Mockingbird Marketing is now Cockroach

Last Thursday, in between obsessing over a Coronavirus growth chart and a Crisis Strategy Session for a divorce attorney trying to keep her lights on, I caught a tweet from inveterate Seattle tech entrepreneur, Buzz Bruggerman:

Survival is what our clients (and in turn the agency) need. We are a Cockroach. The adaptable, innovative, opportunistic, skittering, nauseating, and yes, disease-resistant arthropod that not only survives, but actually thrives in disaster.

In the coming months, many lawyers will go bankrupt. Despite our best efforts, some of those lawyers may be our clients. It’s the agency’s responsibility to fight, innovate and do everything we can to help every single one of them survive. Over the past two weeks, I’ve adopted the cockroach analogy with clients during Crisis Strategy Sessions….. creatively coming up with anything and everything Mockingbird can do to help them not only survive, but possibly even thrive in this chaotic, mad, uncertain environment.

The second of our Ten Commandments states: “We are Responsible for our Clients’ Livelihoods – Our performance dictates if our clients can pay their mortgage, their staff and their kids’ college tuition.” Today, clients are responsible for our survival as well. Its corny as hell, but employees and clients are both part of my extended family. We all have to adapt, evolve and fight to survive this. Like Cockroaches.

The following bullets come from the rebranding presentation I gave to the team:

    • Keep being amazing for our clients – remember we are responsible for their livelihoods – and now they are responsible for ours. (even if they can’t pay us).
    • This is the time to work overtime, to over deliver, to over communicate and to give everything we have to keep our clients afloat.
    • This is the time to step in and help clients with whatever they may need.
    • We are effusively grateful for every single client who sends us a check.

The cockroach mindset has led to some creative tactics, unexpected adjustments and occasionally brutally honest realizations over the past ten days:

    • What I believe to be the most effective linkbuilding campaign undertaken by a law firm in 2020.
    • Dramatic shifting in practice areas for a firm that has seen restaurant, bar and court closures decimate their business.
    • Worked with a handful of clients to accept that they should completely shutter their PPC budgets to preserve precious cash flow.
    • Tactical and data driven responses to the seismic shift in search volumes.
    • Forecasted changes in search traffic by applying changes in leading markets (Seattle) to lagging markets (Florida).
    • Doubling down on a PPC budget as competitors in a highly fragmented market scrambled to respond to inbound inquiries

Not everything we’ve done has been successful and some of the early successes are going to disappear as this crisis evolves, wears on and firms burn through cash reserves. But the cockroach survives. It evolves, pivots, and does whatever it takes.

So starting now, we are temporarily  a Cockroach – doing everything and anything we can to help our clients survive the Corona disaster. The old Mockingbird logo has been transformed and if you look carefully, the Mockingbird M cameos as negative space in the cockroach logo.  The Mockingbird is still there… it’s just waiting to come back.

At some point, we’ll go back to being Mockingbird – liberating lawyers from ineffectual marketing, one sided contracts, proprietary website platforms and opportunistic agencies. But for now we are a Cockroach – with a singular focus on our clients’ survival.

How to Use Your COVID-19 Downtime To Help Your Law Firm Grow

There’s no doubt about it, we’re all having to change our daily routines because of COVID-19. Many law firms are finding themselves with more downtime than they’re used to, and that can be very scary as a small business owner.

We’ve been talking to our clients a lot lately about whether they should be pausing all advertising, switching focus on their current marketing projects, and even helping them learn new tools and technology to help them work remotely.

