Is Your Firm Really Marketing?
Is your firm really marketing? If you think marketing is nothing more than seminars, communications materials, a clever theme line and a Web site, you're only part way there. Worse, if you think marketing is doing good work and waiting for clients to call, you're still waiting to hear that tree fall in the forest. Sure, doing good work is vital to the health of your firm. But, according to client surveys conducted by Altman Weil, almost all clients believe their lawyers do good work—or admit that they can't really tell the difference.
Having a communications package that lets clients and prospects know about the firm, its lawyers, size and services is important, but most brochures and websites are so interchangeable in tone and content that it's little wonder that many buyers of legal services feel firms are fungible. No, marketing is much more than buying a rowboat and waiting for the fish to jump in. When you think about it, your firm's two biggest assets are its lawyers and its clients. Attracting, retaining and building both of these valued properties requires strategic thought and action that touch upon every element of the firm: its governance, practice management, recruitment, compensation, brand management and more. Most of all, it requires guts: the courage to listen to clients, to learn from mistakes, to change course when needed and to inspire lawyers to make even bigger contributions to the firm and to their clients.
To see if your firm is really marketing, spend ten minutes to candidly answer the survey below. Think about what's important to clients as well as to the firm when framing your responses. Ready?
Now you're ready to score the results. For each "yes," give your firm two points. For each "no," deduct one point. For blanks uncompleted or more than ten words per blank, also deduct one point. Now you can rate your firm's marketing acumen:
25-30 points Marketing geniuses. Raise your rates immediately.
20-24 points Getting there. Ask clients where you can improve.
10-19 points Still learning. Take in a good seminar.
9 points or less Bad news. The fish aren't going to jump into the boat. While the rating scale above is meant to be lighthearted, your firm's approach to marketing should be anything but. Marketing is one of the most important strategies your firm can undertake – possibly the most important – and needs to be treated as such.
Go through the survey again. Each "yes" answer is a strength. Write out the benefit(s) to your lawyers and clients of these strengths and determine the ways that they need to be
communicated to both. Conversely, each "no" is a weakness and the firm needs to develop a strategy to counteract it. In both cases, the firm will be thinking strategically and developing its own proactive marketing plan, one that is tailored to the needs of its clients and lawyers – and one that can be measurably more successful.
Is your firm really marketing? If you and your lawyers understand that marketing is central to the firm, not just an add-on or something you'll get to later, you're a long way there.