In trying to explain and describe the often confusing and entangled space of legal marketing and the sales of legal services, I take great liberty with the following analogies as they relate to our current understanding of the universe, its rules and conditions, and how this applies to our space‐time, and marketing within it.
Of course, comparing legal marketing to our current understanding of physics and the nature of the universe is meant to be an allegory. But certainly, the science of marketing is real, particularly when exploring the legal marketing multiverse.
Perhaps, then, this view of legal marketing is not so far‐fetched if we look through the lens of our current theories and understanding of the universe. We might agree that the rules and conditions present in the universe—the nature of matter, time and space, expansion or contraction, the theories of entanglement, and the general nature of relativity—all apply to legal marketing.
Marketing Opportunities Are Expanding
For legal marketing professionals, and all attorneys and law firm support staff, understanding the conditions and rules in the legal marketing multiverse are critical before understanding how to best navigate and work in the legal marketing space.
In the greater galaxies of businesses, marketing is highly intertwined in its form and function with the business it serves. Underlying this basic principle is the understanding that marketing success can be measured in many ways—in buyer satisfaction, in meeting and exceeding the expressed needs of the buyer, in repeat business, and in the referral of the product or service to others.
Marketing commonly consists of four principles or particles: product, price, place, and promotion. Let’s define these four principles:
- Product: Attorneys and their support partners responding to a client’s needs with professional legal services, advocacy, and representation. Provided by and delivered to clients at the highest level of professionalism with favorable results for the buyer.
- Price: Most reasonable and agreed‐to cost of services supporting client budgets and profitability goals of product providers.
- Place: Throughout the galaxy of communities where clients have legal needs.
- Promotion: Sales, client service, and support communicating with clients, networking, branding, and promoting.
These four marketing principles and their offshoots are greatly variable as they interact within the legal marketing multiverse. But when we think of marketing and business activities in general, these elements represent the mix of plans, actions, and activities that bring buyers and sellers of products and/or services together.
Business Development Has Become More Complex and Restrictive
Many clients have placed more restrictions on vendor gifts and entertainment, and the “revolving door” of key client contacts is moving faster than ever, making it more difficult to form long-term relationships. Many clients also now apply performance metrics to their law firms and evaluate the price‐value equation in selecting counsel. Added to rate and performance evaluations, in many areas of litigation we see third‐party billing agencies involved in determining attorney compensation. All of these business constrictions seem to have converged at the same time. The multiverse of legal marketing is awash in lawyer and law firm promotion struggling to differentiate in this new normal.
Nonetheless, throughout our multiverse, every attorney should take some very basic steps if they hope to find, retain, and grow clients:
- If you are an attorney whose livelihood depends on revenue and profit, you are a product.
- If you are an attorney whose livelihood depends on revenue and profit, you must sell.
- If you produce revenue in a law practice, you are part of a sales force that pays the bills.
- If you engage in conversation with a client, you have the opportunity to sell.
- If you engage in conversation with a client, they are part of your network.
- If you are pitching and talking about yourself or your firm to clients, you are promoting.
- If you are critically listening to a client’s needs and responding with solutions, you are selling.
In the Legal Marketing Multiverse, Time Is All Relative
Opportunities for lawyers and law firms to market and broadcast their accomplishments to clients are ever more abundant. Conversely, at the same time, the business of client engagement and retention has become increasingly complex and constrained.
For a busy attorney, time is the great equalizer when considering how, where, when and why to engage in the multiverse of legal marketing. How attorneys best use their available time to the benefit of the business side of their practice is generally a good indicator of their current and future success.
For most attorneys, regardless of their practice, time is absolute with regard to their legal, professional and financial obligations to their clients.
Marketing time, however, can be viewed as relative and elusive, particularly when deciding how much of it is available, and how much of it an attorney is willing to use to benefit and promote their good work and the collective good work of their law practices.
Constant in the fabric of our legal marketing multiverse is that no one set of rules govern an attorney’s work‐life balance, nor are there any hard-and-fast rules dictating how much time, and in what measure, an attorney needs to give to market and develop their practice.
Time, however, is the great equalizer, because regardless of the size or dynamics of an attorney’s practice, there just never seems to be enough of it.
Where Marketing Opportunities are More Abundant
The advent of the internet and digital media platforms have given rise to a huge pool of opportunities for lawyers to promote, speak, write, join, serve, brand, host, educate, sponsor, advertise, and interact with clients.
In our legal marketing multiverse, any attorney can engage in activities that produce gravity and enhance their product. Simply put:
- If you write, you can publish.
- If you join, you can serve.
- If you speak, you can present.
- If you teach, you can educate.
- If you donate, you can sponsor.
- If you engage in media, you can converse.
- If you host, you can promote.
- If you do any or all of the above well, you can promote and add value to your brand, add value to your client relationships and promote your good work to your network.
I hope you have enjoyed this very brief look at the Legal Marketing Multiverse. Keep in mind that endless opportunity abounds to create gravity in your law practice, even while keeping existing and new clients in your orbit.
About the Author
Joseph S. Goldshear is the director of business development and marketing at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman and Goggin, P.C.