Since no one knows when things will start going back to normal, here’s a list of things you, as an attorney or an employee at a law firm, can do to help your business for the long-haul:

  1. Write New Content: You know that content you’ve been meaning to write over the past six months, or even six years? Now is a great time to revisit that list and start churning out your new practice types or sub categories. If you have the flexibility to add new practice types that might help your business now (think bankruptcy, divorce, wills & trusts), create content on those and add them to your website.
  2. Audit Your Site: Not sure if you need new content? Take a look at what you have on your website. If you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a good chance you have some outdated or irrelevant content on your site. Figure out what’s most important to your business and what you want your potential clients to be able to find, or not find.
  3. Audit Your Own Intake Process: If you’ve utilized CallRail’s recording capabilities, now is a great time to go back and listen to how your staff handles your inbound calls. If you don’t record calls, go through your front desk’s process or list of questions they use to qualify a new lead. Are there things missing from the list? Things that could be added?
  4. Work on Your Social Media Presence: With so many people at home and on their computers, you should come up with other ways to get in front of people. While social sites may not be the best converting marketing channel, it does help with your local brand exposure. It’s also a great way to build trust with members of your community. We’ve already seen a lot of really great stories come out over the past couple of weeks of local businesses helping their community through these hard times.
  5. Get Involved: If you’re able, use your legal expertise to help those who have legal questions. If you’re an employment attorney, many people are unsure if they qualify for unemployment. Even if you can’t help the person now, they may need your services in the future and will turn to you.
  6. Go Digital: For those of you still using snail mail and handwritten documents, switch over to something like DocuSign. Move all of your files off of your hard drive and on to the cloud. You can also embrace video conferencing and invest in a good webcam and microphone.
  7. Email Campaigns: Use that long list of emails you have from people filling out your website’s contact form and create drip email campaigns to hit people now while they’re doing research on potential lawyers.
  8. Create a Marketing Plan: For some, marketing is one of the last things you think about when it come to your business. Think about where you’d like to be in the next year, 5 years, or 10 years, and start planning what you need to do to get there. There’s also a lot of really great blog content out there that’s designed specifically for lawyers and their marketing…hint, hint.
  9. Watch Webinars: Use this time to learn something that can help your business later on. There are plenty of tools and marketing agencies putting on more webinars than normal.
  10. Attend a Virtual Conference: A lot of conferences have had to move to a virtual platform, including ours, but are still covering the same topics they would have at their physical events. Instead of paying a couple thousand dollars to attend a conference far away, spend a few hundred to get the same great information, but from the comfort of your own home.

Even though things are uncertain at the moment, you can use this time to do all the things you never had time to do before, and set yourself up for success once everything blows over.

If you’re interested in getting an experts opinion on how you should be handling your law firm’s business and marketing, give us a call.

 

 

We’re in it Together: Our COVID-19 Related Webinars

Things are changing almost faster than anyone can keep up with. This is why we have been organizing webinar after webinar on how to maintain your firm during COVID-19. Currently coming down the line are two that tackle the issue of finding and financing clients.

 


Converting Leads During Corona – How to Maintain Marketing Campaigns During a Crisis with Outsourced Intake

When: March 20, 2020  12.30-1.30 PM PST

A lot of law firms are seeing the impact of COVID-19 in the form of court closures and reduced web traffic. So how can we make sure we all stay afloat during the coming weeks or months of uncertainty? 

The goal of this webinar is to bring together some of the best legal and marketing minds and figure out the best next steps for law firms of all sizes. From the best software and tools for working at home to how to manage your current marketing campaigns, we will help you build a comprehensive plan for moving forward and keeping your business running.

We’re all in this together, which is why we’re working so hard to get you the information you need, not the information we want you to hear. This is a no-nonsense discussion about how to prepare your firm for the current and coming disruptions. If this sounds like something you need, register below and we’ll see you on Friday.

Register Now

 


Client Financing Informational Webinar

When: March 26, 2020  12.00-1.00 PM PST

During these times in which clients might have more limited income, it’s important to think about how they will afford legal help. This webinar will be focused on client financing options for legal matters. These are the ways clients pay for their legal help, as opposed to Litigation Financing, which is a percentage of the final judgment or settlement. Matthew Moore from Justice for Me will be leading this discussion.

