An Intro to Reputation Marketing for Attorneys

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By Omnizant Team
Law Firm Marketing Agency

Your reputation is like a bull in a china shop—you’ve got to take charge of it before it’s out of control and deals serious, irreparable damage. 

The truth is that you already have an online reputation, whether you’re actively investing in it or not. In today’s cautious consumer landscape, your reputation is arguably more important than ever before. Trust is paramount and a strong online reputation can give you a competitive edge and reassure hesitant clients.

But how can you take control of a reputation? Isn’t that up to other people and their opinions? 

Here’s what lawyers need to know about reputation marketing, including first steps in actively managing your online reputation, dos and don’ts for reputation marketing, and how to leverage your reputation as an asset to grow your law firm.

What is reputation marketing?

It’s not just about what you say about yourself—it’s about what others are saying about you. 

Reputational marketing is how you actively manage and leverage your firm’s online reputation to attract new leads and grow your business.

This process means you have to keep track of your overall online reputation. From Google reviews to social media chatter, every interaction shapes your firm’s reputation in the eyes of potential clients. Are people tagging you with positive sentiments? Are reviews positive?

Reputation marketing is a strategy to boost your online reputation, solicit good reviews and positive mentions, and then use that social proof to further enhance your credibility and grow your firm.

First steps in reputation management

Start by assessing your online reputation. Dive into reviews, press mentions and social media discussions to gauge how people perceive your firm. 

You’re looking for recurring themes and emotional cues in these interactions. Take note of any highly emotional reviews and comments. Write down any keywords you see again and again. Are these the feelings you want to have associated with your firm?

If you’re not getting a clear read, it may be time to solicit more reviews.

Even established firms can benefit from boosting their online presence, especially if their clientele skews older or relies on traditional referral methods.

Be aware that there are social “listening” tools that can help you monitor your online reputation in an ongoing, automated way. Some of these tools are embedded in content software like Hootsuite and Sprout Social

Regardless, a quick manual scan is better than none if you don’t have access to these tools.

Why does reputation management and marketing matter so much?

Your reputation is your competitive advantage. 

Reputation marketing is the gold standard for improving your rate of attorney selection among brand new clients. 

This is especially true for firms in practices that don’t benefit from as many referrals or repeat business. For these firms, new clients are the lifeblood that keeps the doors open. 

Here’s why: Your reputation reveals two valuable things in the eyes of your potential clients: your outcomes (through reviews left by former clients and other online mentions) and your values (how you deal with and respond to comments). This relates to the halo effect, too.

Right now, people are more hesitant to share their personal information. They’re more stingy and highly cautious about where to invest their money, even with urgent legal needs. 

Potential clients are looking to maximize the chance of a positive outcome—and positive reviews by former clients are as good a guarantee as they can get, if they don’t already know you or weren’t referred.

There’s one more valuable perspective here, and that’s how potential employees view you. After all, your reputation is not just what former clients are saying about you. It’s a demonstration of your company culture, too. If employees are leaving disgruntled reviews on Glassdoor, you’re unlikely to hire the best of the best when it’s time to grow your firm.

Your online reputation can be a magnet for either attracting or repelling both clients and talent to your firm. 

Reputation management DOs and DON’Ts

DO check your online profiles regularly to keep a finger on the pulse of your reputation.

A Google alert for mentions is helpful, if you don’t have anyone assisting you with public relations. Make sure you choose the right email address for Google review notifications, so that a team member with enough capacity is alerted whenever a new review pops up. 

DO respond promptly to all online mentions, positive or negative.

Establish a workflow or scripts to help your team respond consistently, kindly and on-brand to various types of comments and reviews. Perhaps one person drafts a response and sends it to you for approval. Perhaps you collaborate on a list of template replies and your admin assistant is free to deploy them. 

DO encourage clients to leave reviews in public places online, like Google and Yelp.

Embed a request for reviews in your off-boarding process. Think carefully about the proper moment and method for including this ask. Make the ask when emotions are positive, when the outcome of their engagement is certain. 

Reviewing you should be as easy as possible. Try offering a link in an email that takes them directly to the Google page and explains how to leave a review, explaining what they might mention and how it benefits your firm—and other people like them who may need legal assistance. 

DON’T buy followers or reviews

It’s illegal and unethical to offer compensation to fake clients in exchange for leaving a positive review. This could get you ethical trouble with your bar association, not to mention the penalties your website or Google Business Profile may face.

DON’T use generic replies.

While scripts can help you craft appropriate responses to review, never copy and paste. This makes you look inauthentic and impersonal, and it will cancel out even a highly positive review.

DON’T ignore any reviews or leave mentions unanswered.

This one is a challenge for many law firms, simply because they’re so busy and don’t fully comprehend the value of reputation marketing. 

It’s critical to reply to reviews and mentions as quickly as possible. 24 hours is a good goal. You need to reply to the negative reviews, too—ignoring them won’t make them go away! Your potential clients can see all the reviews, so responding thoughtfully to nasty comments will enhance your reputation faster than ignoring them.

DON’T engage in back-and-forth debates online (and never include privileged information in a reply)—instead, take the conversation to a private email.

DON’T participate in any trends without fully understanding their context

For instance, DiGiornio pizza once posted a Tweet saying “You had pizza” with the #WhyIStayed hashtag, which originated from a domestic violence awareness campaign. Yikes.

Taking it to the next level

Sitting on a pile of good reviews? Nice! Don’t hoard the gold. Display your positive reputation in strategic spots to get more eyes on the goods. Embed positive reviews on your website. Create a highlight on Instagram with all your positive comments. Showcase the best posts on your GBP.

Reputational marketing can be a powerful tactic for increasing your influence online. It’s a strategic investment that can enhance your firm’s trustworthiness (and cash flow). 

It goes far beyond basic social media marketing and paid ads. A targeted reputational marketing campaign can result in more positive reviews, mentions and other content that can be used to generate marketing assets and gain trust with potential clients.

Review and next steps

On the one hand, thinking about your reputation can make you feel like a high schooler again. We get it—but this time around, you’ve got help in your corner.

Managing your firm’s online reputation takes a lot of work, but it can also yield great rewards with regard to lead generation and cash flow.

If you’re interested in reputational marketing for your firm, book a consultation with Omnizant. We support growing law firms with expert, custom digital marketing strategies and top-tier websites. Find out if reputational marketing is worth the investment for you.

About the Author
Since 2006, Omnizant's team of digital marketing experts, designers, developers and writers has helped over 2,000 law firms develop powerful websites that drive business growth.