Internet naming is going to get a lot more interesting now that generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs – the word to the right of the dot, as in “.com,” “.org,” or “.net”) are expanding from the 22 options currently available to domains ending in brands, products, hobbies, political causes and just about anything else.

Canon Inc., the camera and printer company, already plans to apply for ".canon." And Apple could go after not just ".apple," but also ".ipad" and ".iphone."

Groups have already formed to back ".sport" for sporting sites, and two conservationist groups separately are seeking the right to operate an ".eco" suffix. Trade groups for bankers and financial-services companies are jointly exploring applications for ".bank," ".insure" and ".invest" for their member companies.

The incentives to apply for a gTLD are compelling. Among others:

  • Protecting your brand name from a similar brand owned by a third party (e.g. Avery labels and Avery Outdoors);
  • Concern that competitors in your market may claim the gTLD for themselves (e.g. Plantronics competitor Blue Ant seeks “.headsets” or “.bluetooth”)
  • Channel management by combining a unique top level domain with second level domains (e.g. “” and “”)

Unfortunately, as has been well-documented, see, e.g., WebTM, the barriers to applying may outweigh the benefits:

  • The application is voluminous (250 pages), takes nine months or more and requires expert vendor assistance (e.g. domain registration consultants and specialized counsel) of which there is limited supply;
  • Practically speaking, if you have not yet started to prepare for the first round applications due Jan. 2012, you are too late and will have to wait over a year until the next round;
  • The upfront application costs, all in, exceed $300K and there is a minimum 10 year commitment to operate the new domain adding additional costs exceeding $1M.

Assuming these barriers are too great for most companies, there is nonetheless a near term, low cost strategy that even these companies should consider.Continue Reading Low Cost Response to New Internet Naming Options

There’s no question that prospective clients of non-hourly priced legal services can’t find the "new normal" firms offering these services unless the firms are doing some shouting online, see our Nov. 30 post.  It’s equally as clear that the shouting can be done ethically, see our Dec. 18 post

But is Google AdWords, one of the most widely used online marketing tools, worth the cost? 

According to Google’s snappy tutorials, the answer is yes so long as the revenue earned on each click on the lawyer’s ad is greater than the cost incurred by the lawyer in generating that click.  However, good luck reaching agreement within your firm on revenue resulting from a specific prospect clicking on your ad and being directed to your website.

The better approach, it seems to us, is to ask what happens when a client prospect types in the "key words" most relevant to the lawyer’s practice.   If the lawyer’s website does not appear on the first page of the search results, then it’s probably worth the cost to use AdWords to help get you there.

As explained in Agency San Francisco’s recent tract Guerrilla Marketing for Attorneys:

Getting on Page 1 of Google when people type in your law firm’s "key words" is by far the most critical Internet marketing that your law practice can do. Most of your potential clients that use search engines will never go beyond the first page.

The case for using the appearance on Google Page 1 as the test whether to pay for AdWords after the jump.Continue Reading Should Lawyers Use Google AdWords?

Online advertising by attorneys via pay-per-click* is an effective and most likely necessary means of reaching many of the prospective consumers of new normal legal services, as discussed in our previous post on "shouting." 

But before jumping in, what is the regulatory environment?  Simply put, is this allowed?

More than a few of our lawyer colleagues think so because they are already doing it.  Googling "commercial litigation lawyer" returns a slew of attorney  ads along the right side of the search results page, including, for example:

Fletcher Business Law

Supporting Bay Area Businesses
Call for Consultation: 510-709-5435
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA

So far so good, but most of us are going to want better information on the applicable regulations.

The answer is that pay-per-click online services are not prohibited and instead enjoy the same limited First Amendment protection of commercial speech that is afforded other forms of attorney advertising.  However, the regulatory environment is far from settled, as discussed after the jump.Continue Reading Shouting Via Pay-Per-Click Advertising is OK

The shift in the balance of power towards consumers means less “shouting” (marketing) about your product or service, according to Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder.

"Before if you were making a product, the right business strategy was to put 70% of your attention, energy, and dollars into shouting about a product, and 30% into making a great product. So you could win with a mediocre product, if you were a good enough marketer. That is getting harder to do. The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies…the individual is empowered… The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it. If I build a great product or service, my customers will tell each other."

See the Bezos interview and transcript.

The legal services industry has seen a similar shift in power from lawyer to client and a correspondingly greater emphasis on providing better quality legal service for less money, as described, among other places, by author and lawyer Pat Lamb in Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing Legal Market.   This is the "new normal" to which most law firms must adapt or die.  But does this mean that the need for shouting by the new normal firm is significantly reduced?  For now at least, the answer is no.

Here’s why.Continue Reading Marketing New Normal Firm: Shouting Still Necessary