10 years of DotNews – and our new website

10yearWe are really proud to announce that we are celebrating our 10th anniversary this month. We celebrated the occasion with some sparking wine and a sunny Friday lunch.

Firstly, our sincere thanks to all our loyal subscribers.  Without your support and input over the last decade, we could not have grown DotNews into the successful marketing service that it is today.

Secondly, as you can see we have launched our new website – let us know what you think.

Last, but certainly not least, we have loads of exciting new things planned for you in the pipeline.  More on that as they develop.

The DotNews Team celebrated in style!

party

Here’s to the next 10 years!

P.S. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook 🙂

Paddy Crook
Paddy Crook
Digital Marketing Manager at DotNews
Paddy completed his BSc at Rhodes University and has specialised in email marketing, social media, ppc, ad-serving and other online marketing mediums. Having returned from working with a UK-based multi-national company where he analysed the effectiveness of online campaigns, Paddy has a broad knowledge of the channels and techniques used within the digital space and how best to apply them to professional practices.

Your legal or accounting firm in 2025: Plan now for the new technologies

 Study the past, if you would divine the future” (Confucius)robots

Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, but as Confucius pointed out 2,500 years ago, what’s happened in the past can certainly help point us in the right direction.

 

The Past: A Foreign Country

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” (author L.P. Hartley)

Think back to 2000.  What did you do differently back then? What new technologies have been the game-changers?   Consider these –

  • Exponentially increased computing power and ease/speed/ubiquity of Internet access giving professional firms –
    • Instant, up to date, easy and free access to legal and accounting information resources online, with paid-for services supplementing these free resources.
    • Online, instant access to other sources of information relevant to professionals like news services, legal/accounting and other blogs, Social Media information and online communities etc.
    • Online interaction with other role-players in legal and accounting processes like SARS, municipalities, Cipro etc.
    • Online immediacy (often real time) and low cost of interaction with clients and colleagues via email, instant messaging platforms, Skype, web based conferencing services, website portals, Social Media etc.
    • Opportunities, where enabled by new legislation, for using electronic communication to record correspondence, to contract, to serve/file documents, and the like.
    • Cost-effective, secure online storage of documentation.
    • Powerful online marketing opportunities, at a fraction of the cost of print, via e-newsletters, Social Media etc.
  • Increased availability of software (increasingly in the Cloud) for practice and data management, document creation, CRM, and automation of office, legal and accounting processes. Combined, they have boosted efficiency, lowered operating costs and increased the time available to attorneys and accountants for billable activities.
  • The rise in power and ubiquity of cell phones and other mobile devices giving firms and their clients instant accessibility to each other both within and outside office hours.

 

The Future: Threats and Opportunities

 “Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat” (Steve Jobs)

Prepare now for 2025.  Expect rampant growth in all the technologies listed above, hopefully boosted by a quantum leap in South African broadband speeds.  Plan for some significant opportunities and threats –

  • Trends like the “Web of Things”, hands-free interfacing, the moves to mobile and the Cloud, and increasingly versatile voice recognition suggest that smart offices, homes and cars – and perhaps most importantly your new smartwatch and other wearable tech – will connect you, your colleagues and your clients in cyberspace anywhere, anytime.
  • These and other vastly expanded opportunities for real time, online collaboration mean that smaller firms will increasingly communicate and work with each other in ways similar to their large-firm competitors. Referral networks between small specialised practices will mushroom and they will succeed in presenting themselves to the public as matching larger firms in both depth and range of specialties, but at lower fee rates and with more personalised service.
  • Similarly, the location of your office will become less and less important as your ability to service clients regardless of where they are, opens up a whole new opportunity – a national (even an international) footprint, all without getting up from your desk or opening up a branch office.  Of course down the line our concept of office-based practices may give way to networks of home-based individuals, able to work, consult, meet and collaborate from wherever they happen to be at any time.  In 20 years the very concept of “firms” may be obsolete.  Lower (or zero) office expenses, staff and travel costs will follow.
  • Automation of staff functions, virtual assistants, and an increase in online, freelancing professionals will boost this trend.
  • Rapid growth in Big Data suggests that the resources of information and data analysis, available on demand and instantly to even the smallest firm, will increase sharply.
  • Expect increased competition from online services of the sort that give subscribers instant and low cost access to standardised services, documents and tutorials, underpinned by access to online advice from a range of participating professional firms.
  • Rapid evolution in Artificial Intelligence systems has given rise to much speculation that many professional service functions will be replaced by much cheaper software options. Whether the threats and opportunities inherent in this scenario could manifest as early as 2025 is debatable, but it is certainly a consideration that lawyers and accountants should start working into their longer-term planning.  Science Fiction’s RoboLawyer and RoboAccountant may take 5 years to reach us or 25 – but they are coming!

