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Gorillas are the largest extant species of primates. Adult males, also called silverbacks, range in height 1.65–1.75 metres (5 ft 5 in–5 ft 9 in), and in weight 140–200 kg (310–440 lb). Occasionally, a silverback of over 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) and 230 kg (510 lb) has been recorded in the wild. Obese gorillas in captivity have reached a weight of 270 kg (600 lb).

In other words, they’re big.

Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians (or “irregulars”) use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and less-mobile traditional army, or strike a vulnerable target, and withdraw almost immediately.

In other words, it’s lean and strategic.

On Wednesday, I listened in on LexBlog’s “SEO for Law Blogs,” free, hour-long webinar. Their approach to SEO in the context of blogging was solid.

They covered some of the basics of blog SEO and how search engines “rank” web pages.

They also provided some actionable tips, specifically applicable to lawyer-bloggers about both what “to do” and what not to do.

And while the specific blog SEO tips were really quite good, it was a point that Kevin made about how a law firm might think about approaching SEO, and internet marketing more generally, that resonated with me.

His point was that if you are a larger firm with a significant marketing budget, who has been aggressively marketing and advertising in the offline world, you will probably approach internet in a much different way than if you’re a small firm or solo, with a very limited (or nonexistent) marketing budget.

In other words, how you approach internet marketing will depend, to a large extent, upon whether you’re more a gorilla or a guerilla.

And while this might seem like an obvious distinction, failing to consider in advance whether you’re more of a gorilla or a guerilla can have a significant impact on whether you meet the goals of your internet marketing campaigns.

Gorillas

Have you historically spent big advertising marketing dollars on yellow book, television, radio, and billboard advertising? Does your firm use direct mailers?

Does it sponsor industry trade shows, seminars, charity events, and scholarships? Does your firm have a recognized brand?

If so, you might be a web marketing gorilla.

Web marketing gorillas typically take an aggresive comprehensive approach to their web strategy. They usuallly commit large budgets to paid search marketing and have professional paid search managers optimizing their accounts.

They may also make significant investments in paid online legal directory advertising, content distribution platforms, and a variety of other internet advertising programs.

Gorillas also invest heavily in web design and development. They often purchase complex websites with custom designs, video integrations, live-chat features, and a host of other web bells and whistles.

Some gorillas will be able to leverage in-house resources like attorney-writers, subject-matter experts (like doctors, engineers, nurses, etc).

Typically, the gorillas we have worked with have benefitted from high-level agency strategy support, managing, maintenance, and consulting.

Whether they’re looking for a quarterback for their existing efforts, or want more turn-key solutions, the common theme is that they want to cast a comprehensive online net and measure, track, and analyze how these different moving pieces are working to increase the firm’s online footprint, and ultimately deliver new business.

They’re usually not interested in getting mired down in all the specific details and prefer the 30,000 ft. view of how the internet is adding value to their practice.

Guerillas

Are you a solo or small firm lawyer? Do you typically stick to only the most proven and efficient forms marketing and advertising? Are you committed to doing most of the heavy-lifting yourself?

Would you rather invest your time than your money into building your practice? Do you find yourself analyzing where the competition is weak and positioning yourself against those weaknesses? Do you prefer the scalpal to the shotgun?

Then you’re probably a web marketing guerilla.

Typically, guerillas put a higher priority on efficiency and effectiveness. They want maximum bang for their buck and aren’t looking for a lot superfluity.

They put a higher priority on marketing strategies that are lean, versatile, and affordable.

They’re willing to spend some of their own time learning and executing proven web marketing strategies.

They want a professional web profile, but not necessarily all the bells and whistiles. They usually handle the majority of content development, link acquisition, and campaign management themselves.

The guerillas that we’ve worked with have benefitted more from individualized education sessions where they can get answers to specific questions about a specific aspect to web marketing.

They’re interested in understanding the role the web can plan in word of mouth referrals.

They usually appreciate someone watching over their shoulder to make sure that they’re avoiding common mistakes.

They like having access to professionals to help point them in the right direciton, but prefer to execute the various strategies themselves.

Why It Matters

Determining whether you’re a gorilla or a guerilla should be a huge factor in how you build your web marketing program.

For example, if you’re a gorilla, you might be disappointed with campaigns that don’t provide you maximum online exposure across several channels in a short period of time.

On the other hand, if you’re a guerilla, and you elect a campaign that attempts to take gorillas head-on, you might find yourself exhausting your budgets before they are able to generate a return.

Understanding your identity in this respect will help you structure your marketing initiatives in a way that makes the most sense for your specific goals.

Nonetheless, whether you’re a gorilla or guerilla, before you spend a lot of time or effort on a particular strategy or to hire a consultant, you should:

  • Spend some time learning about how the web and search engines can actually serve to complement your existing marketing efforts.
  • Think about your specific marketing message, budget, and short and long-term goals.
  • Talk to similarly situation lawyers about their experiences with various strategies, consultants, and vendors.
  • Before you hire anyone, ask a lot of questions about “how this stuff works” and what level of transparency, accountability, and reporting is available.

While implenting the “right” internet marketing plan can serve as an excellent piece of your firm’s greater marketing campaign, getting stuck with the wrong plan can put a dent in your pocketbook, harm your professional reputation, or even get you into legal ethics hot water with your state bar.

There’s just no substitute for learning about internet and search marketing before you dive in head first.