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When it comes to small-firm or solo practitioners, there’s probably not a job that hasn’t been done at one time or another that isn’t a task traditionally handled by a nonlawyer. Take, for example, marketing. But with the right technology, lawyers can create high-quality marketing material that can compete with anything that large firms that outsource can come up with. The tools needed for creating these materials, besides a sharp mind for marketing, may already exist within your system, or can be purchased for less than it would cost to farm it out. But when deciding whether to go the DIY route or to outsource, take into considerations the cost, both in time and labor and hardware. If you have a professional version of the Microsoft Office suite, you already have many of the tools necessary for creating the actual materials you may need to get started. For example, to create high-quality brochures, Microsoft Publisher, which comes with professional versions of Office 2003, already contains templates for numerous types of brochures or newsletters, and readily interfaces with Word. Using a wizard system for filling in the pertinent information about your practice that you wish to convey to potential clients, the brochure becomes customized for your own use, creating a message that is uniquely yours. While clip art can be used to accent the brochure, it’s best to also include some photographs as well to personalize the message. A good digital camera, such as the HP PhotoSmart M417 or the Canon PowerShot A520, provide simplicity of use with high-quality output. Both of these models retail for less than $200. But if you already have a professional portrait, a scanner can take the photo and repurpose it for your brochure. Scanners should offer 2400 dpi and 48-bit scanning. Some recommended models include the HP ScanJet 5590 Digital Flatbed Scanner, which also has an automated document feeder for scanning large quantities of paper, such as court opinions or legal documents; or Microtek ScanMaker i700 flatbed scanner, which also handles slides and other transparencies. Both of these can be purchased for under $350. But if you don’t think you will need the scanner or camera for other aspects of your practice, ask your photographer if you can have a digital image, typically a JPEG file, of which you can have unlimited use. Some photographers will grant this, while others will charge a premium for releasing the digital image. Of course, printing the marketing material is the key. You don’t want it printed on cheap paper or by using the free printer that came with your system. However, a nice color printer can be had for under $400, although it will produce only eight pages per minute in the high-color end. Several examples of this are the HP ClrLaserJet 2600n or the Lexmark C510. Faster, higher-end printers retail for more than $2,000, so if you don’t need a printer of this quality for other aspects of your practice, taking the brochure to a professional printer may still be the most economic and qualitative way to go. But brochures are not the only marking piece you will need. These days, many entrepreneurs are using business card-sized CDs to hand out to potential clients. Making one of these CDs is very easy, often with the software and hardware you already have. PowerPoint, another component of Microsoft Office, can create splashy presentations with sound and video to present your qualifications. Again, templates are available and you can use the same business theme in your brochures and newsletters as on your CD marketing piece to present a unified message. Once this presentation is created, in can be burned to CD so that anyone can view it, even if they do not have PowerPoint on their machine. To do this, once the presentation has been created in PowerPoint, go to “file,” where you will see the command “Package for CD.” This function will burn the presentation to a CD (assuming you have a CD burner on your machine). Once on CD, it is probably best not to self-produce them, but to outsource to a CD-replication lab. That way, a label can be imprinted on the CD – giving it a professional look – rather than use stick-on labels or printing that can be done on some CDs. However, if you think you might be cranking out thousands of CDs, it might make sense to invest in an automatic CD burner, which can create up to a 1,000 CDs with little intervention. These machines, which cost between $1,000 to $2,000, depending on features, burn the CDs unattended after you start the process with the first disk. An example on the lower price scale is the Disc Makers EliteMicro, or the Princeton Disc PDC-EZ, both available for less than $1,000, or the higher-volume Microboards Gemini DVD/CD-R duplicator, which will cost nearly $2,300. An optional printer with the duplicators will also label the CDs, but I believe it is still better to get the labels imprinted on blank CDs by a professional duplicator, and then burn them as you need them. The final stage in your marketing efforts should be your Web site, which can also be created using tools you may already have. While you are busy creating your brochure and newsletters in Microsoft Publisher, you may also try creating the Web site as well, as Publisher also offers templates for Web sites. But another Microsoft product, FrontPage, does a better job and provides you with more bells and whistles. Most likely you will need to purchase FrontPage separately, for $199, although some versions of Office may include it. Beside the Microsoft product line, Macromedia’s Dreamweaver and Adobe’s GoLive, which both sell for under $400, also provide great tools for creating a Web site without having a technical background. And hosting sites, where the Web site is stored, also have templates for creating Web sites as well. So when it comes to marketing, let technology help you get your message across. BRIAN R. HARRIS is the IT Director for the American Lawyer Media-Pennsylvania division and the former editor-in-chief ofThe Legal Intelligencer . Harris can be contacted at [email protected].

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