f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 12, 2004

Has Your Weblog Attracted Clients?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:54 pm

It’s no secret that I’m skeptical about the ability of weblogs to attract clients to lawyers.  The topic is at the forefront of my mind lately, because Kevin O’Keefe announced the launching of lexBlog Inc.and its website from his own weblog Real Lawyers Have Blogs over the weekend.  LexBlog offers complete “turnkey” services to set up and maintain weblogs for lawyers — including content.


“?Key”  With this post, I hope to attract Comments from lawyers with weblogs, to learn their experience with this issue; clients who have found and hired a lawyer because of his or her weblog are also invited to Comment. 

You can find links and brief excerpts from prior postings about selling weblogs as a marketing tool, at the asterisk below.  Kevin and I have had an ongoing, friendly disagreement on the topic.  I’m asking for your help, because there seems to be no useful evidence (nor anecdotes) supporting the theory that any significant number of consumers or businesses seeking legal services have found a provider through a law firm weblog.  Perhaps Kevin has such evidence; if he does, I hope he posts it at his website. 

 

podium neg flip  Talking about the creation of lexBlog, Kevin wrote two weeks ago that “I’ve played with blogs long enough to know they work to establish one as an authority (assuming you know something about what you blog about) and work to bring in new clients.” (emphasis added)   Also, the very first line of content on lexBlog’s homepage proclaims “More effective than advertising,” while the first example of what you can “easily” do with your weblog is “cultivate new business ”  Inside the the site, on the page describing their services, the bold-print caption says:




A lawyer’s most powerful marketing tool.

The lexBlog solution for image building, promotion & PR. 


Reputation by Proxy?  LexBlog offers a number of levels of service, including the provision of lots of content.  It promises “If you do not have the time to publish content lexBlog will do it for you.”  For instance, in a section called Get Content!, we learn:


[W]e get your specific legal content flowing. We’ll give you professionally written, edited and selected text for:



  • An overview of law relating to your particular legal specialty. It’s targeted to consumers or businesses or both — or to the audience you identify.
  • Regularly updated content by separate categories:

    • Updates on law relating to your firm’s specialty
    • News stories relating to your specialty
    • Commentary, analysis and suggested action from lawyers
    • Lawyer/firm activities

Also, the page explaining lexBlog’s Premium plan begins (emphases added):



Solidify reputation as trusted expert


This is the plan that will utterly solidify your reputation as a trusted expert in your field and locale. With our Premium service, you’re launched to the forefront of your area of practice, perceived as a leading authority by the public, colleagues, the media and clients.

 

newspaper  . . . We’ll constantly post news stories and legal updates relating to your area of expertise, and if relevant, your locale. We’ll complement that with posts on relevant topics we receive from your trade journals, email newsletters, listservs, bar section magazines, CLE materials, blogs and Web sites.

We’ll encourage you and show you how to easily complement our posts with your own insights and analysis — and infinitely valuable service to the public, media, colleagues and prospective clients.


One final excerpt from the lexBlog site:  Here’s a quote that is highlighted on the Premium service page; it’s by Rebecca Blood author of The Weblog Handbook, who is talking about weblogs in general (emphases added):



“Make no mistake this stuff works. I’ve seen businesses, especially individuals make names for themselves, going from unknown to ‘expert’ in a year by providing a hub of information about a specific profession. When a reader’s first impulse about wanting information about a given subject is to visit a topic-driven weblog, it is a small leap to hire its editor to speak, consult, or otherwise practice their craft when the need arises.


         [Follow-up (04-12-04): Here are the two sentences just prior to the above quote, in author Blood’s section about Reputation Building (at page 63) (emphasis added):



By maintaining a weblog that is tightly focused on a particular subject, these weblog editors educate themselves by searching the Web daily for news and information pertinent to their area of expertise, exercising judgment in weighing the relevance or importance of what they find, and articulating their thoughts on links that they decide to include, either by summarizing the article or by analyzing the material presented.   It is what experts do, and this practice will speed anyone’s progress to that end.]

When you Comment here about client-generation, I hope you’ll also express your feelings on what I call the “absentee weblogger” and lawyer reputation-building by proxy.

 

Before ending, I must note that lexBlog offers a Guaranty, which is a very good sign of Kevin’s good faith belief in his product: “If at the end of six months you are not satisfied with lexBlog’s product or service, you may terminate our relationship and ask for the return of any portion of the payments you made to lexBlog which you believe is fair. No questions asked.”  Maybe we can dig up some useful examples of marketing success by lawyers with weblogs.  We need your input to do it.

