Friday, June 15, 2012

Rule Your Domain: the importance of choosing carefully in 5 reasons flat

You want to pick a domain name. Someone told you it was important to have a Web site. Cool. welcome to the late 20th century!

But what domain? Foremost, you should always own your name and any variations. You should own your business name. You should have a tagline, and own that. You should own all of the,.mobi,.com,.net, and so forth for all of your domain names.

"So what do I call it?" you ask. Don't just pick anything that's available or funny.
Here are five reasons why your domain name can be one of the most important business decisions you make:
  1. It tells potential customers you understand a problem they have.
  2. It tells potential customers that you, and only you, can solve their problems.
  3. It tells potential customers what kind of audience you help.
  4. It solidifies your brand in potential customers' heads.
  5. It's your virtual storefront.

You may have noticed something: the only part of that list that concerns you is the last item.

Now, before you even start, memorize these rules.



Finally, imprint this in your marketing DNA:


Your domain name needs to instantly position you as someone who a) cares about your potential client's problems and b) can SOLVE them. 

If you're serious about a domain name, you need to see it as an extension of your marketing, and you need recognize that this will be your first introduction to your potential clientele.

Ask yourself: 
What's the primary objective for my domain name? 

Do you want new clients? Do you want to announce a new blog or build a tribe of attorneys who will recommend you? Do you want to get people excited about a new book?

For example, I want people to know about my upcoming book, DOMINATE: How Smart Lawyers Crush Their Competition. I want to reserve a domain and create a place where people can learn about the book.

Do I use the title, or do I use something that will inform about the book? How about DominateHow2CrushCompetition (title)? Or do I use YouCanCrushYourCompetition (goal of the book)? I have a friend whose website is icanmakeyourich. He's a marketer. That gets people's attention.

Then ask yourself:

What's my target population (T-POP)?

Let's assume you're an estate planning attorney.  Your T-POP is easy: people who want estate planning. 

  • But what age? 
  • Parents of young children? 
  • A couple where one or both travel for work? 
  • Sandwich generation caregivers? 
  • Retirees who have just now realized that they really need to do something?
  • Does your T-POP know what "estate planning" is?

Your domain name has to be memorable and appeal to the tribe you want. That will only work if you address your T-POP's needs and problems.

Choose a name that will speak to those needs and problems. For example, might really appeal to GenX and millennials, because it's funny and it says how they feel about writing a will. But your potential boomer clients could be really offended by it. They may agree that it does, but the phrase has a different meaning for them. Always use the right language for the right T-POP.

It's like wearing a really nice suit to court as opposed to a t-shirt that says "They killed Kenny!" I saw this at the store the other day. Ouch - mainly because the picture was stretched across the guy's ample belly.

Say you want your domain name to convince new college graduates or new parents that they need estate planning. Numbers and letters will work because the domain name will look like a text message - wills4u or plnurfutr. That's how millennials communicate, and they'll remember the site and assume you speak their language.

Something like "myestateplanningattorney" works for aging boomers, and perhaps the sandwich generation because it's more formal and gives them the sense of ownership and belonging. I quibble with this one because it doesn't tell the client anything about your practice. Neither does the name of your firm or business. You want to reassure this T-POP that writing a will or setting up a trust does not mean they will die or lose their independence.

Remember it's about your T-POP and their needs and problems. Address issues that keep them awake about not having a will, or planning for their future, or leaving a legacy.

Why not do something with pieces of estate planning that your desired tribe will recognize? Wills are the most obvious thing, although "Trusts" will appeal to certain crowd too. "Avoiding probate" will appeal to caregivers. Words like "protect" and "future" and "generations" appeal to retirees.

It's important not to simply think of some clever names and throw them up to see what sticks. Go to the Google keyword tool and check out what people are looking for. See which proposed domain gets the most hits and go from there.

Remember your PO and T-POP and your domain will be your most valuable asset.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Cloudfundraising for Lawyers: How to Confuse a Counsel brings us this week's education in cloudfunding. I have long thought to review the legal and ethical mechanics of the thing ever since President Obama signed the cloudfunding provisions of the JOBS Act. He did this over strenuous objections from the SEC, which is new in and of itself. BoingBoinb beat me to it, and reality is stranger than any hypothetical I could have created to illustrate the possibilities of cloudfunding.

The entire story is posted here.

