In this special edition of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, Gyi and Kelly take time to answer listeners’ most pressing questions. Tune in to hear their thoughts on whether you actually need a LinkedIn marketing plan, how to blog with purpose, why you (probably) don’t need your own legal podcast, and how to handle bad &/or fake reviews for your law firm. Gyi and Kelly also offer their own earnest queries, but we won’t give them all away. Tune in for more!
Lunch Hour Legal Marketing
Lunch Hour Legal Marketing: Mailbag Edition!
Kelly Street: Happy Lunch Hour Legal Marketing recording day, Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Happy Lunch Hour Legal Marketing recording day to you, Kelly.
Kelly Street: Ah, the Festivus for the rest of us.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Sure.
Kelly Street: Sure. That didn’t — that was not what I was expecting your response to be.
Anyway, you know what else gets a celebration for me that probably shouldn’t?
Gyi Tsakalakis: No.
Kelly Street: Receiving mail.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Really?
Kelly Street: Yes, I love getting mail.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Physical correspondence.
Kelly Street: Physical correspondence, anything, pretty much anything that has my name on it, I am just excited to see and I will open it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Direct mail?
Kelly Street: Even direct mail.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Have you received a glitter bomb before?
Kelly Street: No, but I want to.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Oh, uh-oh, you just invited a world of hurt upon yourself.
Kelly Street: Nobody knows where I live; actually the Internet does. The Internet knows where I live.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Just look for Kelly online, send her a glitter bomb, she really wants glitter bombs. I am sure Aaron is really going to appreciate this.
Kelly Street: Yeah, oh God. My husband, people, he would die if we got glitter all over. Yeah, he is a very clean person, so he would not appreciate that.
Anyway, there is a movie I want to ask you about. Have you ever seen the movie, ‘The Lake House’?
Gyi Tsakalakis: No.
Kelly Street: It is with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves and it is a magical mailbox movie that time travels and sends love letters through time in this mailbox. I have never actually seen it, I just watched the preview and went huh, that looks like a real stinker.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It sounds original. I mean what’s the likelihood that we are able to travel through time via a mailbox?
Kelly Street: Just letters though.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Just letters, they couldn’t actually — did anybody ever try to climb in?
Kelly Street: Oh, I don’t know, like I said, I didn’t see the movie. I assume —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Scientists never tried to expand the mailbox.
Kelly Street: Yup, I assume they tried to climb in. I am just going to go ahead and say yeah, Sandra Bullock was like sticking her head in trying to get into the mailbox to get back in time to Keanu Reeves.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What was the length of time between the two participants?
Kelly Street: Again, never saw the movie, I have no idea. This is great. This is a really great info. Hey guys, if you have seen ‘The Lake House’, you are screaming at your podcast right now, trying to say all of the things, because it’s probably your favorite movie, everyone in the world I assume.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Unfortunately, most people that were listening have now tuned out.
Kelly Street: Okay. So Gyi, why are we talking about mail?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Because it’s the Lunch Hour Legal Marketing Mailbag episode.
Kelly Street: Mailbag.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Mailbag.
Kelly Street: Ooh. I like that we both had our own versions of singing that, that was pretty great. We haven’t sung in episodes recently enough.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So did we get any mail?
Kelly Street: We did, we got some mail, we got some questions from people and I am really excited. I think there are some that are going to make you happy to answer, some that I am super excited to answer, and then we actually have a few questions that our listeners should be asking, so I am really excited to get into it.
All right, let’s get started with our Mailbag.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, with your hosts Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street, teaching you how to promote, market, and make fat stacks for your legal practice, here on Legal Talk Network.
Kelly Street: Gyi, before we answer our first question, I want to talk about Nexa, formerly known as Answer 1. It’s a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them a call at 800-267-9371 or online at www.nexa.com.
All right Gyi, let’s handle our first question. What is it?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Our first question is what is a good LinkedIn strategy for small law firms with a limited budget?
Kelly Street: Well, we did talk about LinkedIn on one of our previous episodes, let’s go back and let’s see. That was our episode on personal branding from Dr. Natalia, the LinkedIn Unicorn, but I know beyond branding and using LinkedIn, we also have some thoughts about how you can just post things and write messages and that sort of thing.
So Gyi, why don’t you talk about your theory on using LinkedIn?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, just like everything else we talk about with marketing, we always start with the, I don’t know what you would call this, but a maxim of, know your audience, who is your audience, is your audience on LinkedIn, who are they, and what are they doing there, what do they want to see there?
If your audience is there, so here are some example audiences; hey, other lawyers might be there, other business people are there, and the big thing with LinkedIn that distinguishes LinkedIn from everywhere else is LinkedIn has business intent. Meaning, people are there to talk business, to learn businessy stuff, and so if you are making connections with people for referral purposes or professional networking purposes, then I think LinkedIn is a good place to spend some time.
