Making smart choices online can help lawyers gain exposure and relationships that connect them with new clients. How? Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway welcome legal marketer Gyi Tsakalakis to discuss his top tips for effective, no-cost online client development. While money certainly can (and sometimes should!) be spent on marketing, Gyi stresses that some of the best ways to gain clients won’t cost you anything but time.
Gyi Tsakalakis is a former lawyer and the founder of AttorneySync, an online legal marketing agency that helps lawyers be where their clients are looking.
The Digital Edge
How to Win Clients Online for Free!
Intro: Welcome to the Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway, your hosts. Both legal technologists, authors, and lecturers invite industry professionals to discuss a new topic related to lawyers and technology. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.
Sharon Nelson: Welcome to the 158th Edition of the Digital Edge Lawyers and Technology. We’re glad to have you with us. I’m Sharon Nelson, president of Sensei Enterprises, an information technology, cyber security, and digital forensics firm in Fairfax, Virginia.
Jim Calloway: And I’m Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program. Today, our topic is, how to win clients online for free!
Sharon Nelson: But first, we’d like to thank our sponsors. We’d like to welcome our new sponsor, NODA, powered by M&T Bank, and I’m very pleased to say that I have been recommending M&T Bank for years as a small business friendly bank, so, I’m delighted that you guys are here. NODA is banking built for lawyers and provides smart, no-cost, IOLTA account management. Visit trustnoda.com/legal to learn more. Terms and conditions may apply. We would like to thank Alert Communications for sponsoring this episode. If any law firm is looking for a call, intake, or retainer service available 24/7, 365, just call (866) 827-5568.
Jim Calloway: We’d also like to thank our sponsor, The Black Letter Podcast. A show dedicated to making law exciting and fun with informative interviews and advice from esteemed guests. Thanks also to our sponsor, Scorpion. Scorpion is the leading provider of marketing solutions for the legal industry. With nearly 20 years of experience serving attorneys, Scorpion can help grow your practice. Learn more at scorpionlegal.com. Our guest today is Gyi Tsakalakis. Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers position their practices online as a lawyer and trusted digital legal marketing advisor from his company, AttorneySync. He is familiar with the unique considerations of building a legal web presence both effectively and ethically. And if you need another podcast in your life, check out his Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. Thanks for joining us today, Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Jim, Sharon, glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Sharon Nelson: Wow, that was enthusiastic.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I’m fired up.
Sharon Nelson: There you go.
Jim Calloway: See, it always fires us up.
Gyi Tsakalakis: We’re talking about free stuff, well, you got to be excited.
Sharon Nelson: We’re very excited, but since I’ve heard nothing in life is free, how can I possibly get clients for free?
Gyi Tsakalakis: You’re right, Sharon, nothing in life is free. You can’t get clients for free. You have to spend the time. So, I always tell people when we’re talking marketing, you have two resources you can use. You can you — you can spend money, we’re not talking about that today, but time is money, we’re going to talk about spending time. But the good news is, there’s a lot of things you can do online that all they cost is time, so that’s what we’re going to focus on.
Jim Calloway: Well, that’s great. What do lawyers not understand about how people who’ve never been to law school look for lawyers?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Oh, that’s a great question, Jim. You know, the first thing is, is that everybody thinks that legal services consumers are all searching on the same thing whether it’s a specific keyword like practice area, plus city, plus lawyer, or they think that people make decisions about where lawyers went to law school, or how long they’ve been practicing, or how hard they fight. And the truth is, neither of those things are true. The first thing is, is most people don’t even — that might need a lawyer, they don’t even know they need a lawyer. They’re looking for an answer to some kind of like life legal issues. So, they might be exploring getting a divorce, or they might be dealing with some kind of business issue that has nothing to do — they don’t even know that a lawyer needs to be involved yet.
And the other thing is, when it gets to this — the point of making a decision about hiring a lawyer, they’re much — it’s much more an emotional decision in most contexts. You know, sure, if you’re a general counsel for visa or something like maybe you’re looking for law firms on a different set of criteria. But for most legal services consumers, especially when we’d call like the D2C space, so just like, a person that’s out there that doesn’t really know a lawyer, it’s an emotional decision. You’re like dealing with a very hard situation in life and so, as we’ll talk about, it’s a lot more about that emotional resonance that they have when they’re making that decision.
Sharon Nelson: Well, Gyi, one thing I hear lawyers ask all the time, if I’m strapped for time and money, which usually if they begin that way, they are strapped for time and money, what’s the single most important thing I can do online to get clients?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, that’s a great question, and you know, I always tell people too that, you know, it depends on where you are in the cycle of your law firm as a business, but if you’re really twisting my arm, and you’re like, “You got to do — I have time to do one thing online,” I would say, “Go claim a Google My Business listing, it’s free, it’s the thing that is most likely to show up for searches on your name, and they have a section for client testimonials. It’s going to have basic business information,” but if you do nothing else, there’s an expectation by most people that when they search for you, by name or by firm name, that they can find that basic information, and to me, Google My Business is the place to do that.
