Reputation management and client-oriented office procedures deliver clients for this longtime divorce lawyer.
New York divorce attorney Bruce Provda’s (http://nydivorcefirm.com) biggest challenge proved to be breaking into the mainstream legal market. Eventually Bruce’s hard work in a niche market allowed him to make a name for himself and attract business outside of his usual client base.
“I started my practice four decades ago, so obviously it was a pure brick and mortar affair at that time. Like many other lawyers with Russian origins, I catered to the Russian immigrant community only. The only medium I could use to reach out to my clientele was word of mouth. So, I had to do the job right in order to be recommended and recognized. With adequate structure, management and strategy in place I could go ahead and break into the mainstream market. That took me 20 years. That was the biggest challenge.”
Bruce used a combination of search engine optimization, offline marketing in niche markets, and driving referrals through word of mouth marketing as his primary marketing techniques.
“Speaking of particulars, online marketing brought in a steady flow of inquiries. I took my time and established a professional website run by my in-house professional team who deal with professional attorneys when it comes to content. I didn’t reach the top of Google in a flash but eventually it paid off. Again, it boils down to the foundation. Legal marketing has the same values as legal management.
“Google Adwords costs have skyrocketed (an average click costs around $30 for the divorce market and $50 for the criminal market), but it allows for some great fine-tuning and it is still acceptable. Offline media is worthless for the mainstream market, but works great for niche markets (Russian, Chinese, etc.). The best marketing technique is getting your great profile everywhere possible (including reviews) and this will produce good referrals.”
To make his marketing efforts effective, Bruce brought quality team members on board, and focused on not only delivering results, but customer satisfaction as well.
“I hired native staff and native attorneys. However, I did not realize that a legal business is a matter of trust. Any type of marketing is good as long as you have a solid foundation which itself is based on your own reputation and recognition. This means consistency is delivering what the client needs most — results. However, more often than not it can come down to not only what you deliver, but also how you deliver it. I have a whole customer satisfaction department working day and night to make sure the clients are happy. Once they are happy two things can happen — they will recommend you to a friend (which is not very often, since a criminal attorney is not something a person is looking for every day) or he will post a positive review that will be your referral for a long time.
“To summarize, reputation management and effective office processes are what I chose to overcome the challenge of tapping into ‘big game’ law business.”
Successes and Failures
Bruce experienced some initial roadblocks since legal marketing proved to be expensive and his rates are higher than his competitors’. However, he ultimately succeeded in his efforts because he framed his practice as a results-driven solution which led to higher revenue per client.
“Legal marketing is a very expensive thing. Therefore, I cannot afford to waste the ad dollars on ‘blank’ marketing promoting yet another lawyer. What I succeeded in doing was promoting the atmosphere of the “job will get done” impression for the clients and prospects.
“People usually call attorneys in two cases – when they want to get free info and when they have a difficult (sometimes, life-threatening) situation and realize they need a professional solution. I am selling a solution rather than quote from a price list. Often, my prices are much higher than the competitors’ but the clients still choose the ‘solution.’ Of course, I lose some business this way, but I get larger paychecks from other clients as a reward.”
Benefits and Drawbacks
Bruce believes that ethical search engine optimization and online reputation management have the biggest positive impact on short-term and long-term return on investment, respectively. Also, offering a variety of services does have the unfortunate benefit of decreasing an attorney’s “personal touch” on his or her work.
“White-hat SEO has the best ROI on your marketing budget. Managing your reputation has the best ROI in your long-term success in foot traffic to your office.”
“Diversified practice (and marketing) has a little drawback of losing the personal touch since there is so much to control by one single person.”
Best Marketing Advice
In addition to the tips below, Bruce advises other attorneys to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and to treat their existing customers extremely well.
Differentiating oneself in the marketplace will allow an attorney to stand out from the crowd of other attorneys vying for the same business and help them convert more leads. Focusing on customer satisfaction/experience will allow one to recognize weaknesses to improve upon and generate referral business from previous and existing clients.
1. Invest in yourself. This is the best investment you can make.
2. Create an in-house marketing team. Do not outsource to India. Mistakes are too expensive.
3. Create a dedicated customer-satisfaction and reputation-management team.
4. Experiment with every marketing type that is available for your niche. Do not cross out what doesn’t work like you expected, but rather adjust budgets.
5. Marketing works as a whole.
“Build the foundation right, then any type of marketing will work its way. Online marketing can generate a lot of leads but they will be hard to convert into clients if you are just another lawyer. There are almost 100,000 lawyers here in New York. If your only weapon is low price, rest assured there will be someone else who will offer $1 less and the prospect will flip.”
“Treat your previous and existing customers like gems; they will bring you new business directly and indirectly. Ask them to leave reviews whenever possible. A not-so-good review is not a bad thing; it allows you to correct mistakes. Also, people tend to read negative reviews only, so a proper answer to a negative review may boost your strategy.”
Bruce’s marketing strategy has increased his web traffic and inbound leads.
“The Google Analytics account for my divorce and family site www.nydivorcefirm.com shows a steady increase in traffic, and VoIP account shows steady increase in incoming calls.”