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The Future of Law Firm Marketing

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The Future of Law Firm Marketing Powered By Docstoc
					The Basics Are Still Beneficial
By Jean Marie Caragher



O    ver the past 18 months, I have had the privilege of interviewing many smart,
     insightful authors and consultants for my Web site, www.capstonemarketing.com.
After reviewing those interviews, I discovered three themes to consider for the future of
law firm marketing: (1) creating a sense of trust, (2) building relationships with your
clients, and (3) differentiation.

Creating a Sense of Trust                              prospects.   Give away ideas
David Maister, of Maister Associates,                  rather than boasting about the
Inc., thinks that the amount of trust that             firm.
clients have in their attorneys has
decreased dramatically. “This is the            “Everybody is looking for some new,
single issue around marketing and sales         magic, innovative marketing pill that will
that all these lawyers still do not get,        mean they don‟t have to get on the real
which is that marketing and selling is          diet,” says Maister. “There isn‟t a magic
solely about trust,” says Maister.              pill. It has nothing to do with the
                                                consequences of the Internet. It‟s got
Maister asserts that buyers go through          everything to do with the basics that
two stages.     The qualification stage         you‟ve always known that you aren‟t
identifies those lawyers who are                doing.”
competent. Then, the buyer is in a
position of choosing among qualified            Building Relationships With Your
candidates. “If they‟re all qualified, then     Clients
what I choose on has nothing to do with         In addition to creating a sense of trust
the logical, rational part,” explains           between your firm‟s lawyers and clients,
Maister. “What I choose on among                your firm must continue building
people who are equally qualified is,            relationships with your clients. Seth
„Whom do I trust?‟”                             Godin,       author    of    “Permission
                                                Marketing,” believes this can be done
Maister recommends that the easiest             through permission marketing.        “By
way to develop a sense of trust with            treating permission marketing as an
clients and prospects is to be helpful.         asset and working to develop it,” he
“It‟s not just the lawyers,” Maister            explains, “professional firms end up
continues. “Even the marketers don‟t            generating far more revenue and far
get it. What works is not selling. What         more equity than if they just run around
works is to just start helping people.          randomly hoping they bump into
They will want more.”                           someone at a cocktail party hoping
                                                they‟ll give them business.”
Maister‟s suggestions include:
                                                Most law firms approach marketing by
      Include substantive help in new          identifying prospects for their services.
       business proposals.                      Godin believes that this approach is no
      Read every issue of your main            longer valid. “The right answer today is
       client‟s trade magazine.                 to find products and services that your
      Include        information    in         customers want,” he says.        “You‟re
       newsletters and brochures that           solving problems for people who trust
       will be valuable to clients and          you.     The place where professional
services get in trouble is when they          one of you can demonstrate that, you‟re
come back with an incompetent solution        going to be my preferred provider.”
that they try to sell just because they
have permission.        That burns the        Riskin identified other ways            to
permission and keeps you from being           differentiate your firm, including:
able to sell anything.”
                                                    Modify client documentation so
Part of the relationship-building process            that the client can use them
is understanding your clients‟ needs.                internally without changing them,
“The trademark law firms that send us                i.e., figure out what the
newsletters are all about looking into the           documents are doing inside the
mirror and talking to themselves about               client and make appropriate
interesting,    arcane     elements     of           modifications.
trademark law,” relates Godin, “as                  Have industry experts speak to
opposed to, „Here‟s a specific issue that            your firm‟s niche teams.
you need to know about because it will              Read publications and listen to
help you in the future.‟ They‟re not                 really      become        industry
client-focused, they‟re self-focused.”               knowledgeable.

Differentiation                               Harry Beckwith, author of “Selling the
“I believe differentiating is becoming        Invisible,” feels that law firms can
more and more important,” says Gerald         differentiate    themselves      in  their
A. Riskin, a partner and co-founder of        positioning      statement.          “The
The Edge Group. “It is possible, and it       professional firms that I know that have
rests with going through a process of         differentiated themselves have done it
understanding an individual or a group,       based on corporate culture,” explains
what it is that they have done – their        Beckwith. “Every corporate culture is
specific experience base – that really is     distinctive, if not truly unique, because
unique and impressive.”                       they‟re comprised of a unique set of
         David Maister agrees. “One of        personalities that come together in
the positive things I‟ve seen in              some common goal.”
professional services marketing over the
past few years is more focus on industry      Narrow specialization is also a good
specialization, people beginning to           way to differentiate a firm. “Green &
come to market as focused specialists,”       Espall, a firm in Minneapolis, has made
he says. “There was a great reluctance        it very clear that it has narrow and
to do that 10 years ago.”                     limited areas of expertise upon which it
         Riskin         believes       that   puts enormous bandwith, brain power,
differentiation      requires    not   only   and resources,” explains Beckwith. “In
substantial practice capability but the       a firm of 18 lawyers, there are only six
methodologies, as well. For example, a        subject matter areas in which they
firm may leverage through technology.         practice.     They have developed a
“Don‟t tell me you‟re the best securities     credible reputation for genuine, second-
lawyer, that‟s not enough anymore,”           to-none knowledge in those six highly
explains Riskin. “With all due respect, I     defined areas.”
have three people in mind who are all
brilliant, just like you. Now, tell me that   Al Ries, one of the world‟s best-known
you‟ve invested inside your team in           marketing strategists and co-author of
technology and processes that allow           “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,”
you to produce more quickly, more             concurs. “While every law firm is all
effectively, and with higher quality. If      things for everybody, it‟s hard for any
one law firm to see the benefit of having
a narrow focus, having a law of
contraction, standing for something,” he
says. “As a result, you don‟t see much
movement in that direction but I think
you‟ll find that in the long term it can be
very powerful if you narrow the focus.”

Ries goes so far as to suggest that law
firms specialize in one area. “It‟s very
hard for a prospect, inside their mind, to
perceive a law firm as providing this, this
and this,” he says. “Whenever you have
areas of expertise, while internally that
might be a good way to organize a
business, externally that‟s not going to
build much perception in the mind of the
customer. The average customer has to
be able to sum it up in one or two
words.”

Conclusion
In this era of technological advances, it
seems that remembering the tried and
true tenets of creating a sense of trust,
building     client   relationships   and
differentiation will carry us far into the
future of law firm marketing.

               * * *
Jean Marie Caragher is the president of
Capstone Marketing, Inc., providing
marketing consulting services to law and
accounting firms. She is a frequent
speaker and author, and is a past
president of the Association for
Accounting Marketing. Jean can be
reached    at   (770)    753-8777     or
jcaragher@capstonemarketing.com.

This article was published in the
January 2001 issue of Strategies, the
Journal of Legal Marketing, published by
the Legal Marketing Association.

				
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