Why Solicitors & Accountants Have No Clue About Online Marketing

Written by David Zysblat

Quite simply Solicitors and Accountants are useless in marketing their own business.

Is this a generalisation?

No. I wish it was. (feel free to prove me wrong in the comment section)

For the last month, my team and I have analysed hundreds of websites from law firms and accountancy firms in the UK. In the most part, they simply have no clue on how to market themselves to the general public.

Yes there are exceptions to this rule and later on in the article I will show you two websites that are doing a pretty decent job in marketing themselves.

Surely many of the Legal 500 type of firms and large accountancy firms are marketing themselves well online?

Nope.

I’m not going to name and shame any firm here, but go look for yourself.

Many of the big firms could do miles better. They have old, static-looking websites that are crying out for fresh updates, a new mobile-friendly layout and ‘calls to action’ to urge would-be clients to get in touch.

Get out of the dark ages before you find yourself stuck there forever, and get your marketing tactics up to date before those old-school methods stop working for good.

Awful Looking Websites

Going digital is no longer just about having a static website with a page describing your services – you’ve already missed the moment when that would cut it.

Your website needs to be distinctive and original, designed to sell, to engage visitors and you need to rank well in search results so that when potential clients search for you, you’re easily found.

On top of all of that, you need a responsive website, so your website looks right whether viewed on a high-resolution PC or laptop screen, a smaller tablet, or on a smartphone where screen ‘real estate’ is at a premium.

Get With The Times

Go walk down the street right now and see what people are doing. They are all walking with their heads down scrolling up and down on their phones or should I say smartphones.

Your website needs to be responsive- this means people shouldn’t have to focus in on the content. Your site should automatically turn into a mobile version when viewed on a mobile or tablet. If it doesn’t then go to your website design company and get them to make your site mobile friendly pronto.

How To Stand Out Above Your Competitors

So what can you do on your website to stand out above your competitors and showcase your expertise?

To punch above your weight, keep the following in mind:

  • Blogging gives you a virtual voice to answer your clients’ questions. Think what questions your potential clients would ask and answer each question on a separate page. See this article as to why you should answer each question on a separate page.
  • Google+ Local listings make you easy to find in the real world. It’s free and easy to set up and can get you some visibility in your local area.
  • Video Testimonials give your brand value  and add interactivity. Video testimonials helps create trust  and authority.  I’m sure you can think of 2-3 clients that will give you a video testimonial, just ask.
  • Twitter. Use Twitter as a listening tool.  It used to costs tens of thousands to do market research now you can lets you listen in on what potential clients are talking about.

Don’t sell sell sell on Twitter. Just give value, give value and give value – go to http://twitter.com/search and put in a phrase that’s relevant to your business and straight away you can see what’s being said across the whole of Twitter or in your local area about that phrase.

  • Video content about the services you offer gives you a friendly face to show that you care. People buy from people. Don’t talk in jargon that people wont understand.

It’s not rocket science – the more of these you have, the more engaging content you have to keep would-be clients on your website- the more likely potential clients are to get in touch with you.

Leaders Of The Pack

Some firms are already embracing the online world – albeit not many.

Ireland-based solicitors firm Ernest J Cantillon is a great example of how a forward-thinking website can still look very professional.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.15.08

Their homepage has plenty of search-visible text, but also videos that bring some life and movement to the page – and their YouTube channel adds a new way for them to be discovered online.

It’s an appropriate use of technology for a company that says “we don’t follow precedents; we set them”.

Finding a good accountancy website was even harder, but Crunch is one of the very rare examples of a company doing it right.

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 12.16.33

Importantly, if you visit from a mobile device, the responsive web design gracefully transforms the page from a landscape format – ideal for a computer screen – to a tall vertical column.

All of the important information is still there, but in a resolution that is better suited to a vertical smartphone screen.

It is also rich in ‘calls to action’ – buttons to contact the company, live chat interaction, and interactive elements such as a slider to work out how much you could save by using their services.

But these examples are rare diamonds in the rough – most companies, even the big firms, are failing to do as much as they could to succeed in the online space.

What Your Company Should Do

Which companies in your market are the leaders in terms of marketing themselves?

It’s important to analyse your competitors. Look at what’s working well for them and then replicate with your own touch whilst adding new methods of your own to throw into the mix.

Are you a company that is solely reliant on word of mouth referrals or existing clients?

If you are, then long-term you are going to be in big trouble.

You need to embrace the online world TODAY. Stop thinking we’re different and we don’t need to market ourselves on the Internet. Get rid of that mindset.

It’s not the 1980’s, it’s 2014. Get your online marketing activities out of neutral and into first gear.

Don’t get left behind, it’s not too late to catch up.

 

What do you think of the above article? Do you agree? Let’s continue the discussion in the comments.

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  • braincasey

    You make some real important observations about the professional firms. Having done my ‘articles’ for one of the so called top law firms, I can tell you that they not only do they have no idea about marketing themselves, but they also have no interest. Recently though I have started to see some firms take baby steps in regards to social media. Maybe firms are starting to realise they need to market themselves online?

    • david

      Interesting to get some inside feedback from a solicitor! I think professional firms still haven’t grasped what the internet can do for their business.

  • Jamescrane302

    Very good article David. Do you think that solicitors will take your advice on board and start marketing themselves online?

    • david

      James I don’t think I’m important enough for solicitors to listen to me :) The trend that I am seeing is that the medium sized firms are starting to realise how important the internet is- bigger firms not so much.

  • Margaretwatts100

    I agree with you. Accountants and Solicitors still believe that word-of-mouth referrals are the way to bring in business and are using their websites as an online brochure.

    • david

      Margaret I think firms need to make sure not all their marketing eggs are in one basket. don’t just rely on one way to bring in new business. Referrals and networking should just be one part of a whole marketing strategy.