How Lawyers Can Prosper With Review Marketing in 2017

Online reviews can make or break your law practice.

Online reviews can make or break your law practice.

The next time a new client finds you, it will likely be via a Google search on a cell phone, including the phrase “reviews of…”

Almost everyone — 92% of consumers — now read online reviews to judge local businesses, according to BrightLocal. Regardless of your real-world reputation — friends, colleagues, the bench or opposing counsel — your online reputation can literally make or break your law practice.

The power of the stars

Consider this:

  • 40% of consumers form an opinion by reading just 1-3 reviews.
  • Only 13% of consumers consider using a business that has a 1 or 2-star rating.
  • The star rating is the #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business.

Smart law firms are capitalizing on these facts to take control of their marketing, by harnessing their best reviews to present the best possible impression.

“If you’re not tending to your online reputation and your competitors are, your online reputation will soon be a reason why your business is faltering,” says attorney Dan Jaffe, CEO of LawLytics Legal Marketing Suite. But if you take what your happy clients are saying into your web presence, there is little doubt that you will feel a positive effect on your business.”

It comes as a shock to some attorneys that what is said about them on Avvo, Facebook or Google reviews can determine who gets a client in the competitive legal marketplace.

“Many lawyers who say they get all their business from referrals are likely to lose clients to their competitors, because of their online reputation or the lack of one,” Jaffe says “A good client who had a good case will decide to hire a different lawyer than the one he was referred to, because he had a better rating on Yelp or Avvo.”

Review Marketing

As a result, a top priority for 2017 will be review marketing, namely:

  1. Monitoring the review sites and taking note when a new review is posted about you.
  2. Distributing positive reviews across the internet and social media so that your best reviews get noticed.
  3. Acquiring new reviews by making it simple for happy clients to write them.

Attorneys are using Birdeye review marketing software that automates all three steps. LawLytics makes Birdeye available at discount prices for LawLytics members and non-member law firms. Visit https://www.lawlytics.com/reputation-management/ to learn more and schedule a call.

Online reviews figure powerfully in attorney marketing. More people use online search than watch TV or participate on social media, according to Edelman. The online voices of friends and family count more than academic experts, journalists or well-known online personalities.

 

Marketing good reviews

Once Birdeye is set up, attorneys will get a notice whenever a new review is posted about the firm. You’ll get an opportunity to respond to the review, if necessary.

Assuming the new review is positive, the next step is to put the review on your website and send the link out to the firm’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts. Birdeye does this with one click.

The Shouse Law Firm in California celebrates online reviews with gusto. They assemble positive reviews online at https://goo.gl/HMI6FC including links to Google, Yelp, Facebook, Avvo, the Better Business Bureau and a Birdeye mini site. Their Facebook page is similarly brimming with positive reviews at https://goo.gl/bt7DnB and a cheery request to “Leave Us Feedback.”

A clever feature of Birdeye is that it automatically creates the mini-site where only positive reviews are displayed. The Shouse law firm’s mini-site at https://goo.gl/TVMip4 scrolls on with screen after screen of 5-star reviews. The mini-site tends to rank high in Google searches too. For example, see the constellation of 5-star reviews on the mini-site of Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee in Garden City, NY, at https://goo.gl/Pi8s1a

Getting new positive reviews

Birdeye makes it easy to generate positive reviews. It enables attorneys to send a text or email to a client asking “did you think your service was above average? (or a similar question).

  • For those who choose “Yes,” icons are displayed for Google, Yelp, Facebook or whichever site the firm wants a review. The firm doesn’t have to explain the setup to post a review, because the software guides them through the process.
  • For those who choose “No,” a message appears saying, “We apologize your experience was not great. How can we improve? Please tell us about your experience.” This information is not posted online, but instead is sent to the CMO, providing an opportunity to make the client feel better.

“You must reinforce your website on third party websites that you don’t control. When your clients experiences are consistent across your website and review sites it reinforces a positive narrative in their mind and they become more likely to hire you,” says CEO Jaffe.


Click here to watch the on-demand webinar: Reputation Management For Law Firms

Networking 101: What They Forgot To Teach You In Law School

Networking 101: What They Forgot To Teach You In Law School

Stand next to the bar at the cocktail party, or next to the coffee urn at breakfast. Just doing that will probably solve all of your networking challenges!

By Sharon Boothe, Vice President, Mass Torts Made Perfect

Everyone knows that being a speaker at a high-profile seminar is the professional equivalent of getting a huge endorsement from some icon in your industry — being asked to speak means you must be knowledgeable, interesting — you must be a “player.” So, you have instant credibility as you wander the halls of the event hotel — you’re invited to the speakers’ reception, you get a special badge and ribbon, you’re elite.

But what if you’re an attendee,  swimming in a sea of people, trying to make a name for yourself at a conference? How do you connect with others and establish yourself among all your peers? You are attending the conference to hopefully learn, but more
importantly, to lay the foundation for future business deals and partnerships. The alliances and relationships that you begin with other attendees at seminars will likely come into play in the future.

The time will likely come when you will need an ally or information — knowing who to contact at that moment will be critical. When that big problem or choice opportunity lands on your desk, you’ll be glad to know who to reach out to for answers, advice, or partnership.

Conferences are where these professional relationships are built and cultivated. Most legal conferences and trade shows are set up with the attendee in mind: the organizers want their seminar to be “user friendly” and they want you, the attendee, to be able to make the most of your time there and then in turn, want to return again and again. Keep
that in mind as you are planning — the organizers should be your resource, your ally.

Here are some specific tips that will help you navigate your way through your next seminar:

#1 If They Build It, You Should Come

At Mass Torts Made Perfect, we’ve established a forum and reception specifically for first-time attendees. First Timers are invited to a workshop where we discuss the different aspects of the program and answer their questions, and then have an informal cocktail party where they can begin the practice of networking.