 

Marketing: A New Frontier

“Be quickest on the draw, or be dead” (Anon)

Last but certainly not least, expect to concentrate more of your resources on pro-active marketing as these trends accelerate –

  • Increasing competition, both from existing firms, and from nimble and hungry newcomers who will, enabled by cutting-edge technology, offer low fees and prompt, efficient service.
  • Increasing competition from online services, offering even lower fees and quite possibly also a greater service range than any single real-world firm is capable of producing.
  • More and more of your competitors – online and off – will be marketing their services aggressively via low-cost, easy-to-use marketing channels.
  • “Relationship marketing” – concentrating on building and strengthening long term relationships rather than short term client acquisition – will grow in importance. Interaction with target markets is likely to increase dramatically, although an overload tipping point may be reached sooner rather than later.
  • Other trends to watch for in the marketing space include marketing automation, “augmented reality”, virtual reality headsets and advanced Internet search options – the list goes on.
  • Your success or failure in retaining existing clients, and in acquiring new ones, will be increasingly proportional to your ability to market your firm and services successfully in a rapidly-changing environment.

 

Contact us now for a free brand consultation – we’ll show you how to stay ahead of the curve with all your marketing needs.

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Attorneys and Accountants: Do client newsletters work?

Most lawyers and accountants these days know they need to market their practices to remain competitive, but some are still wary of client newsletters.

Some of the questions we are regularly asked are these –

Q:  Do client newsletters work?

email_dotThe concern most often expressed here is measuring ROI, and the fact is that it isn’t easily quantifiable.  Sure, clients will sometimes bring new queries and instructions to you by referring to a specific newsletter article, but the greater value of regular communication is in the “spaced repetition” of your name and branding to your target market.

You are always top-of-mind; always thought of first when a home owner decides to sell, when clients need help or advice, when your clients are asked to recommend a lawyer or accountant.

The fact is that all the big law and accountancy firms have been using client newsletters for many decades as their core marketing tool – proof positive that they work and are cost-effective.

Q:  Are client newsletters expensive?

They shouldn’t be, but they can be.  A high-quality, regular newsletter takes time, effort and expertise to create and transmit.  If you are handling that all in-house, you are probably sacrificing a lot of partner time and a lot of staff time in doing it properly.

If you outsource your newsletter, make sure you get value for money.  Be alert to hidden “extras” and always look at the total you are paying every month.  If you go for a low-cost service (such as a DotNews newsletter option), check for transparency of pricing, a track record of reliability, and quality of content and service.

Our philosophy at DotNews is that client newsletter services must be accessible to all professional firms, from the smallest to the largest.  By constantly connecting you “Direct to your Target Market” we ensure that every cent is well-spent.

Q:  Are client newsletters professional? 

The marketing component of your newsletter is subtle and professional so long as your clients and prospective clients perceive your newsletters as being not advertising, but rather a gift of useful and interesting information.  Always give something of value.

Q:  What about other marketing channels?

Our recommendation, even for the smallest of firms, is to have the strongest online presence your marketing budget will allow.

At the very least supplement your client newsletter with these two basics –

  1. Your own website. It needn’t be fancy or expensive, but it must project your professionalism.   Ideally, keep it effortlessly updated with monthly newsletters via RSS feeds (we’ll show you how)
  1. A LinkedIn presence for both your firm and all partners/directors/professionals. Keeping it updated with your client newsletters is a nice extra but less important here – it is your profile that clients and prospective clients most need to see.

