I give many presentations in Massachusetts to lawyers interested in effective marketing techniques for solo or small firms. Every year there are more and more innovations and resources for the legal marketing community. There are always more ways to provide added value to your services and reach out to clients in new ways. However, we all know that lawyers are stubborn, technologically stunted and mostly risk-averse individuals. So even though there are new tools, what I see most of the time is that lawyers jump on to the bandwagon but use the new tools in the same old way.
If you simply do a Google search for legal blogs or lawyer apps, most of the time you’ll see what amounts to nothing more than the lawyer’s phone book ad or website in a blog format or on an iPhone app. They’re using a new medium to do the same thing and not fully utilizing the new medium for its full potential. Smartphone apps are the new tech innovation for lawyers and there are already businesses that sell apps to lawyers to promote their law firm. The apps are generic. It has the lawyer’s social media feed, a map, and a call to action button. I’m not going to download an app that’s a glorified Google listing and neither are your clients. Your clients want added value. If they’re going to download an app, they want one that will do something for them.
I recently embarked on building an app for my law firm because like so many other people, I have been diagnosed with SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome. If it’s new, I want it. I always have the latest iPhone because…well, it’s there. It has Siri (even though I never needed it before). It has geo-fencing reminders (even though I lived without it before)! But like my marketing efforts, I went about the app building process not thinking about how I’m going to market my firm, but instead I thought about the needs of my clients. Who are my clients? What do they want/need from a law firm app?
I figured out that my clients were pro se divorce litigants (since I do mostly divorce litigation). I also noted that my clients could be other divorce attorneys, just like myself. Well, what do divorce litigants and divorce attorneys like myself want or need in an app? Massachusetts just underwent major Alimony Reform and it would be really great if there was an app that would crunch the new alimony formula and also crunch the child support formulas and be able to tell me when I’m officially divorced after seeing a Judge. So I went ahead and hired an app developer and worked with him for months to build and refine an app that did exactly that. The result is the Massachusetts Divorce App which includes an alimony calculator, a child support calculator, and a date calculator. All the functions can integrate with Dropbox and forms can be generated by the app into a PDF which can be air printed or emailed or synced with Dropbox.
Marketing my firm was the least important component of building this app. As a matter of fact, it came as an afterthought. Only after the entire app was built did I say, “hey, let’s add a very quick splash screen so people will know who made this.” And that’s it. Because if you build a great product that people need and will use, they will associate that great product with your brand. You do not need to hit them over the head with your marketing and there’s no need to duplicate your website in every medium possible. If they see you provide a great product and service, they will find you.
All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.