Victor Goes to Bunbury

Victor Goes to Bunbury

Victor

Since 2012, Bunbury Music Festival has brought great music, good beer and food, and unforgettable memories to the banks of the Ohio River each summer. The three-day music fest, which takes place at Sawyer Point & Yeatman’s Cove, has historically been an alternative and indie rock event. This year, it was under the new ownership of PromoWest Productions. While bands such as The Black Keys, Walk the Moon, and Twenty One Pilots kept Bunbury close to its roots, bands such as The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Snoop Dogg were a step in a different—but much welcomed—direction. Other changes this year included fewer bands and fewer stages, allowing fans to have a more intimate concert experience—something PromoWest, a Columbus-based music promotion company, prides itself on. Bunbury also celebrated a big “first” this year: with 20,000 fans attending on Friday, Bunbury had its first sell-out crowd. I’ve been attending since 2013, so it is nice to see the attendance and national exposure grow each year. With four years and a sell-out crowd under their belt, I think it is safe to say the organizers of Bunbury know what they are doing, and I am already excited for the summer of 2016.

From the Desk of: Alison Kenney

Alison

Hi, I’m Alison, and I am entering my fourth month as Account Coordinator at GNGF. Before moving to Cincinnati in February of this year, I worked as Fundraising Coordinator for a non-profit organization in Denver, Colorado, called the Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Project (SCIRP). During this experience, I worked with clients who had suffered traumatic injuries that were physically, emotionally, and financially life-altering. In that role, I was reminded on a daily basis that people everywhere face hardships in their lives that may require legal assistance. Now, my job is to make sure that those seekers find the legal help they are seeking.

Here are a few simple yet extremely effective action items your firm can implement today to make yourself more findable online.

The importance of client reviews.

Whether searching for the best pizza place in town or for your child’s next babysitter, online reviews now carry more credibility than ever. For better or for worse, this same standard is being applied to law firms nationwide. Your firm has surely impacted many of your clients in positive ways—let that be known. Where should you start, you might ask? We would recommend Google+ and Avvo.

Let’s start with Google. With Gmail now having over 900 million users, it is likely that a fair share of your clients are already set up to leave your firm a review on Google+. Google requires that you obtain five reviews before it starts publishing your star rating (1-5 stars). When encouraging your clients to leave reviews, recommend highlighting the positive qualities of your firm without discussing case specifics.

As an online legal services resource, Avvo.com has become more recognized and respected among users seeking legal help. The rating system ranging from 1 to 10 is in place to assist users in making an informed decision about which attorney to work with. Unlike Google+, there is no specific type of email address required to leave a review. These ratings require minimal effort from a client perspective but can have a hugely positive impact for your firm.

You are the expert – share your knowledge.

Think about a time you have quickly needed a question answered. Chances are you typed the exact question into Google and received multiple results answering that question. This is a perfect example of keeping a user perspective in mind. The people who are searching for your legal services online are typing in the questions they need answered. These are called “long-tail” search queries.

At GNGF, we view each site from a user perspective. We recommend adding Frequently Asked Questions for a couple of reasons. First, FAQs incorporate these long-tail keywords that users are searching for. And second, as the expert in the legal field, you already know the answers. Think about the questions you find clients asking most often, and increase your online visibility by providing the published answers on your site.

These are just a couple tips we recommend for our clients. As the newest Account Coordinator at GNGF, I am excited to help law firms both build their business and serve their clients’ needs. So far, things are off to a great start. Let’s Get Awesome.

#Trends: Podcast Gaining Ground

#For 44 percent of Americans, your day likely involves streaming audio, such as Pandora or Spotify, and lately on-demand podcast episodes have been added to that list. Podcasts are a unique blend of content marketing and social media. Users are consuming useful information in an interactive atmosphere that is entertaining. Traditional content marketing is losing its luster next to interactive podcasts.

#What if you could see your Twitter followers’ net worth, education, or occupations? Now you can. Twitter has introduced a new tool that will assist you in analyzing your audience’s demographics. This will be useful to identify organic followers and identify new audiences to target. Twitter’s audience insights can provide information on users’ demographics and purchase behavior, amongst other useful insights.

