- By Cathy Goodwin
- Published 07/14/2009
- Writing for the Web
As a copywriter, I’ve worked with a few lawyers who want to develop web sites. I’m always impressed with these lawyers. They defy the stereotypes. They genuinely care about their clients and they’re passionate advocates for truth and justice. Yet their web site marketing sends a different message: buttoned up and boring. Even worse, lawyers who know their way around a courtroom of ten choose a marketing team that can’t deliver. They know how to choose an effective secretary, paralegal, or associate counsel. But they often don’t know what questions to ask when they want to hire a web developer or designer. I’ve written copy for lawyers and watched them wait six months or more to see a finished website. Here are 3 of the most common lawyer marketing mistakes: (1) “Just a brochure, please. Hold the strategy!” That’s what one lawyer expected from her website. “All our clients are referrals. So we don’t need a client-attracting website.” Maybe. But a lawyer website needs to build relationships with prospects and existing clients. These days, even your pinstripe corporate clients will come to your web site to learn more about you. They don’t want hype-y copy (who does?) but they do want to know why you’re the best choice for their difficult, complex, embarrassing and/or messy situation. (2) “We need a design that will stop visitors in the tracks. We want to create a real WOW experience.” Spending all your energy and resources on a brilliant design is like going to court in your Armani suit and skipping the late nights, reams of notes, and hours of mind-numbing research. It works on television. Lawyers frequently get caught up in discussions of colors, photos and elaborate designs that actually detract from their messages. Yet words win court cases and save everyone’s sanity in a contract dispute. And words are what makes a prospective client say, “I want to hire you.” I like to use a football analogy. Your copywriter is like the team quarterback who calls the plays, gets the ball into the end zone and puts points on the board. Your designer is like the offensive line, making sure nothing gets in the way of your message. (3) “Skip the social media. Twitter and Facebook are for teenagers and desperate, lonely people.” I don’t recommend that all my clients hop over to Twitter. But a blog can be a valuable marketing tool for a legal practice. Your blog helps you develop credibility and awareness. You can communicate your personal style so clients know what to expect on their first office visit. You can even showcase your accomplishments without appearing to brag.
And for some lawyers, Facebook and Twitter will build connections that can’t be made anywhere else.