Asking for Client Reviews During a Pandemic
With Coronavirus cases approaching their peak in the United States and the economy in a precarious position, few law firms want to talk about marketing. Believe it or not, in these strange and pivotal times, how your firm presents its brand to prospective clients is going to make a difference in how quickly your firm returns to business as normal.
Reminiscent of the aftermath of the Great Recession just over a decade ago, many law firms had to play “marketing catch up” after the economy recovered. But a few firms prospered coming out of the recession because they understood that much like the stock market presents buying opportunities when stock prices are falling, an economic downturn presents new marketing opportunities. Instead of eliminating marketing during the pandemic some savvy firms will seize the opportunity to gain ground in new ways.
In only a few short weeks, social distancing has created a shift in the way that people live and work. Many are now in protection mode, focusing on their families, their work, and their communities.
As a rule, there will still be lawsuits and litigation during good times and bad. When those in your local community search for a “lawyer near me,” will your firm or your competitors rise to the top of the list?
Whether you’re currently working from home or safely ensconced in your office, now is the perfect time to focus on your online reputation, and specifically boost the visibility of those client reviews.
Make Your Online Presence a Priority
The spread of the Coronavirus and the resulting Stay-at-Home orders have had some interesting side effects. Sure, people are gaining weight from eating unhealthy food, but they’re also spending more time online across the board. Major benefactors include video streaming services, social media networks, news websites, and search engines.
People who weren’t comfortable online before are experiencing a trial by fire. More people than ever will have their fingers flying across keyboards, some researching local businesses.
Now that everyone’s world has become a little bit smaller, it’s time to make sure that you’re on top of your local search marketing game. If you don’t already have a Google My Business (GMB) profile, it’s time to get one and optimize it. If you’ve altered your hours or availability due to COVID-19, be sure to update that information so that clients know how and when they can reach you.
Beyond GMB, you should set up and/or claim your profile on other major review websites. These include Yelp, Facebook, and free legal directories, like Justia, Avvo and Lawyers.com.
What About Those Existing Client Reviews?
Before you think about soliciting new reviews, which we’ll address next, consider your existing ones for a moment. The web is packed with online reviews that companies haven’t read, answered, or both.
One benefit of your new normal is you’ve been given a rare chance to catch your breath and this is the perfect time to make sure that your past reviews have a thoughtful response. You don’t have to go back five years, which might seem odd anyway, but make a point to address your most recent reviews.
Create a template of responses that reflect your firm’s brand message so that you avoid any snap judgments. It’s essential that you respond to all reviews within reason, even the negative ones. Many potential clients will search for those negative reviews to see how a firm responds. Your grace under pressure is likely to sell them on your firm more than a disgruntled client’s narrative will detract them.
Before you move on, think about creating a Reviews Policy for your firm so that it will be easier to manage online reviews going forward. When you begin monitoring and responding in a timelier manner, this will help boost your online reputation.
Reach Out to Clients for New Testimonials
Reaching out to clients during this difficult time is appropriate if you have developed a positive relationship with them. As their attorney, the assumption is that you’ve helped a client navigate some type of challenge.
But, before you ask for something from former clients, you should be offering some type of value first. By continuing communication during this pandemic, you can offer social connection, information, reassurance, and sometimes even further legal assistance when appropriate.
By continuing to be active on social media, you can maintain and grow connections with clients and others within your community that might need your assistance in the future. Likewise, posting a steady stream of useful content will keep your audience engaged and more likely to be responsive to your requests. Finally, like many businesses, you can let people know how your firm and your family are handling this unprecedented situation and ask others how they are holding up.
Provided you’ve built a rapport and some goodwill with your client base, there is no harm in asking for some help with your online marketing. Truth be told, many people are bored and will be happy to go to GMB or Facebook to post an online review if you ask.
The time factor is another reason to focus on getting testimonials now rather than later. The more time passes after the conclusion of a case, the less likely you’ll be to get a quality review. Once Stay-at-Home orders are lifted, people are likely to be playing “catch up” and will be more distracted than they are right now. Finally, potential clients like to see a steady stream of past client reviews, so this should be an ongoing local marketing focus.
Note: If your new GMB reviews don’t post immediately, this is has been an issue with Google. Some reviews and Q&A have been periodically turned off to protect small businesses during COVID-19, but they will post eventually. Once they do, be sure to respond timely and appropriately.
A Few Final Thoughts
We’re going through a period of uncertainty. But just as we’re seeing how these events are bringing out some of the best behaviors in people, this can also be an opportunity for your firm to prove to clients that it genuinely cares. This is an ideal time to reach out and nurture the relationships that you worked so hard to build in the community and continue to create meaningful new connections that will help grow your business.
As you continue to focus on the things you can control, like certain legal marketing strategies and helping clients, you’ll see a positive effect on your online reputation and bottom-line results.
Contact Sundown Legal Marketing For Help Creating Your Client Review Strategy
Looking for more ways to improve your legal marketing strategies to navigate the COVID-19 crisis? Contact Sundown Legal Marketing to start a conversation about how we can help. Contact us today at (800) 649-1764 or through our website contact form.