It used to be, you had to have a website to do that. I still think a website is a good idea, but maybe websites too. If you do nothing else today, I’m saying, “Go check out Google My Business.”
Sharon Nelson: I just want to reaffirm that that has worked splendidly for us, but the fact that we have five stars, you know, in that little box there on the top right, everybody tells us, you know, “I saw you hit five stars,” when they call just out of a clear blue sky. So, I think it really is significant. And today, you can put in all the COVID information so they know how to reach you whether they can come in for an appointment, or how things are handled, and that’s just invaluable to have too.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So important, and in fact, there’s a great point about the COVID info, you know, they’ve got sections so you can communicate to your next client that you do — can do online appointments, right? So, you know, “Hey, we’re open. We understand this is a very tough time,” show some empathy, show some gratitude for being open, let them know that they can schedule an online appointment, communicate — there’s a frequently asked questions section, so, things like, “Hey, we can actually — you can sign documents online. You can pay us through our website,” answering those kinds of questions because you know, people are depending on where you are in the world, you might not be leaving your home. And so, making things more easy for your next clients is really, really powerful in terms of converting them into a new client.
Jim Calloway: Well, I couldn’t agree more. I’ll add my praise as well. I can’t imagine any solo or small firm lawyer who wouldn’t be well-served by investing that time for Google My Business. Gyi, you’re aware that many lawyers or some lawyers, I’ll say, think social media for legal marketing or just generally is largely a huge waste of time, is it?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, it is. No, it’s, you know, it’s just like any other tool out there, right? Like you know, social media, search, email marketing, these are all just tools that we use to develop relationships and to you know what I would say, “to marshal the evidence of our good reputations,” and so, you know, if you just go on Facebook, and you post pictures of cats, and that’s your thing, more power to you, that’s what you’re into, but in terms of like a business strategy or something that’s going to attract new clients, there are other things you can do. And so, a lot of people, a lot of lawyers I talk to, they’re like, “I don’t have time to do Facebook. I don’t have time to do LinkedIn, or Twitter,” like, “That’s all just like toys and stuff,” and the truth is though, like if you go into the right private Facebook group. Maybe there is a Facebook group that’s other lawyers. Maybe it’s other professional service providers, you know, one that comes to mind is like Chicago Business Professionals, or maybe there’s an affinity group that you’re interested in. Maybe you’re into like local youth sports in your area. Those private groups are a great place to create, nurture, and solidify professional relationships. In that context, I don’t think it’s a waste of time at all.
Jim Calloway: Well, that’s a very good point. Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.
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Welcome back to the Digital Edge on The Legal Talk Network. Today, our subject is How to Win Clients Online for Free. Our guest is Gyi Tsakalakis who helps lawyers position their practices online. As a lawyer, and trusted digital legal marketing advisor, he is familiar with the unique considerations of building a legal web presence both effectively and ethically. And if you need another podcast in your life, and who doesn’t? Check out Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
Gyi, if we’re going to waste some time on social media, where should we waste it first?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Great question. I would waste it probably on LinkedIn first, and I say that because LinkedIn, people that are there, there’s a professional intent. So, people are there to have business conversations, they’re there to consume business topics, they’re there to network. The groups, I think, are pretty effective. LinkedIn has a native video, so, you can upload videos. And again, people — lawyers get concerned like, “Oh, you know, I don’t want to break ethical rules,” and your ethical obligations apply just as much on LinkedIn as they do in the real world. But you don’t have to breach client confidences and break ethical rules to share some value, to talk about things you’re seeing. Maybe you talk about specific legislative updates, you, know you’re not giving legal advice, but a really great place to network professionally.
As I too, I would probably go with Facebook just because that’s the big monster in the room, everybody’s on Facebook. But I’d start with LinkedIn. I think LinkedIn, if it’s brand new to you, and you’re going to — again, we’re back to you at limited time, limited resources, spend some time connecting on LinkedIn. The other thing that LinkedIn has, they have a recommendations section, not the endorsement section for those that are LinkedIn, you’ll know the distinction there. But the recommendations section serves similarly as we talked about in Google My Business is the testimonials. But you can see mutual connections who have said nice things about you online. The marketing people call that social proof, but we, you know, us regular humans, we know that that’s just like a good way to see if we’ve got a trusted person that we know, a mutual connection, maybe you can ask for a reference like, “Hey, you know, I see you’re connected to Gyi and you said this nice thing about him, what was your experience with him?” That kind of stuff is really, really powerful, and that’s the overlooked stuff on the social media — these social media platforms. People think, “Oh, you know, you just go broadcast your marketing message there,” but the truth is, is that, they forget that social media, social networking, it’s that social aspect to it. So, keep that in mind as you’re wasting your time.
