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Four Reasons Why Legal Marketing Has No Future: Part III

By Burkey Belser
December 2, 2011
Four Reasons Why Legal Marketing Has No Future: Part III

Reason #3 Failure to Respect the Buyer

Our research, confirmed again and again over 20 years, tells us that buyers wear their industry hat when looking for legal services. In other words, buyers have no interest at all in dealing with a law firm’s internal organizational battle over specialties. They want industry expertise. They want advisors who know their industry, know its vocabulary, its trends and its challenges. Accounting firms figured this out 30, 40 years ago, creating enormously successful consulting operations. In the meantime, law firms fuss around with the practice group concept and miss the boat entirely; shame on them and their ‘management’ advisors. What’s the Solution? Organize into agile industry teams, scraping the practice group thing entirely. Lawyers care about practice groups because it is a natural extension of the solo silo.

Legal is a fragmented industry. Research shows that no single firm has more than 4-6% unaided name awareness in any category (i.e., litigation, telecom, antitrust, energy, etc.), in large part because law firms are maneuvering to win battles (practice specialties) that aren’t being fought. Clients, meanwhile, are doing battle within specific industries.

All of this behavior is me-centered. Understand this: marketing focuses on the needs of the buyer; selling focuses on the needs of the seller. “Hey, Ms. Client, I’ve got hours to sell. Want some!” is the type of selling, ineffective as it is, generally practiced in the legal community since lawyers are so often not the best salespeople and understand client needs so poorly, they focus almost pathologically on ‘building relationships.’ This has real value, of course, but is the single most inefficient model of selling a law firm and its lawyers can adopt. When marketing and business development work together, it’s a powerful thing to see, when one or the other is dismissed (or, in some instances, both are pushed out the door), then the firm operates at a fraction of its potential.

This is an excerpt from "The Future of Law Firm Marketing" as published in InsideLegal Thought Leaders Digest - COLPM Issue.