There is a key question in strategy, in marketing: “Why should potential clients hire the services of our law practice instead of our competitors’? If you have a good answer to this question — in other words, a “client logic”-based answer— then congratulations.
Otherwise your strategy needs to be redefined.
It is not a case of what you think makes your firm different, but rather of what your clients think and value as being specific to you and your firm. However, you can rest assured that if your law practice continues to do what it has been doing until now, in terms of management, then it will continue to get the same results. The legal world, and our clients’ reality, has changed. Something that worked in the past is no longer a guarantee of success in the present, and even less so in the future.
My purpose is to help law practices, particularly the medium and small-sized ones, to be more competitive. “Helping them to be more competitive” means helping them, to quote one lawyer, “to reflect on questions that we have kept to ourselves for years, latent, unvoiced”.
What do I mean by “more competitive”. Since competitiveness is a broad-ranging concept, and, to a lesser extent, subjective, when I set up a marketing consultancy in a law practice I ask my clients what they expect of me.
Law firms ask their marketing consultants the following things: “We want (in the words of two associates) you to help us to know ourselves, to define our identity, to know what distinguishes us in the market, what elements of our identity the market could be more sensitive to. Finally, we want you to help us to select the best media to convey these elements or messages. We believe that our potential is being underutilised.”
“We need (this comment comes from a partner, a CEO) to establish a system of internal communication to help us to improve our client service; to analyze the techniques we should use to knit our team together; to define our short-, medium- and long-term objectives in order to achieve our target positioning and secure a very professional and stable corporate structure.”
The application of marketing as I understand it entails several phases: analyses and diagnosis strategic of the brand and marketing plans in the short-, medium and medium-long term.
Analyses and strategic diagnoses are basic, and their quality is directly related to the type of questions that a consultant can ask his client in areas such as strategic planning, corporate objectives in the short-, medium- and long-term; strategy of marketing and communication, human resource policies, etc. Some examples of questions, to name but some, are: what distinguishes my law practice, what makes it unique?; do clients value these differential aspects?, what perception of my law practice do collaborators and clients have?, what type of firm do I want (vision)?, what makes me special in the market?, etc.
From my experience in consultancy, I confirm that many firms do not really know what differentiates them from the rest.
Marketing is a continuous process, a process to attract, to win over, to satisfy and create loyalty in the type of clients (and cases) the law practice aspires to. Marketing does not end with the implementation of a marketing plan, but rather begins there. For this reason, when I set up a consultancy, I tell the client that it is a good idea to continue with the service relationship for a certain time, in order to integrate the marketing into the firm’s work dynamics.
Any law firm that is not managed with business criteria will find it difficult to survive in the future, and this is even more true of medium- and small-sized concerns. Managing with business criteria is perfectly compatible with doing so within an ethical framework and with the code of conduct of the legal profession, and with the dignity of the legal profession.
© Francesc Dominguez, legal marketing and personal branding consultant, www.francescdominguez.com.