On Episode 63, we’re back with Karin Conroy, founder and creative director of Conroy Creative Counsel. Last time, Karin introduced the concept of whole-brained marketing. In this second part of our discussion, we examine trends Karin is following, and things like chatbots. Oh, and I declare that SEO is dead, but I’m not sure Karin agrees. Listen to find out.

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Karin: They are all different, but I do have a set of questions that are very broad, and get to the heart of their bigger message, and who their clients are. I am very systematic. I've learned over years, I've been doing just this law firm part for about 12 years now. So over the course of years I've learned how to create more systems around these projects because it very quickly can just go off the rails and stall. Typically, website projects aren't something that people are very comfortable with. They've maybe done them once or twice before, maybe, but oftentimes they haven't.
Karin: They don't know how it works, and they're a little uncomfortable with it. So I try to make it as very clear. I always start out by saying, "Listen, I'm not an attorney, and I don't pretend to understand how your work happens, and so I don't expect you to understand how this happens. I'm going to try to make it as clear and understandable as possible." I don't expect them to understand, for sure the technology behind the website, but not even how we go about making these choices.
Karin: Initially, I do have a set of intake questions that get to who their clients are, who we're trying to approach and/or who their visitor is to the website. Just nail down the big initial questions about what the visuals should look like as far as tone. Some of these clients are coming to me, and they have a very corporate look to them, and some of them are like estate planning attorneys who have a very personal one-on-one type of consumer. So the visuals are all over the place depending on who they are, and what kind of clients they're working with.
Mark: You mentioned SEO earlier. I'm just interested in what your point of view is on SEO for the legal profession. But just in general, it seems to me like it's almost dead because Google owns it, and they can change it whenever they want on a whim.
Karin: Yeah. I've had different beliefs I guess about it over the years too. I don't think it's dead. I think you need to be very realistic about it. I always start every SEO conversation out by describing that I'm very conservative about it. A lot of these attorneys have gotten these huge pitches from SEO firms that talk about ... Very like hard, kind of used car salesman pitches, and they don't understand the technology behind it, and they get really confused really quickly. They say, "I don't know how this stuff works." It sounds very snake oil, but there is a lot to setting your website up the correct way to make sure that you're ranking.
Karin: We have tools where we will run through the site and do an audit to find potential errors. Things that aren't optimized to their best. Then in very certain, very niche, areas in the kind of work that I do, there are places where pay per click and things like that do make sense, but there's many more where it doesn't. I have some clients who have a very specialized kind of practice where after doing a bunch of research to establish goals and make sure that there's value there, we will set up a campaign, and if we don't see results quickly, I'm not going to waste their money.
Karin: My main goal is to let them know that, "I want you to see value. I want you to see measurable results." I'll even tell them from the beginning, "If you don't start to feel it, you don't need to see my reports. You don't need to get all the numbers. But if you don't feel that all of a sudden the phone is ringing better, and you're getting more clients, and you just sense that it's doing what it's supposed to be doing, then it probably isn't. You don't need to have an advanced degree in analytics to know in your gut if this stuff is working."
Mark: Yeah. I mean most of these are relatively small businesses, so they know when the phone's ringing or when it isn't. Right?
Karin: Exactly. Exactly. But a lot of times they just get sold this bill of goods about it where they sit down with a really harsh salesman who says, "Okay. If you spend $10,000 but you get 15 cases," and they start to crunch these numbers in a way where their head spins a little bit. I try to step back from that and say, "Listen. Forget all of that stuff. It should just be basically working."
Mark: Yeah. This is where the rational side of the brain comes in. Right?
Karin: Right. Exactly. Exactly.
Mark: Thinking kind of holistically about marketing and the creative world, are there are any trends you're tracking for the next year or so that you're interested in?
Karin: Yeah. To be honest, the legal industry is very behind. Things that seem very current and fancy to law firms are stuff typically that the rest of the world figured out a few years ago. They're just figuring out now how to do chat on websites in a way that's not obnoxious and actually is more like the intelligent person there to help answer questions and stuff like that. In the past, these chat things would pop up, and it was horrible. I mean it just interfered with the whole experience. I would honestly say that podcasts are just getting there with the legal industry, whereas I think the rest of the world, it's been five or six years now.
Karin: The things that I'm seeing that are fresh for the legal industry are not going to be any kind of revolutionary things that I think your audience would be like, "Oh. That's an interesting idea." The one thing that I love, and that I talk to my clients all the time about are the calendar scheduling things. Like I use Calendly, and I just absolutely love that. They get better and better where I can embed it into an email, and just say, "Here's the next two times. Click on it." They don't even have to click out to a browser. I find that to be such a game-changer in that tennis match of back and forth trying to set up a time.
Karin: Again, not revolutionary, but it really does change things for me and for law firms, especially when they want to be available to their clients who are oftentimes going through a crisis or things like that. So I would say, yeah, I think the things that are becoming more and more trendy for lawyers are these little things like that that make a big difference in people's lives but aren't like an iPad that never existed before or some kind of brand new, amazing, life-changing thing for the rest of the masses.
Mark: Well, sometimes incremental change can be revolutionary in an industry. You know?
Karin: Yeah.
Mark: And I think that maybe is the case in the legal realm.
Karin: Yeah, I think so. Honestly, the calendar thing, it really has changed my ability to appear available at all times to my clients. They know that they can just pop in and grab time on my calendar without having to even really contact me. They have a different approach to, "Oh my gosh. I'm going to have to email her, and we're going to go back and forth." Like you said, little things like that are ... It's really been revolutionary in my ability to present myself to my clients and potential clients.
Mark: That's neat. You mentioned chat on websites. Do legal businesses use chat bots and things like that, or are there legal ramifications of using that?
Karin: That's a good question. I think there are, and I'm the first to say I'm not a lawyer. From one state to the next, some of these things, one state bar is more readily responding to things like that. So I would always advise my clients to check it out with their state bar because even as far as the requirements for the things they need to say on the bottom of their website with their privacy policy and things like that, that's different from one state to the next.
Karin: But I think the chat thing is getting better. Like I said before, it used to be so obnoxious. It would just kind of hit you in the face as soon as you landed on the site, and you couldn't get it to go away. It was just obnoxious. But now it's usually this kind of AI little robot woman, man, whatever sitting down in the corner that is actually useful if you have a quick question. I find myself using it on other websites all the time where I just have a quick question.
Karin: If it's done well, and if it's done right, I think it can be useful depending on the practice area. If it's an estate planning attorney, their clients don't have critical, urgent questions. They just need to draw up a will or something. They don't probably need a chat bot. But if you are a criminal defense attorney, and the police are knocking on their door, and they are panicked, and they need an answer immediately, and that chat bot connects to potentially texting on your phone, and they can get that quick, immediate response, there's a much higher potential for that client to stay with that attorney than the next website that doesn't have that feature.
Mark: Yeah. Boy, if the police are knocking on your door though, are you going to go onto a website?
Karin: Well, maybe that's a bad example but maybe they're on their way, driving over.
Mark: Right. It's a fascinating area of the world, the legal realm. I'm sure we could talk for hours about it, but thanks for joining me. This was really a fun chat.
Karin: Absolutely. I enjoyed being here. Thanks so much for having me.

Cover image from Flickr, public domain.