Posts filed under New Media

Findlaw caught selling "juiced up" links.

In some excellent reporting from the world of legal and SEO blogs it has been widely reported now that Findlaw, the legal marketing giant, has been caught advertising a service to lawyers that was essentially the sale of "juiced up" links for between $1000 and $2500 per month. Once this was shared with the Google internal control teams they slapped down the giant of the legal marketing world and put an end to a practice that some bloggers estimate might have added many millions of dollars to the media giants bottom line. What lawyers and others who aren't immersed in the world of blogs and legal marketing need to know is that selling of links is a big violation of Googles anti-spam policy.

I have to tell you that a lot of the mechanics of search engine optimization, and how links are juiced, escapes me. I just tend to our business here at The Legal Broadcast Network and The Settlement Channel by creating solid content, adding channels and watching our traffic grow organically. Our numbers for August just exceeded our estimates by showing over 200,000 view, listens or reads, with our growth tracking at 25% per month now that we have rebuilt our portal and implemented the strategy that we mapped out earlier this year.

However, as the extensive reporting on this issue illustrates, this has caused a major stir in the SEO and Legal Marketing world.

Money/CNN reported a very solid summary of the case here.

The blog at "get lawyer leads" has a summary.

Kevin O'Keefes " Real Lawyers have blogs" has an excellent run down as well as why this is such a big issue among legal marketing firms.

Todd Friesen has an excellent summary on the entire Find Law situation for those of you who really want to dig into the specifics.

In summary, all this shows is the incredible lengths, and expense, law firms and lawyers will go to just to market their services, while at the same time not taking the care to even know what it is they are buying. Everyone wants the magic bullet instead of realizing that having a web site, a blog and a podcast is hard work, requires a commitment of time and effort, but that the pay off is more enduring and less expensive then buying some juiced up service from Findlaw. I don't know how Google creates their search engine magic, and quite frankly I don't care about page ranks, SEO and all of the other things people obsess over. All I know is that if you create interesting, original content and put it on well designed blogs and podcasting platforms good things are going to happen.

There are no short cuts guys! Start a blog, tend to it on a regular basis, develop podcast content and if you want join a network of bloggers or broadcasters to magnify your reach. Just don't think putting up some canned $15,000 web site from a corporate media firm that is "juiced up" with spam strategies and questionable SEO tools is going to portray you or your firm in the best possible light.
Posted on September 11, 2008 and filed under Legal Marketing, New Media, Professional practices.

Vulture Culture, an expose of the insurance industry.

We all dutifully write out checks for insurance coverage each month, assuming that if the worst should occur, we'll be protected financially. But what we don't know about the insurance business could - and most probably will - hurt us. Vulture Culture is a hard-hitting expose of the sorry state of the industry, from tales of rampant, widespread corruption to inconsistent state regulations and the inability - and often unwillingness - of the federal government to protect the rights of denied claimants.

As anyone who works in the structured settlement industry knows, there has in the past been a sick and corrupt culture in many of the claims departments of the casualty industry. It led to the despicable and morally indefensible practice of undisclosed rebates and commission sharing on structured settlement annuity premium, often at the expense of the unwitting plaintiff or their trial lawyer. The seeds for much of the disaffection for structured settlements among the trial lawyers were sewn years ago when many structured settlement firms agreed to get involved in this practice in order to secure guaranteed premium flows from the casualty companies.

This book takes readers into a world of bid-rigging, fraudulent commissions, and secret payoffs, revealing shocking abuses and ominous new trends. Readers will hear about a rogue's gallery of shady executives, including a CEO whose massive claim denial schemes eventually got him fired . . . at great cost to consumers. From the Hurricane Katrina fiasco of unpaid claims, to a revolving door in which former insurance executives regulate their own industry before returning to it themselves, this is a shocking account of an industry on the brink of collapse, and what must be done to fix it before it's too late.

Scott Drake's,  interview with author Eric Gerst on Vulture Culture is featured on Speaking of Jusice, a Legal Broadcast Network show.

If you are in the structured settlement business, claims or insurance management this is a book that your going to be hearing about and is worth your effort to read.

Legal Marketing, The Great Oxymoron.

Legal marketing, in the minds of many of us who either market to attorneys or help attorney's promote their services via marketing, is one of the great oxymoron's. It is exceptionally poor marketing and much of what goes on is barely legal.