#Pinterest and Instagram are turning up their appeal to advertisers. Pinterest has added the Buyable Pin feature that allows users to purchase items directly from Pinterest. Instagram, owned by Facebook, has recently amped up its advertising efforts, allowing more widely spread brands and advertisers to purchase ad space by targeting audiences based on Facebook audience targeting.

What You Can Learn From Our Redesigned Website

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Launching a new site or redesigning an old site is never easy. It’s a complex process that involves a lot of hours, effort, testing, and organization. But it is something that should be embraced with excitement. GNGF had been looking at the same site for two years, and we had reached stalemate. We had evolved as a company, but our website hadn’t. It was time for a change and we jumped in feet first. Our goal was to improve the GNGF website’s ability to communicate clearly to our market what we do.

It Starts with Designing for User Experience

When creating a new design, here’s a general rule of thumb: less is more. You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s true. The more you have going on, the easier it will be for your visitor to get distracted.

The homepage of our new site is a great example of this. Yes, there’s a lot there, but it’s structured in a way that allows you to focus your attention on any given section at a time. We broke up sections horizontally to give better breathing room between areas of content and to give smaller bits of information with opportunities for the user to decide if he or she wants to read more. There is nothing competing for your attention off to either side—only the content on the center axis of the page and that’s it. Each section has a clear objective, making your job easier.

In keeping with this same line of thinking, we employed a limited color palate. This is one of the most effective strategies for creating consistency and focus within a website (or any piece of design work, for that matter). We recommend you decide on a maximum of three colors. We chose to use black and white imagery for a clean and professional feel. Our brand colors provide an accent and delineate places where a user is supposed to take action.

We also limited our design to two typefaces: Raleway for our main body font and Alternative Gothic No. 3 for our headline font—great complementary fonts. It is recommended that you stick with no more than two. All of these decisions improve the user experience, or UX. Again, users can only digest so much at any given time. Make it easy for them. Don’t clutter your site with any more than you need.

In order to provide the best possible experience to our users, we implemented a delayed load on images. This allows the web page to immediately load what the user is viewing, and it calls additional images to load as the user scrolls. On our old site, all images were called to load each time a user refreshed the page. With the increase in images and interactive graphics on our new site, this was a necessary improvement.

Redefining Our Business Objectives and Re-Optimizing for Those Goals

When we sat down to redefine our goals as a company, we identified expanding our service offerings as one of those goals. We also took a look at our analytics and saw that, over the past year, direct and organic traffic to our site was even at 36 percent a piece, as expected. As we shift gears, one of our main goals is to have our organic search traffic average around 45 percent of our traffic.

Because of our speaking, writing, and referrals, the majority of visits from that organic search traffic were coming from branded terms. This added a new goal in our site redesign: to increase the amount of organic traffic from non-branded search to gngf.com by 20 percent. How are we going to do this? Our strategy is to focus on building up our online presence for the terms “legal marketing agency” and “business solutions for law firms” on the national stage. Our entire homepage is now geared around those keyword terms.

Back to the focus on user experience, we realized that we were not communicating our services as well as we could have been, so we redefined our services. A huge part of what we do for our clients is helping them to communicate to their target audience, and we identified opportunity for GNGF to improve this experience for our own clients. Since what we do at GNGF has evolved, it is time that our site reflected exactly what it is we do today and how we can help our clientele.

All in all? Preparing to launch our website was quite a feat. It always is, for anyone and everyone. Lucky for us, we do this all the time for our clients. This time it was our turn. If you will allow us a moment to brag—yes, our new website is a classy lady. Check her out.

GNGF Success: All-Star Clients

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Our Cincinnati staff is ecstatic this July, as the Major League Baseball All-Star game is coming to the Queen City!

As we celebrate baseball’s best on the banks of the Ohio River, we decided to show off some of the all-stars we work with each and every day. We are fortunate to serve clients that go above and beyond the call of duty in their profession; these individuals deserve recognition for their hard work and generosity.

Without further adieu, here are a few of our All-Star clients.

