The truth is, I’m a BIG fan of Starbucks, so I’m predisposed to love this commercial.  But I think there’s a very important message that we at law firms can learn from this ad, and communicate through our own marketing (without even needing a commercial of our own). 

Watch the spot, and see if you can guess what I mean: 


Actually, there are two lessons we can take from this. Have you guessed them yet? 

Lesson One: Unify Your Culture and Sell It

What do we learn from this commercial? That no matter where in the world you go to a Starbucks, the experience will be the same. Yes, there are cultural differences (in this case, I’m speaking about national culture, and not corporate culture), but there are universal themes that human beings experience, and you can find them at Starbucks. 

Starbucks recognizes that, and they show us in a unique way that they offer the same experience to their customers worldwide – Starbucks-wide. 

At your firms, can you say the same thing? Is there one firm culture that you have which is universally offered and delivered to your clients? When someone hears "XYZ firm," do they automatically think "excellent client service" or "amazingly responsive" or "solid business partners"?

You don’t have to be creating a commercial to look at this concept.  Right now, I’m taking my own advice from last week, and reading Tony Hsieh’s book about the beginnings of Zappos. The chapter I’m reading at the moment focuses on their ten core beliefs, and Tony talks about how many years ago, branding was an exercise undertaking by a group of businessmen in a conference room to decide what and how to sell their company’s name. 

Today, it’s instead about identifying what the company’s culture is and represents, and how to communicate that – and then constantly refining and working to bring everyone at the company more and more in line with that ideal. For Zappos, it’s excellent customer service above all else. Truly, above all else – they empower their phone operators to help point a customer to competitor if they don’t have the stock on an item; all of the employees (even their in-house counsel, by the way) have to spend two weeks in the call center answering phones. At all levels of the company, they live and exude the customer service excellence that they also promote. 

What is that "thing" at your firm? What is the characteristic that makes you special? 

Find out, and then look at how you can share it with your clients, potential clients, amplifiers and influencers. You don’t have to put together a commercial – but it should underlie every business development and marketing decision you make…and every hiring decision. 

Lesson Two: Give People What They Don’t Even Know They Want

The best thing about the Starbucks commercial for me is that Starbucks is giving people something they don’t even realize that they want – an experience. An experience that is filled with human connection and stories. 

You just thought you wanted coffee, huh?

Instead, you get so much more.

That’s true for law firms too – you’re not just offering stellar legal services. You’re offering comfort, security, relief, and much more.  So what’s your secondary story? 

Look at the other side of what you offer. Of course, you offer legal services – so do all of your competitors. But what is the thing that you offer that they don’t? 

I remember sitting in a session at the LMA Annual Conference last year, coincidentally, during the Zappos session. Someone in the audience commented that while people are usually happy to see a Zappos box show up on their doorstep, they wouldn’t necessarily be happy to see their lawyer show up on their doorstep – so how can we compare the two? 

At the time, I disagreed that there was no comparison, and I still think so today. Sure, someone may not be "happy" to see their lawyer show up, but they may be relieved. Are you the superhero who swoops in to save the day and averts legal disaster? Are you the first line of defense against future issues that means that clients save millions? 

What is YOUR superpower? 

Identify what the underlying story is here – what are you really giving to your clients, that they don’t even know they want? Figure out what that is, and how to communicate it (with everything you do – again, it’s not a question of coming up with a commercial). 

What other lessons do you see in this Starbucks commercial that lawyers and legal marketers can use? How can you use the lessons described above in your own firms and practices? 

Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. In this capacity, Ms. Griffiths is responsible for the oversight and management of day-to-day operations of the International Lawyers Network (ILN). She develops strategies and implementation plans to achieve the ILN’s goals, and handles recruitment, member retention, and a high level of service to members. She is engaged in the legal industry to stay on top of trends, both in law firms and law firm networks.

In her role as Executive Director, she develops and facilitates relationships among ILN member firm lawyers at 90+ law firms in 67 countries, and seeks opportunities for member firms to build business and relationships, while ensuring member participation in Network events and initiatives. These initiatives include facilitating referrals, the management and execution of the marketing and business development strategy for the Network, which encompasses all communications, push-down efforts, and marketing partnerships, providing support and guidance to the chairs and group leaders for the ILN’s thirteen practice and industry specialty groups, the ILN’s women’s initiative, the ILN’s mentorship program, the management and execution of all ILN conferences, and more.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

During her previous tenure as Director of Global Relationship Management, the ILN has been shortlisted as a Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer for 2016 and 2017, and included as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network since 2011. She was awarded “Thought Leader of the Year” by the Legal Marketing Association’s New York chapter in 2014 for her substantive contributions to the industry, and was recently included in Clio’s list for “34 People in Legal You Should Follow on Twitter.” She was also chosen for the American Bar Association Journal’s inaugural Web 100‘s Best Law Blogs, where judge Ivy Grey said “This blog is outstanding, thoughtful and useful.” Ms. Griffiths was recently chosen for as a Top Author by JD Supra in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, for the level of engagement and visibility she attained with readers on the topic of marketing & business development. She has been the author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking since February of 2009.