Best Practices for On-Line Marketing

In my last post*, I discussed the issue of whether using Groupon to garner new business in the legal community is ethical.   When a St. Louis law firm marketed its services for $99 via a Groupon offer, many felt selling law services through Groupon should be frowned upon and some local bar associations have begun to analyze the issue as well.

With the rise of new channels, particularly online and in social media, law firms have an array of new marketing forums available. Also for smaller firms, looking to market locally, services like Groupon could give them a competitive edge, but again is it ethical?

Below are some marketing tips (traditional and new) to consider when pursuing new business:

  • Understand the state-specific guidelines and rules of professional conduct for advertising in your state, and display the proper disclaimers.  Offering to practice in states where you’re not licensed can be considered the unauthorized practice of law – be sure to word online advertisements accordingly, since they can be viewed by residents in any state.
  • Be “content discriminating,” as sometimes less is more.  Be sure that the information listed on your website is an accurate reflection of your practice area, firm expertise and staffing.  The potential promise of increasing your Google ranking and web visibility with elaborate messaging isn’t worth the risk if you haven’t triple checked the website content.
  • Never list clients without their explicit permission, even if you “think” your clients won’t mind.  It’s imperative to ask before posting client names on your firm’s site.   You should also confirm that firm successes or case results are not subject to a confidentiality agreement before posting online. [Comment from Steve Seckler:  although you should always get the permission first, note that listing names of clients and describing matters you have handled is a very effective marketing practice.  In fact when general counsel visit your website, the three things that they most want to see  are 1. industry experience  2. representative clients and 3.  representative matters you have handled for these clients.]

What new business practices have been successful for your business/firm in the new media marketplace?  Have you encountered any challenges like the Groupon example? More to come on this topic as we continue to examine some of the new advertising options taking advantage of technology.

*This post by Matt Probolus, assistant vice-president and senior underwriting specialist, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, is one of a series of guest posts on CounseltoCounsel. Special thanks to Matt for his contributions.

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