How to market and grow a professional services business

June 8, 2015

7 lessons I learned in my first four years of business (and a few extra tips)

How toLast week, Reputation Ink celebrated its fourth year in business. I founded the agency in June 2011 working out of my home with one large client (who we still work with), and in the last four years, we’ve grown to include over 20 clients (including many large, global corporations), six full-time employees, several freelance writers we have established relationships with, and a group of specialist agency partners we collaborate with for technical and creative support.

We have more growth ahead of us, but I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. I thought I would mark our anniversary by sharing what I’ve learned about marketing and growing a professional services business over the past four years.

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Law firm marketing: are ads and ‘paid profiles’ in legal directories worth it?

October 6, 2014

I’ll save you some time reading—no

 

TrophyAs legal marketers, we are regularly asked by our law firm clients about rankings, directories, awards and the like (for the legal marketers out there reading: shocking, I know). Rankings like Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Chambers and Partners, Martindale-Hubbell and more have proliferated to the point that entire jobs exist at law firms for the sole purpose of managing the lengthy and detailed submission processes. In fact, I believe the number now hovers around 1,000—that’s right, 1,000—surveys and rankings out there of law firms and attorneys, all competing for attention and advertising dollars.

We ourselves just spent the last month working on detailed Chambers submissions for several clients, and regularly write award submissions for media outlets like Law360, the National Law Journal and American Lawyer. While I see value in awards, especially those with advertising-independent research processes and those done by credible media outlets, I see no value in buying advertising (including display ads and “enhanced profiles”) in any legal directories out there. Here’s why:

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They're just not that into you: why journalists aren't covering your press releases

August 21, 2014

99678588You take the time to write a compelling press release with a great email subject line to hook the journalist…and nothing happens. Journalists don’t respond to your emails or phone calls, and there’s no sign of a written piece when you search the internet. Sound familiar?

I want to take you inside the mind of a journalist. Outside of my duties at Reputation Ink, I’m a sports business reporter and analyst. As such, I receive dozens of press releases and pitches each day, much like any other journalist. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of noise and not a lot of quality pitches. I always try to keep that in mind when I’m on the other side and am the one drafting and distributing a press release for a client.

The shockingly low number of press releases that are picked up

Unfortunately, there are times when clients want to send press releases even when we’ve warned them their story might not be newsworthy. It’s understandable – when you’ve worked hard on a transaction, lawsuit, product rollout or other major project, it’s the center of your universe. It can make it hard to understand why it’s not newsworthy to others.

That’s why I thought it would be helpful to let you into the minds of journalists for a moment. The most shocking fact I can tell you is the percentage of press releases and pitches I receive that I end up writing about: five percent.

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Content marketing and the plain language movement: what you need to know

July 31, 2014

Plain_languageIn 1970, Citibank set in motion a series of events that eventually gave birth to a movement dedicated to simple, clear writing. Now called the plain language movement, Citibank’s efforts resulted in legislatures across the country passing laws requiring documents like insurance policies and consumer contracts to be written simply.

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8 common mistakes lawyers make on their blogs

July 10, 2014

187551774I’m an attorney, and I’ve been blogging for more than 10 years. I’ve started several blogs over the years, including ones on law school, the Atlanta Braves, the business of baseball, career advice for aspiring sports professionals and the business of college sports. Now I work with attorneys and law firms on blogging and social media strategy as part of my job as a content marketer, and I find many legal blogs have the same common mistakes.

You aren’t writing for a specific audience. I have a law degree, and I practiced law for four years, yet I still don’t understand many of the law blogs I read. For most of you, your audience is clients and potential clients. No matter how sophisticated you think your clients are, if they’re not attorneys they aren’t going to understand legalese. In fact, even if they are attorneys, if they don’t practice in your area they likely still won’t understand you.

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General counsel reaffirm power of personalization in legal marketing

April 12, 2014

Daisies_distinct

At last week’s Legal Marketing Association annual conference in Orlando, three highly accomplished general counsel addressed more than 1,000 legal marketers on ways to better market to them. While they shared a wealth of insights, one common theme arose—personalization.

While many marketers think about personalization in terms of advanced customer relationship management (CRM) tools, Amazon’s “if you like this, you’ll like that” technology, digital ad tracking, and more, personalization in law firms means delivering targeted, customized information to prospects, demonstrating an understanding of not only the issue, but how it impacts its audience. As you can imagine, attorney involvement is key.

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Three lessons from Cinnabon’s president: form unlikely partnerships, think like a hot shot and embrace risk

April 9, 2014

Cinnamon_rolls

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Legal Marketing Association’s national conference in Orlando. Kicking off the conference was keynote speaker Kat Cole, the president of Cinnabon. If you’ve never heard of Cole, you can read about her in Forbes (From Hooters To Hot Buns: How Kat Cole Turned Cinnabon Into A $1 Billion Brand) or Entrepreneur magazine (How Kat Cole Went from Hooters Girl to President of Cinnabon by Age 32).

Her speech was truly inspiring. Not only is she from my “hometown city” of Jacksonville (I was raised in a one-red-light town just outside of Jacksonville, Fla.), but it was obvious that she loves what she does and loves helping others. I took away three key lessons from her speech: 

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