Those of you who are regular readers of this blog (or This Blog as Charlie Pierce says) will recall my experiences with KDunn & Associates here and here. For those who don't want to go back and read, we can summarize as follows: someone at KDunn (or at their search engine marketing firm) has decided that a good way to get new clients is to put up paid ads that will appear on search engine results whenever someone searches for "Mark Merenda." I won't rehash all that, check the previous links if interested. However, it occurred to me belatedly that I might want to check on Bing, as well. So I went to the Microsoft search engine and typed in my name. And guess what? Other marketing firms are trying to latch on to my reputation. An outfit called Total Attorneys now has a paid ad that appears at the top of search results for my name. As does a firm called Yodle. Take a look (click to enlarge):
It doesn't seem likely to me that KDunn, Total Attorneys, and Yodle all thought of this bright idea at once. There must be some search engine marketing firm or firms advocating this tactic. I remain, as before, both annoyed and flattered: annoyed that I might actually lose some business from people who started searching for me but were diverted by one of these ads and were misled into thinking they were getting me — and flattered that these people think my reputation makes me worth their parasitism.
A question I often get from attorneys is, "What can I do to differentiate myself in a crowded marketplace?" My answer, which they don't much like, is, "Answer the phone."
Of course, I am being flip in order to make a point. The number one complaint against attorneys nation-wide is that they don't return phone calls. And you can never get them on the phone by simply calling. You're lucky if you can get their assistants on the phone. So, if you, as an attorney, can make yourself accessible, that's a huge competitive advantage. For an example of how that looks on the Web, take a look at the website of Victor Medina, my client and podcasting partner.
Now, before you start your list of 48 objections, I am well aware that being accessible has its drawbacks. In fact, I experienced one of them yesterday. On my own site, I am accessible by instant message. Often this has been an advantage, and often it has resulted in new clients. But, every now and then, someone chooses this method to waste my time. Here's how I handled it yesterday:
(Do not continue reading if you are easily offended by sexual allusions. There, I think I pretty much guaranteed that everyone will keep reading.)