April 2002

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Practice Development - MARKETING

25 Truisms in Legal Marketing

Robert W. Denney

maxim: general truth or rule of conduct expressed in a sentence.

— Oxford Dictionary

Successful practice development and client service align with three fundamental principles. Those principles translate into rules of conduct to which every lawyer-marketer should subscribe. Here is your list.

Those familiar with my writings know that I believe there are three basic principles in legal marketing.

The first is that marketing is not rocket science. Most lawyers make it far more difficult than it is. The second is that clients, when selecting a lawyer, do not want a sales pitch. They want to know what the lawyer can do for them and what it will cost. The third is that clients want to trust their lawyer. The foundation for practice development and client service is the trust the client has for the lawyer.

I have translated these three principles into 25 marketing maxims. I’ve always had a great reception when I’ve shared them. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Some Marketing Maxims

Be the best lawyer you can be.

Be afraid. Fear of failure guarantees success.

Market, don’t sell. Marketing is the art of creating conditions by which buyers convince themselves.

Don’t proclaim your expertise. Demonstrate it with examples.

Focus. Specialize. You can’t be an expert in everything. And no client will believe it anyway.

Have a marketing plan and follow it. Hell is paved with good intentions, but also with lawyers’ marketing plans that were never implemented.

Market as if your practice and your life depended on it. They just might.

Everyone in the firm, including the receptionist and the messenger, must—and can—be a marketer. They can be enthusiastic and gracious to clients, talk up the firm, spot an opportunity or even just shake a hand.

Word-of-mouth is still the best form of marketing.

Your friends may not become your clients, but your clients can become your friends.

Recognize that your next client may be across the table.

To obtain—and keep—your client’s business, know his or her business.

Know your competitors and what they are doing. It is just as important as knowing your clients and what they are doing.

Treat every client as if he or she were your only client.

Your current clients are your best sales agents.

There are three keys to delighted clients: Listen and communicate; listen and communicate; and listen and communicate.

Manage the client’s expectations.

Keep the client informed. Remember that only mushrooms like to be kept in the dark.

Have the courage to ask clients to critique your work and service. It may save you a client you’re in danger of losing. In most cases, it will further strengthen a client relationship because you cared enough to ask.

Don’t be afraid to say yes, but have the courage to say no.

Remember, magic words to a client are, "Yes, if . . ." and "No, but . . . ."

Be a problem solver, not a problem maker.

Underpromise. Overdeliver.

Ask for the client’s business. That may be the only factor that distinguishes you from another lawyer who didn’t say the words.

Always be the best lawyer you can be.

Bob Denney (, president of Robert Denney Associates, Inc., is a strategic marketing and management consultant. He can be reached at (610) 964-1938.