In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Karin Conroy discuss:
- How websites have changed from the beginning brochure style to how they work best strategically now.
- Where lawyers and law firms are missing the boat on website design and strategy.
- Being unique and memorable from the first look of your website.
- Connecting your message with your design.
- Website technology is constantly changing. Whenever you learn it, learn the principles and concepts about marketing and design and evolve with the changes.
- Don’t pretend that you know what you’re doing in building your website – work with someone who can strategically help you design your website for what you want it to do.
- Not everyone uses websites the same way you use a website.
- Conversion does not mean the same for every firm.
“Your calls to action need to be aligned with your positioning.” — Karin Conroy
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Call Steve directly at 847-602-6911
Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie
Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.
website, client, lawyer, people, firm, positioning, law firm, conversion, chicago, conversation, design, marketing, strategy, site, lasalle street, answers, practice, picture, business, talking
Narrator, Steve Fretzin, Karin Conroy
Karin Conroy [00:00]
If I was going to go build a house tomorrow, I have no idea how to build a house. And I’m not going to pretend like I do because it’s going to be a disaster. And that’s usually the websites I’m seeing people are pretending like, Oh, I’ve seen this commercial for Squarespace. In the Superbowl, I should be able to do this. I’m a lawyer. I’m super smart. Like, okay, well, yes, you are smart in a certain way. But your certain way did not teach you how to be smart about what goes into a website.
You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer, coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive, helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.
Steve Fretzin [00:56]
Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I hope you’re having a lovely day. I know I am. It’s beautiful here in Chicago, we’re kind of coming into the summer. And you know, we’re starting to get to face to face meetings, we’re starting to realize we can go out and play golf, and we can do all kinds of things to network and build our businesses or law practices. I don’t have a lot of practice, but you do. And that’s the most important thing. And so, you know, this show, as you guys all know, it’s all about helping provide answers, solutions, ideas, advice for you to help grow your law practice and to be more efficient, and you’ll make more but also, more importantly, have the balance. You know, make sure that you’re spending time with your family, make sure you’re taking care of yourself and your health. And of course, you know, anything we can do to help, you know make this an easier element of how you’re going to run your practice successfully. That’s the goal. And today’s show is no different. I have a terrific guest in Caren Conroy who is the founder and creative director of Conroy creative Council. How’s it going? Current?
Karin Conroy [01:51]
Great. It sounds like it’s things are going good. They’re in Chicago to California. Yeah, so
Steve Fretzin [01:56]
we’re having a California ask day. Oh, there you go. So we don’t have a lot of them. But we have our summers are gorgeous. So people in Chicago know, there’s a lot of reasons to leave Chicago, but the summers aren’t one of them.
Karin Conroy [02:08]
Right? Well, I grew up in Minneapolis. And so we would never have a whole California day, it would be like maybe a few hours, and then all of a sudden it would be maybe like Northern Canada, and then all of a sudden it would switch to a different part of the world and
Steve Fretzin [02:21]
you’re being hard to spot out Minnesota is the summers are just like Chicago, they’re gorgeous. During the fishing, it’s even better. Sometimes, okay, I think we’re gonna let it go with that and agree to disagree, if you will. Do me a favor, if you would, and just give a little background on yourself and how you came to be in the space that you’re in. Because not only you’ve got so much expertise and background in this as I was researching up prior to the podcast, and I know my audience would be curious to hear what’s going on.
Karin Conroy [02:47]
Well, I have kind of been a serial person at school, I started way back at the beginning of the internet. I was working at this little internet cafe in Laguna Beach, and I was teaching people how to actually use the internet. I had this one guy, this older guy come in and he was like, didn’t know how to use a computer at all. He’s picked up the mouse and pointed it like it was a remote at the computer. So way back from the beginning. And websites back then were basically a brochure it was just this flat HTML thing. And sometimes there’d be like a damn thing hamster or, you know, whatever. And it was all Netscape and, you know, Napster, and
Steve Fretzin [03:30]
we were still using Yahoo. And there probably is right
Karin Conroy [03:33]
there are there. I know some people I had a client a couple of years ago, that was using an AOL email address. And now we’re talking to Molly in New York.