But that’s my — with a lot of these questions — I know we are going to talk about this a little bit more, but a lot of these questions, the first question is, is whether you even need to have a LinkedIn strategy for your law firm, not everybody does. But for those that are trying to build connections and stay top of mind with people that might be able to refer them business, LinkedIn is great. And so then what do you do?
Well, one, and just like I talk about in a lot of other social platforms, focus more on engagement than broadcast. What do I mean by that? Instead of just posting a link to your latest blog post, why not actually respond to somebody else’s post, why not comment on somebody else’s article or whatever it is, because starting those conversations, I think one of the things that’s not intuitive to people is that other people read the post and the common threads. And so if you add intelligent conversation there, it’s going to improve your reputation, knowledge, skill, experience, recognition, and in a way that people are going to be a lot more receptive to it, then if you are just posting, check out my latest blog post. So that’s my kind of first general thing is engagement.
I think the other thing too that just like everywhere else we talk about on social media, LinkedIn has video and so video contents with business tips, business suggestions, especially as they pertain to your practice area, really, really effective. And of course make sure that you are using captions on those videos, because a lot of people are — they might see you show up in the feed, but they are kind of just skimming around and they are probably going to watch your video in silence, but your captions will come up, so they can actually follow along with what you are saying.
Kelly Street: Yes. And writing articles on LinkedIn can be really helpful as well and those, because they are native to LinkedIn, those might be a better option than just sharing a blog post.
The key with articles is that you cannot write them as a business, you can only write them as an individual person and then share it on your — say if you are trying to share it on your law firm business, then you would want to share it there, but it’s really great, especially if you are a solo or small and you are trying to — or even if you are a lawyer in a personal injury firm who has to do your own rainmaking, you can write those articles and kind of create your own persona and have people reach out specifically to you to get your own clients by differentiating yourself potentially from the law firm and writing articles about the kinds of cases that you like to handle and particular situations that you have dealt with.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. I think the big one that LinkedIn does particularly well is this idea of social proof. So they have the mutual connections feature and then also they have a recommendations feature, and so when someone reads something that you wrote on LinkedIn and then they want to learn more about you, it’s going to be much more powerful if you share connections that they know, like and trust and if you are getting recommendations from mutual connections.
So finding ways to have people that are well-connected in your community, whether it’s your local community or whether it’s your practice community, and then obviously you have got to develop a relationship and reputation with those people, but then finding ways to motivate them to go and leave a recommendation on LinkedIn and connect on LinkedIn, I think those are some of the more overlooked ways that LinkedIn really works.
I think when people think LinkedIn strategy they think, oh yeah, download the app, add my picture, make a professional picture, focus on my profile, I am like those things are all kind of table stakes, the real power of these platforms is the connectivity aspect, and so the more that you can connect with people, one, with just the basic connection; but two, having people that are actually engaging with what you are writing or publishing or even using a recommendation, that’s really when you start to see LinkedIn provide more value than just another feed to read.
Kelly Street: Yeah, because I think LinkedIn, at least for me, can sometimes have a bad reputation of doing really poor sales outreach and just like with every other social media that you use as an attorney, you want to provide value instead of asking for things all the time. And so what is it that you are bringing to the table, what is it that you are giving people instead of ooh, what can I get out of this.
And obviously you want to have goals for all of the things that you are doing for your marketing activities and your end goal can be to make connections and potentially to get referrals, but you have got to go into it of thinking, who can I connect with that makes sense for me to connect with on here and what value can I provide to them.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And sometimes a lot of these networks, it’s more about staying in touch. It’s like hey, LinkedIn, if people enter their birthdays, just like Facebook tells you when their birthday is, so hey, stop, taking a minute and saying happy birthday, or someone wrote that they just had great success on a case, like wishing them congratulations, that stuff is a much better way, one, to actually connect with people because it’s more human and more people when they see that you are not just there to pitch them on your free consultation or to talk about topics that they are not interested in, they are going to be more engaging with the things that you post, because they can tell that you are there to actually build relationships and not just pitch and email them to death or set up automated post.
That’s another one, kind of talking about some of the things you shouldn’t do, you know what drives me nuts, it’s true in the email ones too?
Kelly Street: What’s that Gyi?
Gyi Tsakalakis: When like five attorneys from the same firm, all just obviously have the same automated post running, I am like I know you are not even here, like what’s the point of this. This is literally just a bot that’s firing off this post periodically and it’s all the same one across four different attorneys at the same firm.
Kelly Street: At least change what you have written about the post, don’t just share the post itself, say hey, here is a quote from me in this, or my coworker whatever wrote this great post.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. No, it will literally be like a crash statistic. It would be like there were 100 crashes last month in this place and like all five lawyers just happened to say it at the same time, at the same firm, like come on.