Jim Calloway: And no cat pictures on LinkedIn.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Well, yeah. You know, it’s funny, there’s like LinkedIn police, they’ll tell you like, “Oh, hey, like don’t post that on LinkedIn,” it’s like, you know, it’s a free country, at least for now.
Jim Calloway: Yeah. So, what’s the best online medium to convey expertise? I think video. You know, the written word it has its place, it has its value, but you know, especially a lot of people, they’re just not great at really going deep on their subject matter in writing. You know, and don’t get me wrong, there are some things that lend themselves better to writing. Some points that it’s just — it’s better to write. But from a — in terms of client development, I really like video — Google My Business has a place where you can upload videos. Most of the major platforms you can upload video.
And from a professional services standpoint, people care about what it’s like to work with you. Like what kind of person? What kind of personality you have? Like, you know, are you going to be empathetic, are you going to be someone that’s going to be there to respond to phone calls and to give me updates on my situation? And I think video, you can bring that emotional component much more effectively through video than you can through the written word. So, again, if you had to pick one, I’d probably go with video.
Sharon Nelson: What do clients expect to see online from a lawyer or law firm?
Gyi Tsakalakis: They want to know what you’re like. They want to know why you do what you do, who you help, why you’re uniquely qualified to help them. You know, they want to know that they’re in good hands, right? Like just, you know, especially a lot of these issues that lawyers help people face, they’re sometimes like the worst time in someone’s life. And so, getting a sense that you’re a person that, you know, is competent for sure. Competency matters, but for most legal services consumers, competency is really tough to gauge, right? You can’t tell like, “Oh, this is the best criminal defense lawyer in my area, you know, based on their knowledge, skill, and experience,” you know, you don’t have a — there’s no track record up there, there’s no acquittal rate. You know, some lawyers put their verdicts on their site, but the thing that they really expect to be able to see, they want to see happy clients singing your praises. They want to see that it’s easy to get a hold of you, so whether you’ve got like an online booking, they want to be able to contact you, so, if that’s a phone number.
But they want to see what other people have to say about you, what their experiences have been, and they want to know what you’re like, generally. Like what you’re interested into. I think that’s the other thing that lawyers forget is, is that, you know, they’re hiring you as a person just as much as they’re hiring you as a lawyer and, you know, that’s the stuff that you want to make sure that make it easy for them to find online.
Jim Calloway: So, what’s the most important digital marketing tool that lawyers are underutilizing?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So, I’m going to go with email on this. That’s not to say that there’s a shortage of law firm email newsletters, so, there’s no shortage there I get, you know, because I’m in this business. I subscribe to like every law firm email newsletter, but I think the reason why when you ask that, the reason made me think about is that, a lot of lawyers don’t use email to stay in touch with former clients and professional contacts on any kind of like uniform basis. So, if you check out Mailchimp. Mailchimp has a lot of documentation on this, but it’s just — it’s setting up email automations that are very authentic, that are check-ins, that help you stay top of mind, that tap into prior client relationships. You know, you can set up an email automation to wish somebody a happy birthday. If you don’t have that information, you can wish them a happy new year or a happy fourth of July. But staying top of mind through email, not commercial email, not firm newsletter email, but just a regular touch point for, you know, top referral contacts, prior clients that you want to stay in touch with, non-lawyer other professionals that might refer your business, use that email. It’s really, really powerful.
And then, you know, of course, you get into this, “Well, I can’t send out all these emails, and people don’t want to get all these emails, there’s some art to it, but you can automate a lot of it. And if you do that in an authentic way, we found that even if it’s just an email that’s just like a, “Hello, just checking in I wanted to see how you’re doing,” those emails get really, really positive response. Great way to stay top of mind.
Jim Calloway: Well, as the bar association guy, I might go ahead and add that reaching out to former clients, and current clients, and personal friends, is generally deemed not to be a solicitation, I won’t speak for all jurisdictions, but generally deem to be appropriate content.
Gyi Tsakalakis: There you go.
Jim Calloway: Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break. The Black Letter Podcast demystifies complicated law and business issues by breaking them down into simple understandable bites. Hosted by Tom Dunlap of Dunlap, Bennett & Ludwig. This show features fun and informative conversation with esteemed guests like CEOs and former AGs of the CIA. You can listen to Black Letter Today on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Sharon Nelson: Now, more than ever, an effective marketing strategy is one of the most important things for your firm. Scorpion can help with nearly 20 years of experience serving the legal industry. Scorpion has proven methods to help you get the high value cases you deserve. Join thousands of attorneys across the country who have turned to Scorpion for effective marketing and technology solutions. For a better way to grow your practice, visit scorpionlegal.com.
