It was about six months ago that my friend called me up and asked, “Have you played Angry Birds yet?” I’d never heard of it, but she swore it was as addictive as Cool Ranch Doritos (if there were a 12-step program for Cool Ranch, I’d totally be a lifetime member).
I’m not much of a gamer, primarily because if I turn on a video game the rest of the world disappears in a haze of Cool Ranch Doritos and Diet Coke. I remember being a teenager and playing Zork for something like 986 hours straight just because it was there and I simply HAD TO finish it.
Still, I took a chance and downloaded Angry Birds to my old iPhone (the one I’d disconnected last December when AT&T pissed me off for the last time). I figured it would serve as a nice complement to Peek-A-Boo Lite when my son needed to be mollified during a long wait for lunch at the local diner.
My son never had a chance. It was love at first bird. Death to the pigs! Suddenly I was taking the iPhone with me on the train, to the laundry, and even on walks with the dog at night. I began considering an Angry Birds 12-Step Program, but then decided it would detract from my game playing.
Those folks at Rovio have a huge hit on their hands, bringing in just about $1 million per month on the Android platform alone. For a game that’s free. That’s not counting the $0.99 people pay to get it on the iPhone and iPad. So how did they do it, and what lessons can you take away for your online legal marketing efforts?
Make It Easy To Get Started
Angry Birds is pretty simple at the lower levels, and that ease of play allows you to get up a good head of steam for the game. By the time it’s tough, you’ve already invested a bit of yourself in playing. You’ve also mentally convinced yourself that you can handle it, and you’re not going to cave in so easily.
The same is said of good online legal marketing efforts. Your goal is to get a qualified prospective client to the point where they’re salivating to get the help you’re offering. In order to do that you can either present them with a retainer agreement right away … or you could give them a way to take a simple, non-threatening step towards you. That non-threatening step often takes the form of lead generation, a simple request for an email address in exchange for providing a free ebook or special report that answers a small yet critically important question in your prospect’s mind.
Once the prospect has given the email address and received that small yet incredibly useful piece of information, you can increase the stakes little by little. More content in the form of articles or blog posts are simple and small, tasty morsels that aren’t scary at all. Follow it up with an audio, perhaps a video to make the bond stronger.
Most lawyers engage in content creation efforts that miss the boat on storytelling. They’re talking about the law, answers to common questions and minutiae that aren’t compelling for most readers. There’s a reason why so many law blogs end up in the trash heap for lack of readers – they’re as boring as a pile of phone books.
When you’re talking about a facet of the law, wrap it in a good story. People love to hear about how other people got into trouble and either coming out the other side or getting royally screwed over. Witness the train wreck that is most reality television and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
By the time the game player gets to Level 11, there’s no doubt that this game isn’t getting deleted anytime soon. The game continues, the ads keep running at the bottom of the screen, and Rovio continues to make money from this free little game sitting on your phone.
Eventually, your prospective client is almost addicted to you. Your content is engaging and useful, solving little pieces of the problem each time in an entertaining way. There’s no fluff, no high-pressure sales tactics, and no overt promotion. Like Angry Birds, the prospect is just playing along and passing the time with something interesting.
This allows you to pass under your reader’s nose the tantalizing possibility that you could solve their entire problem by converting from a free recipient of information to a paying client. If your blog runs ads (I know a few that do this sort of thing) then perhaps a reader clicks a link and makes a purchase, resulting in revenue for you.
Regardless, the goal is to get people to keep coming back to your site. By continuing to feed readers engaging content in little pieces, you can maximize the chances of reaching that goal.
Keep Adding Fuel To The Fire
When the game is over, the player goes elsewhere – that’s bad. So one of the things that Rovio does is continue to add more levels of play to Angry Birds. Doing so keeps people coming back again and again, downloading updates and keeping the buzz going.
Your online legal marketing efforts need to take this same path, with a continual addition of content to provide to readers. Whether you’re doing text only, audio, video or a combination of all three media types it’s important to remain in front of your subscribers with relevant, engaging and entertaining content until such time as the decision is made to hire you or go elsewhere.
So the next time you pick up that iPhone, iPad, or Android device and do your best to dish out some revenge on those evil pigs, ask yourself whether your online legal marketing efforts could use some good, old-fashioned, bird-versus-pig action.