Kelly Street: It’s magic.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Not good. I don’t think — I wouldn’t suggest doing that personally.
Kelly Street: Yes, I would concur. One last thing to touch on, at least for me with LinkedIn, is talking about the limited budget and then thinking about advertising or boosting your posts. I think you can do some of that. In my experience I have found that LinkedIn advertising tends to be a little bit more expensive for what you get than the other platforms that you can go, depending on what your keywords are for PPC of course, for Google Ads, but it can tend to be a little expensive.
And if you don’t have the targeting really narrowed down and if you are going after — say you are an IP lawyer, that might be an acceptable place to do advertising, but if you are trying to target potential referral sources, I would try to stick with making connections rather than doing the advertising route.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I think the other thing for me too is, is that the same thing we talk about with like Facebook, if your mindset is I am going to do a LinkedIn lead generation campaign for a free consultation after a car accident or something, I think you are going to struggle.
On the other hand, if you are boosting content on LinkedIn to a hyper-targeted audience on subject matter that they are actually interested in, so if it’s like the context of like maybe you are like an intellectual property lawyer that’s advising startups, there is a lot of audience targeting that you can put in place to make sure that you are really honing in on that, and then maybe it’s like, here is a — you are just boosting a post or boosting an article that you wrote on LinkedIn that talks about some of the major hurdles that startup founders face when it comes to legal issues that they don’t know about and then you put some budget behind that, that’s a much more effective way in terms of actually getting your message in front of the right audience.
And also, I think the issue is that people want to measure it in this direct response mindset, where it’s like well, for every ad dollar that I spend on LinkedIn, I want to see a lead versus what if it just gets you connected to a founder at a startup, so you can start nurturing that relationship. I think that you have to adjust your attribution mechanism and how you are actually measuring the effectiveness of your ad dollars, because it might be a different goal that you are trying to accomplish than just like your traditional direct response lead generation campaign.
Kelly Street: Yes. All right, let’s talk about our next question. We have been getting this a lot from different people and that is, should I start a legal podcast? And my favorite response to that is the typical lawyer response of it depends and also no, just kidding.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I will give a better response, I will give a different response, no, you should not, don’t do it.
Kelly Street: Gyi, why is that? Why shouldn’t people start a legal podcast?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, don’t start a legal pod, and I think there is also a question of like, maybe it’s not even a legal pod, it’s like, should I start a podcast at all.
But let’s say — let me clarify my response, don’t start a legal podcast if you don’t have anything interesting to say, if you don’t like the sound of your own voice, if you don’t like talking, if you don’t have time to do it, if your sound quality is going to sound like you are recording underwater, these are all great reasons not to start a podcast.
Kelly Street: Yes. Okay. So now that you know all the reasons not to start a podcast, the things that — the big things to pull out there that we always give people advice when they are looking to start a podcast is, A, know your audience and be really clear about who it is that you are trying to target and whether or not that audience is, just like with LinkedIn, whether or not that audience is listening to podcasts or cares about them.
Second, obviously Gyi mentioned already, sound quality, and we I think both would highly recommend not — unless you really want to spend hours learning how to be a sound engineer yourself, highly recommend finding an editor that you can work with to pay to do your episodes and getting the proper equipment as well is a big piece.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And I know we are going to hit this again, but I just can’t help myself, because I am a glutton for punishment, but this is not a great question to ask, should I start a legal podcast, who knows, I have no idea, no idea if you should.
But I will tell you something that you might try in advance before you actually go through the effort of starting a legal podcast, go be a guest on somebody else’s podcast, because one, built in audience; two, you don’t have to — usually you don’t have to like get all the gear and technology, the podcast host will handle the recording and the editing.
And then you can actually get feedback from people and say hey, how did I sound, did this sound like a subject matter that might be interesting to other people, like you can actually test into the podcast before going through all the trouble of starting one.
And I think everybody recognizes there is no shortage of podcasts these days and so podcast host need guests. So if you want to be a guest on a podcast or if you are thinking about starting a podcast, go be a guest first and then find out if it’s something that you even like doing, because there is a performance aspect to podcasting and if that’s not your cup of tea, similar to video, then just because some marketing person told you, oh, you have got to start a podcast, everybody is doing podcasts, like that’s terrible advice.
Kelly Street: Yes, yes. And the timing, I mean time is such a big factor for this, because I subscribe to 25+ podcasts and when —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Wow.
Kelly Street: I know, I am kind of — speaking of glutton, I am kind of a glutton for podcasts, and I don’t listen to every episode of all of them, but when I subscribe to a podcast and I really get into it or I like it, I want that podcast to keep going and so you have to think about the time commitment, it’s such a huge thing.
For Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, luckily all I have to do for this is a little bit of guest outreach and then recording the episodes and they are just monthly, but for Clienting, the other podcast that Gyi and I do, I do everything for that except editing, and so it’s roughly five plus hours per episode that I spend and that’s not even editing.
So if you are going to be doing the editing, you could spend seven to ten hours per episode, depending on how long it is, doing all of the things that it requires. And so you have to know that going in that this is going to potentially be a really big time commitment or you are going to have to pay someone to do all of the things except hosting and recording the actual podcast itself, which is a different monetary commitment.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. And I think there is also, kind of dispelling another misconception, I think some people think, oh well, I will just — I will do five podcast episodes for whatever reason, and that’s not really how it works either, right?
Some people like will start and say oh, I started a podcast, but it “didn’t work” and it’s like well, number one, why were you even — how are you defining whether it worked here, because you probably didn’t think about that. And number two is yeah, you published five episodes, so did you really give it a shot?
But I think those types of things, what do you want to accomplish with your podcast? Do you like doing it? Are you getting positive feedback from people? Is there engagement from the audience? If people are leaving you reviews and emailing you questions, those types of things are good indicators like hey, yeah, this is a good idea and people want to hear it. Let the audience tell you they want more from you or they want to hear certain things, or let them tell you, you know what, this isn’t very good and so maybe it’s not the best use of your time.
I think the other thing too with this question I kind of posed at the beginning is, whether it needs to be a legal podcast, right? So there are lawyers that do podcasts where they don’t just talk law, because I think, again, this is the misconception a lot of lawyers have is okay, so I am a divorce lawyer and so I am just going to talk about divorce law in my state. And it’s like, is that really — is there enough there for people to be engaging with that time in, time out?
It might be better to talk about something that’s like going on in your local community or some kind of activity or cause that you are passionate about, have people on talking about that, I think that’s the kind of stuff that, one, will attract a local audience, if that’s who your client base is; and two, you are going to get people that are going to gravitate towards you because they are also interested in supporting that cause or knowing more about it.
Kelly Street: Yes, I think that’s really smart. All right, now that we have crushed people’s podcasting dreams, or not or maybe made them feel really good about starting one because they have the answers to all those questions. let’s talk about blogging.
I feel a little — I have to laugh a little bit thinking about getting questions about blogs in 2019, but it’s — I mean there are definitely people out there who are like only blog, do blogging. So the question is, should I blog, like should I still keep blogging and/or should I start one? So we have kind of gotten both of those and one of the caveats for this is I am trying to get more media appearances, so should I start blogging in an effort to get those appearances?
Gyi Tsakalakis: And again, terrible question, sorry listener who sent this question in. But all of the same things we talked about with LinkedIn and all the same things we talked about podcasting still apply, and what’s the audience, who is the audience? And also I think that there is — more than anything else is the time commitment aspect of publishing.
So my thing is this. I think it’s extremely valuable to most law firms’ practices to publish something online, and here is why. Regardless of whether it’s someone finds you from searching on a particular legal issue or entering a question that they have into a search engine, or someone talks to somebody and gets a word of mouth, like a old-fashioned, in-person word of mouth referral, they go and look you up online and they want to see what you have to say about things. This is especially true if your clients are more sophisticated legal services consumers. So they want to see what your position is or what your experience is, and so publishing in some form I think is extremely valuable.
LinkedIn publishing, is that a blog, well, maybe not in the historical context. I think also that’s — there is a big question there, it’s like what is a blog today, right? In the past blog had a very specific meaning and function and approach to how the blogging community evolved. I think today it’s very loose to include anything that has posts that are organized in reverse chronological order or categorized or tagged in a certain way.
So should you — do you like writing? Do you have time to write? Are you any good at writing? Are you good at writing to an audience that actually wants to be engaged? If you are or you have tried some of those things, then I think a blog can be extremely valuable.
But I think publishing of some kind is essential, and if you can’t write, then I would suggest you might try a different medium, like a podcast or a video, but again, this is really sad, a lot of people don’t want to read, and so unless you are really going to — you have got something very compelling to write, you might be better off thinking about doing some kind of video. If it’s top of mind awareness, I would be thinking video.
Search, if you are trying to — if it’s an SEO play, then you have got to — search engines still rely on word, so you have got to write something, whether that’s a blog or not. I mean I think blog is like subscribership and audience, all the same things we talk about with a podcast, just happens to be the written word instead of the spoken word.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What do you think Kelly?
Kelly Street: I mean if I am thinking of — I think that’s a really good background on the blogging aspect, and to go into the question of, I am trying to get more media appearances, so should I start blogging, Gyi, you just said about video. If you are trying to get TV appearances, then you want to have videos for things so people know what you look like, what you sound like, how you can speak and respond in videos to give people more confidence that you will have the same effect when you are on the air.
