During the LMA NE conference, one of the sessions I was most looking forward to was the keynote with Adam Grossman, the Senior Vice President/Marketing & Brand Development, Boston Red Sox & Fenway Sports Management. It may seem like a stretch that legal marketing and baseball marketing have anything in common, but if you’re a regular Zen reader, you’ll know that I love looking outside of our industry for inspiration.
Grossman actually did an excellent job of tying in sports marketing to what we do – typically these speakers will leave it up to us to make the connections (something that we should be easily able to do, by the way), but he spelled it out for us pretty nicely, in an engaging and entertaining presentation that may have almost converted this non-baseball fan.
Grossman’s mentor is Larry Lucchino, himself a “recovering lawyer,” so he has special insight into what it’s like to work in this profession, and that helped frame his comments. He shared with us a few essential tips for marketing that we could all agree were great takeaways.
At the end of the day, we’re all salespeople.”
Grossman said this as part of an emphasis between shareability between sales and marketing, but it really means that no matter what your job or role in a company, you’re in sales (sorry, lawyers). Everything you do is about selling – whether you’re selling your legal services to potential clients, selling your marketing expertise to the lawyers in your firm, you’re always selling something. Once you accept that, it’s easier to understand and embrace the idea that your actions impact your business development results.
Articulate a Vision
The first principle of marketing that Grossman discussed is the ability and importance of articulating a vision (you may remember that this was a big part of our discussion about leading change during the LMA Leadership Conference as well). Setting a vision is critical to an organization as a whole, but also to marketing specifically, because it gives you a compass. For the Red Sox, they have a few parts to their vision:
- The absolute goal is playing October baseball, with winning the World Series.
- Taking the Fenway experience to the highest levels of service, warmth & hospitality, to create lasting memories for all who visit.
- Preserving, protecting & enhancing Fenway while offering new and unique forms of entertainment.
- Impacting the lives of New Englanders through their community and charitable endeavors.
- Developing and nurturing the next generation of Red Sox fans.
These pieces of their vision allow them to see whether their daily activities meet the roadmap that they’ve st out. Everything that they do is about creating that emotional connection – and so they never rest on their laurels. They focus on the entire experience of their brand (question to lawyers/law firms – do you?).
Grossman shared an advertisement about what the Red Sox mean to their fans, which illustrated the emotional connection. The challenge for lawyers and law firms is how we can create our own emotional connections with our clients and potential clients (admittedly, it’s a little more difficult than with baseball, but it IS translatable).
He pointed out that even in a tough season, they still have to sell the idea of optimism:
It’s always better to have people driving, even if they’re driving off the road, than if they’re not driving at all.”
We’re all Brand Ambassadors
Hand in hand with the idea that we’re all salespeople is this idea that we’re all brand ambassadors. This is the piece where we’re creating those emotional experiences with our own brands. How can we do that? By knowing our “players” and pushing their stories – our “players” are our lawyers.
Grossman talked about how we serve different audiences (not just the obvious one of potential and existing clients), and that we have to balance serving them. As marketers, we have to communicate clearly and authentically (this is principle number 2).
That means that we have to let our fans (clients) know that we understand them and empathize – send the message that you care. The underlying message from Grossman here was the need to acknowledge when things go wrong and mistakes are made (rather than ignoring them).
Grossman noted that one piece of advice that is usually overlooked is really listening. He illustrated this with the story of “mom” fans – on the face of it, you’d assume that they’re not big fans because they don’t attend a lot of games. But that’s not true – it’s that because of their children, they’re busier and not able to attend as many games. Which means that the games that they DO attend become that much more significant to them.
As a result, the experience can be ruined by meltdowns, and they need an “escape route” for their kids – the idea of doing this came from a suggestion from a mom fan. Because they listened, they created a “Gate K and Kid’s Concourse” along with “Wally’s Clubhouse.” The feedback they’ve gotten is tremendous:
This place saved our experience.”
For us as legal marketers, this means listening to our lawyers. For our lawyers, that means listening to their clients.
Grossman finished up by answering some audience questions, including a back and forth conversation about some of the kids’ experiences at Fenway, which resulted in him offering tickets to a home game to a father in the audience whose daughter is recently a huge Red Sox fan. On the spot, Grossman created a “WOW” experience that garnered an “aww” from the audience and strengthened more than just that one relationship with their fan base.
How can that be translatable for your practice?