But out of 200 or so first-timers, only around 100 attend this event organized especially for them. 50% of them are missing out on this exclusive introduction and opportunity to really gain a foothold at the seminar, and the chance to meet some of the speakers who attend. It’s important that if the seminar organizers invite you to a special event that you attend — they are doing this for you! Your time at the seminar is important — don’t waste it wandering around alone when you could be at a great networking event.

#2 Location, Location, Location

Stand next to the bar at the cocktail party, or next to the coffee urn at breakfast. Just doing that will probably solve all of your networking challenges! It may seem obvious, but in the meeting room, sit at a table with other attendees — don’t just hang in the seats in the back. Definitely attend any lunch or meal event and sit at a table with others
— most of the attendees are in the same boat you’re in — they don’t know anyone either.

At MTMP, we work with our vendors to host several meals, and it’s surprising how many people skip the luncheons or reception to go back to their room to read email or go shopping, or go sit by the pool. This is a working conference and every event is meant to help the attendee maximize his or her time there.

#3 Meet the Vendors — They Are Smarter Than You!

The exhibit hall at MTMP is full of vendors who are there to tell you about the latest greatest trends in their industry. Don’t be afraid of them — they won’t bite. (And they often have cool giveaways and raffles for things like flat screen T.V.s and iPads!). These vendors are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and genuinely interested in finding those
attendees who could benefit from their product or service. If you visit their booths, you’ll find that they have a lot of information to share, and they tend to know a lot of the players and are extremely well-connected. Many of them have done this for 15, 20 years. They are not to be avoided — they are a fantastic resource — use them!

#4 Embrace Your Inner Extrovert

Knowing what your objectives are when you attend a seminar is important — you need to figure out what you want to accomplish while you’re there. If you want to get involved in the new Essure project, approach the Essure speakers after their talk. If you are looking to meet specific lawyers from firms you’re interested in working with, enlist the
help of the seminar staff to find those attendees. You will need to reach out repeatedly, and that can be difficult even for people who consider themselves social. Just remember that it’s a numbers game — the more times you reach out, the more chances you’ll have to make a good connection.

Oh, and lastly — wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be glad you did!

How Legal Intake and Lead Generation Software Is Lowering Case Acquisition Costs

The Sentinel Group® and Law Ruler™ have come together to create a best in breed, real-time technology link between live inbound calls and CRM intake for greater conversion of cases from leads to signed retainers. 

The Sentinel Group is the legal marketing division of the full-service, lead generation agency OpenJar Concepts® Inc.  

The Sentinel Group has generated several hundred thousand leads and cases over their eight-year timeline using a multi-channel, performance-driven media approach. The agency owns a proprietary system for tracking, reporting and lead aggregation amongst many other marketing and data based functions called TrafTrack®. This system helps to enable lead/intake flow to a client’s CRM, with Law Ruler as the conduit for managing intake.

Law Ruler Software, LLC, is an industry-leading legal case intake & CRM software provider that helps law firms nationwide with signing more cases through their TV, digital media, and other marketing efforts. 

8 Money-Making Benefits of this Live Call to CRM Software Integration include:

  • Cutting-edge, media optimization through actionable data in real time.
  • TrafTrack and Law Ruler working together, actively bridges live call leads with other lead sources under one roof, where the Agent is immediately provided with a caller/potential client record prior to the conversation. 
  • Prior to answering the call, the Agent is aware of the docket type that the caller is inquiring about.
  • Increases agent efficiency for a more satisfactory caller experience leading to more conversion in real time with text / email e-signature. 
  • Smoother intake by allowing the agent to pick up the conversation and find the caller in the system without needing to create records on the fly, thus reducing caller idle time. 
  • Eliminates duplicate entries by posting updates to the correct caller record
  • Increases caller confidence with agent/law firm with noticeable efficiency in the caller experience. 
    • This leads to direct increase of ROI on ad spend through improved conversion of packet out to retainer back. 
  • Once the caller details are in a given client Law Ruler portal, an intake specialist can leverage the comprehensive Law Ruler features such as text e-sign, marketing automation and reminders via text/email, call center, staff task management and CRM functions, as well as powerful reporting.

Adam Warren states, “Ultimately it came down to a dual prong execution to develop this marketing to case acquisition benefit from our end. Our CTO Joshua Guffey and our President, Co-Founder Reno Renaldo had to divide and conquer.  We built a data delivery system that would feed directly into the CRM via Law Ruler as the conduit in real time.  Reno negotiated with the carriers and call switches one by one to accelerate the delivery process. It was an arduous, but worthwhile project and one that can only be executed when each party in the delivery chain is working with proprietary applications that allow for unique updates and capabilities. We always pride ourselves as being as much a tech company as we are a full-service agency and we enjoyed working with such a high level, out of the box thinker as Law Ruler.”

Adam Warren is CEO and Co-Founder of The Sentinel Group ®, the legal marketing division and premium legal brand of full-service advertising firm OpenJar Concepts ®.  The Sentinel Group has become one of the most widely recognized and successful national media brands in lead generation for case acquisition. The core of The Sentinel Group merges the perfect balance between deep media and client relationships with in-house proprietary tracking capability, utilizing our system TrafTrack  ®, for unlimited reporting technologies. The team has over 40 years of combined mass media, performance-driven, lead generation experience, using vehicles such as TV, radio print and digital. The senior management team has successfully been involved in the advertising for nearly every Mass Tort campaign during the last decade plus, dating back to 2001. The Sentinel Group brings all of the pieces of the case acquisition puzzle together providing endless solutions, enabling a cost effective platform for driving quality calls and leads to our network of participating law firms. Simply, this is…. WHERE THE CASE BEGIN ™.

