Everything is marketing – every touch point, interaction, experience.
Every person possesses the power to change the emotional engagement with your firm, and make a difference.
But, right now, too much effort is being focused on the wrong things (Old School vs. New School).
If you can turn the lens so that the “future [determines] the future” (see the 37 Signals Blog) and develop a bias for action (see Chapter 1 of In Search of Excellence by Messrs Peters and Waterman Jnr.), then your practice will survive the market, and if you are lucky make you rich.
Advertising – Yellow Pages being foremost.
We are a firm of solicitors.
“We don’t have to market!”.
Keeping people in line.
Taking your lead for the future from what you have done in the past.
Nice, open, welcoming premises.
A SEO website.
Creating remarkable content.
Knowing your clients better than they do.
People who love what they do.
Hiring for passion or better still go find some Linchpins (see Seth Godin’s book bearing the same name).
Being fleet of foot.
The Link between the Two
As one door closes another opens but that is not how it feels between Old School (World) and New School.
My sense is that most people are stuck behind a wall and cannot find the lock, let alone the key, to escape.
The lock is within your firm. And the key is to explore and find the passion of every single person within your organisation.
But the problem is that no one wants to admit that what they have done up to now has failed. This is all wrapped up in the way lawyers are trained.
My advice: Get over it.
Start being frank with yourself and your people.
Tell them that you need to innovate like crazy. You are going to have to try things that may not work. You are not looking for sure bets but a little crack in the wall which you can exploit. Don’t be defeated before you start by continually thinking that just because you have competitors who have explored certain avenues should militate against you trying.
Assemble some small teams. Those that can make decisions and be responsible to their group. Yes they will have to report to someone at some stage but who don’t have to find a (bland) business case for doing something. How about going with a few hunches.
Start trying to make a link between the things that have worked in the past and those things you see as part of the paradigm shift of 10 years hence. You don’t have to throw out everything but rather you need to have the confidence to leave behind those things which are a distraction.
Start asking more questions: “What do you think” is usually a good place to start.
If you appear to want to give back or share in the triumphs and not ridicule people if they fail, then all that previous chat about keeping people motivated (as if you can) will fall away. People who love what they do, have numerous challenges, have a sense of purpose and are beholden to their team will usually strike the right balance, and hopefully bring more of their discretionary effort to the project.
Marketing is easy when it works and irrelevant when it doesn’t. Money isn’t the issue. Ideas and implementation make the difference over the long haul.
At the end of the day if your clients think you love them more than you love the allure of law and the money then they will be your brand evangelists too. Just imagine a cadre of people who have so fallen in love with Your brand that they couldn’t imagine going elsewhere and are keen to tell everyone they meet. Yes, you still have to overcome the stigma of the word ‘solicitor’ but ultimately they will instruct you for who you are and as long as you over deliver and under promise you won’t have to worry about them going elsewhere.
To quote from Tennyson’s magnificent poem The Charge of the Light Brigade:
“Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
Now I know it didn’t end happily but the point is they rode on, they rode on. And that is how it feels to me right now. You have to be prepared to be shot on but this time you will have your armoury assembled (or you better had) to take on the might of the competition in the market.
Onwards and forward to victory.
~ JS ~