Pat McMenamin | McMenamin & McMenamin, PS | Port Angeles, WA

Pat was recently named “Best Attorney in Clallam County” by the Peninsula Daily News and Sequim Gazette. Each year, the publications create a “Best of the Peninsula” issue, with citizens voting on their top choices amongst local business and professionals. We were thrilled to hear that Pat received this honor, one that was well earned through his dedication to his clients.

Morris Lilienthal | Martinson & Beason, P.C. | Huntsville, AL

For the past few years, Morris has demonstrated a philanthropic side to the legal industry by supporting a cause near and dear to his heart. In April, “Team Will” participated in the Huntsville March of Dimes’ “March for Babies,” raising over $10,000 for the organization. Morris and his wife, Shannon, lost their son, Will, in 2009 when he was three days old. Since then, the Lilienthals have been avid supporters of March of Dimes, starting Team Will to help fundraise for the cause annually.

Don Schlapprizzi | Schlapprizzi Attorneys at Law | St. Louis, MO

Don has established himself as a well-respected personal injury attorney in St. Louis and was recently recognized for his contributions. At the “Yearly Gathering in the Gateway City,” the St. Louis Beta Theta Pi Club honored Don for his accomplishments in his field. This special event has occurred annually since 1905.

Ethics: Does Your State Require Submission of Advertising Materials for Review?

GNGF Ethics

You’ve got a brand new website, great conversion strategies, and it’s optimized for SEO—launch day is finally here, and you’re ready for the uptick in leads you believe are coming.

But wait—there’s one holdup. You’re in Texas; your firm needs to submit the site to the state bar association for review before it can be live online. You take the necessary step.

Weeks pass. Potential leads slip away. What now?

At GNGF, we’ve seen this type of incident play out on more than one occasion. Our solution? Be aware of your state bar association’s rules when it comes to advertisement reviews.

Let’s return to Texas, as an example. Texas Bar Rule 7.07(c) says that “…a lawyer shall file with the Advertising Review Committee of the State Bar of Texas no later than its first posting on the internet or other comparable network of computers information concerning the lawyer’s or lawyer’s firm’s website.”

This means that once a firm in Texas is ready to launch their site, there’s one last hurdle they must clear—one that could take weeks, delaying a vital lead source they had expected.

Your state may not have the same review requirements for websites as Texas, but it is still vital that you are aware of what types of advertising materials do need to be submitted for review, and the time it typically takes your state bar association to reach a decision on these materials.

The GNGF team encourages you to keep submission requirements in mind when creating your marketing strategy timelines. Delays or requirements from your state bar association could slow the process, creating major issues if you were expecting leads from that source soon.

What Makes a Good Practice Management Software?

Office

When we speak at bar associations and legal conferences around the country, lawyers often ask us what tools we recommend to help a law firm run more efficiently. After talking with law firms and industry experts, we came away with the following must-haves of a practice management software.

Practice Management Software Must-Haves

Time Tracking: The majority of your profits come from your time; you’ve got to be able to track it. Regardless of your fee arrangement, you need to know the time you are putting in on each case and therefore the profitability of each case. You’re already doing the work—get paid for it.

Communication Tracking: Phone calls, emails, in-person meetings—legal matters require a lot of communication. This should all be in one centralized place—not in file folders, email inboxes, a hard-drive, or notepads. This allows everyone to keep a central eye on the case and reduces duplicate work or the need to wait on someone for an answer you already should have in the system.

Document Tracking: The more documents you create, the more you should have them matched to a central location where everyone who is allowed to access them can do so.

Mobility: You take your smartphone with you everywhere you go. I am sure you have looked at client matters on your mobile email, talked to clients on your mobile phone, or read research and briefs while away from the office. Practice management software should be right there in your pocket to capture your time and case-related communication and to access case-related information when you are out of the office.

Practice Management Software Nice-Haves

Client Portal: Just as you expect software to have a mobile capability, your clients expect to have a place where they can access their information without having to pick up the phone and call. They have access to their financial information and health information online; why would they not expect to have access to their legal information online as well? Making a client go to your office or [gasp] fax something to you is an outdated method of communication for many consumers. A solution that can provide a secure and confidential place to share communication and documents with your clients is a big plus in our book.

