Attorneys, do not panic. I haven’t lost my mind when I ask you to think like a marketer (I promise, bear with me).
How many of you (raise your hands) think of marketing as something that some group in your office does once in a while?
How many of you think of marketing as brochures and advertisements?
How many of you think marketers are just people who ask you for money and then put pretty logos together or make sure you have enough business cards?
Okay, put your hands down. I’ve got news for you – marketing is everything.
So says this excellent blog post from Blue Kite Marketing that I read this morning. The truth is, and we’ve talked about it here before, every interaction that you and your firm have with clients, potential clients, and influencers counts as marketing.
Every time your assistant or the firm’s receptionist answers the phone: Marketing.
Every time a client gets an email from you: Marketing.
Every time a client gets a bill from you: Marketing.
Every time you talk to someone about what you do professionally: Marketing.
Every time you welcome a client or potential client into your office: Marketing.
Does that scare you a little? It should. It boils down to this point: everything you do, from what you say to how you say it, to how your office looks, to who you surround yourself with, and more, contributes to the impression that people have of you and your business – that’s marketing. All of it.
As the post referenced above says:
Marketing is something that should permeate your entire organization.After all, every interaction and touch point with customers can be scrutinized or applauded and then shared with the world."
And now, with social media, every one of those impressions is not only something that is experienced by the client, potential client or influencer, it’s something that can be shared by each of those people to a wide audience – no longer is someone just relaying a story among their family and friends; now, they’re posting it online for the world to see.
Guess what? That’s marketing too. Are you sure people are saying what you want them to about you and your firm?
Blue Kite Marketing tells us that "every employee is in the marketing department." That doesn’t mean that you need to start thinking about running ads or what graphics look best on your brochure (and as an aside, that’s also NOT what your marketing department is doing either).
What it does mean is that you need to recognize that everything you do – including how you practice law – sends a message about the type of lawyer you are. The way you manage your clients, interact with colleagues and referral sources, network at events and in social situations, work with your associates, all comes together to represent you as a lawyer.
Have you asked yourself what kind of experience you’re delivering through those components? Is it the message that you want clients, potential clients and influencers to take away about you, and share with others?
Today’s tips challenge you to think more like a marketer, asking questions that will hopefully get you thinking about the kind of experience you deliver, and what it says about you.
Tip One: What makes you worth talking about?
In the above-referenced post, Blue Kite Marketing says:
People use hundreds of products and services every day. About 95 percent of those interactions go completely unnoticed. Another three percent of those experiences are ones that you are complaining about."
What makes the remaining two percent worth talking about?"
Think for a moment about all of the interactions you have during the day, with colleagues, with sellers of goods and services, with members of your family and friends, etc. Which of those are most memorable?
Ask yourself WHY those interactions are so memorable. Maybe it’s because someone went the extra mile when they didn’t have to, or because someone understood what your needs were, though you were articulating them in a different way. Perhaps they were just extra kind and cheerful in a tough situation, or they remembered something about you from a previous interaction that surprised you.
Write it down, and think about how you can translate that to the kind of service you deliver to your clients. If something is memorable for you, it will be memorable for your clients (provided you translate it to being about their needs and wants).
When you create memorable experiences for your clients, potential clients, and influencers, you’re empowering them to go out and talk about you – they’ll be marketing for you. Why is that important? We’re much more likely to try to do business with someone if someone we trust tells us about a great experience they had with that person – not just a good experience, but a great one.
Ask yourself today – what makes me worth talking about?
Tip Two: What brands excite you?
I can hear the complaints already – "consumer brands and professional services have NOTHING in common."
Yes, the products are different, but what we’re looking at is the experience. And we can learn lessons from some of the brands we’re always excited about.
For example, let’s think about Apple. Everyone is always talking about Apple, wondering about their latest products and what new idea they’ll come out with next. Thousands of people tune in to see their presentations, and wait in line outside their stores for days for the latest thing – even when the latest thing is very expensive.
Apple is known to be innovative, often first to market with their products and that offers people the opportunity to be "in," to feel tech-savvy, and to be one of the "cool" kids. Their products are sleek and futuristic looking (and while other products have caught up in that sense, Apple was still the first to offer something like that, and cornered the market early). They’ve also done an amazing job of creating customer loyalty – many Apple users won’t even listen to anyone describe the features of a non-Apple product.
I’m reminded also of the conversation we had about Zappos last year, when an audience member said "people are excited to see a Zappos box appear on their doorstep, but they’re not likely to be excited to see their lawyer appear on their doorstep." You could say the same about Apple. That begs the question of whether it’s even possible to create a similar experience for legal clients.
The answer is yes – people may not be excited to see their lawyer, but they can certainly be relieved. If you are a tireless advocate for them, someone who makes their life easier, is always looking for the best way to help them and make them look good, and is focused on looking ahead to avoid trouble, your clients will indeed be relieved and excited to see you – because you’re bringing them solutions, and not just problems.
We’re talking again about translatable lessons here – so take a look at the brands that you love, from consumer brands through professional services that you use. Maybe your landscaper is amazing, or you will always buy Apple no matter what other products hit the market. Maybe you will always go to Starbucks instead of Dunkin Donuts. Make a list of what it is about those things that you love – what gets you so excited that you’d tell all of your friends and family to purchase that product or service?
This doesn’t have to be a huge project – it’s likely that there are only one or two brands out there that you’re so loyal to that you’d actually advocate for them – ask yourself, if X Brand asked me to be in a commercial, would I do it, and what would I say? Then write down what it is about those brands that makes you such a fan, and identify how those characteristics would be translatable for your client interactions.
On the flip side, look at those brands that make you really mad – what things have you sworn off because of a bad experience, or a bad decision that they made? How can you avoid doing the same thing in your practice, with your clients? Sometimes, marketing is as much about what we don’t do, as it is about what we do.
You may consider marketing to be something that "someone else does," but you’re doing it whether you recognize it or not. So why not take a few minutes to think critically about the impressions you’re leaving with people, and how you can tweak those to go from a "good" lawyer to a "great" one?