For further information: Contact Phone: 800.TSG.Tort (800.874.8678)

The Web: www.thesentinelgroup.com/legal
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TSGStrong
LinkedIn: http://www.thesentinelgroup.com/linkedin
YouTube: https://www.thesentinelgroup.com/youtube
Email: info@thesentinelgroup.com

Law Ruler Software, LLC, www.lawruler.com is a market-leading legal case intake and marketing automation solution provider.  Whether a firm is managing incoming referrals, leads from TV, billboards, or digital media, our solutions will drive better results and make your team even better.  Our approach is unique since we ensure that each and every client has a solution that meshes with their workflow and how they do business.  Law Ruler’s features include text e-sign, phone call tracking, marketing automation with text and email, task management, workflow automation, and powerful reporting to maximize your firm’s revenues.

What is Law Ruler, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgIkRSdp8U0 Please contact us at www.lawruler.com or 954-371-2300

SEO and PPC For Lawyers: Stop Losing Money and Clients

We’re lawyers. We seek justice for those who can’t fight for themselves. And yet, most lawyers are poorly prepared to protect themselves when it comes to their online legal marketing. If you purchase Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) for your law firm, you may be losing money and clients.

In my criminal defense practice, I got badly burned by an online marketing company. It was a setback that could have been worse. I was lucky to escape with my practice and my reputation intact. The experience compelled me to learn how SEO and PPC work. That decision has generated many millions of dollars in earned revenue for me in the past 15 years.

What I know about SEO and PPC is readily available to every lawyer, for free. And it’s not rocket science. It’s perplexing and frustrating that lawyers bury their heads in the sand while they are being failed by (and in some cases robbed blind by) legal marketers.

During the past six years, my team and I have spoken with thousands of attorneys who were burned by legal marketers, but who still believe they need to double down on the things that were either not working, or hurting their practices.

The two biggest points of misinformation and waste in online legal marketing are search engine optimization (“SEO”) and pay-per-click marketing (“PPC”).

While these lawyers typically don’t remain loyal to the individual providers or companies, they often cling to the flawed or obsolete practices. This results in lawyers having the same experiences with several vendors, and getting the same predictably mediocre results. It’s an easy trap to fall into while, as lawyers, we’re busy advocating for our clients.

When lawyers take the time to educate themselves about how the internet works, it becomes easy to spot and avoid the traps and tricks. This typically results in the law firm shedding useless services and middlemen, which in turn creates stability and predictability in their marketing, lowers their cost per client acquired, and increases their return on investment for dollars or hours spent on marketing.

The two biggest points of misinformation (and therefore, waste) in online legal marketing are search engine optimization (“SEO”) and pay-per-click marketing (“PPC”). Here are some of the biggest blocks to marketing success for law firms in each area:

PPC Facts and Realities

Pay-per-click marketing has become low-hanging-fruit for marketers who have given up on achieving more efficient results to sell. From the business perspective of the marketer, this makes sense. It’s profitable. It’s clean. It’s transactional. But, unfortunately, it’s far from efficient for the budget-conscious law firm. Here are some facts about PPC advertising:

  • Anybody can purchase PPC ads themselves directly through Google.
  • Google will give anybody who needs assistance help in getting things set up.
  • PPC is very easy to manage and is well within the technical abilities and time constraints of most law firms.
  • PPC resellers are typically middlemen who take an unnecessary cut of your ad spend to “manage” your account.
  • In most cases, using a middleman does not save you money.
  • PPC middlemen often have conflicts of interest because they bid competing law firms against each other, resulting in more expensive advertising for the law firms, and more fees for the middleman.
  • Most PPC middlemen don’t create optimized landing pages or other simple things that would save their clients money by lowering the cost-per-click.
  • The more you spend on ads, the more the middleman typically makes.

On February 8, 2017, my team and I will present a comprehensive webinar for lawyers that will show them how and when to use PPC marketing, what to avoid, and how to prevent your firm from bleeding money in the process. We’ll look under the hood at the economics of the industry. By following the money trail, we’ll show you how to come out a winner if you choose to engage in the PPC game. Reserve your spot for the webinar.

The truth about SEO

I have written extensively on the topic of SEO. I believe there is no greater potential for success when it’s done right and no greater recipe for disappointment when it’s done according to the playbooks of most SEO “experts.” My team recently published a comprehensive guide to law firm SEO, which reveals many of the common tricks and traps that marketers set for lawyers in the guise of marketing.

Here’s the truth about SEO marketers:

“The world of SEO providers is filled with skilled and ethical professionals as well as criminals, con artists, incompetent hacks, useless middlemen, and unemployable refugees of dead or dying trades. And it’s very difficult to tell them apart. SEO providers are subject to no regulatory or ethical constraints, and there are no prerequisites to entering the business or calling themselves SEO experts.”

Here’s why I think so many lawyers fall for SEO-related hogwash:

“There’s a persistent lie that marketers tell. They want you to believe that SEO is difficult. They try to elevate the complexity of what they sell by claiming that every aspect of SEO is challenging.”

But once you understand the basics and you’re empowered by the right system, you’ll understand that:

  • It’s easy. Keeping up with Google’s algorithm updates is easy and requires very little time or expense, unless you’re trying to take dangerous shortcuts or use tricks that will end up backfiring on you.
  • It’s about the fundamentals. Creating cost-efficient and easy-to-manage SEO strategies is simply a matter of understanding the fundamentals and not buying into the hogwash that the opportunists are selling.
  • It requires the right technology. Tracking your progress and understanding what’s working (and what’s not) is easy when you aren’t falling for useless gimmicks and when you’re using the right SEO technology.
  • It’s about avoiding pitfalls. Once you stop falling for the double-speak used by marketers, it’s easy to understand what drives your competitors’ successes, to create a plan to beat them without exposing yourself to risk, and to keep your expenses low.
  • You can do it! Executing a successful plan is easy, and any attorney can do it concurrently with practicing law full-time when they have the right tools, training, and support.

