A Beginning

I’ve always been a fan of the opportunities of incorporating computer technologies into marketing strategies. There is an elegance to the resulting system that produces a sense of beauty and satisfaction much as an artist achieves when he or she creates a strong image or haunting melody. Most cannot see the beauty in a computer system, in fact, most are intimidated or afraid of technology. So to them I may seem odd when I get excited when software and functions support marketing business processes “like a glove.” And the more simple the solution, the more elegant the system, the more satisfying I find the process.

 

The legal marketplace presents several challenges to implementing a 1-to-1 methodology.

 

First, the attorneys are both the product and sales force. Tradition legal business development practice places the focus on the attorney as being ultimately responsible for qualifying leads, developing the pitch and closing the deal. Marketing’s role in the process varies from firm to firm, from one end of the extreme of simply producing and mailing brochures to the more advance role of authoring RFPs, developing presentations and even coaching or role playing preparation for the attorneys.  Still, the ultimate sales responsibility lies with the attorney. The challenge is that attorneys do not have a formal marketing or sales background. Their preparation in school and in practice is centered on being the product; excellence in being practitioners of the law.

 

Second, attorneys are possessive of the book of business. To the attorney, their contacts are THEIR contacts. It’s the life blood of their value to the firm, and leverage to future positions if they chose to move to another firm at some point in their carrier. So anyone’s attempt to secure a copy of their book is tantamount to a threat to their livelihood. Of course what most do not recognize is that their book of business is just a list. And lists can be built from many public sources these day.  However, what brings true value to their list is their relationship, the bond that they develop and nurture with their contacts.  The irony is that it is in this task that the technology can be leveraged in terms or CRM applications (Client or Customer Relationship Management).

 

There are many more issues that I and others can identify and discuss, such as how some attorneys view marketing as an unnecessary expense that’s simply sucking the profits right out of their own wallet. All of these issues are obstacles we must face as we work towards bringing modern direct marketing techniques to the legal industry.

 

And now the world, and more importantly the next generation of Associates, are embracing the Internet 2.0 social networking paradigm on the web. Applications embracing the net such as blogs, social networks, RSS and more are commonplace among a large portion of the population. These technologies have the potential of taking relationship building to the next level of 1-to-1 marketing. Law firms and attorneys have the ability to target specific groups of clients and prospects with their message, and the targets are raising their hands to receive this message.  And a targeted message of value transmitted to a receive who requests and desires the content brings true value to the transaction. That transaction has real value and creates the foundation to build a long-lasting relationship.

 

Oh, what fun we can have!

 

If only we can overcome the issues that block acceptance and use.  That will be the subject for future posts on this site; how to leverage the internal and external technologies and build a law firm business development methodology that works and can be accepted by the attorney.

 

I welcome and ideas, comments and suggestions as we embark on this discussion. I will incorporate them into our future conversations.

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