The personal approach of this Canadian firm is magnified by its comprehensive social media efforts and its giving programs.
Word of mouth, personal contacts, and face-to-face meetings remain effective methods for law firms to meet and retain new clients. Websites, blogs, and social media platforms can enhance traditional marketing by providing name recognition, professional referrals, and improving organic search results in Google.
Canadian law firm Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers successfully combines traditional and web-based marketing practices to retain new clients. An award-winning blog and large followings on Twitter and Facebook are among the online tools they utilize to enhance existing marketing capabilities. They’ve developed daily, weekly, and quarterly tasks for online maintenance which allows them to enjoy an extensive online presence.
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers, (http://www.russellalexander.com/) practices exclusively in the area of family law, including separation and divorce, child custody and access, and child support. With three offices located in Ontario, Canada, founder and senior partner Russell Alexander opened the firm’s first office in 1998. Russell and his team strive to achieve results in a compassionate, collaborative, and client-focused manner.
Russell is a member and active participant in several community groups, and created his charitable fund, the Russell Alexander Giving Fund. All of the firm’s philanthropic work for local organizations is coordinated through this fund.
The sole purpose of the firm’s marketing strategy is to bring in new clients. “Our ultimate goal is to get clients to walk through the door and retain us,” Russell Alexander says.
Effective Marketing Methods to Convert New Clients
The firm most often converts potential clients into new clients via face-to-face meetings. “This is kind of colloquial, but the age-old method of word of mouth and personal contacts still remains the best way to meet and get new clients,” Russell says.
He has learned, however, that potential clients conduct extensive online research prior to the meetings. For this reason, the firm has uploaded much of their information to their website. They find when people are ready to make a decision the material on the site will usually help convert them to a client. “There’s a number of factors I think an individual goes through when deciding what product to buy, and I think a lot of those decisions are made before they even come into the office,” Russell says. He adds the in-person meeting confirms for the new client the research done outside of the office.
The firm also finds sponsoring local sporting teams an effective marketing strategy. “We have offices in smaller communities, so we’ll sponsor hockey or baseball teams, and that could be banner ads, buying jerseys, things of this nature,” Russell says. They combine traditional marketing methods with their online presence to grow their client list.
How Social Media Enhances Marketing Capabilities
The firm employs social media to improve its profile and ability to communicate with clients. Russell says be passionate about your message and engage your clients. The number one way Russell finds social media enhances traditional marketing efforts is name recognition, which results in referrals from professional colleagues. “Other lawyers will read my blog or my tweets, and they may not do family law but have a family law client, so they’ll send them my way,” Russell says. The firm uses the following channels:
- The firm’s blog, “Family LLB: Ontario Divorce & Family Law”
- YouTube channel, “Family Law Lawyers”
“Technology provides us with a better opportunity to communicate and connect with clients,” Russell says. All the online accounts are tied together. Russell says the most important aspect of using social media to improve marketing efforts is to elevate organic search results with Google. “By having an extensive social media presence, it pushes our website up in organic search results,” Russell says.
Russell writes the content for his firm’s blog, “Family LLB: Ontario Divorce & Family Law.” In 2013, the blog won a Clawbies award (Canadian Law Blog Award) in the “Best Practitioner Blog” category. Popular article titles at the time of this writing include:
- 10 Things You Should Know About Child Support
- Top 5 Questions About Adultery and Divorce in Ontario
- We’re Officially Separated – Can I Change the Locks on the House?
- Texting and Family Law – Top 3 Things to Know
- Husband Downgrades Job, Then Quits Altogether – But Support Stays the Same
Russell advises using WordPress as your blogging platform, the system that will get your blog functioning. This user-friendly and free program is one of the leading content management systems. Next he says to blog about topics that interest you. You should be passionate about your subject matter. “I think it needs to have a focus,” he says. His main blog themes are family law, community involvement, and technology.
Videos play a large role in content strategy. Each week they release a video about the firm or another interesting topic, such as a quirky commercial. The videos are posted on the blog, the firm’s YouTube channel, Twitter feed, and Facebook page.
Consistent posts are key. “If you’re thinking of starting a blog, make it part of your morning or weekly routine,” Russell says. Have a cup of coffee and think about what you want to blog about for that particular day. “We work a week or two ahead, and we’ll often schedule the entire week in a two-hour sitting, so it’s fairly regular and consistent,” he says.
Search engines reward dependable content. “If you write a blog once every two months, you’re not going to get on the radar,” Russell says. If you blog a few times a week, the crawlers register the frequency, and will optimize your organic search results.
The firm has a large Twitter following (1,353 followers at the time of this writing). Russell tweets nearly every day, several times a day (for a total of 8,633 tweets at the time of this writing) from the handle @familyLLB. He advises creating a name somehow connected to your law firm and practice area. “A law degree in Canada is called an LLB, so that’s why we chose “familyLLB” for some of our handles,” Russell says. U.S. law firms could consider using “JD” in their Twitter handles.
Like blogging, tweet on subjects you’re passionate about that are connected to your law practice. “The two seams of technology and divorce law tie in throughout our Twitter presence,” Russell says. Tweet your blog posts along with links from other sites with interesting news and developments in your practice area.
Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers has a substantial Facebook presence with 1,475 likes at the time of this writing. The firm regularly updates with blog post links, courthouse pictures, and firm news and events. A unique aspect of their Facebook page is a feature called “The Week Ahead,” which is a short blurb posted at the beginning of the week showcasing upcoming blog articles and videos.
