Daily Dispatch

Ask The Experts

Aren’t Websites a Thing of the Past?

By | Feb.13.13 | Ask the Experts, Daily Dispatch, Law Practice Management, Marketing & Business Development

Question: I say that law firm websites are a thing of the past. They are nothing more than brochures. I’m trying to convince my partners we should replace our website with a blog. What do you think?

Ask the Experts from the LMA

Tina EmersonTina Emerson: Who says you can’t have both a website and a blog that support each other? Don’t replace the website, renew it and add to it. Websites are still valuable; they’ve just taken a different role. There was a time when websites were a firm’s face to the world and a place to find out the what, where and who of every aspect of the organization. Those facts still serve an important purpose, but to develop business, that “face to the world” needs to be the actual face and voice of a qualified and accessible attorney.

Bring your website to life with attorney-penned articles, links and updates that are constantly changing with substantive information. This avoids the stagnation that kills many websites and can render them useless. If adding a blog is part of your strategy, use your website to promote it and vice versa. Blogs and social media have changed the way we market everything, and it is integral to keep the website as part of that online strategy to support all of those efforts.

Tina Emerson is marketing director at Rogers Townsend & Thomas, PC, a full-service firm headquartered in Columbia, S.C. With 15 years of B2B communications experience, she leads the marketing and business development efforts for the firm’s offices in North Carolina and South Carolina. Follow her on Twitter @tfemerson

Paul GladenPaul Gladen: I agree that many websites are just brochure-ware and I like the simplicity, “voice” and two-way potential of blogs. But websites and blogs are just different ways of publishing information online. There are some great websites out there and some lousy blogs.

The two questions that really matter are:

1. Do you have something interesting, relevant and valuable to say to clients and prospects? Whether it’s a website or a blog, you need to have content that demonstrates that your firm and professionals have relevant, practical insights into solutions to clients’ and prospects’ critical business problems.

2. Is what you’re saying easy to find and use? It’s important for clients and prospects to quickly get to the stuff that matters to them (their industry, their business size or stage or maturity, their business issue or legal matter) and be able to filter out or bypass the stuff they’re not interested in.

In addition, what are you doing to ensure that your insights are discovered beyond the virtual walls of the blog post or web page?

Finally, don’t forget to think carefully about what you’re doing to trigger or facilitate interaction with visitors when they find your insights valuable.

Paul Gladen is founder of Muzeview Research, LLC, which helps law, accounting and consulting firms identify client issues, develop client insights and build client relationships. Prior to founding Muzeview, Gladen was a partner with Arthur Andersen where he played a key role in growing their European Telecoms Industry practice. Follow him on Twitter @paulgladen.

David McCannDavid McCann: I would not view it as an either-or proposition, but rather as an opportunity for an integrated marketing and business development strategy. The percentage of in-house counsel leveraging online resources for research purposes is increasing rapidly. So regardless of the vehicle, law firms need to communicate that they clearly understand their clients’ businesses and have the experience to address their unique challenges. With the fragmented nature of available communication platforms, websites should serve as a portal for fresh, client-focused content. Stale, self-promotional subject matter should be eliminated. Websites also enable firms to control, protect and enhance their overall brand identity through related imagery and key value propositions.

When utilized effectively, blogs provide an opportunity for an attorney or practice group to establish and strengthen professional relationships, often within a niche audience, by discussing issues, demonstrating thought leadership and sharing knowledge. As a rapport with readers is established, such efforts can help drive new business opportunities. However, as with websites, blog posts that are not client-centric and relevant are a recipe for frustration and failure.

In the end, the formula is simple. Think like a client. And deliver genuine and meaningful content. When finished, rinse and repeat.

David McCann is the senior manager of marketing and communications at Snell & Wilmer, a business law firm with offices throughout the western United States and in Mexico. He is also the 2013 immediate past president of the Legal Marketing Association, Southwest Chapter. He can be reached at dmccann@swlaw.com.

That’s a Good Question! What’s Yours?

No, not every law firm has a professional marketer or business development coach on staff to answer questions. So send us your questions via email or in the comment section below, and we’ll pass them on to the experts at the Legal Marketing Association. Watch for the best responses here in Ask the Expert.

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The Legal Marketing Association provides professional support and education as well as opportunities for intellectual and practical information exchange.

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6 Responses to “Aren’t Websites a Thing of the Past?”

  1. Gyi
    13 February 2013 at 9:11 am #

    Recently, I’ve seen several firms moving to a “site within a blog” approach. Blog content is prominently featured, but also contains more traditional static practice/bio content. Works really well.

  2. Paul H. Burton
    13 February 2013 at 9:52 am #

    There’s no reason not to use a WordPress site for both. I’ve not only used this method of “site on top of blog platform” for four years, I’ve remodeled it twice with a third refresh in the works.

    The benefit of doing it this way are:

    1. Hundreds of pre-designed (read: cheap) navigation options, plus the ability to build you own.
    2. All the static pages you want for things like professional bios, etc.
    3. Those in the firm who want to blog, can.
    4. Managing and updating are similar and cheap.

    There’s no reason to maintain a web site any longer and there’s definitely no reason to do both.

  3. John Simpson
    13 February 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    We at One North believe that websites continue to be an essential part of a successful digital marketing strategy – and they most definitely should be more than just a static brochure. Here’s what we think the web of the future will look like: http://blog.onenorthinteractive.com/2012/11/29/vlog-will-websites-disappear-in-the-future

  4. D Trevino
    28 February 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    People still like having a website when they research an attorney. It gives them a reference point. Surprisingly, it seems like very few firms actually blog. I think both are required these days.

  5. Websites are essential. In my case I have a website that offers tons of free tax, estate and business articles. I also have a blog that speaks to current topics. This has worked well for me. My website and my blog turn up on the first page of Google searchers.
    My current dilemma is if it ain’t broke do not fix it. Both my blog and website do not have the best URLs but it does not seem to be hurting me. My fear is that if I change them I would jeopardize my high rankings. In addition, all of my backlinks associated with these two sites may be lost or at least I think this would be the case. So should I mess around with success. I go back and forth on this but my final thought is that I am doing well so why risk it.
    Any thoughts from the experts.


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