- Some successful marketers have natural skills. Others have learned and studied, but all understand the importance of personal relationships.
During my childhood, my marketing role model was my dad; he was a stockbroker in the relatively small town of Fargo, North Dakota. He built business exclusively through personal relationships—he treated his clients like his friends, because they were. Many were farmers who were much wealthier than their outward appearances might suggest, due to the valuable farmland of the Red River Valley. My dad spent as much time cultivating relationships with clients as he did making stock trades: including golf games, lunches and dinners, and personal visits. His clients stayed with him for decades because they liked and trusted him.
When I graduated from law school in 1992 and started my first job, there was no LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. There were no law firm websites either (according to Bob Ambrogi, the first law firm website was launched by the Venable law firm in March 1994). I didn’t give much thought as to how I would market my law practice once I graduated. My focus was learning what I needed to pass the bar and get a good job. I learned on the job from observing others and gravitating toward what I liked to do: writing, volunteering and being in leadership roles in bar associations.
Some successful marketers have natural skills while others have learned and studied, but all understand the importance of personal relationships. Many more tools exist today, but at the end of the day, they are simply means to cultivate and perpetuate personal relationships. Effectively expressing your brand is important, too, of course, especially for attorneys with a practice less dependent on repeat clients.
The features in this issue focus on many different aspects of marketing, with tools and tips that will be useful to lawyers in most practice settings and areas. In “The Eyes Have It,” Cayce Crown, Sherri Phillips and Lynn Lavender explore the importance of visual communication in highlighting your brand to your potential clients through video, effective photographs and multimedia storytelling.
Before the electronic marketing tools of today, lawyers relied on personal relationships for business—and successful business development still relies on creating opportunities for touchpoints with clients and potential clients. Linda Thomas Sanders gives tips to create these opportunities in “Leverage Meaningful Client Touchpoints.” These concepts may seem obvious but are often forgotten in today’s world, where it is easy to keep relationships on a surface level. Digging more deeply, providing value and really getting to know your clients will allow those relationships to grow and flourish.
Rosanne E. Felicello focuses on a similar theme in “Building a Great Practice: It’s About Relationships.” Her feature centers on building a network of referral sources through conferences, LinkedIn, and publishing and bar association activities, among others. She also provides some key advice: Choose methods that fit you best to remain authentic.
Amy B. Goldsmith continues this theme in “The Why and How of Networking,” with a focus on speaking engagements, writing and joining many different types of organizations, including bar associations, industry groups and volunteer organizations. She also gives great advice on reaching out for help and working with accountability partners.
Steven Skyles-Mulligan’s feature “Branding: The Foundation of Practice Marketing” explores the fundamental importance of branding: understanding how a brand works, recognizing what you’re really selling when marketing your legal services, shaping your desired image and avoiding missteps that can damage your reputation.
Finally, Linda Orton describes in “Marketing and Business Development: Two Sides of the Same Coin” the important differences between marketing and business development—while these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. Orton explains that marketing is really about communicating your current offerings, while business development should focus on anticipating future needs and how you or your firm can meet them. Both are important to creating an effective overall strategy.
None of us have to go it alone, and we hope this issue of Law Practice will be one of many tools to support your marketing goals.