Dealing With Internet Marketeers: What It's Like

Drunk, belligerent, ignorant, entitled, ridiculous — and still probably in the top quarter of legal marketeers in terms of credibility and competence.

The modern sell-internet-services-to-lawyers hustle: that's what it sounds like, and that's what we lawyers think of you.

Via Turkewitz.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says


    Some Mixed Martial Arts apparel line wanted to buy my domain name and I quoted a low four-figure number, telling them to feel free to send a counter-offer. I never heard back from them. I guess I should be more aggressive in my marketing.

    I mean, yeah, I can understand how talking like that to a lawyer would be inappropriate, but what could a bunch of MMA enthusiasts do?

  2. says

    I… I would need to become a Hindu god to have the number of hands required for a facepalm of this magnitude.

    I'm not serious enough about running a site (I used to have a few private domain names) to pay someone for SEO optimization, but if I did, it sure as hell wouldn't be this… person. I hope more people hear this video so that they, too, can learn to distinguish between proper marketing and aggressive but incompetent jerks.

  3. says

    I refuse to believe that voice mail message is anything but brilliant satire by Scott Greenfield. It's just that ridiculous. Has anyone done a voice analysis? Bravo, Scott.

  4. a_random_guy says

    On top of it, and fwiw: You should never have to pay anyone for SEO. Any competent web developer will do SEO as a matter of course. At most, you may want someone independent to have a look, and see if your web developer is competent.

    The people "selling" SEO are either (a) scam artists, who will charge lots of money for messing your site up, or (b) selling links from server farms or other wonderful tricks that may just get your site massively downgraded on the search engines.

    Of course, I suppose there is the possibility that a website was developed by someone not quite competent. In which case, the answer is to get a web developer to fix it, and to studiously ignore the SEO idiots.

  5. naught_for_naught says

    Wow. As the owner of an online legal marketing services startup, you really got my attention. Clearly this guy is a putz, but do attorneys paint all online marketing consultants with the same brush?

    My background is in systems development, analytics, and SEO — which sounds like a dirty word after listening to this clip. To understand the subject matter better, I finished the paralegal program at UCR and have volunteered as a Small Claims Advisor through the local Superior Court.

    However, I am sick at the stomach thinking that I am lumped in with this kind of flim-flammer. I'm struggling to win my first client. I have chalked it up to a few things: lawyer's are very busy and hate marketing calls as much as anybody; I don't have the right offer; my company is unknown; my sales approach is faulty; etc. Now it seems clear that there's an additional barrier — establishing credibility as an honest business.

    So tell me, please. How can a legitimate consultant get past this burden of doubt and establish rapport with law firms that have a real need to build their practices?

  6. Thad says

    Unfortunately, I find myself to be heavily prejudiced as soon as I hear the words "marketing" and "consultant". Sorry: blame the guys that spoilt them.

    There are many good products that have been rubbished by the people that sell them: life insurance, double glazing…

  7. says

    Naught for Naught: that sounds like an honest and heartfelt question, so let me give you an honest answer: in addition to being shot through with sleazy behavior (see the Marketing and Spammers tags on this site), I think that modern legal marketing — at least as expressed by the loudest marketers, is fundamentally bad for lawyers and clients — just bad for the profession of law. That's because, in brief, it focuses on attracting clients using methods that any responsible attorney would never tell a client to rely upon. I don't like an industry that focuses on encouraging lawyers to develop clients through keywords and mostly substanceless online content rather than through painstakingly developing a reputation through delivering quality legal services and satisfying clients.


