Lawyers know better than most people that words matter – after all, who knows better than a contract lawyer that a nuanced clause can make or break a deal?

But who knows better than your marketing team that “marketing” is a four-letter word?

It shouldn’t be – and I’ll explain why in a moment.

But 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 you do.

So, a lot of times, we’ll use the terms “marketing,” “business development,” “branding,” and more rather interchangeably. They are all very nuanced and different terms, but for the purposes of today’s post, I want to focus on the word marketing, and use the American Marketing Association’s official definition for it:

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. “

Marketing is Everything.

When put that way, it’s easy to see how a lot of what you do as a lawyer can be classed as marketing – even your legal work itself, which is delivering offerings that have value for clients, is marketing. The truth is 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.

There’s a great post from Blue Kite Marketing on why you should think like a marketer, which 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.” [emphasis mine]

Word of mouth is essential in the legal industry – it always has been. 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? (You may remember we touched on this to some extent in our personal branding post.)

What Makes You Worth Talking About

When I ask you this question, I’m sure that you can immediately call to mind your elevator speech. The short, couple of sentences that describe what you do, and the value you add for your clients. And to some extent, that’s what we’re looking at here. But let’s take that a step further.

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?

Remember, being a great lawyer that delivers client value in your area of practice is essentially table stakes in today’s market place. There are a lot of excellent lawyers, who are well-educated, with a great deal of experience and aptitude. But what will be the thing that makes a client, a colleague, or a friend turn to someone else to sing your praises from the rooftops?

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Photo of Lindsay Griffiths Lindsay Griffiths

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the…

Lindsay Griffiths is the International Lawyers Network’s Executive Director. She is a dynamic, influential international executive and marketing thought leader with a passion for relationship development and authoring impactful content. Griffiths is a driven, strategic leader who implements creative initiatives to achieve the goals of a global professional services network. She manages all major aspects of the Network, including recruitment, member retention, and providing exceptional client service to an international membership base.

In her role as Executive Director, Griffiths manages a mix of international programs, engages a diverse global community, and develops an international membership base. She leads the development and successful implementation of major organizational initiatives, manages interpersonal relationships, and possesses executive presence with audiences of internal and external stakeholders. Griffiths excels at project management, organization, and planning, writes and speaks with influence and authority, and works independently while demonstrating flexibility in thinking, especially in challenging situations. She also adapts to diverse and dynamic environments with constant assessment and recalibration.

JD Supra Readers Choice Top Author 2019

In 2021, the ILN was honored as Global Law Firm Network of the Year by The Lawyer European Awards, and in 2016, 2017, and 2022, they were shortlisted as Global Law Firm Network of the Year. Since 2011, the Network has been listed as a Chambers & Partners Leading Law Firm Network, recently increasing this ranking to be included in the top two percent of law firm networks globally, as well as adding two regional rankings. 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 included in Clio’s list of “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 chosen 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 2009.