If there’s one thing we’ve learned in over 30 years of working with outside vendors, it’s this: you ALWAYS need to shop around. Most attorneys can’t do all their marketing in-house, there’s simply too much to be done and an attorney needs to focus their energy on what they do best: being a lawyer.
That’s why it makes sense to work with outside vendors that have the staff and training in place to do what your firm needs. However, it’s very important to look around and see what your options are before you commit to a vendor. There are a few reasons to shop around for vendors before committing.
When a vendor knows that you’re looking at and considering other options, they will work harder to get your business. That means more focus on your and your firm. It means you can push for a better deal. If they sense that they are the primary or only option, they know they won’t have to work as hard or give you as good of a deal.
Here’s an example: many years ago, our billboard vendor told us they didn’t have any more boards when we wanted to expand our presence in the market. Our in-house marketing director did the work themselves and found other independent billboard companies in our area that had more boards available, and we got our new boards from them. The new billboards were at a better price than the original ones because the companies were smaller and more thankful for the new business.
If we had just stayed with the original vendor and didn’t look elsewhere, we wouldn’t have gotten those other boards, and we wouldn’t have gotten the discount.
The second reason to shop around for vendors is about gathering knowledge. The more people you speak to, the more information you have about what those vendors should be providing. It also helps you to know about changes and new developments in the industry, and it lessens the likelihood of vendors presenting unrealistic or untrue information that makes them look better or more successful than they actually are with your account.
A great example for that: we used to have an SEO company we worked with through Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers. They would do monthly reports to tell us how many people were visiting the website and what keywords got them there.
We were initially very pleased to see so many people coming to our website after looking up our firm name on Google. However, once we had a meeting with a different SEO team, we were told the truth: when someone finds your website by looking up your name, that is NOT because the SEO company did a good job.
If they’re looking you up by name, then they already know you from somewhere else, like your commercial or your billboards. A good SEO company gets you leads that come from keywords like “truck accident” or phrases like “what do I do after I was hit by a car.” If a client already knows your name, then that credit belongs to other advertising efforts.
Once we realized how much of the SEO traffic was coming from somewhere other than the SEO company’s work, we decided to make some changes. But we never would have known to make the change unless we talked to other vendors and understood what the truth was. We would still be paying an SEO company for results that we were actually getting ourselves.
This should be your biggest and most important takeaway: there’s nothing wrong with working with vendors. We still do it, and we’ve had success with many of them.
But remember: their goal is to get paid. You’re always going to care more about your results than they will. It’s an unfortunate reality that if you never asked them for better results or questioned their work, they would cash your check even if you got no new cases from their work. So stay vigilant, challenge them when you need to, and always shop around before you sign a contract.
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