Welcome back to the Digital Edge on The Legal Talk Network. Today, our subject is, How to Win Clients Online for Free. Our guest is Gyi Tsakalakis. Gyi helps lawyrs position their practices online. As a lawyer and trusted digital legal marketing advisor, he is familiar with the unique considerations of building a legal web presence both effectively and ethically. And if you need another podcast in your life, check out Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
Jim Calloway: Okay, we all like free, but seriously, how much does this cost whether you deem it time or money, Gyi?
Gyi Tsakalakis: All right, you got me. It’s not free. No, it’s, you know, if this goes to the conversation about budgets, right, and resource allocation, and you know, I can’t answer that for everybody. You know, earlier today, we were talking and, you know, the small business — if you’re a small business, small law firm, small business administrations, a lot of great stuff about like how to actually come up with a marketing budget, marketing plan both in the context of time and money. But I always tell people, you know, “If you don’t have a lot of business today, congratulations, you should have a lot of time to spend on marketing.” But I do think that you, as a lawyer, you should be carving out some time every single day to do something for client development.
If you want to attach a cost to that, you should, you know, attach the cost of your hourly rate. You know, if you’re an hourly rate lawyer, billable hour lawyer, spending an hour, it’s going to cost you that amount of time. But putting some quantification on both the time and money that you spend does matter, and then hold those hours and those dollars accountable to some kind of result. You know, again, we’re not going to have time to go into all the ways you can track this stuff, but at the end of the day, even if you’re just doing it through basic things like asking people how they heard about your — you know, you’ll get a sense of it from people. Because they’ll tell you like, “I saw what you wrote on Facebook,” or, “Hey, I know you from that LinkedIn group,” or, “I found you, there’s some happy clients singing your praise on Google My Business,” you’ll get a good sense of that indirectly.
But I really do think it’s important to quantify the resources. You know, ABA had their most recent legal tech report and it really is astonishing that how many lawyers just don’t think about marketing and budgeting as part of running their law firm. And I think it limits their ability to have a successful healthy practice that isn’t, you know, causing them to have to work 200 hours a week and all the horror stories that we hear.
Sharon Nelson: Well, Laurence Colletti of Legal Talk Network told me that I had to ask this question. And when you answer it, Gyi, please don’t just answer it, please explain the question to me and the question is, who is your favorite ancient stoic?
Gyi Tsakalakis: What a great question and thank you Laurence, I do appreciate this. So, stoicism, if you go look it up, ancient philosophy. There’s been a resurgence of it. You know, there’s all sorts of good maxims from it. I’m just fascinated by it because a lot of the principles, and maxims, and applications that these people were coming up with thousands of years ago still have so much applicability today. But that was a ranty way of saying that, “If you had asked me this a couple weeks ago, I probably would have said Marcus Aurelius, but I’ve been on this big Cato kick recently, so I’m going with Cato today. And I’m also on a big reading kick this year. So, I’ve got a reading challenge if you’re on Goodreads, follow along in my challenge, and make some recommendations. But I just read, “Lives of the Stoics,” by Ryan Holiday. Highly recommended, good survey of a lot of different stoics. We’ll probably introduce you to some new stoics if you’ve never been into stoicism before. Great personal philosophy as far as I’m concerned.
Sharon Nelson: Well, thank you for helping me discharge my duty to Laurence and thank you, of course, for joining us today, Gyi, it’s always wonderful to talk to you. I love your enthusiasm, I love your creativity, all sorts of different ideas, you’re very positive about how you teach what you know which is wonderful, and you share a lot, and that’s all wonderful. I know our listeners really appreciate this podcast, so, thanks for being with us.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Sharon, thank you so much for those kind words. Jim, thank you for having me. If you have listeners that need follow-up questions, I would recommend, you know, obviously, I’m biased here, but check out Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, that’s all we talk about over there is different marketing stuff. As I said, I hope to be able to see you all online and a quick plug. I’m on the Board for the ABA Tech Show, so, if you’re planning on making that, please do say hi. It’s virtual this year, and hopefully to see you both, virtually at the ABA Tech Show this year.
Sharon Nelson: You can bet on it.
Jim Calloway: Yes, sir.
Sharon Nelson: And that does it for this edition of the Digital Edge Lawyers and Technology. And remember, you can subscribe to all of the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on Apple podcast. And if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us in Apple podcasts.
Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us, goodbye Ms. Sharon.
Sharon Nelson: Happy trails, cowboy.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Digital Edge produced by the Broadcast Professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway for their next podcast covering the latest topic related to lawyers and technology. Subscribe to the RSS feed on legaltalknetwork.com or in iTunes. The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own, and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.