The more you know, the better able you’ll be to recognize value, avoid paying for things that damage your law firm’s marketing, and become and remain highly competitive.

Sunday PILMMA Bonus Day at NTL Summit

Attorney Ken Hardison, founder of PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing and Management Association)

Attorney Ken Hardison, founder of PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing and Management Association)

If you’ve ever wondered why some firms seem to rise about the rest, it’s not always because they have the best lawyers. It’s often because they know the best ways to market their business and get clients in the door.

Attendees at the upcoming 2017 National Trial Lawyer’s Summit in Miami Beach can gain an edge by attending a bonus day on Sunday, Feb. 5, sponsored by PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing and Management Association).

It is free to attend, but there is room for only the first 100 who sign up right now. Register now at: www.pilmma.org/ntl2017

This is a practical day of information featuring top-notch experts in the field of legal marketing. This is not a lesson in theory but information that you can actually use in your practice and can be implemented immediately for big results.

On this bonus day, we’ll cover:

  • How to position yourself as the Go-To Lawyer in your market (without resorting to clichéd sales tactics or marketing that sounds cheesy)
  • How to get prospects to know, like and trust you when they are shopping for a lawyer (you’ll discover where most lawyers fail and why it keeps them from getting their ideal clients)
  • 7 ways to leverage video to attract bigger and better cases
  • How to convert prospects visiting your website into paying clients (so that you don’t have to live on the phone 24/7)
  • How to systematize all facets of your law firm business
  • How to effectively use Facebook to actually get clients and not just “likes”
  • How to overcome the road blocks that limit your firm’s growth and get to the next level

For detailed, visit the agenda at http://ntlsummit.com/programs-speakers/agenda-3. I do hope you’ll attend this event as it’s a great opportunity to learn what’s working and what isn’t and innovative ways to stand out in your marketplace.

 

Reputation Management For Lawyers: Stop Losing Clients

If you’re not tending your online reputation, you’re losing money. — Dan Jaffe

By Dan Jaffe, Esq.

Liability was clear. Damages were huge. The defendant’s pockets were deep. It was a direct referral. The referring attorney spoke highly of you. But your competitor got the case, even though the client was not referred directly to them.

What happened? I’ll be going deep on the topic in our next webinar on reputation management, but here’s a quick explanation:

The potential client Googled you. They found you. What they found led the potential client to your competitor. Your competitor looked more impressive, and your online reputation sold the client on your competitor.

 

On-demand Webinar:
Reputation Management For Law Firms

Register and watch for free now

If you don’t understand the dynamics of how this happens, there’s a good probability that it will happen to you in 2017 and beyond.

Is your law firm ignoring a modern king-maker and silent killer? Are you cultivating and protecting your online reputation? If you’re not tending your online reputation, you’re losing money. The dynamics are real, and part of the reason behind the widening gap between successful and unsuccessful law firms.

In years past, online reputation management was nice to have. In 2017 and beyond, it is becoming a question of to be or not to be.

Your online persona

Your clients may not all originate online, but they all interact with your firm’s online persona. This includes your website, your social media, and a gaggle of review sites including Google, Yelp, Avvo and Facebook.

There are two essential ingredients to having a bulletproof online reputation. You need to have a great website that you own and control, and you need credible third-party proof of your skill and reputation on trusted websites that you neither own nor control. The third ingredient, social media (for reasons that are beyond the scope of this article) is still a nice-to-have piece, that will move the needle incrementally once the two essential pieces are taken care of.

Some attorneys have amassed dozens to hundreds of positive reviews on websites including Google, Yelp and Avvo. In the eyes of potential clients, positive reviews on independent sites carry credibility. In fact, for some clients, these reviews may be more important than what a single referral source says in person. So it’s no mystery that firms that take the time to cultivate and curate their online reputations get the case more often.

Birdeye, the leading reputation management and reviews platform, estimates that a 1-star improvement in aggregate reviews rankings (out of 5 stars) results in a 5-9% increase in revenue. At LawLytics, my team and I have observed that lawyers who proactively seek reviews (and proactively manage bad reviews) not only get more business, more consistently, but also spend less money acquiring each new client.

Three things to know

Reputation management is a necessary extension of, and compliment to, law firm SEO. There are three things that every law firm should be doing now:

Monitoring and managing client reviews. You need to know what people are saying about you and your law firm online. And you need to be able to manage the reviews you receive, both positive and negative. You need to know when somebody writes something good or bad about your firm, so you can respond. It’s not practical to check dozens of likely review sites on a daily basis, and it’s a waste of money to pay somebody to do it manually, but there is technology that will do it for you.

Consolidate your positive reviews.  You should not be sending your potential clients directly from your firm’s website to Avvo, Facebook, yelp, or Google to read your reviews. Instead, you should be sending them to a mini-reviews-site that curates then, displaying your best reviews and hiding your bad reviews. This method keeps you in control of your narrative and avoids exposing your potential clients to your competitors in the process.

Getting more reviews. If have happy clients you need to start asking them to share their feelings about you with the world. This can be a daunting thing for attorneys who are not used to doing it, because it seems self-serving, and well, un-lawyerly. It’s also potentially dangerous if not done right. Fortunately, the processes is made easier by using the right technology and methods.


