Why Do Lawyers Need to Be Marketing?
Remember the old game show, “Let’s Make a Deal”? Not the one that was televised recently, but the one that began in the 1960’s. Perhaps you’ve seen it in reruns. If not, you can find some nostalgic footage on YouTube. The potential contestants (“traders”) were audience members. They would be selected by the host, Monty Hall. As the show progressed over the years, audience members stepped-up their efforts to be noticed, so that they would be selected to compete. They began wearing costumes, and then, the costumes became more outrageous. They began holding signs, and the signs got bigger and bigger.
It’s not pretty, but that is a lot like marketing – getting noticed in a crowded marketplace, so you will be selected.
The legal landscape has changed significantly in the last few years in many different ways and for a host of reasons. The “why” doesn’t matter. We must face the fact that gone are the days of having plenty of work simply from doing a good job for a fair fee. In sum, there are more lawyers chasing less work. While the competition between lawyers for work has increased, competition is also now coming from non-lawyers. The proliferation of the internet, the ability to access it easily from a multitude of devices, and our penchant for spending hours per day on it have provided endless opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs to edge into the mix. But studies consistently show that the legal needs of the public are still not being met. And we know all too well that some which are being met aren’t being met well. All the while, many great and capable lawyers are sitting at their desks wishing they had more work.
What’s the problem? An inefficient marketplace.
Those seeking legal assistance aren’t easily finding it.
They are making un- or ill-informed decisions when hiring a lawyer. They don’t know how to go about hiring one. Perhaps they know one, but don’t know exactly what he or she does. Or maybe they don’t want the lawyer they know socially to help them with this particular issue, for whatever reason. Surveys show that almost 70% of people hiring a lawyer first ask friends, family and coworkers for recommendations. It will be interesting to see how the COVID-19 affects those statistics.
Marketing (not just advertising) involves communicating who you are and what you do (individually and as a firm) to those from whom you might anticipate additional work (directly or indirectly).
But a lot of marketing is simply about being in the right place at the right time – in the mind of someone making a decision about a lawyer (for their needs or as a recommendation) at the time that they are making it. You cannot easily predict when someone may need you, but you can come much closer to identifying who will. So, your marketing efforts should help place you in their minds with some regularity, as we are literally bombarded with people and companies who are trying to do the same thing for their goods and services. If you aren’t in the mix, your chances of being remembered or identified drop precipitously. Those lawyers who have been actively and strategically marketing are doing better than those who are not.