Lawyering 101: Marketing is in the Fine Print – How Every Interaction Shapes Your Brand

February 7th, 2024

Lawyering 101: Marketing is in the Fine Print – How Every Interaction Shapes Your Brand

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Lawyers understand better than most the significance of words – after all, who comprehends more than a contract lawyer that a subtle clause can either seal or sabotage a deal?

Yet, who better than your marketing team realizes that “marketing” often carries negative connotations?

It shouldn’t – and I’ll delve into why shortly.

But how many of you (raise your hands) view marketing as something handled sporadically by a group in your office?

How many of you associate marketing solely with brochures and advertisements?

How many of you see marketers as individuals who merely solicit funds and then design logos or ensure an ample supply of business cards?

Okay, lower your hands. I have news for you – marketing encompasses everything you do.

So, oftentimes, we use terms like “marketing,” “business development,” “branding,” and others rather interchangeably. Though nuanced and distinct, for the purpose of today’s discussion, let’s focus on marketing and refer to the American Marketing Association’s official definition:

“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 Ubiquitous.

When phrased in this manner, it’s evident that much of what you do as a lawyer falls under the umbrella of marketing – even your legal work, which entails delivering offerings that hold value for clients, is marketing. Every interaction you and your firm have with clients, potential clients, and influencers constitutes marketing.

Every time your assistant or the firm’s receptionist answers the phone: Marketing.

Every time a client receives an email from you: Marketing.

Every time a client receives a bill from you: Marketing.

Every time you discuss your professional endeavors with someone: Marketing.

Every time you welcome a client or potential client into your office: Marketing.

Does that notion unsettle you a bit? It should. It boils down to this: everything you do, from what you convey to how you convey it, to the appearance of your office, to the company you keep, and more, shapes the impression that people form about you and your business – that’s marketing. All of it.

There’s a compelling insight from Blue Kite Marketing on why you should adopt a marketer’s mindset, stating:

“Marketing is something that should permeate your entire organization. After all, every interaction and touchpoint with customers can be scrutinized or applauded and then shared with the world.”

Word of mouth remains crucial in the legal sphere – always has been. With social media, every one of those impressions is not solely experienced by the client, potential client, or influencer; it’s something each of them can share with a broad audience – they’re no longer merely recounting a story among friends and family; they’re posting it online for the world to see.

And guess what? That’s marketing too. Are you certain people are conveying what you want them to about you and your firm?

Blue Kite Marketing emphasizes that “every employee is in the marketing department.” That doesn’t imply that you need to start contemplating running ads or determining the optimal graphics for your brochure (and as a side note, that’s also NOT what your marketing department is doing either).

It signifies recognizing that everything you do – including how you practice law – communicates a message about the kind of lawyer you are. How you manage your clients, engage with colleagues and referral sources, network at events and in social settings, and collaborate with your associates – all amalgamate to represent you as a lawyer.

Have you pondered the kind of experience you’re delivering through those facets? Is it the message you want clients, potential clients, and influencers to perceive about you and share with others? (You may recall we touched on this to some extent in our discussion on personal branding.)

What Sets You Apart

When I pose this question, I’m sure you can instantly recollect your elevator speech – the succinct couple of sentences describing what you do and the value you bring to your clients. And to some degree, that’s what we’re exploring here. But let’s delve deeper.

Blue Kite Marketing posits:

“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?”

Reflect for a moment on all the interactions you engage in daily – with colleagues, with providers of goods and services, with family members and friends, etc. Which of those are the most memorable?

Ask yourself WHY those interactions stand out. Perhaps someone went the extra mile when they didn’t have to, or someone comprehended your needs even when articulated differently. Maybe they exhibited exceptional kindness and cheerfulness in a challenging situation, or they recalled something about you from a previous encounter that surprised you.

Jot it down and contemplate how you can translate that into the kind of service you provide to your clients. If something is memorable for you, it will be memorable for your clients (provided you translate it to address their needs and desires).

When you create memorable experiences for your clients, potential clients, and influencers, you empower them to advocate for you – they’ll be marketing for you. Why is that crucial? We’re far more inclined to consider doing business with someone if someone we trust recounts a remarkable experience they had with that individual – not merely a good experience, but a remarkable one.

Ask yourself today – what makes me worth talking about?

Remember, being an exceptional lawyer delivering client value in your practice is essentially the bare minimum in today’s marketplace. Numerous outstanding lawyers possess excellent education, extensive experience, and aptitude. But what will prompt a client, a colleague, or a friend to endorse someone else from the rooftops?

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