Contributor: Brian Hughes
Around 1975, attorney Charles Lipcon had a legal partner who unexpectedly decided to retire from the practice of law. Despite his own success as a lawyer, Lipcon then faced a dilemma: build a new practice on his own or rethink his career?
Lipcon wasn’t ready to stop practicing law, so he decided to build his own practice. But starting over wasn’t an easy road: While he had already established his legal reputation, he needed to rebuild his client base and keep pace with the changing world of digital marketing.
That’s exactly what he did. Today, Lipcon is a partner at Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, where he handles personal injury and wrongful death claims and is routinely quoted on major news sites about his legal specialty, cruise line safety; he’s even launched an app for passengers injured on a cruise ship. And, in an interview, he offered three lessons he’s learned from his use of digital marketing to differentiate his law firm in a crowded marketplace.
1. Put real thought into your thought leadership.
Thought leadership may be hailed as the new strategy for corporate growth, but if your own thought leadership lacks substance, it will fall short. Whether you’re a lawyer like Lipcon or a small business marketing whiz, it’s not enough to just share your expertise with the world. Effective thought leadership shows rather than tells, provides rather than promotes and displays substantive depth rather than breadth. In short, it offers value to your audience and starts a two-way conversation, not a never-ending soliloquy.
Unsure how to get started? Hone in on your area of expertise and consider what value you can provide, Lipcon advises. With more than 40 years of experience handling tough cases like cruise line sexual assault, he understands how challenging these cases can be for victims. He’s published articles on what to do if you’re a victim, as well as a book on how travelers can stay safe on a cruise.
“When you’re aboard a cruise ship, you’re thinking about vacation, not being a victim of violence,” Lipcon says. “Our firm’s thought leadership initiatives were born out of a genuine desire to help people enjoy their travels and stay safe on the high seas.”
2. Analyze, evaluate and pivot.
From branded apps to live-streaming video on social media, Lipcon said, don’t be afraid to experiment with new digital marketing tactics. Just be sure to always monitor your results by tracking key marketing metrics.
For example, each digital marketing campaign Lipcon’s law firm creates uses a different phone number. “This makes it easy to track results, so we can identify quickly which strategies are falling short and realign resources to focus on what does work,” Lipcon says. “We try to monitor the results of different approaches and then put more resources into those that work.”
3. Manage your online reputation.
With the rise of websites and online research, social media and review sites have become the new word-of-mouth marketing. One reason reviews are so important? Today’s savvy consumers know that it’s easy to create a slick website making big promises. But would-be customers want to know what other people are candidly saying about their experience.
“A website can look great, but the attorney may have little-or-no experience in the advertised area of expertise,” Lipcon says. “Many clients don’t know the difference and wind up with lawyers who don’t measure up to the promises of their website.”
While there’s no guarantee that information on review sites is accurate, today’s consumers are conditioned to checking everything from Google to Yelp before making a new purchasing decision; and selecting a lawyer is no different, Lipcon says. Even though you cannot directly control the quality or quantity of your business’s reviews, these reviews play an increasingly important role in generating referral traffic to your website.
Start by keeping tabs on your online profile and review sites, Lipcon says. Next, proactively reach out to dissatisfied customers to understand their concerns and take steps to correct any problems. Satisfaction counts. A satisfied customer will share his or her experience with four to six people, on average. When they’re dissatisfied, that number explodes to nine to 15 people, according to LinkedIn Pulse. Take steps as soon as possible to correct a problem and limit the impact of negative feedback.
As Lipcon says, “At the end of the day, doing the best we can for our clients becomes our best marketing strategy.” Whether you’re creating a new app for your business or writing a thought leadership article, consider how the content you’re creating will benefit your customers. That will be a win-win for customers and your business.