September 2003  Volume 29, Issue 6
ABA Law Pracice Management Magazine, September 2003 Issue
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SIDE BAR: Target Range: Send a Message Clients Can Use
by Clara Boza
I recently heard the general counsel of a well-known company say there's so much spam mixed in with his "real" e-mail these days that he's worried he'll accidentally delete a crucial message as he deletes his way through his inbox.

His comment was yet another reminder of how much tougher it's become for marketers to reach their audiences. That holds true for marketers of legal services, too.

  • First, our firms have to get on our prospective clients' radar screens--that is, to show up as part of the universe of law firms that can serve them generally.

  • Second, we must create and convey an identity--a brand--strong and persuasive enough to move us onto the list of firms that can address prospective clients' particular needs.

  • Third, we must validate the brand in compelling, demonstrable ways that move us onto the short list of firms under consideration for their business.

So, how do you get there? First, focus. The heart of a good positioning strategy is a well-defined audience, and the result is the opportunity to deliver a focused, forceful message that hits home.

But focus and targeted messages are not enough to distinguish your firm from the "clutter" of other messages your audience is receiving. A brand, after all, is only a promise.

For differentiation, you must demonstrate that you're serious about your brand and knowledgeable about your market's needs in tangible ways.

One Firm's Promise of Partnership
At Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, we take seriously our promise of partnership with corporate counsel. We focus the lion's share of our marketing program on that relatively small audience, the primary purchasers of our services.

For example, we advertise only in venues that are specifically targeted to in-house counsel. Our "Vital Statistics" ad campaign highlights key facts and achievements that we think will interest and inform that audience. Still, while this exposure helps raise K&L's profile, we know we have to keep finding ways to add value to our audience's experience of K&L if we're to stand out from our competitors.

Once our "Vital Statistics" visibility campaign was under way, we added to the mix an ongoing, monthly feature in which chief legal officers of leading companies share their individual perspectives on topics of interest to the community of corporate counsel. To date, we've provided a forum to a number of CLOs via this "Top of Mind" campaign and, we hope, contributed to the dialogue among in-house counsel on issues that matter.

Most recently, K&L released the results of its first survey of corporate counsel, Top of Mind: A Survey of Senior In-House Counsel. We commissioned an independent research firm to find out what's on the minds of senior in-house counsel. Our goal was to provide this community of professionals with useful information about their concerns, and about how their colleagues are dealing with those concerns. The survey results are available in print form and on K&L's Web site, www.kl.com.

Focus Is Only the Beginning
In short, "focus, focus, focus" is to legal marketing as "location, location, location" is to real estate investment. But focus is only the beginning. Once you've defined who you're talking to, make sure that the message you're sending, unlike spam, is one that your audience cares about and that gives them something they can use. If not, the mental "Delete" button is only seconds away.


Clara Boza ( bozac@kl.com) is Chief Marketing Officer of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, LLP, based in the Washington, DC, office