There really is no “summer slowdown” when you have your own practice. Instead, summer means a few more hours of daylight for me. This summer, much to my chagrin, my wife has convinced me to hire a marketing firm to redesign my website. I’d like to share with you a little about what I’ve learned now that this will be our third website redesign in a little more than four years.
If it were up to me, I would completely ignore my website; I just don’t have time for it. Luckily for me, my wife has a background in public relations and marketing and, before having kids, she managed website redesigns for corporations and nonprofit organizations in Washington. Law school certainly didn’t teach me anything about marketing my own firm nor website design. My wife tells me I could easily learn WordPress, but as I’ve mentioned previously, The Law Entrepreneur podcast has been a very helpful source of finding vendors, book suggestions and great ideas for my practice. After a month of research and requests for proposals, we hired a firm to refresh the website.
Let me step back a minute: I just began my fifth year as a solo practitioner in family law. Over the past four years of having my own website and marketing budget, I have a learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work for me. Trial and error in the marketing department is OK. Plan for it as best you can. As my wife keeps reminding me: what doesn’t work is planning for a $0 marketing budget. After four years of tracking where my clients come from, I’ve learned that my website is a critically important piece of bringing in clients.
I do not recommend redesigning your website annually, unless you have the skill, time and money to do this. According to the companies we spoke with, most recommend a redesign every five or so years – assuming everything on your site is up-to-date and you are treating your web pages like living thing and adding/rewriting pages as often as possible (yes, really!)
Be careful of big marketing companies that want to handle all of your website and marketing practices. When I first started my firm, we thought we should use a big legal marketing firm to help us have a great online presence and bring in hordes of new clients. We spent thousands of dollars on a new website with promises of great marketing and more new clients than we could handle. Needless to say, the claims were false, and as soon as our two-year contract was up, we ran away from that. The lesson: find the right balance of what you can probably do yourself (update social media profiles, write blog posts) and save your money to spend on the things you aren’t as good at such as design.
So here I am, in the middle of a website redesign. We started with a budget based on what we’d learn from the past redesigns, decided what elements we wanted the marketing firm to do and what elements we wanted to do ourselves (this also depends on your budget). Hopefully in the next six weeks or so I’ll be able to give you a follow up on a successful website launch and more lessons learned.
Do you have any advice or questions about law firm marketing?