Recently, I was reviewing a law firms website with the managing partner to discuss his thoughts on the existing platform. He looked at his website and without hesitation said, “I think it’s fine.” This answer is not uncommon as websites from the 1990s and 2000s are used every day in the legal profession to share the most basic of information with whoever may stumble across it.
Unfortunately, this managing partner, like most, is totally lost on the value of a good website and how it acts as a culture shifter, business generator and brand builder for a law firm. A simple way to understand whether it’s time to update your website is to ask yourself the following questions. Just check off the answer YES or NO. Once completed, we can move on to discuss the real benefits of this seemingly scary and possibly daunting investment.
#1 “Does my website separate my firm from other law firms who sell similar services? Yes_____ No_____
#2 “When my clients go to my website, is there relevant legal and business content to share with them?
#3 “Would my website attract a new (and younger) attorney to come work here?”
#4 “Am I happy with the current culture of our firm?
e.g. Are we working in silos, afraid to share clients? Are we actively promoting our diversity? Are we actively promoting our goodwill and public interest?
#5 “Does our website deliver high-level prospective clients with more work (not to mention more from your existing clients)?
If you answered “No” to most of these questions, this should be a wake-up call for you to consider investing in fixing these troubled areas. To help educate you on this complicated subject and to ensure you don’t overspend, I’m going to answer these questions for you now.
Question #1 “Does my website separate my firm from other law firms who sell similar services?”
The book “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne states that the sea is bloody red with competition and that the key to sustainable success to find the open blue waters. A unique and well-designed website can do that for you. Let’s say that you are competing for a new litigation matter and the prospective client views your old worn-down website versus a creative content-rich website. All other things being even, which would they choose to handle their complicated matter? While this might not have been important 10 years ago, today it’s of critical importance. It’s how people make informed decisions. Would you go to a restaurant that had images online that were severely outdated and appeared dirty?
Question #2 “When my clients go to my website, is there relevant content to share with them?”
In business, cash is king. In marketing, content is king! This is the new reality that we all live in. Having up-to-date, expertly written content is more critical than ever to growing your brand and driving traffic to your business. Having your own blog on your site, for example, can be a game-changer in your space. Not only will you be better known as a serious player, it will help drive clients and new prospective clients to your website—and to you! Think about it this way— your website is face-to-face with your audience at moments when you are not. A well-designed website allows you to have 24/7 control of both your messages and your audience’s perception of you. In other words, the website is working even when you’re not.
Question #3 “What does my website say about the firm that would attract a new attorney to come work here?”
Picture this. You are paying a recruiter 20 percent to find you a qualified attorney with $500,000 in portable business. This attorney would be an incredible catch for your firm. She interviews and is considering two other firms in addition to yours. Is it possible that when she researches your firm and sees an old-fashioned website that lacks diversity she may go a different direction? Of course! You may not even realize that this is happening. The 30- and 40-year-olds are the future of your business and they are hyper-focused and critical on websites that are old and outdated. Your website can be the best recruiting tool for your firm when done properly. One good and profitable hire could literally pay for your site for years to come.
Question #4 “Am I happy with the current culture of our firm?
e.g. Are we working in silos, afraid to share clients? Are we actively promoting our diversity? Are we actively promoting our goodwill and public interest?”
Just like your clothes reflect your style, websites reflect the expertise and culture of your firm. Sometimes we need to reinvest in how we look to stay relevant with the times. Improving your website won’t necessarily fix a bad culture, but it could. The key here is that the fish may stink from the head down. This means that your top players need to be the drivers behind a fresh and new marketing initiative. Without this support, the investment may not be fully utilized to grow business moving forward. If you can get the team behind a new look and approach to marketing and business development, it will help to improve productivity and positivity in the office.
Question #5 “Does our website deliver high-level prospective clients with more work (not to mention more from your existing clients)?”
Okay, here’s the big misnomer. “I don’t want business leads from the internet. They are not going to pay our fees.” While it may be true that some legal verticals are better for lead generation online than others, you may be looking at websites with the wrong mindset. Getting to the top of Google is only one element to driving new business.
The better way to think about it is to consider your past and existing clients as well as past and existing prospective clients. A good website, blog, newsletter and tasteful advertising can go a long way to driving business BACK to you again and again. Having an interactive website and marketing program will target the clients that you want, more so than the small deals that may not be worth your time.
The reality is that most law firms have outdated and ineffective websites that really get nothing accomplished for you and your firm. It’s not a surprise that you may find little value in this type of investment. Look, you don’t have salespeople out there for you, so maybe having a classy and effective 24/7 sales tool might be a good idea. I hope this was helpful and that you now understand that this is not an expense, but rather a valuable investment for the future of your firm.
Please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com if you have any questions or are looking to go a new direction with your marketing efforts. Click here to learn more about our law firm marketing services.