 

*key neg







  • Most “buzz” starts with people with a financial or emotional stake in the “next new thing,” and is then amplified in their own echo chambers.   Those who believe the buzz very often get stung.   As I’ve been opining here, no amount of cyber-smoke or number-mumbo-jumbo can cover up the fact that the jury is just starting to deliberate (and has almost no evidence to consider) on whether lawyers can effectively use weblogs to increase clientele and profits.  There are a lot of other good reasons to start weblogs, but income generation is not a realistic near-term goal for the vast majority of webloggers.  Thankyou, Carolyn [Elefant], for your cautious approach.






    1. [I]t’s foolhardy for anyone to gauge the marketing value of a weblog (or the professional qualities of its editor) by giving any significant credence to its “web traffic” figures, whether counted as “page hits” or “individual visitors”.  For weblog boosters to suggest otherwise seems — to me — to be very misleading. 


    2. We need to be far less effusive in “selling” the importance  of weblogs as a marketing tool — at least until we can gauge whether the “visitors” are human and the humans are doing any buying.





    1. Despite my esteem for Jerry [Lawson] and Kevin, I must protest that the notion of creating content for weblogs — especially postings — threatens to turn weblogs into merely a marketing tool, as opposed to being a special, personal platform that is also a marketing tool. 


    2. One final consumer advocate question:  If the lawyers who are the market for vended weblogs don’t have enough time to produce the weblog themselves, just where are they going to find the time to give competent and diligent service to the expected flood of new clients?





    1. I’ve never said they can’t possibly work to bring in clients — I’ve said that merely spouting the buzz about all the added “traffic” is inherently misleading without a lot of caveats, not only because no one knows what the traffic number signify, but because no one can even point to anecdotal evidence of a significant number of weblawg success stories for bringing in clients (as opposed to ambiguous page-hits).” 


    2. As I suggested in my post about ghost-written weblogs, . . a weblawg that has most of the activities you prescribe done by someone other than the purported lawyer-author is in many ways misleading.

  • If You Link Them, They Will Come (we hope):  Kevin O’Keefe believes that topic-specific weblogs, with practical, Plain English advice, are the most likely to generate legal clients.  (Despite our exhausting Resource Pages, he doesn’t consider ethicalEsq to be more than a soapbox).  So, I’m gonna ask my weblogging colleagues to drop us a line. [Thanks Ernie for compiling this great list of links!!]

    Has Your Weblog Attracted Clients?

    Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:54 pm

    It’s no secret that I’m skeptical about the ability of weblogs to attract clients to lawyers.  The topic is at the forefront of my mind lately, because Kevin O’Keefe announced the launching of lexBlog Inc.and its website from his own weblog Real Lawyers Have Blogs over the weekend.  LexBlog offers complete “turnkey” services to set up and maintain weblogs for lawyers — including content.

    With this post, I hope to attract Comments from lawyers with weblogs, to learn their experience with this issue; clients who have found and hired a lawyer because of his or her weblog are also invited to Comment.

    You can find links and brief excerpts from prior postings about selling weblogs as a marketing tool, at the asterisk below.  Kevin and I have had an ongoing, friendly disagreement on the topic.  I’m asking for your help, because there seems to be no useful evidence (nor anecdotes) supporting the theory that any significant number of consumers or businesses seeking legal services have found a provider through a law firm weblog.  Perhaps Kevin has such evidence; if he does, I hope he posts it at his website.
    podium neg flip Talking about the creation of lexBlog, Kevin wrote two weeks ago that “I’ve played with blogs long enough to know they work to establish one as an authority (assuming you know something about what you blog about) and work to bring in new clients.” (emphasis added) Also, the very first line of content on lexBlog’s homepage proclaims “More effective than advertising,” while the first example of what you can “easily” do with your weblog is “cultivate new business ”  Inside the the site, on the page describing their services, the bold-print caption says:
    A lawyer’s most powerful marketing tool.

    The lexBlog solution for image building, promotion & PR.


    Reputation by Proxy? LexBlog offers a number of levels of service, including the provision of lots of content.  It promises “If you do not have the time to publish content lexBlog will do it for you.”  For instance, in a section called Get Content!, we learn:



    [W]e get your specific legal content flowing. We’ll give you professionally written, edited and selected text for:



    • An overview of law relating to your particular legal specialty. It’s targeted to consumers or businesses or both — or to the audience you identify.
    • Regularly updated content by separate categories:
      • Updates on law relating to your firm’s specialty
      • News stories relating to your specialty
      • Commentary, analysis and suggested action from lawyers
      • Lawyer/firm activities


    Also, the page explaining lexBlog’s Premium plan begins (emphases added):




    Solidify reputation as trusted expert


    This is the plan that will utterly solidify your reputation as a trusted expert in your field and locale. With our Premium service, you’re launched to the forefront of your area of practice, perceived as a leading authority by the public, colleagues, the media and clients.



    newspaper . . . We’ll constantly post news stories and legal updates relating to your area of expertise, and if relevant, your locale. We’ll complement that with posts on relevant topics we receive from your trade journals, email newsletters, listservs, bar section magazines, CLE materials, blogs and Web sites.