Steve Fretzin [03:43]
Okay, I can see it, I can see it.
Karin Conroy [03:47]
That was Red flag number one. So that was my start. And then I went, I started doing kind of websites and everything there. And I went to UCI for web design. And basically a lot of a lot of the design principles that I learned at that point, still hold but the website technology is constantly changing. So whenever you learn it, especially if it’s in like University studying like that, it’s probably almost already out of date. So the things to hold on to and to learn are the bigger, kind of bigger scale concepts about marketing and design and that kind of stuff. And then, so then I started working as the Director of Marketing at Century 21. So I was there for a long time leading up to our first recession. And I had a team, we were the biggest real estate company in California. Well, actually, we were the biggest one in the world. And I was, you know, and then we hit the first recession with real estate. And so the marketing team was the first to go, I was building my company at that time, and come to find out that’s a perfect time that a lot of lawyers are, you know, sort of leaving firms, not necessarily of their own choice. So at that time, I started working with law years and made that transition. And from real estate agents to lawyers, it was actually quite similar real estate agents are running their own businesses. And they’re, you know, out there marketing to a similar kind of audience that and so there’s a lot of concepts that that overlap. And at the same time I started my MBA, so I went back to UCI, again, got an MBA, so I have this combination of, you know, the two sides of my brain, like the creative, and then the design, and then the strategy side from the MBA that I really feel like is, is the difference that I offer where I’m kind of thinking about both things for all of our decisions.
Steve Fretzin [05:38]
Got it, got it. So it’s interesting, you know, I started working with lawyers, in a very similar fashion right after the recession, really never thought lawyers needed help with marketing, business development, like business was always there. And we come to realize that no, there’s very, it’s highly competitive, you know, lawyers need to, you know, keep up to date on marketing, business development, they need to get their own clients, etc. So I got pulled into it maybe in the same fashion that you did. But it seems that, you know, both of us have been very successful at niching out and really focusing on helping this particular industry. So when it comes to lawyers and law firms and their websites, and I really want to focus on websites and design, and, and I’m looking at websites all the time, and I’m sort of a critic, like an unpaid critic, really, because I just look at them. And I criticize, like, you know, why are there for, you know, for white guys on the cover? Or why are they on the homepage? Or why are there you know, it’s still still people with cityscapes and whatever. But we’re lawyers and law firms missing the boat on websites and website design.
Karin Conroy [06:35]
So the first quick answer is that there’s no plan, there’s no strategy. And I would say, a lot of the people who I initially have these initial conversations with, they are coming to me out of fear. And so they are coming to me. And either they’re, they’re fearful, because they’ve seen their their revenues dive, or oftentimes, it’s their competition just got a nice new website, and they’re freaking out, because they realize that it’s much nicer, but they don’t know how to get there. And they realize that they’re doing things wrong. Plus, there’s a lot of ego. And if you went to law school, and you put all this money into law school, and you’re being hired for your expertise, it’s hard to admit that you don’t know the answer. And you shouldn’t know the answer. So the first step is to recognize, okay, you know, if I was gonna go build a house tomorrow, I have no idea how to build a house. And I’m not going to pretend like I do, because it’s going to be a disaster. And that’s usually the websites I’m seeing people are pretending like, Oh, I’ve seen this commercial for Squarespace. In the Superbowl, I should be able to do this. I’m a lawyer. I’m super smart. It’s like, okay, well, yes, you are smart in a certain way. But you’re certain way did not teach you how to be smart about what goes into a website. So I can drive a car, that doesn’t mean I have any idea how to fix it, how to make one how to make it work, and how to make it look the way I want it to look, or how to give me that feeling. That is the kind of car I want to drive. So my car drives differently than other cars that I went to test drive. And I made a decision based mostly on the feeling that I got when I was driving that car.
