Articles Posted in Professional Services Marketing

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Last week, McElhaney on Litigation posted a piece in the ABA Journal about effective trial lawyers and their ability to tell a story. He makes the point that “lawyers who want to become effective communicators must understand that stories are at the heart of how people think, learn, exchange ideas and struggle to understand the world around them.”

Professional Stories Are Compelling, Facts are Just That

I totally agree with this premise and want to extrapolate out to the importance of storytelling in effective marketing communications for both lawyers and law firms.

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Interesting view from AdAge on using internal resources for branding and focus groups. This got me thinking, should professional firms consider going to internal audiences for brand enhancements and understanding?

The AdAge piece looks at consumer packaged goods, finance and retail brands, noting the use of employees for branding, product development and social-media evangelism. Some brands are using employees for the pitch, like Pizza Hut and Overstock.

In professional settings, we often go to very sophisticated business development experts, as well as branding and identity firms to develop and pitch business and establish brands.

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The National Law Journal reports that an alarming number of law firms have drastically cut recruiting and professional development staff over the past two years. The NLJ quotes an Altman Weil consultant saying that this is one of the first areas of cost cutting.

It’s an interesting development and not surprising. It seems doubtful that hard-pressed bottom-line-driven senior associates and partners will pick up the slack on professional development.

The survey found that firms with 250 or more attorneys suffered the biggest losses in this area and placed more duties on existing staff. Unfortunately, these departments also work on other important efforts with professional staff, including mentoring and diversity, work-life balance and pro bono initiatives. Many of the most critical areas that our profession must address.

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As a communications professional, every day I get broadcast emails from around the country that promote use of the web in professional services marketing. So many offers to sit in on webinars, podcasts and other on-line teach-ins, my head spins. Many of the entities sending these invites add the word “university” to lend some lofty credibility to their content.

All this noise raises a question in my mind. Is it wise to jump into the social media pool without auditing your firm’s current communications status? I believe the answer is no.

Although there is value in understanding how to use social media and other tactics in professional services marketing, I am certain that this is not the place to start.

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So, you’ve decided to brand your firm or company and you have either identified internal resources or hired an expert to help. See previous post Brand Aid (part one).

Once you have the right expertise involved, and have determined who within your company or firm will own this process, the real work can begin. Whether you are naming a new company, rebranding your existing firm, creating a tagline to go along with your existing identity, it’s actually a good idea to start from the beginning.

Brand strategy starts with perception. Yours and theirs.

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One of my favorite brand names is Kodak — probably because the story behind the brand is almost as good as the name itself. Visiting the Eastman house in Rochester a couple of years ago, I was mesmerized by George Eastman’s foresight in creating a brand that not only sounds right (like a camera snapping), but is a completely made-up name (so much easier to protect as a trademark).

According to the story, he wanted a simple name that was easy to pronounce and that would not be associated with anything but itself. He succeeded.

It’s a little different for professional service firms. Over the past decade, law firms have taken shape through branding efforts. Traditionally, these firms are named for their original founders and partners, but the trend seems to be using truncated versions of traditional names or the use of initials.