Cure for Hand Wringing

Anybody that reads a newspaper or listens to the evening news can’t help but wring their hands about what’s the next economic bombshell (myself included.) So we’ve decided to do a few things differently at Right Hat. I am simply turning off the news and turning on music. And we’ve decided to tackle all those marketing housekeeping details that seem to get put off when we are all really busy. Below we explore important tactics for marketing in a downturn.

Housekeeping Task #1 

Read your firm’s marketing boilerplate. Does it talk more about the features of what you do? Or does it give a prospect a sense of what benefits you bring to the table? Often these short paragraphs have lost all their punch after too much internal review. Bring some attitude back into them.

Housekeeping Task #2 

Advertising online through sponsored links on Google or Yahoo is simple and cost effective. But are your “AdWords” really working for you? How often do you scrutinize your traffic reports? What words are driving the click-throughs? Just 5-10 minutes a week studying your results and changing your key words can make a difference.

Housekeeping Task #3 

Last week was a great lesson in how law firm alerts can be extremely useful or a waste of energy. I recieved roughly 20 on the swine flu pandemic and employer responsibilities. (Some came as late as yesterday.) Most alerts were too long and dense to wade through. But a few stand out firms provided a very short checklist of things to consider with links to their Web sites to gain more insight. I clicked through to one site to get the details and also noticed a related article on employee handbooks that was quite good. I ended up feeling the firm had helped me quickly understand my responsiblities and they left an impression of a firm providing practical, plain English advice. A home run!

Housekeeping Task #4 

Yesterday I was trying to find some information on law firm Web sites related to the Federal Reserve’s TALF program. (And you thought we were all about great pictures at a branding firm!) I was highly frustrated by most of the search engines on the various law firm Web sites. The results contained so many unrelated topics and there was generally no way to sort by relevance or date. So even if you can’t redo your entire Web site given tight budgets consider upgrading your search engine to make it easier for visitors to find your intellectual capital. And at a minimum fix all those broken links.

Housekeeping Task #5

I was thinking of running a contest to see how many versions of email signatures one law firm or company could manage to use. Seriously. The single most frequently used piece of business communication is the email signature yet for many companies it is the most inconsistent reflection of the brand. So one really low cost brand enhancement is to standardize your firm’s email signature for consistency of visual look and content. With the increased use of smart phones make it easy on your clients to call you back by always including your phone number in the signature block. And remember to leave off those smiley faces and sunburst animations unless they are indeed part of your brand messaging.

Housekeeping Task #6 

As professional service firms fine tune their Web sites, they increasingly offer up  thought leadership pieces in multiple formats. Articles and white papers are presented in both html (to maximize search engine optimization) and in PDF files that enable a firm to control the branded identity. One of the chronic complaints of visitors to sites is how poorly PDF files are named. This morning before hopping a flight, I downloaded three PDFs from different law firm Web sites to my laptop. My intention was to read the information on the plane.

Granted I am known for having a rather cluttered desktop but when I went to review the files the files names were not very helpful. Should I open “Pub2123” or “pdf.pdf”. Only one of the firms had a user friendly name—“A Handy Guide to UK Advertising” So make it easy on visitors to your Web site  and think about the PDF name before posting it.

Housekeeping Task #7 

Yesterday while waiting in the lobby of a Boston law firm, I became rather obsessed by how easy it is to make a poor first impression. For starters, the receptionist indicated the person that I was to meet with was running late. At that point, she didn’t offer me any refreshments but just slumped down in her desk. When I then inquired about using their wireless Internet connection, she rather begrudgingly said she would have to call her IT department. (I felt like I had just asked her to watch three toddlers for an entire weekend!) She wrote the password on a scrap of paper but sadly it didn’t work. In the meantime, I decided to just read the newspaper and noticed it was a two-day-old Wall Street Journal. The other magazines available looked like they had been recycled through a doctor’s office before landing there. Most important, none of the firm’s excellent newsletters or white papers were available. 

So pay a visit to your firm’s reception area and see how that first impression might feel.

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