I recently returned from a meeting of solo practioners put on the California Bar. There were a couple of sessions on online marketing, so I thought it was a great opportunity to hear the perspective of lawyers that were trying to get their head around how to use the Internet to market their practice.
The primary focus on the session I attended had to do with building a website for your legal practice. This of course, is something that I believe is necessary for any practicing lawyer or law firm to do. Its hard to imagine how a professionally designed and informative website could hurt any legal practice.
I figured that most lawyers would view their website as a great resource for existing clients or prospects that were referred to them, etc (which it is). This was not the case. Universally, lawyers only wanted websites because they wanted to be "found on google." The belief was that, if they were found on google, then they would get a windfall of new business.
As the conversation continued, I felt as if I were living through 1998 all over again. I remember in 1998, entrepreneurs (like myself) were running around like madmen thinking that we would be instant millionaires if we could be the first to launch a website that did something (back then, the MBAs and VC's invested millions on the basis of "first mover advantage"). Guess what? It didn't work.
Launching a website - or doing anything online - is the proverbial tree falling the woods. If nobody visits your website (other than your mother), how is it going to bring in new clients?
The first question you need to ask yourself before you do anything online is: how am I going to make sure that I get distribution? It starts and ends with distribution. John Rockefeller taught us in the late 1800's the value of distribution. Almost every hugely successful company in the world has become hugely successful because of distribution strengths. Like Wal Mart. Like Coca-Cola. Media companies derive almost all of their value because they have distribution.
I'm stating the obvious, right? Right. In the next post, we'll discuss why SEO is not going to deliver the results that you think it will.