Document Automation: A lot of the documents you create are the compilation of combining a set of documents you have created over many years with the client’s key information. Document automation has been around for many years to speed this common process up. What would be nice is if the practice management solution that contains all of your client’s data communicated with your document automation solution, or could even do it on its own.

Integration: Let’s face it, there is not currently the one-size fits all perfect law firm in a box software tool. Depending on your legacy tools, your email preference, your accounting system you have different systems that likely need to talk to each other. A good practice management system should be able to integrate with a wide variety of standard software tools. From Microsoft Office and Gmail to Quickbooks and LawPay, your practice management solution should reduce the need for double entry and downloading and re-uploading.

Tracking ROI:  In 2015 you likely do a lot more marketing of your firm than just rely on referrals. How well can you track which marketing channel provide the most prospects? Even if you can do that, the next most logical step is looking at quality not quantity. If you have what you billed vs. the time spent on your clients matter in a system, then you could probably connect marketing channel to the actual profitability of that channel. More prospects is not as good as more profitable prospects.

So which software do we recommend?

We took our requirements and researched the various vendors on the market today. We reached out to the ones that made the initial cut to follow up with more detailed questions. As we researched, we realized there is one key determining factor: Do you go with a cloud-based solution or a local server-based solution? At GNGF, we prefer to use cloud-based tools. We feel that the cloud offers better security, fast feature upgrades, less hardware costs, and less costly support from local IT staff. However, that is probably an article for another time.

Our recommendation? Clio. They meet all of our key requirements and even three out of four of our ‘nice to have’ requirements. To be fair, none of the better practice management tools had a good ability to track incoming prospects through to their profitability – as we have marketing in our DNA we are hopeful that is a feature enhancement someone implements soon.

Tres’s Beer:30 Spotlight: Madtree Brewing

MadTree

In January of 2013, three friends came together to start a brewery to capitalize on the ever-growing market of craft beer, and they became one of the fastest-growing breweries in Cincinnati. With backgrounds in home-brewing, engineering, and even a defense contractor, they sought out to do what they love: providing quality craft beer for the people of this town and beyond. Their success is not only measured by the number of check-ins on Untappd (121,042) and the Beer Advocate score of 97 percent, but also by the rate of growth. Madtree is in the process of opening another brewing location, as it has maxed out at its current location, which produces 25,000 barrels of beer a year. This summer, Madtree brewed up an amazing beer called Sol Drifter, a blonde ale with strawberries that captures the pure essence of summer. It goes down quite easy while playing cornhole and watching baseball, not that I know from experience. So, as our Beer:30 spotlight Madtree Brewing would say, “Make like a tree and…drink beer!”

GNGF Update: Welcome Alex

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Recently, we have been lucky enough to welcome Alex Schutte, Director of Operations, to the team. Alex inspires us all in how active he is—not only in the industry and the community, but physically as well. Alex did rings, high bar, and pommel horse for Arizona State’s Men’s Gymnastics team. Alex loves to support local businesses. When he’s not at work, you can find him at a local brewery, craft cocktail lounge, or new concept restaurant. Alex co-founded the Cincinnati Intern Network Connection, a program that connects interns and co-op students with other young professionals and experiences in the area. While he has vowed to only sing boy band songs during karaoke, many people still compare him to John Legend—that is, if John Legend had a great afro.

From the Desk of: Alex Schutte

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As the new Director of Operations at GNGF, I will be in charge of overseeing our Marketing Services business line, constantly focused on improving operating procedures and technologies to ultimately improve the value we add to our clients’ business.

In the marketing world, there are so many tactics, channels, and slick new technologies popping up every day that it can be hard to separate out the fluff. Not a second goes by that a marketing leader or business owner doesn’t get sucked in by what I call “shiny object syndrome” and buys some new app, tries some new technology, or puts a ton of money into a new tactic because he thinks it’s cool, will magically solve all his problems, or even worse, because his competitor down the street is doing it.

But how do you prioritize what’s best for your business? The truth is, you don’t have to do everything under the sun—only the things that will have the most impact on your business. You don’t have a strategy until you can say, “No.” [Read more…]