But not only that, if you are trying to get more media appearances, then you want to go the online PR route and do the — help a reporter out, that sort of thing, which can be publishing blog posts, but really it’s about establishing a presence beyond just on your website for media appearances.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And of course the risk of stating more obvious things to everybody, you have got to be writing about stuff that — if the goal is media appearances from a writing perspective, you have got to think like a journalist, right? So like what is the journalist searching for? When they are looking for story ideas or looking for source material, or sources, or citations, they are going to be entering — they are going to be searching in a particular way. So maybe they are searching on case names, maybe they are searching on some kind of other party or some kind of — maybe if it’s a legislative issue, they are searching on the names of our leaders. And so if you are not writing about that stuff, you are not going to be as likely to come up in a search that a journalist is performing.
And again, unless you are really a prolific writer, trying to do this on a mass scale, if you are trying to get on like national news coverage, you really better have something compelling and be recognized as the expert.
Another thing to think about is, this goes back to the audience stuff, you are probably going to have a lot more success if your goal is to attract media attention, is to focus on local, think about the local issues in your community, who these local reporters are, what they are already covering, start building relationship with the reporters in terms of your writing, cite their material, maybe disagree with them. Some of the best “legal blogging” at the local level that I have seen will like respond to some kind of legislative initiative that the lawyer thinks is bad for the local citizens and that’s the kind of stuff that builds some controversies, stand for something, and writing about that stuff can be really effective.
Versus if you are trying to be everything to everybody and you just want to post something like, here is like five things to know about your rights after a car accident type stuff, like people aren’t — that’s not going to get you — even if you show up in a search, it’s not going to get you a lot of following or engagement.
Kelly Street: Yes, absolutely. All right, let’s take a quick break to hear from our sponsors and we will come back in and talk about ranking in the local pack for PI lawyers.
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Kelly Street: All right, we are back, Gyi. Let’s talk about the next question. How do I rank in the local pack for PI lawyers? I have a feeling this is going to be so exciting.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, everybody wants — this is the question I get all the time, so I am so sick of hearing it. But the short answer is, is that, I am going to oversimplify it, so if you are a sophisticated SEO person, you are going to be like, whatever, 00:29:51, but local links are the dial mover.
Sure, there are all sorts of things you can do to rank in a local pack. You can change your firm’s name to include keywords, you can — well some of these things you probably shouldn’t do and I am not going to name them. But, look, local pack starts with the Google My Business listing, you’ve got to complete your Google My Business listing, get your information correct there, but other than that and getting… and sending happy clients to review you on Google My Business and engaging with putting posts on Google My Business and making sure your local citations are correct across the web. The biggest thing that we see move it is these local links and so that’s a whole thing that we could talk about, but short version would be — well, I’ll use some of an example from each of the previous questions we had.
So, if you blog, at the local level, and a local journalist picks up one of your posts and writes about it and links back to your posts or links back to a bio on your website for some kind of author credential, that’s the kind of local link that we’re talking about, local news link, great, that’s one way to do it.
Another one would be, maybe you have a podcast that talks about your local community and in that podcast you’re mentioning something, I don’t know, maybe it’s high school sports as big in your community and then the local student newspaper picks that story up, hey, this lawyer is talking about the game last night and they link back to the podcast that lives on your site, that’s a very local link if it’s coming from a high school or youth sports team, I think that’s extremely valuable and then LinkedIn, LinkedIn you can embed links right into your posts, so if you post on LinkedIn you can get a link from a LinkedIn post. I think you can still get followed links, but I’m not even — I don’t even distinguish anymore between followed and no followed as much.
Yes, for those that are going to hate me for saying this followed is probably has some more value in terms of actual algorithmic value, but I think lawyers are overly focused on domain authority and followed links and getting links from places like forbes.com and those links for most lawyers, if you serve, if you are a personal injury lawyer, criminal defense lawyer, bankruptcy lawyer, family lawyer, that serves your local community, focus on the local links. Don’t obsess about domain authority in Forbes and Inc and buying links and all this stuff. Do things at the local level because it’s that — those local signals are what Google is going to use for their prominence factor. The more that you can get to help Google understand information about your firm and that you’re a leader in your space from a linked perspective, that’s what’s going to do the best work in my opinion.
Kelly Street: Follow-up question for you.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Okay.
Kelly Street: Since I know we have some clients that attorneys think that are national-based law firms, so if we also have some listeners who have a more national law firm where they are helping people from all around, how do you use that for with Google My Business? Are you doing the main office as your address and kind of focusing there or what’s the different play?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Great! First we’ve got to find what we are talking about here, so if we are talking about if you are a law firm that has a physical office location all over a State or all over the country, then you should probably have a Google My Business listing for each and every one of those physical locations.