What passes as trying to market to lawyers for the vast majority of financial, technical and service oriented firms that attempt it, is generally confined to purchasing insanely priced advertisements in bar or trial lawyer publications, making absurdly expensive contributions to these same organizations to get a speaking or writing slot at a national or large state convention, or doing the convention road show circuit where you are reduced to standing in the exhibitor ghetto to pitch your wares to lawyers who are more interested in the free stuff you give away in order to entice them into standing in front of you long enough to shove a card in their hands.

This corrupt, wasteful, demeaning process has evolved into "the industry standard" of how you reach lawyers. Let me ask you, if you are a company that wants to market your services or talents to lawyers, a few questions.

1. How much are you spending to purchase advertising in trade and association magazines and what do you really get out of it? The average budget for the average firm marketing to just trial lawyers, to buy space in the three national magazines, Trial, National Law Journal and American Lawyer, is approximately $5000 for a VERY modest campaign. If you want premium position or full page ad's be prepared to double or triple that number.

2. How much are you spending on State or regional publications? Again, if we break the markets into regions and assume you want to do at least a 5 state buy, a realistic budget for those state publications or to buy space in Lawyers Weekly or a regional paper, you are again at $5000 minimum with the ability to easily double it, particularly in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic region.

3. How much do you budget to attend trade shows and staff your booth? If you wish to have a consistent presence you need to target Mass Torts Made Perfect, AAJ, ABA conventions at a minimum, which means 6 commitments just with those 3 organizations. If you also want to do a regional purchase, again with 5 states, you will have at least 10 events you need to attend. Lets assume you do at minimum one event per month then. You can not possibly do any event, with travel, booth space, entertainment, lodging and materials for less then $5500 per event and thats low.

So, for a very basic national advertising purchase in media, along with a solid regional media buy, coupled with the required trade show circuit, what is your monthly budget? Approximately $15,000 per month or $180,000 per year!

Lets then throw in the additional "contributions" that most organizations also are required to give to state and national associations to get preferred speaking slots, opportunities to present at meetings, writing in the publications or the coveted preferred vendor designation, and if you can get away from that for less then $50,000 per year you are a better man then I am.

Finally lets toss in the occasional golf tournament, where sponsoring a hole costs you $5000, or annual gala ball or fund raising event and you are probably topping out for everything somewhere around $250,000!

Could someone tell me where this cycle ends and at what point the people marketing to trial lawyers and the bar in general throw up their hands and say " I surrender"? I mean really, how much return can any legal marketer say they are getting for their money when you are pouring in that sort of investment year after year before you have opened up one file, handled one case or sold one item. I realize more then most that you must advertise and that you must support your local and national bar and trial lawyer organizations and I'm not advocating that you stop it all together. However, there is a better way then just pouring money into the black hole.

Lets face it, most people in legal marketing spend with these magazines and organizations out of abject fear that if they don't, their competitors will, and the trial lawyers will black ball them because they stopped spending money with them. Never mind that most people get almost no calls or business off of their ad's in publications or that their contributions amount to nothing once some other competitor offers one dollar more to the association to buy preferred vendor status. No, they have to do it, they have to suffer the indignity of the vendor ghetto because to not do it means you have turned your back on your customers.

I am here to tell you that there is a better way and a better answer and that's The Legal Broadcast Network. 

Imagine if you will, taking some of the money, say about 20% of that $250,000 figure I listed, and allocating to fund a full broadcast channel for the trial lawyers in your state. Or, imagine taking 15% of that number and sponsoring for your best legal clients a channel to market their legal services, with your firms name displayed on all of their audio, video or written commentary. Or better yet, imagine that all of this content actually got READ, VIEWED or LISTENED too, instead of tossed in the garbage or on a coffee table. Or, imagine that this content you helped them create and broadcast was available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year forever!

The fact is you can get out of the ghetto of sponsor hell and you can begin to brand yourself and your best clients on the media where 90% of all new customers are found now, and that's the internet. The only thing holding back most legal marketing firms and lawyers is fear and a sense they are leaving behind the known for the unknown.

Step out of the darkness, leave the ghetto behind and come join the fastest growing, most dynamic means of promoting your firm, your clients and future customers. The Legal Broadcast Network.

Part 1 in a 6 part series on Legal Marketing on the Internet, what in the world do you have to lose?
Posted on August 28, 2008 and filed under New Media, Professional practices.