Some of the topics we will be discussing include:

      • Common legal payment methods
      • Common legal payment alternatives
      • The ethics of legal financing
      • Legal lines of credit

Register Now

How to Prevent the Coronavirus from Contaminating Your Conversions

Preparing for Working Remotely

Things are scary right now, from both a health perspective and an economic perspective. We don’t know how long this is going to last, and we might be buckling in for months worth of changes. The CDC is recommending working from home and washing your hands regularly, but there’s less guidance on how to survive financially right now. If your business is your life, we’d understand if you’re panicking. 

Many folks are talking about the Coronavirus in the “macro” sense. It’s seizing financial markets. It’s wiping out 200+ conferences. It’s the “most pressing uncertainty” according to the IMF’s managing director. 

These “macro” effects are not under our control; our hands aren’t on these dials, and they’re not even within reach. But we can make a difference in our own companies. Leaders at larger businesses have been telling staff to stay home. Small and medium businesses are now following suit. If your company has the ability to convert to working entirely remotely, you should get used to it. I just got an email that a gathering of legal tech executives was canceled because the host company is closing their San Francisco office for the week.

What happens when you don’t have the virtual-office infrastructure and work-from-home policies in place that make working remotely no different than business as usual? Massive productivity losses. Canceled appointments. Missed deadlines. And a lot of missed calls. This means you need to get your systems in place. Now. 

Client Calls

If you’ve told your law firm staff to work from home this week, the absolute first step you must take is checking your phone system to ensure it’s routing calls to phones and extensions connected to real, live humans. Your staff won’t be at their desks so their calls shouldn’t be going there. If they aren’t checking their voicemail regularly when they’re in the office, they can’t be expected to check it when they’re at home. Your system can’t rely on voicemail.

 

Call Forwarding

Call forwarding is a good option for direct extensions. Those calls can ring through to staff members’ cell phones. You can even set boundaries so forwarding occurs only during normal business hours. If your staff is uncomfortable with having their direct cell or home lines available to your clients, they can set up a forwarding number that will help separate their professional from their personal lives.

 

Transfers

Transfers are a bit trickier, but chat apps like Slack allowing interoffice, real-time communication can help law firm staff connect with their coworkers to facilitate hand-offs. This will also allow your staff to stay in direct communication with each other. It’s no replacement for in-person conversations, but maintaining strong lines of communication between you and your staff can be the difference between a smooth transition into working from home and a complete breakdown of organization. 

 

Handling Your Main Line

Just as during a regular day at the office, how you answer your main line is vital to converting clients. If you let your main line go to voicemail or place the task of answering it all on one person, you are setting yourself up for failure. You would be sacrificing both that staff member’s productivity and the perceived availability of your firm. No one wants to hire the firm that doesn’t even have the time to answer their phone.

You need an answering service. I wrote it like that because it really is that simple. It doesn’t decrease your legitimacy or reduce your personal connection with your clients. You will need all the help you can get, and a good answering service is able to provide more than basic “call answering.”

While you and your staff are working from home, a remote receptionist service worth its salt will handle your lead screening, consult scheduling, and payment chasing. Getting all that work outsourced means freeing you up to help your new and existing clients. Being honest about what you can and cannot do on your own is vital in times like these.

As is important in any incoming client call, the option to transfer to a person on your staff needs to remain open. When there’s a true need for a transfer to someone in your office, a good answering service can call or text the intended recipient to see if they’re available to accept the call. Some agencies can even ping that Slack channel to see who, among your staff, is ready to claim the call.

Bottom line, don’t let the mature decision to keep staff at home and protect them from illness trigger a poor decision to burden those staff (who are likely trying to also care for kids kept out of school). Your clients should not suffer from your responsibility, and neither should your staff. 

If you’ve already enlisted a receptionist service, make sure they are providing the tools you need. Not all answering services are created equally, and now is the time that they will be tested. Find the one that works for you, even if it means getting rid of the one you have.

