Many years ago, I had the honor of serving on the Ethics Committee of my bar association. One day, we received a complaint filed because an attorney had placed his name and phone number in an advertisement for an estate sale he was managing on behalf of an estate client. The attorney was alleged to be engaged in “blatant marketing,” which at that time was potentially a violation of the Canons of Legal Ethics. The profession has moved well beyond those days, but client acquisition, retention, relationship-building, branding, and marketing remain a mystery to many. This is the first in a series of articles on marketing I will be writing for The Voice of Experience in the hopes of unlocking some of the mystery for members of the Senior Lawyers Division and perhaps others.
For years, I have opened my graduate marketing classes with, “You will never market anything more important than yourself (and your firm).” We can view marketing from the perspective of its five most important pillars. Positioning is the first of the five pillars of extraordinarily successful law firm marketing, followed by branding, strategy, differentiation, and communications. Positioning relates to placement on the prospective client’s mental map in the context of all that client’s known alternatives.
When I first started to think about this article, I visited Google and wrote “positioning” in the search window. Back came 17,600,000 entries! When I narrowed the search to “market positioning,” only 4,830,000 entries came back. But when I entered “successful market positioning,” 1,290,000 replies popped up. Finally, in response to an inquiry for “extraordinarily successful market positioning,” only 265 entries were returned.