  8. says

    @ a_random_guy
    "You should never have to pay anyone for SEO. Any competent web developer will do SEO as a matter of course."
    Respectfully disagree to this extent:
    Yes a good web developer will know how to optimize a page so that it's indexed for a particular key-phrase, such as Los Angeles Bankruptcy Creditor Attorney. But how do you know that this is the best phrase to use? It's axiomatic that what a business sells is not necessarily what people are buying. So you need to first understand how potential clients are looking for your service. An SEO/Analyst has the skill to do this, creating an effective keyword strategy, driving content development.
    Let’s use the bankruptcy creditor attorney example. Say that a significant number of construction firms are going bankrupt because the housing market has taken a dive — as if that could ever happen. Suppliers and subcontractors are left holding the bag, and they want to collect on what they're owed. To find help they search by using any number of phrases such as collecting from a bankrupt construction company or collecting on a lien in bankruptcy court. If you have optimized only for Los Angeles Bankruptcy Creditor Attorney, you likely won't see that traffic. A keyword/content strategy is synced to the trends in that marketplace and consumer behavior helping law firms [jargon] capture maximum value [/jargon].
    Another function of SEO/Analytics is writing effective description meta tags (the little blurb of teaser text just below the search listing title), not just for the search engines, but for the potential client who will be looking at your listing. Anyone who reflects on their own experience will understand that the phrasing of this snippet is critical to your decision to click through or not. You don't just set it and forget it though. You have to measure performance and make adjustments over time.
    These are just two of several key functions of an effective SEO/Analytics program, and you can do the math for yourself. If you're a solo practitioner, and you win two more clients a month with effective key-phrase selection and description tags, that's a big impact on revenue.
    The problem with the profession is that the profession has not been well defined. There is no sanctioning body to define a set of best practices, in part because the technology moves so fast. So hucksters like this guy emerge with a scheme to take advantage of those who they assume are too naïve to know the difference. But done right, SEO is a valuable service that will pay for itself.

  9. Turk says

    Naught for Naught:

    The problem isn't really with SEO in general, but with black hat sales pitches and tactics. If folks want to stuff their own websites with keywords so that it reads well to Google (but poorly to humans) that is their decision. So long as the content isn't misleading most people won't give a damn and the blogosphere will never notice.

    But it's the stupid telephone pitches of "First page on Google!" and blog spam and whatnot that piss people off.

    If you are offended that your business is besmirched by the the black hat rogues that are out there, then join the club. It includes priests, cops, car salesman and yes, lawyers.

    It is the bad ones that usually make the news. And it should be the job of the good ones to try to keep their own part of the world clean. Cops run into that problem with the Blue Wall of Silence. Ken, and others including myself, are determined that that should not happen to our own profession. There are still some of us out there that believe sunlight is a wonderful disinfectant.

  10. says

    @ Ken
    "I don't like an industry that focuses on encouraging lawyers to develop clients through keywords and mostly substanceless online content rather than through painstakingly developing a reputation through delivering quality legal services and satisfying clients."

    I totally agree — faux content is crap, and many internet marketers are hucksters. There seems to be this nomadic entrepreneurial mob in our culture that migrates from one bubble to another. In the 90's they were web designers. Then they were mortgage sellers. Now they are internet marketiers and social media consultants. Me I've been doing this since I first viewed the WWW through a Mosaic browser. What's always drown me to the web is the access to information, much of it quite good if you recognize and wade through the dreck.

    The idea you expressed here is essentially the underlying philosophy of my company (Legal Franca Publishing) essentially. It's all about facilitating communication of the good information that helps people make good decisions. In an online environment though, SEO and keywording are the mechanisms for making the initial connection between provider and client.

  11. MartinD says

    Naught, you know what I notice when I visit your site? A huge banner that says "Let's talk about winning in a crowded marketplace". Meanwhile in this thread you say, "I'm struggling to win my first client." How can you honestly make these claims in good faith?

    Then you claim, "I am sick at the stomach thinking that I am lumped in with this kind of flim-flammer." You know what you sound like to me? A dishonest flim-flammer.

  12. RedRobot says

    I work in search marketing, and have for a dozen years. It delights me whenever I come across craziness like the video above (and I share it with my team).

    However, I do not work for clients with legal, travel, gambling, porn, or alternative medicine businesses, because the marketing for those industries is slimy.

    The reason why SEO for those kinds of companies is so awful, and why the consultants who do it are such awful human beings, is because that is what those markets demand.

    The modern buy-internet-services-for-lawyers client: ignorant, entitled, greedy. That's what they sound like, that's what we consultants think of them, and that's why only the nutjobs actively pursue them.