Steve Fretzin [08:21]
Well, let me stop you because I think everything you’ve said makes perfect sense. I mean, why would someone who has no experience in marketing and developing a website will assume that they’re an expert, and that they can put it together better than someone who has done that for many, many years. But I think you’re right, the ego kicks in. And it’s hard for them to admit it. And even more, so they might consider how they use a website as the way that everyone uses a website. So I had a managing partner one time with, by the way, one of the worst websites like I’ve ever seen, that had like some animated graphics on the cover of like people pushing blocks or something insane. And I asked him, I go, what do you see? That’s good here. What do you not like? He says, I just see the phone number. And that’s all I need. If there’s a phone number, that’s what I’m looking for when I go to a website. So I’m assuming that’s what everybody is looking for. I go Holy mackerel, yeah, I’m
Karin Conroy [09:06]
here. Okay, so that. So a lot of times there are, that sounds almost honestly, like a kind of client, where if I was, if I were you and I were having that conversation, that would be a red flag. And there would be points along that conversation, where there are people I can’t help, and they have to come to that realization. And so a lot of times, I will talk to someone, and I’ll have that kind of a conversation where they really believe that a phone number is all they need on a website. And I’ll say that is great. You go and you run with that, and you keep my phone number. And I’m gonna check in with you in six, eight months, and let’s see how it goes. And you know, and and you, they sometimes just have to come to that realization on their own. I’m not going to be the one to tell them that the things they’re thinking are wrong. They have to figure that out. So if they’re coming to me and They haven’t come to that point yet. And they still are asking me why I should be any different than Squarespace. I’m not, they’re not the right client for me. And so they have to,
Steve Fretzin [10:09]
but it may be that they’re that, yes, they might have an ego and not be the right client. But again, I think part of your job is to ask questions and not beat them necessarily upfront, but ask them questions in go through the strategy so that they can work it out maybe themselves, like when they realize that their website is failing on a couple levels, because of the questions you ask not because you’re telling them it’s wrong, or because they’re clueless about it. It’s almost nice when you can ask questions and have them have that epiphany that everything that they thought of that or they had confidence about is maybe not the right way to look at it. So what are the strategy questions you ask? How do you get people that might not be a good fit? Maybe that they end up? Just it’s because they just don’t know what they don’t know?
Karin Conroy [10:51]
Right? And yeah, let me just clarify, I do go through, I don’t just, you know, assume that the first part of the call if they don’t understand my process, and the design process and what they don’t know, then I just hang up. I mean, the whole process,
Steve Fretzin [11:05]
of course, you got to go through, you know, even on your website, I noticed that you’re going through sort of a bloodletting exercise to get information so that they, at least at least, they’re answering questions for you to identify whether they’re a good fit, or whether they’re, you know, even reasonable. But let me go back to this point. Because not everyone needs the same website, right? A personal injury attorney needs a website that’s going to do something different than someone who’s a top environmental, big, firm, lawyer or law firm. So how do you help them figure out their strategy or what they’re looking to accomplish with the website and how it differs from one type of practice to another.
Karin Conroy [11:40]
So where we start, is I start to ask them, oftentimes, they’ll already have a site, and we’ll start to ask them a look at what’s happening on the current site. Oftentimes, the formula I would say, at least 80, to 90% of the time, the formula they’re using on their site, is we are x law firm in y city, doing the practice area, period. And then like you said, Skyline picture, or maybe a picture of a conference room, or if it’s a different practice area, some really generic stock photo, and they’re like, done, we got the website. So where we start with strategy is that it has to totally pivot so that it’s client focused speaking to the clients and expressing the solutions that they solve. So no matter what kind of practice area they have, there’s some solution they’re solving. There’s a pain point from that client that they are addressing. And the first thing that person and that potential client needs to understand on the website is they’re in the right place. So that is not we are x law firm in y city, doing the practice area that doesn’t tell them anything about their problem, that doesn’t tell them anything about whether you can solve it, it doesn’t tell them anything about the client. And so that’s where we start. If during those conversations, they really still hold on to where they’re at. And they just don’t, you know, they they don’t see it, that’s great. You know, that’s fine. And it’s, it’s not, it’s not a good fit. But then we you know, usually that they get it, they say, Okay, this isn’t telling my client anything, this isn’t expressing anything. Not only that, when they go
