Size No Longer Rules the Roost

If budget allowed, business orthodoxy encouraged companies to work with the largest player in the field.  The thinking was that scale provides significant advantages to larger organizations both in the costs of production, access to talent, and in their ability to influence the market.  Further, businesses assumed that large companies were established brands that would provide stability and consistency.  Think the 1960’s agency era depicted in Mad Men.  Bigger was better.

But the world has changed.  The attention that smaller organizations provide allow them to routinely out-maneuver their competitors and produce superior results.  Today it isn’t the size of a marketing organization that matters, instead it is the organization’s ability leverage technology and talent to quickly capitalize on emerging opportunities.  Speed and individualized attention are not typically considered the strengths of large organizations.

In the legal marketing world, the recent consolidation of LexisNexis, Martindale, and with Internet Brands (parent company of Nolo) further homogenized the industry by moving away from organic inbound channels fed by content in favor of a lead generation model.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with this type of advertising (if your state’s ethics rules allow it) and it can even be quite effective, the problem is that content is still critically important in today’s digital marketing arena.  Considering the significant layoffs of the website and content marketers at LexisNexis and migration of these roles to the Internet Brands team, one can only wonder if this move is because they see some sort of writing on the wall.

The Opportunity Large Legal SEO and Marketing Companies Provide

The axiom ‘content is king’ sticks around (and borders on cliché) for a reason.  But it’s not completely true.  Producing and pushing unique and informative content should 100% be part of your firm’s digital marketing strategy, but it must be done correctly to bear fruit.  In contrast, the cookie-cutter approach to content marketing implemented by some institutional legal marketing providers simply does not work.  It doesn’t work at all.  Content cannot exist in a vacuum.  It needs to be a piece of your overall puzzle, right alongside conversion testing, user experience, PR strategy and visibility.

As an example, last month we redesigned and launched a website for a mid-sized tax litigation firm on the West Coast.  The previous iteration of the site had been developed by one of the major institutional players in SEO for law firms.  The website had 900 well-written articles on it.  These articles and guides had been written by a team of associate attorneys over the course of ~three years.  The content was current, informative, and unique. This site had covered almost every topic you could think of surrounding tax law.  None of it was generating leads.

The reason? The web solution that had been provided by the large institutional provider didn’t convert because it looked just like 30 other websites. All of which I’m assuming had never had any conversion testing done because if it had, they would have found that the website didn’t convert. Data would indicate that they should have theoretically stopped providing that particular design as a solution.  But they hadn’t.  The reason?  Institutional inertia and the fact that firms were purchasing this solution.

So we redesign the site, implement some conversion testing and develop several widgets to more effectively direct people through this maze of content. The first week after the re-launch someone finds one the articles, bounces around inside the new site checking out other articles, and signs for a complex issue that will likely bring in close to six figures in legal fees.  Thinking about how many of that type of client had been lost on the old site made me sick to my stomach.

The content was there, it just wasn’t being used as part of an overall digital marketing strategy. Without content (and some other strategies), that potential client doesn’t find the site.  Without a site specifically designed to convert, that potential client doesn’t pick up the phone.  The large provider had missed one crucial aspect of an effective digital strategy.

So what is the opportunity provided by large legal marketing providers?

– The fact that your competitors are using them.

Let your competition spin their wheels writing content that no one sees.  That simply means there is more left for you.

About the Author

Craig Toncic is an attorney and digital marketing specialist at Majux.  He previously worked as part of LexisNexis’ web visibility team.