There are many other marketing ideas we can help you with.  See our Marketing Services Page or Email Us for more.

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Independent Law Firms: How to Adapt to Your Changing Landscape

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” (Albert Einstein)

Question:  “Should I market my small law firm?”

An August 2014 survey* by LexisNexis South Africa of 162 independent small law firms highlights once again the necessity for law firms – no matter how small – to remain competitive by:

  • Running their practices on strictly business lines
  • Pro-actively marketing themselves and their services to clients and prospective clients.

Answer:  What the survey showed

Cash flow is, as always, king – 86.4% of small firms ranked it as “very significant” to their business, the other 13.6% as “significant”.  No surprises there.

Client retention and acquisition – equally unsurprisingly, 98.3% of firms ranked “Retaining clients/growing business” as “significant” or “very significant”.

Growth emerged as a primary concern for small practices, with 37% saying they are currently growing, and 77% having plans to grow during the next 5 years.

The need to change is clearly recognised, with concerns around increasing competition evident in several areas.  88.3 % of firms agreed that they have to up their game to survive, 87.5% that they need to constantly evolve to stay on top and 68.4% that “it is much harder these days to make a good living out of law”.

Agents of growth – Reputation, word of mouth and calibre of service are cited as important for retention and growth of client bases, with 90.7% of firms describing networking in particular as “important” or “very important” for growth.

Marketing is vital – the need to market practices was clearly recognised, with 83% ranking it as “important” or “very important” to the growth of their firms.  60% of firms use “word of mouth” to market their practices but only 11% outsource the marketing function.

Your competition is growing…..

What does all this mean for you?

Firstly, your competition is growing. 77% of small firms are either actively growing at the moment or planning to do so.  You need to grow as well.

Secondly, the survey results throw up some significant opportunities for growth in our changing landscape –

Marketing: Although 83% of firms recognise the need to market their firms, only 53.1% of them are actually increasing, or have short term plans to increase, their investment in marketing.  This is almost certainly because of a misperception that marketing needs to be both complicated and expensive.  The firm that understands the low-cost, simple marketing tools available to it has a significant competitive advantage.

Cash flow and outsourcing:  Only 11% of firms outsource their marketing, but with cash flow concerns central to small firm planning, it makes a lot more sense to use your billable time to do billable work.  89% of firms are missing out here; don’t be one of them, outsource your marketing to specialists.  Choose a marketing firm that knows how to keep your costs to a minimum by leveraging technology.

Reputation and calibre of service need to be communicated:  60% of firms say they rely on “word of mouth” marketing but one wonders how many of them realise that “word of mouth” only works as a referral-generator when you remain constantly top-of-mind with your existing clients.  Again, the firm that keeps in touch with all its clients – past as well as present – runs well ahead of the pack.

LinkedIn (and the rest):  Here’s another significant opportunity for you.  Only 40% of small firms are using Social Media in any form, with only 72% of those firms using LinkedIn.  Yet a basic LinkedIn presence for your firm and senior professionals is easily and inexpensively achieved.  Without it, you will increasingly lose prospective clients before they even pick up the phone to you.  Don’t be one of the 60% of firms losing out here.

Websites are powerful:  Amazingly, only 34.8% of small firms already have a website whilst a whopping 36.5% have no plans for one in the future.  Yet a good quality, affordable, basic website – one that projects your professionalism and credibility – is easily achieved.  It will certainly put you ahead of the 36.5% of firms still living in the pre-Internet Dark Ages!

An All-in-One Solution:  DotNews

Let us help you grow and prosper with our full range of marketing services –

  • competitionYour LawDotNews client newsletter keeps you effortlessly top-of-mind with all your clients and prospective clients professionally and cost-effectively.
  • Use our Internet Pages service to integrate your client newsletters automatically with all your other marketing channels.
  • Turn every email from your office into a marketing opportunity with our DotMailBranding email service.
  • Maximise your online presence at minimal cost with our Connector websites and Social Media pages.
  • Ask us about our Corporate Branding/Logo Design services, Email Security and Archiving, and general marketing and communication strategy

See our Marketing Services Page or Contact Us for more.