On January 11, 2017, at noon Eastern time, my team and I presented a webinar for lawyers interested in learning how to maximize the benefits of online reviews and reputation management without wasting time or money. The webinar is now available to watch on-demand, is is open to all attorneys.

Watch The Webinar Now

At the webinar we’ll talk about reputation management theory and practice, and explore the LawLytics reputation management add-on, powered by BirdEye.


Media Is Where the Case Begins and Intake Is Where the Claimant Becomes a Client

The following is a discussion between Adam Warren, CEO of The Sentinel Group, and Gary P. Falkowitz, Esq., CEO of Maximum Intake Consulting, LLC, about the benefits and pitfalls of the client intake process. Both are deeply immersed in intake and media campaigns for mass tort and single-event personal injury cases on a regular basis.

The conversation arose in a Google chat that was memorialized for lawyers to learn from.


 

Adam Warren 135

Adam Warren, CEO of The Sentinel Group

GARY: Adam, during my time as an Intake Manager and a consultant for law firms throughout the country, I’ve noticed that many law firms seem to separate their marketing plan from their intake process. I’m not so sure this is a good idea. Have you noticed this?

ADAM: Yes. We have been fortunate to be in many instances closely integrated into the top line performance information from the intake. “Top line” means I do not get specific or private plaintiff information but rather data regarding number of rejections, packets out for signature (contracts), packets back with signature and packets pending additional information before they go out.

As the result of our law firm clients opening up to us with necessary and up to date information, we have seen, heard and controlled quality for them through many intake scenarios.

GARY: What do you believe to be the biggest challenge is for law firms in marrying their marketing to their intake?

ADAM: The case begins with media and lead generation. For example, media includes advertising on local TV channels like KMOV-St. Louis or WPIX-New York, local cable like Time Warner or national cable networks like a Discovery or A&E, and internet pay-per-click advertising plus social media like FaceBook and Youtube where leads are generated online

The media is what helps you locate your potential clients. That being said, the intake is where the case is accepted or rejected. Poor results can also stem from less-than-high quality intake facilities that mishandle the calls, do not understand the cases they are reviewing and in many instances it will cause the law firm to lose the claimant from the perspective of first impression.

Additionally, the media managers need to be integrated with at least baseline information of packet economics — the cost to send out attorney engagement packet and get it back signed. For example, if we have a Talc campaign with a $50,000 budget and we are working against a $750 cost per packet marketing objective, you would want to see 67 packets back with the client’s signature. You will have then accomplished the packet economics goal and justified the marketing spend.

Gary Falkowitz

Gary Falkowitz, CEO of Maximum Intake Consulting

GARY: For reasons that I cannot fathom, many law firms are unaware of what type of first impressions their intake staff are conveying. I’ve been in their seats, Adam. I know the message that we as law firms want to convey. What I realized very quickly as a Managing Attorney at a national law firm is that until you start to inspect your intake seriously, you really have no idea what type of message you are conveying to potential clients.

Most claimants call our law firm because they are seeking assistance. And in this day and age, that assistance comes in the form of many different law firms. To excel at the intake level requires you to truly appreciate the competitive nature of our industry. I like to remind my law firm clients, including any attorneys whom I speak with, that they must act on the presumption that the claimant has spoken with an attorney before they called your law firm and they intend to call another attorney after they speak with your law firm. So, you have to ask yourself: “What can I do to separate myself from my competitors?”

ADAM: Right, the first impression is what seals the opportunity to work with an individual, while you are determining if they have a good case or not. If your intake is subpar, it may cause you to have doubt about the media, but that may not be the right read.

What your marketing firm needs is simple. It should know your packet goals or cost per packet numbers both on out for signature or packet back with signed retainer. If the marketing team knows this, they understand what to look for in performance, how to manage good calls vs. bad as well as good media vs. poor media.  

Marketing can also quickly recognize stagnation in the campaign signaling a time to utilize fresh media types. We always look at calls and call durations as well as raw volume. It is so important to go a step farther and measure your performance/response data to the intake data to be sure you are on the right track and so you can maximize on success and remain proactive in resolving any campaign weakness.

Key performance indicators

GARY: In order to know how your media is really doing, what in-house key performance indicators do you seek from your law firm clients?

ADAM: Gary, we look at a few variables. We are curious to hear how a law firm became interested in a specific case type, especially when it is outside their usual wheelhouse such as a personal injury firm stating to move into mass torts. We are seeing this occur more and more.

Did they look into the science and were they convinced by it? Have they already written intake criteria? Who is handling their intake and do they have a 24/7 solution that converts in similar fashion to their peak hour intake? Are they scalable? Can they handle more than a couple of calls per hour? Do they have intake specialists either on hand or answering the phones? Do they outsource? Are they able to handle Spanish calls? We’re interested in every aspect of the caller experience. We want to be sure that that if the phones ring and we do our job, the client is ready.

GARY: Very prudent of you. Your brand/results are directly dependent upon the work product and response of your law firm clients. If there was one area of intake that you think is neglected by law firms, what do you think it is?

ADAM: That’s really a tough question because anything can cause a shaky caller experience where the intake operator, the first voice they hear just was not ready. We do hear intake getting caught off guard. We have observed bad attitudes and frustration at times as well some misunderstandings about the campaigns or case types. It really seems to be something that can likely be fixed and/or managed with more in-depth training.

GARY: Training is a significant issue and a potentially huge black hole for law firms. As a law firm intake consultant, I hear many law firms readily admit that their in-house training is short and lacks detail. One thing that I’ve noticed is that law firms tend to severely undervalue their intake staff, which is mind-boggling to me given how much power they have to retain clients or turn them away. In order to maximize our marketing dollars, we must hold our intake staff accountable for meeting high standards and using best practices. And, in my experience, the only way to do that is by properly teaching, frequently observing, and constantly critiquing.  