Now, one of the challenges is, is that a lot of lawyers will say, well, I’ve got a hundred offices or whatever it is across the country, but they don’t recognize that each one of those offices from a Google My Business or a local pack perspective is like its own little kingdom. And so they’ll say, well, most of our work is done out of this main office or in these other satellite offices like there’s barely anybody there. And so, if you can’t — the point of that I’m trying to make here is, is that, you’ve got to market every single one of those office locations from a Google perspective to rank in a local pack.
So, yes, if you get links to your main websites and your main website has different locations pages and you’re using those in your Google My Business places, you’re going to benefit from any authority that’s built up to your main website, but you’ve still got to get reviews at each of those locations. You still got to get, in my view, the local links. So if you’ve got — let’s just say you’ve got 00:34:40 Midwest, you’ve got an office in Detroit, you’ve got an office in Chicago, and you’ve got an office Indianapolis. Well, you’ve got to be able to think about those local websites and local links for each of those local communities which means you have a lot more marketing to do. So, the short version is, is that if you’re a national firm and you’re trying to market local physical locations, you’ve just created a huge job for yourself in terms of ranking a local pack 00:35:06.
Now, there’s a different approach you could do, which is, we’re not talking about local pack at all, we’re just talking about like national awareness or trying to develop a name for yourself on media appearances or you want to be the subject matter expert because you take on clients all across the country regardless of physical office location. Well, guess what, then local pack doesn’t even matter to you anymore and then you are into the more traditional notions of PR, reputation, relationships, and then there’s — from an SEO perspective, yes, you’re probably focused more on like those high-end media-type links. So getting links from national news organizations or getting links from government websites that are dealing with your specific area of law, those are going to be a lot more valuable than this idea of local.
So, I think it’s important from a strategic perspective to distinguish between they are trying to market in a local community and with a local pack because that’s where Google is going to show these local pack listings or are you trying to rank for — I am going to just make something up, best startup intellectual property lawyer where there’s no local pack result at all, there’s going to be traditional results and then traditional notions of SEO come back into play.
Kelly Street: Awesome. All right. Let’s move on to the next —
Gyi Tsakalakis: You asked, so.
Kelly Street: I did — I did, thank you. Wooh. Former attorney Gyi Tsakalakis —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Former attorney, always a rambler.
Kelly Street: Always a rambler. All right. Next question, how do I handle bad reviews, also sub-question I think the review is fake because I don’t know the reviewer’s name, how do I handle that?
Gyi Tsakalakis: So reviews creates this whole — there’s like a whole conversation, but let’s just — again, terrible question, but let’s just dive into all of these. Number one, at the risk of stating the obvious yet again your ethical obligations apply online as well as replying to reviews. So, the most obvious one in this context is client confidences, and lawyers have gotten trouble because someone posts a negative review and they respond and blow a confidence and then they get a grievance filed against them, so don’t do that.
So, how do you handle bad reviews from the top?
Number one, answer your clients’ questions because most of these bad reviews, you know we see with bad reviews most the time —
Kelly Street: What are we see, Gyi?
Gyi Tsakalakis: It says something like I have been trying to get a hold of this lawyer for two months to get a status update in my case and they never respond to any of my calls and they are dodging me and avoiding me and blah, blah, blah. So that’s the majority of bad reviews.
Are there people that post fake reviews, do competitors post reviews, does opposing counsel try to have people post reviews that are all like either quasi, fake or completely fake? The answer is, yes, and if you have some specific evidence that it’s fake, go to the platform and try to get them to take it down the best that you can.
But, I’m telling you, most of the time that we see these, when we have — there are companies that actually do forensic investigation and to identify who the actual person who posted is, one, it’s extremely challenging; two, can be extremely expensive; three, even if you get some pretty compelling evidence that you know who this person is and it’s not someone who’s your client, the platforms are very difficult to work with, they’re reluctant to take things down and unless you’re willing to take them to court it’s probably going to stick, and so then the question becomes, what else can you do and the answers are, you can kill them with kindness. You can say, hey, I’m really had bad, sorry, you had this experience. Obviously, it depends on the nature of the review. If the review is this person didn’t answer my call — well — like guess what that’s really on you, if it’s fake, if it’s — if they’re like accusing you of something, I’d be out there and engage them and say, hey, we’d like to resolve the situation please contact me, something like that.
Now, there are some instances where the best thing to do is nothing at all because you’re not going to get anything — when it’s going to happen, if you try to respond to their review, they’re going to go take out a domain of your name and optimize it for all sorts of nasty things like gyitsakalakissucks.com and they are going to write all of this stuff so that every time someone searches for your name they see this whole story and so you get the Streisand effect where you’ve brought all this attention, unwanted attention to yourself.