*The LexisNexis survey “The Changing landscape of Independent Law in SA” is available online here

 

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Why every professional firm should brand its emails

Are you an accountancy firm wanting to move into BEE advisory services? How about an attorney wanting to highlight a new property law division? It’s always a great feeling expanding your service offerings and growing your business.

Now you need to tell your clients all about it.  You need to tell them – and keep reminding them until it sinks in – about your full range of services.  How best to go about it?

There are many ways that a firm can give their marketing materials exposure, all of which have their own unique advantages.

For the launch of our new email marketing and social media services, we dusted off our marketing lists, got in touch with our affiliate marketing contacts and started spreading the word – all with great response.

However, there was one tool in particular that we found invaluable – branded emails.

What are Branded Emails?

Email BrandingA branded email isn’t simply an email branded with your business logo. It’s a powerful solution for adding a marketing message to every single email your firm sends out.

Not only does it provide a great impression with beautifully branded emails, but the marketing message at the top is guaranteed to be seen by the recipient. The ability to choose multiple rotating banners ensures that each of your clients is exposed to a variety of your messages.  It also provides flexibility to make sure that the right message goes out at the right time. This, in addition to eye-catching creative and subtle marketing messages is guaranteed to make every client you communicate with aware of your new services.

Increasing Awareness and Changing Perceptions

brainHaving been a specialist eNewsletter provider for almost 10 years (our 10th birthday is coming up this November!), we at DotNews have a long established relationship with many of our clients.

Building on this, a key focus of ours was on how to increase awareness about our new services and also change perceptions about what we do. Changing perceptions is a tricky thing, as it involves getting your message into your client’s subconscious.

A great way of doing just this is using spaced repetition – having many small reminders moves the message from short term memory into long term memory and therefore into the subconscious – mission accomplished!

In fact, this is what we’re doing now! Is it working? It could work for you too.

Final Thoughts

The proof is in the pudding. We’ve found these banners to be incredibly effective at increasing awareness of our new services. Think about how they could increase awareness of both your new and your existing services.

Best of all, getting your message and your brand across to your clients is virtually effortless.

Our system ensures that your branding and signatures are consistent, as everything is managed from one central platform; recipients are guaranteed to be exposed to your message, as it’s in the main email’s body.

A full reporting suite allows you to see exactly which messages are working and the kind of interest they are generating.

So if you’re looking for a new channel to communicate with your clients, promote new services and improve client awareness, our DotMailBranding solution might just be the kick-start your firm needs.

Help your SME clients!

Speeding up SME-friendly reform

“….. if it does not happen, the breaking news at the end of this year will be that we are nearer to being a failed state – in our own eyes and in the eyes of the rest of the world.” (Clem Sunter in his article “What does 2015 have in store?” – read it on Leader.co.za

As Clem Sunter points out, in 2015 South Africa is at an economic crossroads.  We need to “open the floodgates of entrepreneurship in this country”, and government has to become the champion of small business.

SurveyWBHelp your SME clients drive this process by encouraging them to spend just 20 minutes taking part in SAICA’s 2015 SME Survey here.  If you are a small practice, please take part also – SAICA will take the results to government and their 2014 survey has already produced SME-friendly reform in several key areas.

DotNews subscribers

As a free service to you, to your SME clients, and to the South African economy as a whole, DotNews will send out details of the Survey and its benefits to everyone on your mailing list, encouraging them to participate.  This will be in the form of a special transmission to CA(SA)DotNews recipients tomorrow, and as a special article in the April issue of LawDotNews.

Help South Africa prosper by telling Government how it can – and must – help SMEs!

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

“You and Budget 2015”

Budget2015_Sml

CA(SA)DotNews March

Our lead article in the March issue will be “You and Budget 2015”.  If you aren’t yet a CA(SA)DotNews subscriber, contact us now and we will set you up so your clients get all the highlights and tax tables from you.