Allow me to use one example. Most law firms that I speak with do not listen to their staff on the phones which means they have no idea what’s really being stated or how it’s being stated. One of the most effective and valuable managerial responsibilities that I can recommend is to listen to your staff on the phones. It is eye-opening and beyond helpful.

ADAM: Agreed. We have a quality control team, because we would like to take every step possible to help our law firm partners improve their intake.

A script is only the first step

GARY: Regarding training, having a script is only the first step. Explaining to your staff why they are asking the scripted questions is equally important. But it doesn’t stop there. We really need to train our staff on how to answer certain questions that are not in the script because the last thing any claimant (or any law firm) wants to hear is “I don’t know,” “We’ll have to get back to you,” or “Let me look into this for you.” It stinks of lack of preparation and we both know what that means for the call.

ADAM: That type of training is very important and equally as relevant is showing sensitivity and understanding the deeply intimate nature of these calls where people are sharing personal facts about themselves or someone they were close to. Some of the more frustrating examples of intake is a disengaged or annoyed intake specialist. Those will destroy a call quickly. Gary, do your law firm clients handle their own intake in house or do they mostly outsource?

GARY: Adam, I couldn’t agree with you more about training. I like to tell my clients that you can train someone on procedures but you can’t train them on eagerness to excel.

Outsourcing, to some degree, has become a necessity in this industry. Most of my clients outsource some aspect, if not all, of their intake. The smart ones understand that this is a 24/7 operation and if the response isn’t adequate at any given moment, they are going to be at a significant disadvantage to their competitors.

Anticipating call volume

One of the areas where I believe marketing and Intake can do a better job at working together is having a better understanding of when the marketing messages are being communicated. Adam, how are you able to adequately prepare your clients regarding call volume at different times of the day?

ADAM: Gary, I’m really glad you brought this up. We are the ultimate advocates of letting the data make the decisions. The majority of our business is driven by performance. Over time, we collect time-of-day data as it relates to response. We are able to track patterns of when calls should be expected and what volume of calls on average to expect by hour by day of the week. We know that 80% of our call volume as a whole comes in during peak hours and drops down heavily on nights and weekends. So we take a top line view to the call data and break it down to hour-by-hour data where we can properly inform intake of when the calls are coming.

As we are as much a tech-data company as a media company, we are able to merge the results of data with the activity in response and drive a result. In many cases, I do think the intake takes us seriously and adjusts staffing based on our representation of the information we provide.

GARY: Have you noticed your clients making the appropriate changes to this information? For example, do they change the schedule of their intake staff? And are they informing their answering service of expected call volume?

ADAM: Usually we can set a call expectation through a data sample of about three weeks. For us, our call patterns take on a level of consistency relatively fast and that is also a function of our average delivery breakouts between peak hours at about 80% and then nights and weekends comprising 20% of lead delivery. To our knowledge they do make relevant staffing and off-hour adjustments should that be applicable based on our data and input.

It just makes sense. Don’t overstaff and don’t understaff if you have the information that helps set the guideline of what to expect.

GARY: Adam, I think this has been a good first conversation for those looking to improve their intake. I’m hopeful that we’ll have more in the future. As a summary, and I’ll do the same, what’s the best advice you have for law firms looking to market more (and better) for their firms?

ADAMMy advice would be before you want to start a media campaign you must have a plan for in-house intake that is designed around expected conversion rates and the reality of the caller. If you do not have the staff to manage such a complex operation, find the right outsource solution. Make 24/7 solutions your priority.  Callers call when they call, and for the sake of your investment and case acquisition, do not let calls hit the floor or reject the opportunity to have them answered.  If you do not take the call, another firm will.

As far as marketing firms, make sure your agency can analyze data and provide campaign transparency while proactively moving on data and results at the same time to further the success of the investment. Focus on their experience in media and intake, and a proven understanding of the moving parts before you spend your first dollar in mass tort acquisition.

GARY: Great stuff. For me, it’s simple: I am not aware of any other industry in the world that has the potential return on investment that our industry does. It shocks me to the core that law firms are not doing everything in their power to maximize their marketing dollars. Whether it’s getting attorneys involved at intake, referring cases to other law firms, listening to calls, managing staff, adequately following up with potential claimants or a host of other important intake procedures. We must start doing a better job at converting potential claimants into happy clients. I am a strong believer (because I’m a witness to the results) that the more attention to detail we commit to intake, the more cases we will sign and the more revenue we will earn.


About Adam Warren and The Sentinel Group:

Adam is CEO and Co-Founder of The Sentinel Group®, the legal marketing division and premium brand of full-service advertising firm OpenJar Concepts®.  TSG has become one of the most widely recognized and successful brands in lead generation for case acquisition. We understand how to walk the line between what media needs in ROI and what law firms need in their packet economics. The OJC/TSG team has over 40 years of combined mass media, performance-driven lead generation experience, using mass media vehicles such as TV, RADIO, PRINT and DIGITAL. The TSG senior management team has successfully been involved in the advertising for nearly every Mass Tort campaign during the last decade plus, dating back to 2001.

The core of TSG merges the perfect balance between deep media and client relationships with in-house proprietary tracking capability, utilizing our system TrafTrack®, for unlimited reporting technologies. We offer one of the most robust license and back end free trademark protected content libraries industry wide (in many cases with complimenting web/landing page components) for our clients to utilize either with or without their own law firm brands to scale in ways previously not possible. TSG couples our media savvy and technology prowess with in-house production allowing us to move fast to market with unique quality content. We enable the possibility of driving leads cost effectively with an aggressive movement towards market share. TSG maintains Tier 1 relationships with the top most endorsed legal focused intake facilities and law firm funding partners all ready to engage and deploy with you. Together, our pieces of the case acquisition puzzle provide endless solutions to enabling a cost effective platform for driving quality calls and leads to our network of participating law firms. Simply, this is…. WHERE THE CASE BEGINS™.

