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PROFESSIONAL ADMINISTRATORS ISSUE

 

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April/May 2008 Issue | Volume 34 Number 3| Page 6
Frontlines

What REALLY Works

Marketing a No-Nonsense Attitude

Let’s say your firm has a uniquely entrepreneurial, aggressive, hardworking style and culture, and you have a multifaceted audience to reach to diversify your reputation. To hit the target, try a roll-up-your-sleeves branding campaign.

WHO Isaacson Rosenbaum, a 50-lawyer Denver-based business law firm.

BACKGROUND Isaacson Rosenbaum had a reputation as one of Denver’s leading real estate practices. In addition, its public law and policy and conservation easement practices were among the -area’s most high-profile ones. But the firm’s more traditional practices—corporate, tax and litigation-—were neither sizable nor well-known. While its strategic plan sought to grow those groups in particular, the firm wanted a creative brand message that would support all of its practices.

The firm’s slogan at the time was a thoroughly non-differentiating “Law. Client. Community.” (Apparently “Good. Smart. Nice.” was taken already.) Unfortunate, because this really is a firm with a difference. These are smart, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-do-the-deal lawyers. No elitist snobs who are overbilling clients. They talk plain, and they find out how to get it done quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. They speak proudly of the times they’ve found creative shortcuts to solve client problems. They’re easy to get along with, and their clients and opponents like them. They have high standards of ethics and integrity and do lots of pro bono work and community activities.

To convey how Isaacson Rosenbaum’s lawyers stand out from the crowd, the marketing partner, Mark Grueskin, wanted an especially creative campaign.

MARKETING GOALS The objective was to increase the firm’s name recognition and diversify the reputation of its lawyers among the Denver business community and high-net-worth individuals. This made for a multifaceted target audience, with some of the businesspeople being highly sophisticated corporate officers, and others being hard-driving blue-collar types.

For purposes of attracting lateral hires, the campaign also needed to appeal to creative, aggressive and entrepreneurial lawyers who would relish the chance to join a firm that had a more robust personality and better quality of life than their current firms.

In sum, this is what the campaign needed to say: We are a high-level, high-quality, sophisticated law firm with a varied practice in (1) real estate, (2) public law and lobbying, (3) corporate and tax, and (4) litigation, and we have a practical, roll-up-your-sleeves, get-the-job-done approach and work environment.

We wanted ideas that would speak to the firm’s unique style and culture, so that the materials would support each of the firm’s practice areas. But we also wanted something with an edge, a couple of options with a sense of humor, to create a sense of interest and excitement around Denver. At the same time, this was still a law firm talking to businesspeople and high-net-worth individuals in a somewhat conservative environment, so it had to be appropriate in tone, saying that this firm is a smart choice for businesspeople who want sophisticated services provided in an agile, personal, cost-effective manner. And for recruiting, of course, we wanted to showcase the firm’s positive culture.

IMPLEMENTATION AND RESULTS We developed a campaign around the tag line “The Business of Solutions,” a straightforward pitch to the lawyers’ no-nonsense attitude about solving client problems. Then to flesh out the firm’s unique approach to providing services, we incorporated humorous visuals showing an exaggerated sense of what it is like to have lawyers who do not act in a helpful, positive, solutions-driven way. We developed a three-ad campaign illustrated by images of a stereotypically sour or geeky lawyer standing between the client and what they were trying to accomplish—reaching for a towel after a shower, putting on the golf course, or trying to get money at an ATM machine—and carrying the headline “Is your lawyer always getting in the way?”

Then we added another phase to the campaign, in which we paired each ad with a second half that represented the experience of working with an Isaacson Rosenbaum lawyer who is in “The Business of Solutions”—for example, handing the client a clean towel, or holding the flag on the putting green—to illustrate a lawyer who is “always getting it done.”

We ran these two-part ads in business publications and legal trade journals, in which each “before” ad was followed by an “after” ad when a reader turned the page. We also turned the ads into direct-mail pieces. In addition, the firm’s redesigned Web site shows the towel and ATM ads fading in and out. And it is all supported by a complementary firm brochure.

Simultaneous with the campaign’s launch, the firm sent the media a press release accompanied by white logo’d towels that were attached to reproductions of the shower-and-towel ads to drum up attention. The Denver Post carried an extremely positive story about the campaign on the cover of its business section, which generated significant traffic on the new Web site on the day it launched.

The launch party was fun, too, with proud speeches by firm leadership thanking everyone for working so hard in bringing this to market.

About the Author

Ross Fishman specializes in marketing training and creating differentiation programs for law firms worldwide. A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, he is an inaugural member of the Legal Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame.

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