The discipline of law firm marketing has been growing quickly, in part as a response to changing market realities and in part because as a niche, the field was wide open and relatively empty. Many self-proclaimed marketing gurus have rushed in to fill the space, and now firms can enlist the services of marketers and consultants of every stripe.
The business of marketing as a whole is widely misunderstood, and additional legal marketing myths have inevitably sprung from the increased noise of so many newly-minted experts. Here are some of the most pernicious:
1. People are rational actors. Attorneys, who are professionally trained and educated rational actors, often expect prospects to look at resumes and experience and make a factually-based comparative decision. But people in need of legal services make decisions based on a variety of factors, including word-of-mouth advice, online reviews, cost, whether the firm has experience with their issue and whether they feel a connection to the attorneys. An attorney’s resume is just one of many factors and may not be the most important. In every contact you have with potential clients, you should place the emphasis on them, their needs and how they can benefit from your services.
Reality: People make emotional choices.
2. Marketing generates sales. Professional marketers are not sales people. Their job is to help present your firm to prospects in a targeted, consistent way that builds a distinct, professional and trustworthy image. They should produce materials that tell a story and create a connection. If this process is successful, your firm should find itself scheduling more meetings and getting more calls. But whether this generates new cases is in the hands of your attorneys and staff.
Reality: Marketing generated leads.
3. Results are immediate. This myth is particularly popular with regard to online marketing. If your firm is just getting started with content marketing and organic link building, you will not be on the first page of Google the month after your site goes live. Even firms with long-established domain names will have to be patient when beginning an online marketing project in earnest. Any company or consultant who promises to make a few tweaks that will drive you straight to the top of search results in no time is selling you a bill of goods.
Reality: Marketing is a process that builds ranking and referrals over time.
4. More is better. With the explosion of social media and acceptance of its place in law firm marketing comes the myth of mass participation. Just as you could not buy every radio spot or Yellow Pages ad, you cannot be on every social network. Social media marketing is time-intensive, and spreading your efforts too thin is counterproductive. Research sites before your create profiles and track results once you do. Only some are worth the time.
Reality: Picking a limited number of effective outlets produces better results.
5. Brands are made through marketing. This myth gets to the heart of the controversy over marketing and client service. Your brand is the totality of everything your firm does. Even your firm’s choice of office and meeting room décor says something about you and is a part of your brand. Marketing can help enhance and define your brand, but it cannot create an award winning law firm where one does not exist. Ultimately, a client’s experience with your brand is shaped by all interactions, from the first visit to your website to in person meetings to the results of your work.
Reality: A brand is the totality of clients’ experience with a firm.