Welcome to our Marketing Issue, which covers the business of giving, a phrase sure to make law firm chief financial officers and controllers squirm (but more on that later). Lawyers must market themselves far and wide. We hear these pronouncements so frequently that we often miss the simple fact that developing relationships, no matter how surface-level or deep, always involves personal investment of one kind or another. And so, the scope of personal marketing hinges on your personality and what precisely you hope to accomplish. This issue contains a medley of tactics you should consider adopting to accurately brand yourself and your practice.
Part of sparking this awareness inevitably confronts “those” questions, at times direct legal inquiries over the phone and other times squirrely banter over cocktails, that attorneys receive—of course embedded with the expectation that answers are free of charge. Some lawyers protect their knowledge to a fault and, we are proposing, do far more damage to their brand than they would by sharing with restrained abandon. It is at this intersection where the finance types begin to sense a creeping discomfort.
Our worthy finance colleagues respect the goodness served by altruism: be it giving to charitable and community organizations or political causes, through pro bono work and volunteerism. Instead, it is the very act of tracking write-offs, write-downs and questionably steep fee discounts that causes them shortness of breath when marketing types pontificate about surrendering services to clients who are perfectly capable of paying bills.
To be sure, there is a line in the sand that we must draw and commit to not venture beyond in order to maintain the support of our co-workers while offering advice free of charge. Such accountability is healthy even if the line varies by attorney. Successful new business originators personally master the location of that threshold and, when reached, effectively move the conversation toward engagement. When? When your prospective client can appreciate the need for more in-depth service at a cost, oftentimes through the validity of the counsel freely provided. How you go about it depends on any number of variables, as any good lawyer will tell you.
In learning more about “Being Nice,” Mark Britton and Nick Gaffney recount their interview with Peter Shankman, our memorable keynote speaker from the Law Practice Management 2011 Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference. Reconfigure your referral sources as your personal sales force after perusing Eric Dewey’s “Make Referral Marketing Work for You.” Ari Kaplan exhorts us to raise our profiles altogether differently in “Beyond Self-Promotion,” full of the practical concepts and anecdotes that are his calling card. Reminding us that our best prospects for new revenue already pay our bills, Beth Cuzzone covers client retention strategies in “Keep Your Clients Happy.” In “The Changing Definition of Value,” Tim Corcoran calls on in-house counsel to better pin down ever-fungible value. Rounding out the features, Tea Hoffmann makes the case that standard operating procedures must be recalibrated in “Building and Sustaining a Business Development Culture.”
I’d like to thank these dedicated authors for sharing their insights and ideas, as well as our issue team that was responsible for putting this together. Thanks to Beverly Loder, who put up with me as co-issue editor (and also wearing two hats as features editor), and editorial board members Nick Gaffney, Tea Hoffmann, Cynthia Thomas and Heidi Barcus, as well as our true experts in residence, Mark Britton, the founder and CEO of Avvo, and Eric Dewey, of Group Dewey Consulting and the legal marketing blog LawyerUpStrategies.
In the end, people like to brag about the excellent attorney they hired and, of course, they don’t mind that it makes them look smarter for the hiring. This issue merely suggests spoon-feeding your fans’ license to brag.
John D. Bowers, Editor-in-Chief