For further information:
Contact Phone: 800.TSG.Tort (800.874.8678)

The Web: www.thesentinelgroup.com/legal
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TSGStrong
LinkedIn: http://www.thesentinelgroup.com/linkedin
YouTube: https://www.thesentinelgroup.com/youtube
Email: info@thesentinelgroup.com

About Gary P. Falkowitz, Esq.

Gary is the CEO of Maximum Intake Consulting, LLC. Gary advises law firms, attorneys and legal organizations on the importance of creating, utilizing, managing and maximizing the intake process. He has worked with managing partners, associates, paralegals and all other support staff to assist law firms in improving their intake process and, importantly, increasing their conversion percentages. Gary creates customized programs to improve leadership, time management, project management, delegation, prospective client relations and sales skills.

Gary earned his Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University in 2002 and his Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law in 2005, where he served as a member of the Moot Court Honor Society. Upon graduating from law school, Gary served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office where he focused on the prosecution of criminal matters. Thereafter, he transitioned to the private sector, representing hospitals and doctors against medical malpractice claims at the law firm of Martin, Clearwater and Bell. In 2009, Gary began litigating mass torts cases at Parker Waichman LLP. He was quickly promoted to a Managing Attorney role within the firm where his primary responsibilities included strengthening the firm’s brand, increasing the firm’s conversion percentage and growing the firm’s referral business, among other responsibilities. Through his years of experience, Gary has realized that accountability, implementing strong internal procedures and responsiveness are three of the most important factors to ensure a successful and efficient intake process. It doesn’t hurt that his passion for the subject matter is unrivaled. In short, Gary believes that the key to maximizing a law firm’s revenue is strongly dependent upon the ability to appropriately prioritize and adequately scrutinize the intake process.

For further information:

Contact Phone: 844 Max Intake (844.629.4682)
The web: www.maxintake.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/maxintake
Email: info@maxintake.com

 

Slides & Recording for NTL Webinar: Mass Torts Update for Plaintiff Attorneys

Click through the slides below as you listen to the recording.

5 Mass Torts for Plaintiff Attorneys Today
Broadcast August 31, 2016

What you will discover:

For lawyers starting a Mass Torts practice, picking the right cases and having an effective law firm marketing campaign are essential. Our presenter John Ray will update plaintiff attorneys about 5 key Mass Torts:

  • New Pradaxa docket in Connecticut
  • IVC Filter
  • Xarelto
  • Fluoroquinolone antibiotics
  • Emerging: Roundup litigation

A Mass Tort is ordinarily a product liability case where hundreds of plaintiffs file suit against a pharmaceutical company. These cases are typically collected into one of 300 federal multi-district litigation dockets (MDLs).

Mass Torts is a multi-billion dollar immature market, with economies of scale and only a single barrier to entry. You have already overcome the barrier if you are admitted to practice law.

John Ray professionalAbout our presenter

John Ray has been a leading consultant to the Mass Tort attorneys for more than a decade. His unique skill sets make him well suited to both teaching and consulting in the Mass Tort arena.

He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brenau University in Atlanta and started a pharmaceutical and medical device company right out of school, selling it in an eight-figure deal when he was 35.

John’s tenure in the pharmaceutical and medical device field allowed him to gain an in-depth understanding of FDA regulatory matters, as well as, a thorough understanding of the science and epidemiology related to gaining FDA approval to market pharmaceuticals and medical devices. John’s inside knowledge of how “Big Pharma” operates gives him a unique perspective and skill sets that are very useful to Mass Tort plaintiff firms.

When John brought his “insider knowledge” and business acumen to the Plaintiff Mass Tort space, one of the first things he recognized was a lack of common terminology and well-defined metrics. John realized that firms were expressing the same concepts, but were not using the same terminology. As a result, John set out to define common terms and create methods for formulating important metrics for use by Mass Tort firms when evaluating litigations. The terminology and metrics John Ray developed are now commonly used by major Mass Tort Law firms.

John is highly sought after and writes sought-after white papers about both current and emerging torts. The accuracy of his analysis of emerging and ongoing litigations is unmatched.

The fact that John not an attorney has proven to be an asset. John thinks like a business person, employing creative problem solving and possesses an extensive set of business skills and industry-specific knowledge. He assists Mass Tort firms in making sound business decisions before and during any litigation they are involved in or are considering becoming involved in.

John is an expert at evaluating cases and looks at each tort as an individual “investment,” which can be quantified resulting in risk mitigation for you and your firm.

Contrary to popular belief, adding Mass Torts to your practice is not gambling, nor is there a secret society of Mass Tort attorneys. The only information you lack to be successful in the practice of Mass Torts is a business plan. As John says, this type of law is 80% business and 20% law. If you understand the business principles of Mass Tort law, you will be successful.

Audience Fragmentation and Market Pressure…When Should Marketers Change Strategy?

The Sentinel GroupBy Adam Warren of The Sentinel Group® Temecula, CA.

It is crucial for attorneys to understand the ever-changing landscape of advertising and to keep a strong base of available TV time to generate lead/case acquisition flow.  Knowing how to identify the effects of special programming such as the Olympics, sweeps, season finales and ongoing pressure on available TV inventory is key to operating an effective and efficient advertising campaign.

There are also patterns in media such as when TV inventory will be more available than others that cycle by quarter and allows for some predictive analysis of what to expect enabling you a plan of action when media changes occur. Here we will address some of the market pressures on your ad inventory and how to work around it.