 

Keeping Up to Date

If you feel as though you need more information on how to best prepare, Mockingbird is hosting a webinar with the goal of sharing ideas and recommendations for how to proceed. Our webinar, titled “Converting Leads During Corona – How to Maintain Marketing Campaigns During a Crisis with Outsourced Intake” will be held through GoToWebinar from 12:30-1:30 PM PST on Friday, March 20th.

To register, follow this link. All firms are welcome, as we want to get as many minds on this as possible. We are making it our priority to help our clients strategize their next steps and provide support in any way we can. 

 

Smith.ai

If you haven’t yet taken action or are finding your current service lacking, we’re ready to serve you at Smith.ai. We can take one of two paths:

  • We can get your phones answered within a couple hours with our expedited setup. That’s the second option after you sign-up online.
  • Or, if you give us 1-2 days more, we can get more acquainted for handling those spiffy screening & scheduling tasks I talked about above.

You can even use my name and the code MADDY100 for $100 off. That’s worth like 15-20 free calls depending on your plan. And, that’s in addition to our 20-call free trial.

During the trial and after, we’ll:

🙋🏻‍♀️ Answer your phones

📲 Transfer calls to staff at home (pre-screening leads, as needed)

📆 Book (or reschedule) your meetings

And you can use us just for this short-term stint, or ongoing. We won’t be offended; we’re built for exactly these scenarios, as well as the day-to-day.

Now, go get your phones in order, so those leads Conrad and his team are generating for you receive the friendly, helpful, fast, and accurate response they deserve. We’ve got you!

NOTE: Maddy Martin is the Head of Growth & Education at Smith.ai. The services they offer are one possible solution during this current crisis that’s upending “business as usual” for firms across the country. Mockingbird is not paid by Smith.ai and does not profit off any signups resulting from this post. We’re publishing this post because we think Maddy is exceptionally awesome and you should be exploring all sorts of tech options right now.

Making Sure Your Business is Prepared for the Virus

Things aren’t great right now. As a Seattle-based company, we’re feeling the squeeze. Our office is just about empty, the buses haven’t been full in a week, and we just had to move our upcoming conference to virtual, instead of the Las Vegas rager we had planned. Since we’re figuring out how to run our business during this viral time, I decided to try and help you with some tips and tricks.

 

1. Adjust your GMB listing

The first thing you need to do is to let your customers know when you are and are not going to be available. If you’re shutting down your office for the foreseeable future, make that clear. Google has created a Google My Business advice doc for COVID-19 with instructions on how to update your listing. 

 

2. Change your voicemail

Don’t expect people to know what’s going on. You will probably still get incoming calls, and if they get sent to voicemail during your listed working hours they will probably be upset. Leave a voicemail message with a number or email where they can reach you. Explain why you’re not in the office. If they don’t understand, they just don’t understand the severity of the situation. 

 

3. Get ready to take calls remotely

Make sure you have online meeting capabilities. This means having access to quality wifi, a microphone that doesn’t make you sound like you’re shouting from the bottom of a well. Find a place where you can have a professional video call while working remotely. As a lawyer, you should be able to do a good chunk of your work from home. Don’t completely shut off consultations; if people are willing to trade in-person for over the phone, don’t throw that away.

 

4. Think long term

We don’t know how long this is going to last. Prepare for it to last a few months. How will your firm need to adapt? Maybe you’ll need to make your services more advice-based than representational if courts begin to shut down. Think about how you might need to stretch your operating budget and how you’ll keep getting clients. Everyone’s going to be hit hard by this, so at least you’re not alone.

 

We’re currently in a pandemic situation. We’ve heard some response that this is an overreaction, but since no one here is a health official we choose to take the health officials seriously when they say this is a crisis. It’s better to have an abundance of caution than pay the price for negligence. 

 

If you are one of our clients and are wondering how to reach your account executive, send them an email or call their direct line. Calling into our mainline could easily get you to voicemail, and we want to avoid that.