Steve Fretzin [13:11]
keep going, I just have a question. Sorry, I get car on the finger, not a bad finger, but a good finger like, Hey, I have a question, what happens
Karin Conroy [13:19]
when they go from one site to the next, the goal of marketing is to be unique and memorable. And when you’re doing the same thing, from one site to the next, you are going to get the same result as every other firm. So if you’re not being memorable, then you failed. And so the design is different than art design can fail. And you know, these designers that a lot of my clients have worked with in the past, they get that confused, they feel like they’re artists, and they’re not design is there are art forms that come into design. But design is a function and it can fail. So there should be a goal, it should be measurable, and it should be achievable. And if it’s if the design is not accomplishing those things, it has failed. So number one, if it’s not memorable, it’s failed. It’s not working. And so then you know, that’s where you start. And I’m obviously very upfront and clear spoken. And so when I have these conversations, if you know if that doesn’t come across, well, doesn’t resonate, that’s fine. You know, that’s great. There’s plenty of other places they can go, that will fill, just kind of check the boxes and do those sort of templated sites that look like everything else. But that’s not what we
Steve Fretzin [14:32]
- But so you said a number of things that I think were really important, so memorable, memorable being number one and number two is you mentioned that it’s goal oriented. And then the one that I want you to take another minute on is client focused. So I had my website up for years where it was a picture of me on LaSalle Street in Chicago with my arms crossed, you know, pay like I’m confident I can help you and and look at me, I’m in Chicago and I had all that imagery of confidence in Chicago and LaSalle street Okay. And that’s fine. But I made some strategic decisions about what does the client really want? Or what is the client looking for. And so you could tell me that my designs wrong or whatever, but I think it’s good in the sense that what clients want to know is that I’ve worked with other attorneys that have been successful with other attorneys. And that if I can help someone else that similar to them that they may want to look at me further. So I now have mainly a client, a picture of one of my clients with what that client had said about me and working with me on my homepage as the static design. And I just feel that that’s so much more client centric than what I had, which was more maybe ego centric. So give me another minute on that. How do you figure out like what the clients want?
Karin Conroy [15:43]
Okay, so that’s positioning. So that is where what where we start with every project is we come in and figure out the positioning of that firm. And some people do that with this kind of story brand thing, there’s a big, you know, very popular book called Story brand, we don’t use that, we use a different thing where we figure out a combination of the kind of language that your clients use, the kind of language that you use to solve their problem. And then also the unique positioning and approach that that firm uses. So for example, a personal injury firm is going to be completely different than an estate planning firm. So we recently worked with an estate planning from the does more more specifically elder care. And it’s their branding and their language is very personal, it’s very warm, it’s very, you know, that’s it’s kind of a very family focused topic, a personal injury firm is all and so their language is all about caring, and
Steve Fretzin [16:45]
soft and soft and nurturing, loving, take care of your family. That’s the focus, that’s the position I get.
Karin Conroy [16:51]
See, when we do the position, it has to do with a lot of adjectives, and then how the language works to really move clients through that decision. So if you’re speaking to them with the wrong language, it’s not going to work. So this is all functional language. So we start with those adjectives and those descriptors. And then all of the subsequent decisions are based off of that. So all of the design supports that instead of the other way around, which is where most other firms start, like, Okay, I’m in Chicago, let’s do a city skyscape. So as opposed to the personal injury approach, where oftentimes it’s this positioning of like, we are a people’s champion, we are fighting in your corner. So for someone like that, it’s going to be bold, it’s going to be assertive, the colors are going to be bold, the fonts are going to be bold, and it’s going to be strong and supportive, and not ended up noxious use car salesmen kind of way, but in a way that really speaks to the pain that those clients are coming with, to your firm for. So for you, I am in no way would say that you’re standing in front of you know, you know, I can see your book behind you like the arms crossed picture,
Steve Fretzin [18:07]
that’s the picture that was on my website.