It sort of reminds of the Flying Circus sketch, "How to Confuse a Cat."

Long story short, FunnyJunk and The Oatmeal are sort of the Hatfields and McCoys of the create-and-repost world of the internet. The thing started when The Oatmeal claimed FunnyJunk stole its original comics, reposted, and monetized them. The Oatmeal produces original content that's actually pretty good.

In a gesture of bonhommie, the owner of FunnyJunk to some of the stolen material down. Nice.

If you're The Oatmeal, all done and settled, right? Wrong.

Enter Charles Carreon, the litigator who successfully litigated the case. For Internet geeks like me, this is the case that made website domains personal property. So, apparently, he knows a thing or two about shenanigans on the internet.

Carreon is no slouch. He sent a demand letter to TheOatmeal, requesting damages for defamation because TheOatmeal's post accused FunnyJunk of copyright violation, which can - under certain circumstances - be a criminal offense. Oh, and that TheOatmeal had defamed FunnyJunk. When a defendant defames a claimant by accusing them of a criminal act, that's Defamation Per Se. For such defamation, FunnyJunk required $20,000. If it was not paid, FunnyJunk and its incredibly successful internet lawyer would take to federal court.

Matt Inman, TheOatmeal's founder, responded in kind, sort of, by proposing that any $20,000 paid in response to the letter should go to cancer research. Inman then started a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo to get the $20,000 for cancer. Inman raised the $20,000 in 64 minutes. To date the campaign has raised $142,000.

Carreon has filed a complaint with the crowdfunding site, asserting that the campaign violates IndiGoGo's standards. IndiGoGo remains silent on the matter, but Carreon is confused, according to an MSNBC article:

"I really did not expect that he would marshal an army of people who would besiege my website and send me a string of obscene emails," [Carreon] says. ... "It's an education in the power of mob psychology and the Internet," Carreon told [the reporter].
Now I don't post this to mock FunnyJunk or it's attorney. They're doing that job very well themselves. The true lesson here is not the power of the Internet or mob psychology. 

Rather, lawyers should be aware of the power of crowdfunding and educate themselves - there is a powerful new game out there, and it's a frontier worth exploring.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Your Future as a Lawyer: One BIG Reason You Should Romanticize the Law

I try really hard to make Legal Shoe's advice open to all types of entrepreneurs, but since law is my frame of reference, I find it pretty hard not to worry about the next generation of lawyerpreneurs. They are in for an uphill climb - that's the reality.

A propos of nothing, these thoughts occurred to me while I was writing a review of Private Lives, which for Pittsburgh area readers, is playing at the O'Reilly Theatre through June 24. It's a comedy about softening hard edges, attraction, domestic strife, and it struck me as a metaphor for my 50-year love affair with the law.

Don't forget that you can soften the hard edges of your legal career by remembering why the law seemed attractive to you in the first place.

But here is one reason. Lawrence Lessing's graduation speech and John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. It's your assigned reading for today.

Everyone is a little high after they finish any arduous graduate program. So it's easy to be filled with starry-eyed wonder that Lessing, a prominent Harvard Law professor, would encourage young graduates to hang up their own shingle without any business accumen or training. Practice for the people! Redefine what law means in the United States! Your children and your children's children will rise up and call you blessed.

There is ONE reason you should let this vision influence your thoughts about practicing law.

It softens the hard edges. Let me say that again:


A law practice, or any entrepreneurial venture, has a lot of hard edges: clients don't pay on time if at all, it's touch to keep a consistent pipeline of clients coming through the door, and you may feel the incredible burden of losing more fights than you win.

But you also have an incredible chance to leave the lives of the people around you better, whether it's your family, your clients, or the people you meet while you're trying to hawk your wares.

So this Monday, two weeks into a jobless summer, or even two weeks into your dream job, take ownership of your decision to become a lawyer. Take ownership of your decision to be an entrepreneur. Get the help you need to make it happen. Or as Lessing says:

… as you begin your career as a lawyer, as you begin to dig yourself out of the financial hole that you are in, as you enter a field too many think is just corrupt, don't think just about your families and the pride they can't hide today.

Leave it better, lawyers, than we lawyers who have educated you have given it to you. Leave it in a place that your mother and your daughter, your father and your son, can respect. Not corrupt, but true. Not just rich, but just.

Is there any other reason to be a lawyer?