Ten Part Legal Marketing Series

Part 1: Auto Accident Litigation: How to have the clients chasing you!

Starting with the facts

Have a look at this scenario. It’s Friday night, and for you one more week at the office is finally over. You’re drained-used-up-exhausted-for the thousand reasons only another lawyer will understand. Finally home, you’ve changed into T-shirt and sweatpants, and you’re standing in the kitchen deciding whether to have a drink or go for a run. It’s a tough decision.

On the other side of the city, a 22-year-old pre-med student is lying bloody and unconscious on a gurney, surrounded by urgently working doctors and medical tech personnel. Less than an hour earlier, he was driving home for supper. That’s when a speeding van ran a red light and broadsided him – flinging his small car into the air and off the highway.

His parents now huddle in the visitors’ lounge, sick with shock and disbelief. Their beloved and gifted son is unconscious, facing a bleak and uncertain future. The doctors won’t yet say if he’s going to make it, much less whether he has suffered brain damage or will ever walk again. What lies ahead? Already they are realizing that lawyers will have to be involved. Before the accident (the era in their lives that ended this afternoon) they never needed a lawyer. Now they must find a very good one.

How to find a very good lawyer

In these circumstances, how will that family find you? Will they ask their friends for advice? Will they go through the Yellow Pages? Are they trying to remember the name of the lawyer in that ad on TV? Probably they will do all those things, but something else will happen. Someone in their circle will go to the internet to look for information, and soon they will be learning the names of the trial lawyers in their city or state. They will learn about you, so long as you have an effective presence on the Web at that moment.

The new marketing media

Things are changing at a dizzying rate in the marketing world. TV watching is being replaced by internet surfing for huge numbers of people, especially young people. Consumers are clicking their way through masses of information, going from site to site, looking for, and finding practically anything you could think of. If they are not chatting in forums, they are buying online, sharing their opinions on blogs or looking for music and movie info. Advertisers are spending a lot more on internet ads and a lot less on TV ads. They are paying big money to get those clicks.

At the high end of internet advertising, you can buy links to Google’s search engine. Here’s how that works. Try typing in the words “auto accident settlement” on the Google search site. When the search results appear on your screen, there will be shaded areas above and beside the search results containing sponsored links, or links to advertisers’ sites. These advertisers–and there were a total of 20 when I searched those three words–pay Google on a per-click basis for chosen search words and page placement. The numbers are astonishing. Google auctions links and page placement to the highest bidder–and trial lawyers (or more likely people who refer clients to trial lawyers) lead the pack in terms of how high they are willing to go. The higher you are on the page, the more clicks you will get (and the more you have to pay). No surprise there–the internet has made us ever more impatient and quick-to-click.

According to CyberWyre, a site which tracks the highest paying search terms, the three most expensive search terms at the time of writing are mesothelioma treatment options ($69.10 per click), mesothelioma risk ($66.46 per click) and personal injury lawyer michigan ($54.85 per click). As you can imagine, marketing for clients this way is hugely expensive, and the cost is open-ended.

At the other end of the spectrum for web marketing, you may have your photograph, name, specialty, contact info and likely some commentary included in a directory sponsored by a legal association you belong to.

Most lawyers will find themselves somewhere in the middle between these two extremes. Most will have their own website, which will cost a small amount (for a static, business-card like site) or a large amount (for a frequently-updated, interactive, content-rich site), or something in between.

Where OLM fits in

What Online Legal Media (OLM) offers is a web marketing service, in addition to anything else you want to do by way of links or website, that can greatly increase the number of client leads generated for you. It offers multiple links to you and your firm by way of the online legal news magazine LawyersandSettlements.com (LAS). Individual lawyers and law firms from across the United States and Canada are sponsoring LAS because they want to increase the numbers of leads the internet is generating for them. LAS has had approximately 2.5 million visitors a year (and counting). An individual law firm website can only attract a fraction of that number. LAS offers an economical way to greatly increase your internet exposure–economical not just in terms of dollars spent, but also in terms of time and energy–and you’re supporting a service to the public while you’re at it.

It comes down to numbers. For auto accident lawsuits, the more leads you generate, the more you will be able to pick and choose which clients you will represent. The more you have to choose from, the more likely it is that you can actually control the shape of your practice. If you don’t want a ton of fender-benders, but like to work on the biggest claims–or, say, class actions–you can choose those, and refer out the rest. On the other hand, if you want a steady volume of manageable middle-of-the-road cases, you can pursue those leads, and refer the others to a colleague. Either way, the higher the volume of leads you get, the more you get to shape your practice. Which means more control. Which means less stress.

For more about how this all works, read further in this series.

In the meantime, which will it be–the run around the block or the scotch on the rocks?

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