So reviews are tough, bad reviews are going to happen most of the — this is one of the top issues that comes up in most of the legal communities that I’m associated with online and the — usually the best solution is, is to focus on fixing your client service process, number one, so that your real clients aren’t posting negative things about you.
When they do, be empathetic and it might just be as simple as saying, hey, I’m really sorry, you had this experience, please contact me, let’s try to resolve this; in some cases that makes sense.
And, if you can — look, if it’s blatant like something threatening or something that’s like you can really justify trying to get it taken down then pursue those options, try to contact the platform, but most of the time that’s not going be a very effective use, and again, most of the time these are actually reviews.
Now, if you can find another lawyer. There’s other big one, there’s another whole aspect of this, is that, it’s ugly out there, like there are lawyers that will go and have people post negative things about their competition, but you can connect those dots, like you need to hold those lawyers accountable in my view, like you’ve got to start thinking about taking action with the Bar, but you’ve got to have something to go to the Bar with to say, hey, I have evidence that this lawyer is doing that, and that’s very challenging to do.
Kelly Street: Yes. Alright. My thoughts on this. Number one, go back and listen to our episode with Jason Brown. He talks about review fraud and talks about how it is actually mostly people posting fake reviews for the positive for themselves to try to use reviews to get up in the local pack or that sort of thing and talks about companies using fake reviews, so there’s that.
The second thing is, I agree with everything that Gyi said about how to respond to the fake reviews, and the last point I wanted to make is that, while you do need to have a good customer service process and make sure that all of those ducks are in a row, remember that you are in a very highly, emotionally charged field, and typically at least, most people are coming to lawyers when they have a problem that they need solving, when there’s a significant life event. And so, you need to just have the understanding that people are more likely to be upset if the outcome isn’t exactly what they’re expecting and so not only setting client expectations, but also just realize that if someone is upset, understand where they were at when they came to you and respond accordingly, like he said, respond with empathy, but also just know that it might happen where you get negative reviews, and so don’t freak out about it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. I mean — and the other side of this coin is, is that find ways to motivate your other clients to go say, good things about you so that you’ve got 10 reviews and you’ve got 9 outstanding reviews and one bad one, most consumers understand that you can’t please all the people all time and depending on what the reviews — if the review says, this lawyer stole money from me, then those nine reviews aren’t going to set it off, but if the review is, hey, I’ve been trying to contact this lawyer and you respond with, hey, I’m really so sorry that you had this experience, I really want to work with you to try to fix it. The next people who see that are going to say, hey, look, you know what, this didn’t work out for this person, but there’s nine other people here that have had a great experience of glowing reviews, and so, it’s not the end of the world as Kelly mentioned.
Kelly Street: Yes. Book a session with your therapist before you respond to a bad review.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Take some breaths.
Kelly Street: Alright, those are the questions that we got from people and we actually have a couple of questions that we want to ask our audience, and the first one of these is really from Gyi, but it’s something that I think we see a lot we deal with and it’s in relation to some of the questions that we got earlier, and at the risk of offending anyone, why is everyone asking bad questions?
So, what this really means for us is, when you are asking other lawyers for referrals of services, when you’re asking specialized people like digital marketing companies for what — so how do I do this or should I use LinkedIn? There has to be some sort of clarifiers there of what are your end goals, what are you trying to use, what is your budget? All of these other things that you have to ask before you just go ahead and ask some sort of a blanket question, because asking other lawyers are asking your digital marketing agency. So, should I get on Instagram? Not a great question to ask.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. I mean and maybe I’m just crabby because I’m crabby from time-to-time, maybe I need some more coffee or something.
Kelly Street: That’s true.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And maybe I’m just — I’m sympathetic because I know that some of this stuff can be confusing, none of the major platforms offer really good support, everybody is out there as an expert on all this stuff, and so, people want to know like, should I be doing this? Is it worth my time? And unfortunately, most of the time the people that they’re asking that question of, have no idea what their practice is like or they have some kind of financial incentive to tell them something that helps them monetarily.
And so the one that you mentioned this, who should I use, like we get to — this is posed all the time like who should I use for PPC, who should I use for SEO? And the answer is, no one has any idea, like they can say, hey, I had a good experience with this person I know like and trust this person or this agency, and that’s good, that’s a good starting point.
But, you’ve got to dig deeper than that and ask questions about how you define success, what your actual marketing goals are, what your marketing budget is, who your target audience is, where do you see your firm in five years, what are you really trying to accomplish like — because once you start from this first like who should I use and you try, and then it doesn’t work because you didn’t ask any of these other questions and then you conclude, well, the Internet doesn’t work.
And it’s like, okay, and I’m — like I said, I’m very sympathetic to that issue but there has to be some accountability on the people asking the questions to spend some time learning, because that’s the only cure for this, should I do this or should I use these people surface-level question, that usually leads you to at least being burned by some platform or some agency or some marketing strategy once.
