By James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq.
Introduction to Expert Witness Marketing
Serving as an expert witness can be both intellectually and financially rewarding. In terms of financial rewards, expert witnesses are typically compensated for their time in the range of $250-$1,000 hour. How financially successful a particular expert witness will become is a function of many factors including the expert’s credentials, the demand in the marketplace for the expert’s specialties/niches, the quality of the expert’s opinions, reports, and testimony, and the expert’s planning and execution of an expert witness marketing strategy.
The Importance of Expert Witness Marketing
Expert witness marketing is important for a very simple reason. Expert witnesses who learn how to effectively market themselves are more financially successful than experts who do not.
Expert Witness Marketing – The Cost Benefit Analysis
Expert witnesses often ask themselves if expert witness marketing is worth the cost. Answering this question requires a cost-benefit analysis. Let’s look at the cost side of the equation first. Every technique is going to have a cost in time, money, or both. As we will see below, these costs can vary greatly depending on which strategies you chose to pursue.
Experts who focus exclusively or primarily on the cost side of the equation are doing themselves a disservice. The key to evaluating whether you should incur expert witness marketing costs requires a hard look at the benefit side of the analysis. Expert witnesses are well-paid, typically $250-$1,000 an hour. An expert witness who charges $500/hour will earn $100,000 annually if they can bill a mere 4 hours per week. If they have a 30 year-career as an expert, that’s $3,000,000 in career earnings.
Given annual potential earnings in the five and six-figure range and career earnings that can easily reach the seven-figure range, it is a no-brainer to invest in expert witness marketing. The question really is not how much time and money you are spending on expert witness marketing. The wiser question to ask is how much money you are potentially losing by not investing in effective marketing.
Expert Witness Marketing – A Big Caveat
When using any expert witness marketing technique, it must be kept in mind that the expert in question can be cross-examined by opposing counsel on their marketing materials. As such, any and all marketing materials must be professional, 100% accurate, and not make the expert vulnerable on cross examination.
The most egregious example of poorly thought-out expert witness marketing that I have seen was language on an expert’s website. This particular expert stated that their opinions came with a satisfaction guarantee. If retaining counsel didn’t like the opinion, the expert would change it for him/her until retaining counsel was satisfied! Needless to say, this expert was essentially fish in a barrel during cross-examination. The technique of a satisfaction guarantee was a perfectly appropriate one for many or most businesses, but it was 1000% inappropriate for a supposedly objective and honest expert witness.
Top Ten Expert Witness Marketing Techniques
There are numerous techniques that expert witnesses use to promote their practices. Each has a cost in either time or money or both:
- Word of Mouth/Reputation. Word of mouth is the #1 way attorneys locate and select experts. Trial lawyers are paid to win. Using highly effective expert witnesses will increase the odds of the lawyer winning their case. Lawyers will check with colleagues and seek out and hire the experts with the best reputation amongst other lawyers.
Experts who develop a superb reputation in the legal community will turbocharge their expert witness practices. The way to develop such a reputation is simple. First, be responsive and easy to deal with. Second, take the time and put in the effort to learn how to deliver superb opinions, reports, and testimony.
Learning how to deliver a superb product will take time and cost some money. Two-day courses are available on areas such as report writing, depositions, and trial skills. One-on-one mentoring and personalized testifying training are also available. Getting properly trained up scores very highly on the cost benefit analysis as the earning potential of an expert is significant and training costs and time are comparatively very low.
- Advertisements. Advertising is going to cost money, but the time involved in placing an advertisement is generally very limited. Expert witness advertising can be highly effective with enormous returns on investment. Places to advertise include legal journals and expert witness directories such as the #1 Rated SEAK Expert Directory, Jurispro, ExpertPages, and ALM. Paid search engine marketing is another way experts can advertise. Paid SEO can be expensive but result in a positive return on investment.
- Websites. Developing a search engine optimized website can be an effective way to market an expert witness practice. This will be especially true for an expert who operates in a relatively narrow niche without a lot of online competition. Websites can be both fairly expensive to create and take substantial time to complete (if done well). If they don’t rank highly on Google (the first page at a minimum) you are probably wasting both your time and money.
- Blog Posts. Search engine optimized blog posts can be an effective way for experts to rank highly on online searches. An effective blog post need not be overly lengthy and can be drafted relatively quickly. Posting the blog to a popular and relevant site will aid with search engine effectiveness. Here’s an example of such a blog post.
- Speaking. Giving presentations or CLE courses to trial lawyers can be an effective expert witness marketing technique. The best lawyers to try to speak in front of are those who specialize in the exact type of case the expert is targeting. The out-of-pocket cost of speaking is usually low. However, substantial time can be incurred arranging the gig, preparing for it, and traveling to and from the location of the presentation.
- Publishing. Publishing relevant articles in legal journals can be an effective expert witness marketing technique. The out-of-pocket expenses here will tend to be low, however it will take time to draft a well-written article and shop it around to appropriate journals.
- Direct Outreach. Directly writing to a lawyer via snail mail or email can be a useful expert witness marketing technique. The best direct outreach will be individualized messages to carefully selected lawyers.
- Networking. Networking is a proven expert witness marketing technique. Perhaps the most effective way to do so is by attending or exhibiting at conferences attended by carefully selected trial lawyers. The downside to networking at legal conferences is that there can be a significant cost in both time and money.
- LinkedIn. Lawyers will sometimes use LinkedIn to identify and contact expert witnesses. A LinkedIn profile is free, so this can be a low-risk expert witness marketing technique.
- Expert Witness Brokers/Referral Agencies. Myriad expert witness “matchmaker” services exist, the oldest and most widely known of which is probably TASA. These services are often free for the expert witness, but they will typically mark up the expert’s fee by a significant amount of money. As such, they tend to try to use experts who charge below market rates. The expert witness’s arrangements and relationship with retaining counsel can also become more complicated when a third-party broker/referral service is involved.
Expert witnesses who learn how to become proficient at expert witness marketing can see a highly positive return on their investment. Training and 1-1 mentoring in expert witness marketing are available.
About the Author
James J. Mangraviti, Jr., Esq., has been teaching expert witness marketing for over 25 years and has written extensively about expert witness marketing. He is a Principal of SEAK, Inc – The Expert Witness Training Company. Jim has worked individually with numerous experts on their expert witness marketing. He is the co-founder of SEAK’s National Directory of Expert Witnesses, the #1 rated expert witness directory. Jim can be reached at 978-276-1234 or email@example.com. For more information on SEAK, Inc. – The Expert Witness Training Company, visit www.testifyingtraining.com