Media Pressure

As an advertising veteran since 2001 when I sold time on national TV all over the country as well as throughout my performance-driven media career, I’ve seen my share of political impact on media as one of many forms of market pressure and audience fragmentation that takes place.  As an advertiser, it is important that attorneys know what to do about it.  If you do not know, then it is equally important that your agency or buying representative does.

In general, there will always be some kind of pressure on TV inventory caused by under-delivery on rating points, major news events, and the time of the year. Yes, even weather or movement in the stock market has affected inventory and caused viewership fragmentation. All of this can devalue your TV spot or weaken its potential for delivery of leads.

You have to know when your current strategy stops working, and what you need to do to adjust. Do not just accept your losses and continue as is.  Make a move, let the media refresh, and expand your message to new viewers. That being said, if you know you have winning media buys that may be in a temporary slump, do not pull 100% of your schedule.

This is where objectivity and smart navigation comes into play. Leave an advertising position in places that work (this is especially relevant to performance-driven inventory) because advertising works in cycles and good TV times may come back. You want to be ready when it does, so keep some advertising intact while pioneering new ground to inspire growth and lead/case acquisition.

Knowing When To Move

The Cook Political Report estimates that 2016 political ad spending will top $4.4 billion in races for Congress in battleground states, governors, presidential, and so on. They further estimate that $3.3 billion will go to local broadcast and $800 million will go into local cable.  Total ad spends seems to be increasing and according to Nielsen Ad Intel Competitive Media Reporting, this election year will top 2012 by 146%.

As the available TV time gets squeezed in a way not normal to the ad cycle, where do all the displaced advertisers go? There are 34 battleground states in this presidential election from New Hampshire to Virginia. Be ready to pivot your strategies! There is a belief in marketing circles that light is ahead for campaigns that have had to fight tooth and nail to keep their ad positions intact.  

Many believe that the political spending in the primary election will see a greater spend and inventory pressure than the general election. Likely, much of the money will be spent as we get closer to the finish line and this is a signal of when to be ready to pivot again.  As inventory becomes available, be ready to diversify.  This is the time to capture market share and negotiate hard for your schedules or performance media placements.

Leveraging a Multimedia Strategy

Sophisticated media managers and the systems they use should understand when diversifying or riding out the storm  is a must.  Most campaigns today should have a complimenting strategy that moves seamlessly between TV (local, national, regional), radio, digital (utilizing various lead capture methods from landing pages to programmatic) and print as it makes sense. (Side note: print is a quality component of a marketing strategy, however, it is a long-haul tactic and takes patience to ramp up.)

Using cash buys and performance-driven media as hybrid and/or interchangeable strategies is another form of a pivot key to staying on track with your campaign goals.  The audience is always fragmented and diversified and a savvy marketer will make sure to find the audience wherever they may be.

We have found tried and true strategies can fall short when developing mass media and local media plans for many mass tort campaigns and other single-event cases this year.  Where we have overcome this challenge is having the ability to move quickly and precisely allowing us to pivot to alternative media strategies that are still efficient and cost effective.

If you are unable to transition from one media type to another based on the movement of the market, you will slow your ability to garner the traffic you are looking to attract and will lose precious time and fiscal opportunity working to create a variety of Plan B’s.

Find The Win

Viewer eyeballs are always on the move.  As an example, consider the potential increase in various daypart ratings for NBC and its affiliates running the Olympic coverage.  The increase in viewers for the Olympics by comparison to regular programming, which may show a lesser audience in regular no-event based schedules, is coming from somewhere. NBC has experienced enormous rating boosts from the Olympics. What does that mean for other networks and how as a marketer can you move with the audience spectrum be it on or offline to find continued benefit? It is key to recognize when it’s not just a challenge, but an opportunity.  Identifying fragmentation and programming changes per major events can be your next epic media win if you already have your pivot move in place. Make sure your marketing firm maintains a diverse breadth of experience and media portfolio and change will be your friend.

 


About The Sentinel Group: The Sentinel Group® is the legal marketing division and premium brand of full-service advertising firm OpenJar Concepts®.  TSG has become one of the most widely recognized and successful brands in lead generation for case acquisition. We understand how to walk the line between what media needs in ROI and what law firms need in their packet economics. The OJC/TSG team has over 40 years of combined mass media, performance-driven lead generation experience, using mass media vehicles such as TV, RADIO, PRINT and DIGITAL. The TSG senior management team has successfully been involved in the advertising for nearly every Mass Tort campaign during the last decade plus, dating back to 2001.

The core of TSG merges the perfect balance between deep media and client relationships with in-house proprietary tracking capability, utilizing our system TrafTrack®, for unlimited reporting technologies. We offer one of the most robust license and back end free trademark protected content libraries industry wide (in many cases with complimenting web/landing page components) for our clients to utilize either with or without their own law firm brands to scale in ways previously not possible. TSG couples our media savvy and technology prowess with in-house production allowing us to move fast to market with unique quality content. We enable the possibility of driving leads cost effectively with an aggressive movement towards market share. TSG maintains Tier 1 relationships with the top most endorsed legal focused intake facilities and law firm funding partners all ready to engage and deploy with you. Together, our pieces of the case acquisition puzzle provide endless solutions to enabling a cost effective platform for driving quality calls and leads to our network of participating law firms. Simply, this is…. WHERE THE CASE BEGINS™.

For further information:

Contact Phone: 800.TSG.Tort (800.874.8678)

The Web: www.thesentinelgroup.com/legal

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TSGStrong

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/10699941  

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU5xUFhhD8YGu648J74MFuA

Email: info@thesentinelgroup.com