Three Online Resources for People Who Don’t Know Anything About SEO

Not all of us know the ins and outs of SEO and digital marketing. Some people are new to the game, some people are behind, some people are just stopping in. For those people, I have compiled a list of my Top 3 Resources for  People Who Don’t Know Anything About SEO.

 

  1. Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land is a blog that covers all areas of digital marketing, from PPC to SEO. It has talented writers, guest contributors, and useful resources. Check out their periodic table of SEO and try to pick up information from the news and research done by their contributors. 

 

2. Moz Blog

Moz Blog is best for in-depth articles focusing on one subject. If you want to know about the research SEOs are doing on ranking, reviews, crawling, or just about anything else, check Moz Blog. Run by Moz, an SEO service, the writers are committed to their work and frame their posts in a relatable manner. This is another blog where you can mainly learn from context clues and thorough reading.

 

3. Google Webmaster’s Tools

Google prides itself on being accessible to webmasters of all stripes, from newbies to seasoned professionals. Their lessons are free and are great for getting a basic understanding of all topics related to digital marketing, SEO included. For more of a community learning experience, try visiting the Webmaster forums to see common issues SEOs are facing and to get advice from your peers. 

 

We would, of course, suggest our blog as the best resource, but we don’t want to seem (too) subjective. We want to condone learning of all kinds, and searching for more ideas and opinions about digital marketing is always encouraged. So go out there and educate yourself!

BEDLAM Goes Virtual

If any company in any industry were more perfectly positioned to transition an in person event to a virtual one as a response to concerns around COVID-19 it’s Mockingbird (especially considering we are based on Corona’s original US hometown of Seattle). The Best Damn Legal Marketing Conference (BEDLAM) is now a virtual conference – held at the same time, with the same speakers and viewed from the comfort of your home.

What this means for attendees:

  1. We reduced ticketing pricing by 60% of the full cost and will be sending out refunds in the next week.
  2. If you have already booked flights, note that many airlines are working with passengers to manage the fallout.  You can get a detailed list of how 7 major airlines are dealing with this here.
  3. Our contact, Tayla at The Aria in Vegas is being extremely accommodating, flexible and responsive in dealing with this.  At some point, I may ask you to leave them (and her specifically) a review. This also means that while I now no longer have a $80K credit to finance a three day bender in Vegas, BEDLAM III will be early 2021 at the Aria.
  4. We believe hotel room cancellations fall within the Aria’s 72 hour time window.  Their room reservations number is: 866.359.7757.
  5. The video conference will be held via Zoom – we’ll be sending more details.

As a bit of a tangent: note that this virus and the public’s reaction to it is going to have a devastating financial impact on many small businesses – please do your part to patronize them as much as possible.

Finally, it’s also possible that I now have an account with the Aria in Vegas and if you are absolutely determined to head to Vegas during the BEDLAM dates, I may be able to finance a six figure, three day bender…

Sitemaps: What are They and Why Do I Need One?

There are a lot of features on websites you really don’t think about as a user until you get a peek behind the scenes. Sitemaps are one of these features. Whether they’re HTML sitemaps or XML site maps, there are conflicting ideas on whether or not they’re actually necessary. So let’s go into the benefits of having a sitemap.

 

So what is a sitemap?

A sitemap is a page on a website that contains links to every other page on the website. See, here’s ours. It’s usually designed for crawlers and search engines, which I’ll get back to. It’s pretty much what it says on the tin: a map of the site. It’s a one-stop-shop to get to all the other pages.

 

So what are the benefits of a sitemap?

There are many benefits to a sitemap, but the main ones fit into the groups of ease for search engines, ease for users, and organization. 

 

Ease for search engines

For the new kids in class, search engines like Google know which pages to show searchers by looking at millions of websites. They utilize spiders (a tool that follows links and builds a web of links from the connections its found) to understand how everything on the site links to each other. They can do this by simply following internal linking structures, but have a better time when they can go through one page. Hence the sitemap. Crawlers can go directly through the sitemap to every page, saving time and resources. 