So we write about this all the time of like how do you define success, what are the things you building your contract, I mean, you can search for whatever agency name and reviews and contracts and terms, and you’ll see people writing about this stuff, but you got to dig a little deeper, you’re not going to — you can’t post into a Facebook group and say, should I do this, and a bunch of lawyers respond to you, many of whom have not even done it for themselves successfully. And then think, okay, now, I’ve solved my growth plan for next year because I set up an account on Instagram, and then next year you’re going to say, I tried Instagram last year and it didn’t work.
Kelly Street: Yeah, and at the risk of this turning into a legal digital marketing agency gripe session, the other question that really gets me just because I have trouble with the motivation behind this question is who’s the cheapest digital marketing agency for lawyers and it’s like, why I understand having limited marketing budgets, I absolutely do.
But think about why, what kind of ROI and what kind of company you’re going to be working with for someone to just raise their hand and say, oh, we’re the cheapest, we offer discount prices or we use a Russian team that does all of our link building for us, you’ve got to weigh the cost-benefit there.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I challenge anyone out there, agency people included. If you’re looking for the cheapest, go shop GoDaddy’s SEO and SEM services, because I don’t think that anybody can beat them on price.
Kelly Street: $9.99 a month.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I think it’s even less than that, isn’t it? Might be even cheaper than that?
Kelly Street: I think they upped it to $9.99 a month. I think it used to be $5.99.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I think I used to say $5.99, okay, I’m going to write a new post on that.
Kelly Street: Yeah, so there you go, that’s the cheapest option out there people is GoDaddy for $9.99. We’ll have to fact-check that and put that in the show notes, but —
Gyi Tsakalakis: That was my crappiness, crappiness question.
Kelly Street: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Thanks for bearing with me.
Kelly Street: You’re welcome. So, last but not least, are there — you mentioned some questions you should ask when you’re hiring a marketing firm, are there any questions that you — that we missed there that you think people ask a lot or should ask and don’t?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I mean, my big things are, are you working with my competition, are you working with other lawyers in my area that do the same thing that I do because especially if it’s local marketing, it seems very conflict of interest to have be working with one marketing firm handling all of the major X practices in a particular city, so I’d ask that question.
I’d ask a lot about how you’re going to define success and what timeframes it’s going to take, right? So a lot of companies will do the — well, you got to get into a three-year contract and it’s like, okay, well, what’s happening between the day I sign, What are the milestones here of success, what are the deliverables, how can I expect to communicate with you, who are the people that will be working on my account? Do you have experience working with a law firm that’s similarly situated like me?
Can I see examples of some of the other marketing activities that you’ve done for some of these firms and what the purpose was? The list goes on-and-on.
Kelly Street: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: From an SEO perspective, Google puts out information about questions you should be asking your agency, and so, I think those are a good place to go to, but —
Kelly Street: Yes.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The experience — I think finding people that colleagues do know like and trust is a good starting point, but you’ve got to dig deeper, you’ve really got to get into what the terms of the agreement are going to be, whether they’re working with competitors, what are the specific things they’re going to be doing, there’s no black boxes, there’s no proprietary, there’s some proprietary that, oh, that’s a big one, will I own my accounts, will I own my data? I think those are all very important questions to know the answer to.
Kelly Street: Yes, and also when you talked about timeframe, not only for contracts, but also when you can expect to see results, I think it’s really important to have a little bit of cynicism when someone says that I can have you ranking number one in within a month for X, Y and Z or even just will have you blanket statement, will have you ranking number one within 30 days, because SEO does sometimes take more time and maybe you have a great base already going but you want to ask more questions there and say, okay, how are you able to do this, what keywords are you talking about, do those actually matter for my practice area?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, and maybe they do get you, maybe they do all sorts of craziness and get you to rank, but how long is that going to last, right, I mean —
Kelly Street: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I can’t tell you how many times I — in monitoring search results over the last 11 years in major markets, there are a lot of those players that in 2008-2009 we are all over the place for very competitive terms, you can’t find them in the search results anymore.
Kelly Street: Yes, so many questions.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So many questions.
Kelly Street: So many mailbags, so many questions to ask.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So many answers, and keep asking questions. If you have more questions for us, we’d love to know, we want to know. We love mailbag, Kelly loves mail and glitter bombs. I love bags. Just kidding, I don’t really have any feelings about bags, but I was trying to connect mailbag.
Kelly Street: Yeah, I like bags, kind of a minimalist sort of, I mean sort of.
Anyway, awesome. All right, well, I hope everyone enjoyed this episode and learned a few things from what other people are asking out in the digital marketing universe, and if you like this episode, please go over to Apple Podcasts and give us a rating or review, and thanks so much.
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