Your Professional Reputation
While there are many online marketing strategies from which to choose, not all are dignified enough to use to grow your professional reputation.
Marketing a law firm is different. From professional ethics considerations, to the intimate nature of the services that attorneys provide many traditional marketing strategies simply aren't wise to apply to marketing a law firm. This is especially true when it comes to Internet marketing.
Historically, the Internet has been much like the Wild West. What few rules and regulations have existed have been very difficult to enforce. For many businesses, this "anything goes" environment did not pose a problem. Black hat search marketing, email spam, and the like, have been, and continue to be, commonly implemented by several businesses. And, based on the frequency of their use, one is forced to conclude that these tactics are effective for at least some of these market segments.
But when you market your law firm, you're marketing your professional reputation. Let's face it, you professional reputation is really the most valuable asset you have as a legal professional. In my opinion, there's really no price an attorney can place on their reputation.
Yet, there are many attorneys that continue to "push the envelope" of what is appropriate online. However, I don't think these lawyers can take all the blame. More often than not, it's the law firm Internet marketing service provider who is to blame.
For many lawyers, a good understanding of web marketing is simply not part of their repertoire. They are forced to rely on the experience of those in the web business. The problem is that there is a very low barrier of entry for people to operate an Internet marketing business. There is no certification process, governing body, or real professional association by which to measure the aptitude of Internet marketing professionals.
While some "best practices" have recently begun to emerge, the measure of most search marketing techniques is efficacy. While there is no doubt that efficacy is an important consideration, when it comes to lawyer marketing, it can't be the only one. And it certainly can't be executed to the sacrifice of your professional dignity.
So, the question becomes, how do you choose amongst the many web marketing firms out there? The truth is, making a decision to hire a web marketing professional is very similar to hiring an attorney. You have to ask questions.
Ask for references. Ask for samples of work. Ask what strategies they intend to employ on your behalf. Ask if they have specific experience working for law firms. Don't make large investments that require long-term commitments. Set goals, and hold your web marketer to those goals. If they aren't generating the results for which you are looking, find someone new. There are plenty out there from which to choose, just look in your junk mail!
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.