Karin Conroy [18:10]
Because maybe your positioning, first of all, you’re the face of your brand, you know, you are a solo company, and you’re the face of that brand. And so people know your name there, they’re often probably Googling your name and landing on your site. And so they’re, you know, they connect that Google search with your face. So that’s not disconnected. But the message that needs to be corresponding to that is where I think you saw that pivot. And where I started way back in the early days of the internet, it would have been what you described, you know, I am this person, I do this law. And that is how things were being done. And this whole client centered approach is more current, it’s kind of the trend that we’ve been seeing over the last few years. So it is more appropriate that you’re talking about supporting your photo with those testimonials, because those are trust indicators. And so those are showing, and then there’s a reason why people care a lot about all those Amazon reviews, because they want to trust what somebody else who supposedly maybe bought it, but maybe it was a robot, and it’s kind of hard to tell, but you know, if they can really believe some of those reviews, then they’re more likely to purchase. So it’s the same thing with a law firm, they’re most more likely to convert if they have some of those trust indicators, telling them, okay, this person has won some awards, or they’ve got some great testimonials or whatever those those indicators are. Somebody else validated this, this person’s work. And so this, you know, this makes me feel better and more confident and moving forward in whatever that conversion might mean.
Steve Fretzin [19:48]
Yeah. And so what are some of the most up to date, things that lawyers should be doing on their websites to get conversion and you can define what conversion is but I want to talk about Add Ons plugins, like what’s the hot things two or three things that they could say, You know what? I don’t have that on my site, but based on hearing current talk about it, wow, that would really help me with, you know, efficiency or that would help me with conversion, or that would help me with intake, what are the kinds of things you’re putting, like I saw on your website, you have something about, you know, hey, you know, let’s do a little bit of is this right for you? Or let me tell me more about what you are looking for. And you’re doing that for a reason you’re doing that to improve conversions? Right,
Karin Conroy [20:29]
right. Right. Okay. So backing up, were you asked to define conversion? So that’s the first step. Yes, conversion does not mean the same for every firm. And it shouldn’t, because that personal injury law firm that I was describing a few minutes ago, does not have the same measure of conversion as that eldercare law firm. So a conversion for the elder care firm might be a referral, it might be a much warmer sale, where they’re only partially through that decision process. And so that conversion might be coming to the website three or four times to read some articles. And so the first thing to do is this marketing term called KPI, which means key performance indicator, which basically just means how are you going to measure it? What what do you matter what matters to you? And what are your goals? So let’s start with that. So for me, it’s not phone calls, I get phone calls from SEO companies trying to sell me their services all day long. If I counted those, I would feel like I was a great success, but they have nothing to do anything.
Steve Fretzin [21:30]
Yeah. Solicit so solicitations to sell you stuff, because you have a website that we’re not going to count that
Karin Conroy [21:37]
we’re not going to count that. And you know, a lot of people look at their traffic numbers, their overall traffic numbers on SEO, and they’re like, I’m doing great. It’s like, really, are you? I mean, is it coming from the Ukraine? Is it a bunch of robots, or you know, how many of those converted to actual things you care about, rather than a sales call, whether it’s a email, download, whatever those things are, I would say that for the majority of law firms, it’s a phone call or an email, or we do work with a lot of law firms who aren’t looking for a mass influx of traffic, they’re looking more for validation and reputation improvement and things like that. So they do want to improve things like the amount of time spent on the website, the amount of time spent specifically in certain areas of the website, like bios, maybe they care a lot about their opposing counsel, looking at their bios, and like feeling really strong and aggressive about that. So we’re looking at those kinds of metrics. So starting with that, like, you know, setting that piece aside, conversion means something different to, you know, hopefully everybody listening, and then things to go and improve, those should obviously line up with that. So your first of all, your verbiage on your calls to action should be different. So that all comes back to the first thing we talked about that strategy and the positioning. So for me, my positioning is all about being an expert, being an expertise, pulling my clients through the process, not making them figure these things out, not making them understand complex technical terms and things like that, I’m going to figure that out for you. I’m going to tell you what you need and what’s going to make sense. And so for me, I never use the word if I always pull them through and say, This is what you need. Let’s do this. Click here. Now, learn more. And so your calls to action need to be in line with your positioning. If you’re that eldercare firm, it’s going to be a lot warmer than that you’re not going to be so assertive, and you know, kind of telling them what to do.