    We’ll encourage you and show you how to easily complement our posts with your own insights and analysis — and infinitely valuable service to the public, media, colleagues and prospective clients.


    One final excerpt from the lexBlog site:  Here’s a quote that is highlighted on the Premium service page; it’s by Rebecca Blood author of The Weblog Handbook, who is talking about weblogs in general (emphases added):



    “Make no mistake this stuff works. I’ve seen businesses, especially individuals make names for themselves, going from unknown to ‘expert’ in a year by providing a hub of information about a specific profession. When a reader’s first impulse about wanting information about a given subject is to visit a topic-driven weblog, it is a small leap to hire its editor to speak, consult, or otherwise practice their craft when the need arises.


    [Follow-up (04-12-04): Here are the two sentences just prior to the above quote, in author Blood’s section about Reputation Building (at page 63) (emphasis added):



    By maintaining a weblog that is tightly focused on a particular subject, these weblog editors educate themselves by searching the Web daily for news and information pertinent to their area of expertise, exercising judgment in weighing the relevance or importance of what they find, and articulating their thoughts on links that they decide to include, either by summarizing the article or by analyzing the material presented.   It is what experts do, and this practice will speed anyone’s progress to that end.]

    When you Comment here about client-generation, I hope you’ll also express your feelings on what I call the “absentee weblogger” and lawyer reputation-building by proxy.
    Before ending, I must note that lexBlog offers a Guaranty, which is a very good sign of Kevin’s good faith belief in his product: “If at the end of six months you are not satisfied with lexBlog’s product or service, you may terminate our relationship and ask for the return of any portion of the payments you made to lexBlog which you believe is fair. No questions asked.”  Maybe we can dig up some useful examples of marketing success by lawyers with weblogs.  We need your input to do it.



    *key neg



  • Most “buzz” starts with people with a financial or emotional stake in the “next new thing,” and is then amplified in their own echo chambers.   Those who believe the buzz very often get stung.   As I’ve been opining here, no amount of cyber-smoke or number-mumbo-jumbo can cover up the fact that the jury is just starting to deliberate (and has almost no evidence to consider) on whether lawyers can effectively use weblogs to increase clientele and profits.  There are a lot of other good reasons to start weblogs, but income generation is not a realistic near-term goal for the vast majority of webloggers.  Thankyou, Carolyn [Elefant], for your cautious approach.

    1. [I]t’s foolhardy for anyone to gauge the marketing value of a weblog (or the professional qualities of its editor) by giving any significant credence to its “web traffic” figures, whether counted as “page hits” or “individual visitors”.  For weblog boosters to suggest otherwise seems — to me — to be very misleading.
    2. We need to be far less effusive in “selling” the importance  of weblogs as a marketing tool — at least until we can gauge whether the “visitors” are human and the humans are doing any buying.
    1. Despite my esteem for Jerry [Lawson] and Kevin, I must protest that the notion of creating content for weblogs — especially postings — threatens to turn weblogs into merely a marketing tool, as opposed to being a special, personal platform that is also a marketing tool.
    2. One final consumer advocate question:  If the lawyers who are the market for vended weblogs don’t have enough time to produce the weblog themselves, just where are they going to find the time to give competent and diligent service to the expected flood of new clients?
    1. I’ve never said they can’t possibly work to bring in clients — I’ve said that merely spouting the buzz about all the added “traffic” is inherently misleading without a lot of caveats, not only because no one knows what the traffic number signify, but because no one can even point to anecdotal evidence of a significant number of weblawg success stories for bringing in clients (as opposed to ambiguous page-hits).”
    2. As I suggested in my post about ghost-written weblogs, . . a weblawg that has most of the activities you prescribe done by someone other than the purported lawyer-author is in many ways misleading.

  • If You Link Them, They Will Come (we hope):  Kevin O’Keefe believes that topic-specific weblogs, with practical, Plain English advice, are the most likely to generate legal clients.  (Despite our exhausting Resource Pages, he doesn’t consider ethicalEsq to be more than a soapbox).  So, I’m gonna ask my weblogging colleagues to drop us a line. [Thanks Ernie for compiling this great list of links!!]


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