 

This would probably be a good time to touch on the differences between HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. XML sitemaps are designed solely for search engines. Humans don’t get to see much of it. HTML sitemaps are usually easy to find on a website; ours is linked to in our footer. You can see where all of our pages are and even find links to every single one of our blog posts. Every. Single. One.

 

Ease for users

The user-oriented sitemap is extremely useful for finding pages that might be hidden in layers of internal linking. If you remember the name of one of our blog posts, you are just a click and Ctrl+F away from finding it. It sure beats scrolling back months or years to find it. 

 

Organization

Even nice websites can be sloppily organized. It happens. But a sitemap can help to visualize and show you where you might be able to correct linking structures. If your service pages are organized by type of service, but their URL structures don’t reflect that, your site might have an organization problem. A sitemap will show you how your pages are currently set up, and you can decide whether or not you want to fix that yourself.

 

Downsides of a sitemap

To be honest, there aren’t really any other than it takes time (not even a lot of time) to build it. It’s generally just a good practice to have a sitemap, even if it isn’t necessary

 

Creating a Sitemap

We actually have a blog post about how to create an HTML sitemap, so that’s a good resource for that. As for creating a user-oriented sitemap, there are numerous WordPress plugins for this very purpose. If you would like more information on building a sitemap for your law firm’s website, contact a company that has experience in this area.

Laws of UX Series: Aesthetic Usability Effect, Doherty Threshold and Fitts’s Law

Laws of UX are a collection of design heuristics created by Jon Yablonski to help designers leverage psychology to create more human-centered experiences. You can find explanations for each law on the website lawsofux.com, as well as an in-depth case study regarding his thought process on his website, jonyablonski.com

This will be a series of blog posts briefly covering the many laws and how they can help designers create better experiences for law firms.

 

UX Law Poster1) Aesthetic Usability Effect

“Users often perceive aesthetically pleasing design as design that’s more usable.”

Users tend to assume that things that look better will work better, even if they aren’t actually more productive. Users who visit your website may have a positive emotional response to the visual design of your website, making them more tolerant of minor usability issues while using your site. When I say “minor usability issues” I mean text with low contrast, spelling errors, or typography that isn’t consistent. The Aesthetic Usability Effect does have its limits and when the design puts aesthetics over usability, users will lose patience and leave your site.

For example, I have seen law firm websites that include huge hero images on practice area pages that cover the entire screen without including any information until moving down the page. The page may look appealing at first with a large, beautiful image at the top, however, the image that is taking up the entire screen may be seen as an annoyance once they are trying to complete specific tasks.

 

 

2) Doherty Threshold

“Productivity soars when a computer and its users interact at a pace (<400ms) that ensures that neither has to wait on the other.”

Fast websites are fun to use. Laggy, slow response websites suck. The longer it takes for your website to respond to a request, the longer your user is taking to think of what they want to do next. If you keep your users waiting, they will find what they are looking for on another law firm’s site. As a general rule, you want to provide feedback to a user’s request within 400ms in order to keep their attention.

If your website has any loading screens that aren’t imperative to the functionality of the site, fancy page transitions, or anything else that may slow down their experience with your site, you are doing more harm than good with those “cool” features.

 

 

3) Fitts’s Law

“The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and size of the target.”

A touch target is an area that responds to user input. Make sure that all touch targets are large enough for users to understand their functionality and easily accessible for users to interact with.

Many law firm websites (and websites in general) have touch targets that aren’t clearly visible or are located in hard to reach places from where a users finger can reach(looking at you hamburger menus located at the top left or right on mobile screens). Make sure any touch target on your website is easily recognizable and accessible to avoid confusing your users.

 

Stay tuned for the next post in this series where I go over Hick’s Law, Jakob’s Law and the Law of Common Region.