I'm continuing to moderate a discussion on the future of legal marketing at the new Martindale-Hubbell Connected online community. I've just posted four parts of a discussion I started last week with my esteemed friend Bruce Marcus. Take a look below, then add your voice to the Martindale-Hubbell Connected discussion.
(If you haven't registered for this closed community, just follow the instructions about how to join in. You can find the thread of this discussion under the "Legal Marketing Group". If you need help to sign up, contact firstname.lastname@example.org and he will help you.)
One of my favorite professional service industry observers is Bruce Marcus. He expresses strong opinions with a unique combination of humility and passion. Thank you, Bruce, for the opportunity to bring out some important points on the future of law firm marketing!
Here’s my response to some of Bruce’s recent points, in italics. Other opinions, folks?
… “the nature of professional services marketing precludes the likelihood that anyone will hire a lawyer or an accountant from any kind of promotion. The purpose of marketing is, among other things, to develop a situation that allows a sale to be made by a lawyer, or some other legal professional.” Yes, on a one-to-one basis, the lawyer does make the “sale”. But, I think, law firm and accounting buyers are increasingly influenced by promotion.
… “the clients will tell the lawyers what to change to meet client needs and to compete successfully … Witness the current activity in overcoming hourly billing, which is a growing client demand.” Law firms’ changing their hourly billing structures does appear to be underway -– finally. But I fear law firms are doing so less because their clients demanded it than because they are so addicted to playing copycat with their rivals! I think today’s law firms don’t listen enough to their clients (individually) or to the marketplace as a whole. The future of legal marketing should include a much more robust market research function.
… “law firms going public.” Let’s hear more about this notion. We’ve seen PSFs go public in other sectors (e.g., human resource consulting, executive search) when they have a repeatable service offering that can be sufficiently scaled, even outsourced. Gaining access to capital may be the reason why lawyers might want to have their firm go public, but what would be the marketplace's rationale for buying shares? What’s the scale on which a public law firm could grow?
… “Rare, then, is the lawyer who will learn to read -- much less believe -- in trends. Not just in the economy, but in the industries of which their clients are a part.” This is perhaps the biggest challenge to the future of law firm marketing! How can marketers get lawyers to believe in the marketplace? I contend it must be with facts and data. Folks, what kind of marketplace facts and data would lawyers believe?