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December 2007 Issue | Volume 33 Number 8 | Page 8

What Really Works

Narrowing Marketing Efforts to a Single Industry

Industry marketing is one of the best ways to differentiate your services. Of course, by focusing on this level, you are marketing to a smaller audience. But by marketing more deeply, you develop the kind of close relationships that generate more business more quickly.


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Noland Hamerly Etienne & Hoss, a 20-lawyer firm in Salinas, California.


Noland Hamerly was a skilled but unremarkable full-service firm. It had never done any marketing, and now aggressive new competitors were moving into town. The firm wanted to develop more business by increasing its visibility as a high-quality business law firm in its core geographic market, the Salinas Valley. To drive new revenue quickly, it needed something that would have an immediate impact.


A tight budget required making some tough decisions about allocating resources. Marketing broadly to the business community as a high-quality full-service law firm would be a costly and long-term process—it was too general a message. This firm needed something unique.

Through the windows of the firm’s offices, mile after mile of rich farmland was visible. Green fields of broccoli, artichokes and lettuce stretched as far as you could see. I asked whether they had any agricultural clients. Of course they did. Every local firm did; it was the region’s dominant industry. And Noland Hamerly had a long history in that industry—many of the firm’s founders were deep in dirt. Moreover, no other firm had staked out the region’s territory as the leading agriculture-oriented law firm.

So instead of broad and shallow, we decided to go deep and narrow, developing a focused industry-based campaign targeting a specific audience: the Salinas Valley’s fruit and produce growers, shippers and ranchers. If Noland Hamerly became the go-to firm for them, it would bring in significant new business.


Our research showed that this community—one of the nation’s most vibrant agricultural areas—has significant and varied legal needs. Plus, an internal study found that it was already the firm’s largest industry group, even though the firm had not actively marketed to it yet.

So we created “The Lettuce Lawyers,” a memorable, easy-to-spell and alliterative title, to make it feel more like a tangible thing. Next we bought both and to make it easy to find the practice online.

Now we simply needed to use a range of tools to show the firm’s intimate connection with the industry. We started by designing a unique logo and stationery for the ag practice, modifying the firm’s existing logo by morphing its traditional ampersand into a green sprout. (See page 8.) And for agriculture-specific business cards, we developed a double-entendre “Together We Grow” tag line.

The core of the campaign was a collection of creative advertisements showing the lawyers dressed in suits in agricultural settings—as the American Gothic farmers ( a la the Grant Wood painting), casually parking their tractor in front of the firm, lifting NHE&H lettuce crates and the like.

We also created tools to encourage the media to write about the firm, using free publicity to expand the campaign’s reach and credibility. For example, we created firm-specific American Gothic-style USPS stamps; distributed lettuce seed packets with the new logo as business cards; and created client giveaways, including logo’d bib overalls.

The firm’s micro-site boasts luscious images of local landscapes, as well as the advertising imagery. In addition, even though the ag practice was the primary marketing push, we  updated the general firm site with a complementary design. This was both to showcase the firm as a high-end provider and to show the lawyers who weren’t representing the agricultural sector that their marketing needs were not being neglected.


The broadcast marketing tactics grew momentum and visibility, supporting the lawyers’ face-to-face activities as they focused in on local agriculture trade groups and began writing articles, speaking and networking. And when the ads launched in the California trade magazines, almost immediately clients and competitors took significant notice. The buzz grew in the local agriculture community, and judges even mentioned the ads in court.

The entire campaign to lock the firm into a market-leader position has brought in new agricultural clients, while also delighting existing clients, who are sending the firm more business as a result.

About the Author

Ross Fishman , specializes in marketing training and creating differentiation programs for law firms worldwide. A Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, he is an inaugural member of the Legal Marketing Association's Hall of Fame.