Last week’s Southern California Forum event in San Diego featured good presentations and good fellowship under the auspices of The Southern California Institute. I presented on The Power of Image (see my post below) and, in partnership with atttorney Diedre Wachbrit, on Client Service: The Ultimate Marketing Tool. Hosts Joe Strazzeri and Steve Mancini provided a wonderful welcoming reception, as well as a full-blown beach bash, featuring volleyball, barbecue, live music, and a bounce house for the kids. In the photo, left to right: Chuck DenHerder, of DenHerder & Associates in San Diego; host Joe Strazzeri; and attorney Susan Katzen of the Law Office of Vito Lanuti. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Here is an advance look a the presentation I will give at the Southern California Institute on Thursday, June 23, along with some of my slides. (Click on individual slides to enlarge.)
Lawyers are often uncomfortable with investing in their firm’s image. First, they see marketing in general and image in particular, as somehow “slick” or “deceitful.” What should matter, they say, is how good an attorney they are. Not all this marketing stuff.
At the same time, attorneys are taught to think of themselves as “professionals,” and as such, they need to look professional. For most, this means putting a Doric column or the scales of justice on their business card.
Image is frustrating for attorneys in another way, as well: Investing in image costs money, yet rarely provides a measurable return on investment.
When attorneys spend money on direct marketing, say a public seminar, the results are very measurable: we spend $5,000 dollars on the advertising and promotion, and $1,000 dollars on the venue and refreshments, and we know the results — 45 people attended, 15 made appointments, 10 became clients and the revenue to the firm was $25,000.
Even if attorneys find it difficult to live with the risk of putting on a seminar (What if no one shows up? What if no one makes an appointment? What if no one becomes a client?), they are at least comforted by a measurable outcome.
Investing in image is much more difficult. Nobody ever says, “I hired you because you have a great brochure.” There is only rarely a measurable return on investment.
You can almost hear the conversation within the law firms’ walls.
“We’ve been going along okay without a brochure.”
“We have to spend money for stuff we need, not stuff we want.”
“We can get it done at Kinko’s”
And my personal favorite:
“My brother-in-law is good with computers, he says he can do a logo and website for us for free.”
Like paying for an estate plan and many other legal services, investing in image marketing is elective. You don’t have to do it. And when confronted with all the other things you might need or want, like a new employee, or a new computer system, it’s easy to see why an investment in image goes to the bottom of the pile, never to be seen again.
I hope to convince you that you do have to invest in image, if you want to grow your firm.
Those of you who know me, know how much I despise the phone answering systems (and their obligatory "menu trees") that serve in place of human beings at too many businesses. This rude and frustrating practice has become standard at the cable TV companies, banks, and credit card companies, but has now sadly filtered down to smaller businesses, including, alas, attorneys.
My point, in a nutshell: if you wanted to invent a machine to frustrate and anger every single person who called your office, you could not do better than one of these answering systems.
Smart Marketing client Jan Copley (who helped me give a presentation on this subject earlier this year) spotted this rant in The Los Angeles Times. (Unfortunately, this site requires registration.)
There was an interesting article (originally published May 23 in Lawyers Weekly USA) in the Arizona Capitol Times on the growing popularity among attorneys of blogs as a marketing tool. Read it here.
It has been a strange week for me, watching and reading all the reportage on Mark Felt’s admission that he was "Deep Throat," the legendary Watergate source. Strange, because for the first 15 years of my professional life, I was a newspaper reporter. Most of that time I was an "investigative" reporter, although the term is misleading, since most all reporting contains some elements of "investigation." In any case, much of my career was spent writing stories that people in positions of authority did not want to see published.
As a news reporter, I was an adreneline junkie, always after "the story" and having fun doing it. I had encounters with the rich and famous (I was once punched by Muhammed Ali) and the soon-to-be famous (an Austrian body-builder with a thick accent and an unpronouncable name told me his master plan for becoming the biggest star in Hollywood, an idea I considered so hilarious that I never wrote a word about it).
And I had my share of drama, and confidential sources.
In 1981, I was instrumental in revealing the contents of a sealed Grand Jury Report on politcal corruption in Collier County, Florida. I eventually was supoenaed and dragged into court, where the attorney for The New York Times Company (my employer) succeeded in having the supoena thrown out.