Watch it Live!

The Budget Speech will be broadcast today at 2 p.m., live on Parliament’s DSTV Channel 408, live streaming on Parliament’s YouTube Channel and will also be covered live by major television and radio stations.  More on Parliament’s website here.

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Exciting new services from DotNews!

February 2015: We are launching several new services to complement our existing range –

    • A new client newsletter service, the Classic Plus (LawDotNews sample and CA(SA)DotNews sample), offering firms full freedom to brand their newsletters in their own corporate colours.
    • New email services to turn every email from your firm into a powerful marketing tool, and to ensure your email security and archiving.

Visit DotNewsConnect Services Page or Contact Us direct for more.

media-featherFinal

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Lawyers and CAs:  Are you looking for ways to leverage your marketing strategy?

media-featherFinal

Your core marketing tool

Legal and accounting practices have for decades built their marketing strategies around the solid core of a client newsletter.  For good reason – client newsletters are a highly effective, professional, low-key form of marketing.  They are well-received by clients and prospective clients precisely because they are seen not as marketing, but rather as a gift of valuable information.

And there is no better way of increasing word of mouth referrals than by remaining top-of-mind with all your existing clients.

Leverage it with an integrated marketing strategy!

Multiply that effect by integrating your newsletter into an inter-connected range of marketing channels.  How?

  • Website hyperlinks
    If you don’t have at least a basic website, you risk missing out on a powerful client-acquisition tool (more on that in a future post).  Remember we can help you there with either a bespoke website or an entry level Connector website (R2,800 + VAT).  As soon as your website is up and running we will help drive traffic to it via a hyperlink and message in your newsletter compliments slip – no charge.
  • Social Media icons
    You should at the very least have a strong LinkedIn presence – another vital client-acquisition tool.  Some firms – but only some – should also consider Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter etc.  Remember again that our entry-level “Connector” Social Media pages are easily accessible to even the smallest firm at R200 + VAT each.  Whatever Social Media pages you have, we will add hyperlinked icons to them into your compliments slip – no charge.
  • Subscribe buttons
    Let us add a “Subscribe” button to your DotNews newsletter.  An email goes direct to you from anyone wanting to hear from you every month – you decide whether or not to add them to your mailing list – no charge.
  • Online Publishing
    Consider displaying your newsletter in your website, blog or Social Media pages monthly – not only is it an effortless way of keeping your online pages updated and topical, but it is also highly cost-effective.  Let us help you with our “Internet Pages” service.  You can use RSS feeds (automatic publishing to website, blog etc), links to the online versions of your newsletters (we will show you or your IT people how to do this), PDF versions or other suitable formats.  A nominal charge of R50 + vat p.m. applies for one Internet Page (or R100 + vat p.m. for two or more Internet Pages).
  • Coming soon…..
    We will shortly be launching a new range of services to boost your integrated marketing strategies even further.  Watch this space!

 Stay ahead of the Pack with DotNews!

Contact us for more.

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

Happy New Year!

fireworks

“Out with the old, in with the new, may you be happy the whole year through. Happy New Year!”

We wish all our subscribers a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2015.

Watch this space!

We look forward to assisting you with all your marketing needs throughout the year, and will be announcing the launch of several exciting new services in this regard shortly.

Our offices re-open on Monday 5th January and your client newsletters will be transmitted to your clients on Wednesday 7th (LawDotNews) or Thursday 8th (CA(SA)DotNews).

Regards,

Jack Crook and the DotNews team

Jack Crook
Jack Crook
Managing Director & LawDotNews Author at DotNews
Jack’s legal qualifications (LLB Lond and LLB Rhod) are supplemented by many years of practical experience in law, in marketing his own firm, and in helping small and medium sized law and accountancy firms to prosper by using simple, low-cost, effective marketing strategies.

DISCLAIMER

The articles contained herein are for general information only and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

SUBSCRIBE

Enter your email address to subscribe to the DotNews Blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

OUR LATEST TWEETS