Free Advice, When Perfectly Implemented, Adds Up To Serious Cash

Give your expertise away for free on the World Wide Web, and if you are fully dedicated and incredibly talented the community will pay you back. This is commonly accepted wisdom on the Internets today. A formula, if you will. Of course this does not mean it’s a good idea to offer free advice, just that a lot of people say it is.

One person who can vouch for the approach is Sheela Murthy, an Indian immigrant and expert on immigration law.

According to The New York Times, Murthy’s content strategy has paid off in a big way. Today, by at least one ranking, is the world’s most visited law firm website.

Murthy told the Times that her firm’s site is aimed at building an online immigrant community.

There’s no hard sell — its priority is not to bring in clients but to help and show we care and know our stuff. We clarify the most complicated laws, using tools like teleconferences, podcasts and blogging.

Our moderated bulletin board has over 165,000 members who share information and knowledge about visa processing trends and related matters. On Monday nights, we have a real-time chat where one of our senior attorneys explains immigration law and processes. Every two or three years, we redo the site from scratch, working with a Web development firm.

I’m impressed. This is a textbook example of brand utility at work. When you provide something of tangible value–in this case, information on immigration–the need to make a traditional pitch subsides. The firm’s service to the community is action, and actions are more memorable than words.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.