I’m frequently asked how much time and money should attorneys spend on marketing. Like a true lawyer, I reply that “it depends.” There is no magic percentage of revenue or billable hours to be allocated to business development activities. The answer to this question will vary by practice area, geographic location and budget.

But when asked about the two most important marketing tools for attorneys, my answer is rarely “it depends.” The answer is your networking efforts and your website. No matter how much time and money a lawyer decides to spend, spend it in these two areas.

Networking Works

Like it or not, law is a relationship-based profession/business. Always has been and always will be. People hire lawyers whom they like and trust.

Although liking and trusting can sometimes be achieved without face-to-face contact, an attorney’s best relationships are usually made in person and enhanced by networking. The type of networking I recommend, stresses one-on-one coffees or lunches, and perhaps the occasional client-entertainment-type activity.

Social Media

What about it? It is most effective when used as a marketing tool to expand your network by laying the groundwork for personal meetings.

Websites Make Your First Impression

With marketing legal services, you have only one opportunity to make a strong first impression. Prior to the advent of the Internet, this first impression was usually made at an in-person meeting. Today, the first impression is typically your website. Make it count.

The circumstances that caused a potential client to check out your website are irrelevant. The visit could be the result of a Google search or a referral. No matter the circumstance, you want to leave the best possible impression. The lawyer with the best website will get the first call. And there may be no second call.

Plenty of posts on the web provide excellent suggestions about the look and feel of a good law firm website, as well as the content. However, it never ceases to amaze me how many lawyer websites don’t follow even the basics. These include the following:

  • Make your website easy to read and navigate. If it takes more than two seconds for a visitor to look up an attorney’s bio, your site needs work.
  • Make sure your website contains: This is who I am, this is what I do, this is who I do it for, and this is how you can reach me.
  • Tell stories that demonstrate how you can help clients solve their legal problems. This matters so much more than where you attended law school, all of the deals you have worked on or a list of your representative cases.

Double Down on Networking and Websites

Use networking to develop relationships. Use your website to inform and impress. Spend your time and money in these two areas and, trust me, your phone will ring.

Originally published on Lawyerist.com