Old High Street Solicitor Dead, New High Street Solicitor Thriving
Forgive me now, for I am going to make you a little nostalgic, that is if you have been working in or around the law for at least as long as I have. The main part of the nostalgia is that it used to be so very much easier to be a High Street solicitor.
I started as a trainee legal executive in 1991, eventually qualifying as a solicitor in 1999. Throughout this time of learning and working I had a full monthly billing target to achieve (one of the highest in the practice), whilst at the same time being responsible for the marketing of the practice.
This was a four branch office traditional High Street practice. It was so much on the High Street that my first office was above the beer garden for Sweeny & Todd’s pie shop in Reading. I can’t deny that on some hot summer days it was hard to concentrate on my client files whilst others were eating and drinking in the beer garden below!
Before I arrived at the firm the marketing plan was largely as follows:
- Have offices on High Streets
- Buy Yellow Pages Ad (bigger one each year due to obscene pressure from Yellow Pages salesman explaining that your business would die unless you did so)
- Clients walk through doors
- Billing achieved relatively easily
- Increase targets for the following year.
I know from speaking with hundreds, if not thousands of solicitors, since starting my law firm marketing consultancy in 2003 that this was by and large the marketing plan for the majority of law firms, and I know that it still is for some. The trouble is that it doesn’t work anymore.
Even by 1991 it was clear that this strategy wasn’t as effective as it used to be for my firm too, hence my swift promotion to head of marketing to try and arrest the decline.
So I started to implement some more solid marketing tactics, some requiring a little investment, others very little, and we started to achieve results. I outsourced and automated as much of the marketing as possible, because, as I mentioned above, I also had a large profit costs target to achieve.
So without too much difficulty, I reinvented the marketing for my High Street practice.
The old High Street solicitors marketing plan of having an office and advertising in the Yellow Pages wasn’t working, but I found a way of turning things around.
Sadly, however, I am all too aware that I am not your ‘average High Street Solicitor’; especially as I no longer practise law.
The good news though is that you can have your High Street good old days back again, you just need to use the new and much better Yellow Pages.
The Yellow Pages actually didn’t ever really produce new client instructions of any volume. My studies of many firms showed that whilst clients often claimed to find a firm using the Yellow Pages, when I dug a little deeper it transpired that they already knew the firm, having used them in the past, or knew of them from their High Street presence. Yellow Pages even admitted that around 60% of people only used the book to find the telephone number of someone they already knew.
I think that was one of the reasons for their demise, but then the biggest reason was their spectacular failure to adjust to the internet and the impact that that has had not only on solicitors, but on every single business trading.
The Yellow Pages simply thought that they could use their existing model on the internet and that this would continue to work for them. They didn’t understand that the whole point of the internet was actually the empowerment of the individual, the client or customer if you prefer, so when they tried to push the customer to search for services as they used to do, the customer didn’t like it.
It was much easier for the customer to go to Bing, Yahoo or Google and type in what they were looking for, and then choose their service provider based on the information contained on their website, as opposed to how much they had paid Yellow Pages to feature at the top of their listing.
There other major flaw was that they thought listing only one or two lines and the business telephone number was enough, as it always had been in the Yellow Pages book. They did not consider the empowered customer or client who now instead of traipsing up and down the physical High Street could do their research of the High Street Solicitor virtually by walking through their websites. This saved the client time and effort. Two lines of a Yellow Pages advertisement wasn’t enough, so the clients stopped using Yell.com.
This shift to the internet provided a huge opportunity for new start up law firms, who without any trading history or reputation soon discovered that they could outsmart and outgun the more traditional High Street Law firm by having a better website and sending more potential clients to it.
Many of the traditional High Street Law Firms didn’t embrace the changes and hoped, in some cases, even expected, things to return to normal.
They didn’t see the need to invest in the New High Street, in other words, their websites, and so they missed out on the work which traditionally flowed to their firm.
How The New High Street Solicitor Thrives.
Let’s look at this in practical terms, which might make it a lot easier to see that there is still a real opportunity to turn back the clock and attract the clients you want for your practice.
Imagine one of your future clients. He is in need of a solicitor to help him to purchase a house. If he is not hoodwinked by the estate agent to choose his preferred solicitor, the first thing he is likely to do these days is exactly what you or I would do when looking for a new service provider, that is to head to Google.
Once there, he types in the following:
"Conveyancing Solicitor Reading"
I have imagined he is a lover of Sweeney & Todd pies too so he lives in Reading.
He is now presented with these search results:
IMAGE 1 – Google search results for Conveyancing Solicitor Reading
The client now has some choices presented to him. He can choose to look at the websites outlined in red or the ones in orange, or indeed all of them.
What is important for you to know is that to appear in the search results outlined in orange will usually take a substantial investment in Search Engine marketing, and even then the results are never guaranteed (indeed Google forbids that they can be).
So to most firms, this is not an option. So this is certainly not the answer to bringing back the good old days for the High Street Solicitor.
However, to appear in the search results outlined in Red is completely realistic, and what’s more, you do not even have to spend one single penny to do so!
Your firm’s website could be advertised in those red boxes for the types of services that you provide in as little as a few minutes or hours of reading this article.
Then, when a client goes searching for a solicitor in or around your location, suddenly you will be back on the High Street again as your advertisement will be presented to them.
The excellent news is that you only incur a cost at all when someone clicks on to your advertisement when they are instantly redirected to your website. Unlike most traditional forms of advertising when you pay whether it is effective or not, with Google Adwords (the name for this form of advertising), you only pay when it is effective. The cost for each click to your website can be as little as 10p, but on average is around 50p to £1. It is a lot less than a Yellow Pages advertisement and many times more effective.
There are hundreds of thousands of searches each and every month on Google for solicitors and associated search terms (I know because I am always checking the volumes).
The vital point about these people making these searches is that they need help from a solicitor right now. When they find what they are looking for they will pick up the telephone and ask about the solicitor’s services. This is not like the traditional newspaper advertising model when your advertisement is seen whether people need a solicitor or not. When someone heads to Google looking for a solicitor it is because they want to instruct one to help them right there and then.
If you are not using Google Adwords to generate new client enquiries you are placing your firm at a huge disadvantage compared to your competition.
If you want to turn back the clock and bring back some of the good old days for your firm, you really should consider Google Adwords advertising.
If you have any questions, or are interested but still really do not quite understand what this could mean for your practice, why don’t we have a chat about it?
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Please call 0117 290 8555 to arrange a mutually convenient time for a telephone discussion, Email me or complete a Free Online Enquiry. There is no cost or obligation. We will have a chat about where you are and where you would like to be and I will suggest some things you can do to get there quickly.