Law Firms: Everything is MARKETING

My thoughts:

  •  the look and feel of reception (do you have a flower budget that allows you to buy fresh flowers every week? What about sweets?)
  • the way that everyone answers the telephone (for God’s sake smile a bit more)
  • the cleanliness of the toilets (who inspects theirs every hour?)
  • your website (if you must have one then make sure that you have up to date material. So many firms have out of date and tired looking material. It just looks like you have forgotten you have one)
  • your brochure (if you must have printed material make sure you read it once in a while)
  • the typeface used on letters, emails and paid advertising (I deplore some of the useless typefaces unless you are selling magnifying glasses at the same time. What’s wrong with Times New Roman or Palatino or Garamond? And remember, despite all that legal training, less is more. You are not paid for the number of letters you can cram on a page)
  • the signage for parking and lifts
  • the way people dress (I still remember in the 1980’s going to see IBM and being super impressed with their dress code. I am not asking for clones but smart should mean smart. But please treat people like adults and don’t keep sending round emails to remind people. Talk to them and be grown up about it. Dress down days don’t work. If you are going to dispense with formal attire, will your clients understand why you have chosen to go down this route? For me it feels gimmicky)
  • your bill (this has to be the worst example of marketing: “Professional services for the period [date] to [date]” with the scantiest of narrative. Think about the message very, very carefully)
  • how you don’t deal with complaints (saying sorry at the first opportunity is marketing)
  • making sure that all your staff live and breathe your values so that when speaking to people outside of the firm they WOW them and not bad mouth the firm (BTW check out your values: are they as good as “Radically Thrilling”, Steve Jobs?)
  • how people behave at networking events
  • the cars that partners drive (too many BMWs may not be the impression that you want to convey but then again may be it is)
  • how much time you spend in the local community
  • your sponsorship activities
  • your CSR initiatives
  • your suppliers
  • how you pay your bills
  • and the clients that you act for (if you must say you act for a certain client what message does that send out?)

The other key point that needs to be addressed is that very often those in marketing feel that they are the only ones who know anything about the subject but I wonder how many of them have actually sat in on a client meeting and I am not talking about Blue Chip companies where there is a relationship partner but the normal private client. How many of them have asked those clients what they like about the firm and what they don’t like about the firm? This is the plainest example of MBWA (Managing by Wandering About). It is about getting under the skin of the problem. But it cuts both ways. How many times have the lawyers or their support staff been invited to a marketing meeting?

This is not some random exercise that is said for the sake of it but so that each can understand the other’s point of view, be more empathetic and ultimately provide a better service to the client.

If everyone was told that they were in marketing just think what  a massive difference that could make to the firm.

Marketing is the most important aspect of professional services based as it is on building trust with the client. It is not just about fancy brochures or flashy websites it is much more about the people to people connection or the experience.

What are your thoughts on marketing in a law firm?

6 thoughts on “Law Firms: Everything is MARKETING

  1. Hi Julian

    Great analysis! And relevant whatever sector you work in. So few make the most of all the opportunities they have to engage with their clients. For those that do put in that extra effort there is usually a great opportunity to differentiate. An example I use of a businessin my seminars is Apple.

    What do you think is the reason so few firms make the most of the opportunities? Is it laziness, or do they just not understand the potential value?

    1. Jonathan
      Thanks for your kind words. The principal driver is that lawyers have still not worked out how to differentiate the technician from the entrepreneur mindset. Instead of working on their practice area, they decide to stay working in it. Because of this it is very difficult to see the marketing and business development opportunities. It will happen but very slowly. I thought the crash in the market would have had a bigger impact and the threat of Tesco law but it appears not. Only time will tell.


  2. I think services marketing is so much more important than many people think, so glad to hear someone recognizes it! It is harder to do than product marketing because you have to add in location, physical place, personnel, etc. But it sounds like you have everything under control!
    Glad I came across your blog!

    Brittany Haggerty

  3. So true! I especially agree with the part about website marketing. I’ve written websites for lawyers and they don’t have to be dull; in fact, we usually turn up some exciting stories for content.
    I’ve also found that lawyers are reluctant to pay for marketing so as a result they often pay *more* than they need and get less. A low hourly rate doesn’t always mean the final bill will be reasonable!
    And I’ve found some lawyers – especially in small or solo practices – want to be do it yourselfers. They don’t compute the cost of lost billable hours (or time spent on more productive marketing or just relaxing).

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