I've been putting some time and effort lately into building an online marketing system for a plaintiffs' practice. It's absolutely fascinating. Unlike a lot of what I do, this is all about designing a mechanism, or a process if you like.
Most law firm marketing has at least a little branding in it, and also tends to stress relationship development. Networking is the most pronounced example of this. But buried underneath all this is an assumption: You're striving to create a long-term relationship here. You want clients for life. You want to become a trusted advisor.
Plaintiffs' marketing is completely different. Your intentions are no less honorable, but nobody is likely to be a plaintiff more than once, and if they are, you don't want to be their lawyer. Consequently, you are essentially direct marketing your services. The message is "Do you need [insert form of representation here]? Contact us."
The Internet is absolutely perfect for this. Many years ago, I was one of the founders of a company called Flycast Communications. We were one of the very first online advertising networks. We did a lot of work with big branding advertisers, but we didn't start to really lift off until George Garrick, our CEO, figured out that what we were really about was direct response advertising.
Direct response is all about really, really tracking your costs. Unlike branding, in which you often don't really know if your advertising is working, and how it's contributing to the bottom line, in direct response, you can know exactly. LL Bean knows, to the penny, how much in printing, postage, design and so on it costs them to mail you a catalog. They know what you buy. They can track everything.
You can also do this with online. I have done this. From the time we start running ads on Google, we track prospects through every stage. We know exactly what they're doing. We know what it costs for every new client that comes in the door, and we know where they are in the pipeline. At the end of the pipeline, of course, you have to have a skilled trial lawyer, but the process of letting people know he's there, and helping them connect with him, is a very measurable, process-driven endeavor.