In my experience, both as a lawyer and as a consultant, I’ve found the “M” word—marketing—is a very scary one for most lawyers. I’ve discovered when you say “marketing” to lawyers, it tends to imply having to develop an entirely new skill set that is taxing and totally outside of their wheelhouse of natural skills.
I can totally see why. Over the years the word “marketing” has gotten a bad connotation. First, we associate it with the concept of selling or, worse, being sold to. Yuck. Who wants to be sold to or “stalked”? Second, we tend to think that we have to become master salespeople ourselves, and we clearly didn’t go to law school to become salespeople.
Fair enough. Now what, though? We all know by now that to have a thriving legal practice, lawyers must be able to somewhat master the concept of marketing.
As chair of the ABA Law Practice Division, this year I’ve adopted the theme of “choosing to see things differently.” As such, I’m asking all of us to start looking at various concepts in our lives differently—with a fresh perspective, so that we can thrive. After all, curious brands win. Growth only comes through change, and without change, we stagnate as a profession and get left behind at some level
What if we looked at ourselves as people first, and then as lawyers, and use that approach as the most important marketable and marketing tool we have to achieve a successful practice and a happy life? What if developing our own brands was the best way to market our practices? Where would we start?
How about starting with the notion that marketing is merely getting to know yourself in a very different way than you are used to doing?
What am I talking about?
To market anything well, you first have to know the features and benefits of what you are marketing. For example, if you were selling cars, you’d want to know as much as possible about the features of the cars you are selling so you can be credible to your audience.
The same thing applies with marketing yourself—you first have to know who you are, from the time you were born to why you practice law now. Then, and only then, can you start to market yourself to potential clients and employers with self-confidence and
If this sounds scary, you’re not alone. Most of us have an aversion to really knowing who we are because it leads into the touchy-feely, mushy stuff we’ve been avoiding in our lives. Uncovering such things from our past can also be painful. It requires courage and grit—the same courage and grit that cause clients to hire us to be their advocates and counselors.
If we made it through law school, then we can certainly conquer finding out our own story and translating it into a brand that sells us to others. That’s the real art of marketing.
So what does this mean for you? Stop and consider:
- What does the word “marketing” mean for you and your practice? Is it scary or exciting?
- Do you understand the importance of marketing yourself in your overall plan to marketing your practice?
- What plan do you have in marketing your best asset—you?
- What’s one simple step you can take in order to start to see self-marketing differently for yourself?
- How can we, at the ABA Law Practice Division, support you in reaching your goal of embracing your most marketable asset?
Katy Goshtasbi, Law Practice Division Chair