Steve Fretzin [23:36]
You’re not like, you’re not going to say click here to sign up. If you’re doing something soft and nurturing like eldercare,
Karin Conroy [23:41]
no, you’re going to, you know, provide more kind of information and resources. And you’re going to say, you know, you know, we care about this, you know, find out your answers, get your answers, hear things like that. So those are the kind of first two steps figuring out your positioning and what you’re measuring, and then having the right calls to action, and then you bring in the tactics. So I talked a lot about this difference between strategy and tactics. And the tactics are the things you were talking about that a lot of people go to first, like, what are the fancy tools? Where are the, you know, shiny objects that I can get distracted with? And that is where we started this whole conversation where a lot of people first come to me with this fear, like, oh, my gosh, my competition just added chat to their website. Do I need that? And, you know, or I’ve had a lot of conversations about social media. I was at a conference back in the good days before Coronavirus, and I sat down at the lunch table with this guy and he was talking about whether he should be on Twitter. And so I started to ask him well, okay, who are your clients? And you know, why would you think you need to be on Twitter and it was definitely that fear based. My competition. I just noticed they have you know, all these followers. Well, he does Construction Law and really kind of blew We’ll call her construction workers are his target market? And so I said, Well, do you picture any of those guys on Twitter? And he said, well, not really. There. I mean, and I’ve had these conversations, and sometimes there are, you can find those groups. And so there there are yes and no answers to each one of these. But you don’t just go to a place out of the blue without any strategy, you don’t just pick a tactic without a strategy assigned behind it. So some of those tactics might be social media, they might be adding a chatbot, they might be the way that I pull and kind of narrow people through my funnel is a good questionnaire, I use a good form for that, where I asked some key questions. And they’re not just meant for the clients to tell me about their firm. They’re also meant to tell me what kind of client they’re going to be. So if they totally bypass this giant button on my site that says, working with us begins here. And they decided that they’re too, too important for that, that tells me something right there. So maybe I don’t work with them, or maybe their rate goes up, or you know, so you kind of need to find ways to gather this information about these people that are coming to you in strategic ways to make the right decisions about whether you want to work with them.
Steve Fretzin [26:16]
Well, so let’s wrap up with this. And we’re going back to the very beginning of our conversation where you mentioned about building a house. And it sounds like these conversations and the strategy sessions and figuring out who your targets are figuring out what the clients are looking for and what they’re feeling, right. And that’s the foundation, and then you’re building up from there, versus just how let’s throw in a solar panel there, or let’s throw in a random chimney there, when in fact, that’s not really how you build a house, right? You got to start from the ground up. So I think that’s really great. If people have interest current and hearing more about you checking out your website, seeing some case studies, or having a conversation about possibly engaging you. How do they get to you?
Karin Conroy [26:57]
The easiest way is on the website. It’s Conroy creative council.com. I’m also all over social media and all of that if they want to take a look there and try to find me, but yeah, the easiest way is through the website.
Steve Fretzin [27:07]
Very cool. I appreciate you being on the show and sharing your wisdom. And yeah, I think we had some laughs too, so it doesn’t hurt right.
Karin Conroy [27:15]
Thanks for having me. My
Steve Fretzin [27:17]
pleasure. My pleasure. And listen, everybody, thank you for spending some time with Karen and I on the show. And hopefully again, you know, you scroll down a couple of ideas, or at least get some your brain going about your website. And man may not be up to snuff. So some things to think about. And again, if you consider marketing, business development, time management, making sure you’re constantly improving and evolving as a lawyer and how you get business. You can someday be that lawyer someone who is confident organized a skilled Rainmaker, and hopefully we’re helping you to get to that point. Also, if you liked the show, and you liked the show, in general, please like us, please give us five stars do whatever the app you’re on or the platform tells you to do or asked you to do. We’d love to get the word out about the show to other attorneys and other people that could get value the way hopefully you have as well. So listen, have a great one and we’ll see you again soon.
Thanks for listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website fretzin.com. For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes