume of calls?”  The answer was no.  How can the vendors sell top spots to everyone where the space is limited on the first page of results?

Focusing on networking and using free online resources like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is a much more effective use of time and resources.  Remember that the “layperson” has seldom heard of these big vendors and they are more likely to search the free websites to find a lawyer.  Consider that you could save money and be “found” on a free website where your potential clients are already spending their time.

If you doubt the power of social media as a networking and advertising powerhouse, just consider that one young girl in Egypt posted a YouTube video that went viral.  I doubt many of us would have known about the recent conflict in Egypt without the efforts of one young citizen who basically told her world that…”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  Edward R. Murrow, 1951.

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