Facebook is the source of one of the most successful marketing campaigns for Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers. In 2011, the Russell Alexander Giving Fund donated $1.00 for every new like on their Facebook page to the Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes, who applied the money towards a new shelter. “It went viral and created a bit of a buzz,” Russell says. The result was 379 new Facebook fans for the firm and $379.00 for the humane society.
Marketing Channel Management
Russell Alexander Family Lawyers has developed a system to manage marketing tasks:
- Sundays: Weekly overview of social media activity. Schedule blog posts. Decide which video to release.
- Daily: Facebook updates, firm activities and events, tweet interesting news stories or items, and monitor news feeds and practice journals for relevant content.
- Weekly or bi-weekly: Discussions with colleagues at courthouses or elsewhere to discern new or trending topics. Update Firm News section of website.
- Quarterly: Production days to film new videos for YouTube channel. The firm is shut down for a day or two to shoot 20-30 videos.
How to Measure the Success of Marketing Efforts
The firm uses surveys and software programs to gauge the success of their marketing efforts. Client surveys capture how people find out about the firm and help detect which marketing avenues work. For online marketing measurement, the firm uses Social Oomph, Google Analytics, and Facebook reports.
SocialOomph monitors several social media accounts at the same time. Use it to schedule tweets and posts and track your activity. There are free and professional (paid subscription) services. Russell uses the paid service and thinks it saves time. “As a professional, you don’t have a lot of time. You should be working on clients’ files, not social media all day,” he says. SocialOomph allows you to look at all your accounts in one location, rather than logging into individual accounts to access statistics. Like SocialOomph, Google Analytics offers free and paid services and measures online performance. Facebook provides a detailed set of reports to measure activity on your account.
How to Evaluate and Refine Marketing Strategy
The firm watches which topics are trending well and which posts on the blog are more popular than others. Once a prevalent subject is identified, such as “10 Things You Should Know About Child Support,” the firm will take steps for extra promotion of the link. They may do an advertising campaign on an article and promote it through their Facebook page. The key is to determine what’s trending and tie it together with your promotion.
How to Keep Up with Changes in Your Practice Area and Technology
The firm employs several methods to keep up on developments and technology. “I find the American Bar Association has excellent journals that are specific for lawyers and their practice areas,” Russell says. He regularly checks apps on his phone of major newspapers. Google Alerts are set up for certain keywords, and Google will email links to new stories, which might inspire a blog post. In addition, the firm works closely with their SEO and IT groups to implement any changes needed to their internal network.
Additional Advice and Resources
Russell recommends the book Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, by Kenneth Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles, Rick Adamson, and John Mollard. “Essentially, you keep your customer happy and go the extra mile,” Russell says. “Some clients may find your service has been less than perfect, and you need to take ownership and make it right. Clients are going to remember that and send their friends your way and stay engaged.”
Russell’s number one marketing rule is to be passionate. A close second is to be consistent and provide regular, relevant content. Tweet links to your website, blog, and YouTube channel to spread the word and gain name recognition. Engage your clients. Respond to client posts and comments online, and make the communication a two-way street. “A lot of marketing is putting your ad out there, but I think people these days want to post online and get some feedback,” Russell says. “They want to feel like they’re being heard.”
Russell welcomes readers of this case study to contact him directly or online if they’d like additional tips or help with their marketing efforts. “We have open communication here, and we’re here to help,” Russell says.
- Word-of-mouth advertising, personal contacts, and face-to-face meetings are the top ways the firm converts potential clients into new clients.
- Uploading firm information to their website and social media channels assists potential clients in making the decision to retain Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers.
- Sponsoring sports teams, such as baseball or hockey teams, with banner ads and jerseys is an effective marketing strategy.
- Social media enhances traditional marketing efforts by strengthening the firm’s profile and ability to communicate with clients.
- Use of social media garners name recognition, which results in referrals from professional colleagues.
- An extensive social media presence results in improved organic search results with Google.
- Consistent blog posts a few times a week boost organic search results.
- Over 1,300 Twitter followers.
- Over 1,400 Facebook likes.
- In 2011, the Russell Alexander Giving Fund donated $1.00 to the local humane society for every new Facebook like. The result was 379 likes for the firm and $379.00 for the humane society.
- Develop a system to manage marketing channels and save time.
- Use client surveys to measure the success of your marketing strategy.
- Use software programs such as SocialOomph, Google Analytics, and Facebook’s reports to measure the success of your online marketing efforts and save time.
- Monitor which topics trend well on the internet and take steps to merge with your promotions.
- Read trade journals, major newspapers, and use Google Alerts to keep up with changes in your practice area and technology. Google Alerts can inspire relevant content.
- Work closely with SEO and IT groups to implement any changes necessary in your internal network.
- Engage your clients by responding to online comments.
Russell Alexander advises law firms to move towards a paperless office and to set up a network that allows team members to work remotely. “This improves your efficiency, enables better communication, and it permits you to recapture time lost waiting and commuting,” Russell says.
- Family LLB: Ontario Divorce & Family Law Blog
- Russell Alexander Twitter feed, @familyLLB
- Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers Facebook page
- Russell Alexander LinkedIn profile
- Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers YouTube channel, Family Law Lawyers
- Russell Alexander Google+
- Firm News: The Results of Our Facebook Campaign for the Humane Society of Kawartha Lakes
- Google Analytics
- Book: Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, by Kenneth Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles, Rick Adamson, and John Mollard
- Clawbies: Canadian Law Blog Awards
- Ajax Family Lawyers
- Durham Family Lawyers
- Kawartha Haliburton Collaborative Practice
- Markham Family Lawyers