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Adopt a ‘Groups Mentality’ for free marketing

Jane Pribek

Jane Pribek

LinkedIn occasionally e-mails me updates about what the members of my professional network are up to, and I noticed the last time around that the e-mail always informs me about a few of the groups people have joined.

This got me thinking about groups as a free marketing tool for lawyers.

After spending a little time on Google, I discovered the power of groups for Rozek Law Offices SC in Milwaukee.

Sole practitioner Randy Rozek initially considered an old-school marketing idea: Join the Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau and cough up the several hundred dollars in dues. But he soon discovered that plaintiffs’ personal injury attorneys are not always welcomed warmly by some members of business-oriented groups who favor tort reform.

So the Rozek Law Firm started its own group.

In January, they created the group “Greater Milwaukee Business Networking” on Facebook. As of this writing, the group has well over 100 members (I became the 118th, and discovered I knew some of the other members — small world!)

Some members write on the group’s wall; others participate in its discussions. Typically they are introducing themselves and their businesses, making business recommendations or inviting other group members to events.

Rozek notes that some people say one limitation of online social networking is that it’s all virtual. So they took the next, critical step: a meet-up.

About a week ago, the group had its first bi-monthly event at a local watering hole, where about 30 people representing a wide variety of businesses and professions got to interact and trade business cards.

Those are 30 people who have now created, or reinforced, a personal connection with Rozek Law Offices, and may become clients of the firm or send clients their way. And Rozek expects more people will attend the next meeting.

To find the group and join up, go to www.Facebook.com. Once you login, go to your news feed and look for “Groups” on the left-hand side.

When you click on that, you’ll see the groups you may have already joined. You’ll also see “Create a Group” near the right-hand side of the screen. Rozek says that it’s easy to do — just complete the required information, invite your Facebook Friends to join, and ask them to spread the word as well.

“The beauty of social media, and I’m no expert, is when you create a group and announce it, people pass it on to their friends. It’s viral. You don’t have to do any other marketing or ads,” he says.

You can also try the same tactic with LinkedIn’s groups application. It’s just as easy and likely just as effective.

Consider ValPak

Another old-school marketing idea is the Yellow Pages. Rozek says his firm tried that route but found it to be “very expensive.” It yielded a few clients, but in the final analysis was a poor value.

So they’ve moved on to ValPak, a division of Cox Target Media, which sends a stack of coupons from local businesses in the “familiar blue envelope,” according to ValPak’s Web site.

Rozek contracted for a year of quarterly coupons sent to 100,000 mailboxes in the Milwaukee area. The firm’s coupon offers a free informational publication authored by Rozek entitled, “A Consumer’s Guide: Personal Injury Claims in Wisconsin,” available both as an online download and a booklet.

“I made a conscious decision not to try and shout louder than my competitors. It’s not my style,” Rozek says. “Instead, I chose to offer my potential clients something that’s missing from most personal injury lawyer advertising — educational information.”

The ValPak campaign has proven effective, with many prospects calling the firm’s 800 number or requesting the publication from the “landing page” created to track such requests. A sizeable number have turned into clients. Because the year’s mailings are not yet completed, Rozek expects there will be many more.

Although it’s cheaper than the Yellow Pages, ValPak still comes at a “substantial cost” of several thousand dollars, he says. But it’s cost-effective nonetheless, when compared to the expense of creating a profile on familiar sites such as Findlaw or Martindale Hubbell (about $300 per month) or television advertising.

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