For the past several years the computer has been the popu-lar topic in legal manage-ment circles. However, “marketing” is now beginning to take over the popularity contest. Law firms are beginning to embrace marketing and are forging ahead with a varie-ty of promotional programs. Many lawyers still feel that marketing is repugnant to the legal profession and that lawyers must resist the temptation to market their services at all costs.
Based upon our observations drawn from working with numer-ous client law firms we have con-cluded that the majority of the prac-ticing lawyers do not understand the marketing concept. Both the marketing “supporters” and “non supporters” focus primarily on the promotional element of marketing rather than upon all elements of the marketing mix. Viewing the pro-motional element in isolation, neg-lecting the other three elements of the marketing mix, and failing to integrate the other administrative concerns of the firm can cause grave problems for the marketing “supporter”. Failing to engage in the marketing process can also cause grave problems for the mar-keting “non supporter”.
Marketing must be considered a part of the firm’s long term strategic plan. A comprehensive marketing plan must deal with all elements of the marketing mix and be blended with the other managerial functions within the firm.
Law firms either engaging in isolated promotional campaigns or avoiding the issue of marketing al-together are running the risk of ending up at the end of the road and wishing they had gone a different direction. Focused marketing pro-vides a road map and plots the ap-propriate turns. Many law firms have fallen into the following pit-falls:
Marketing is not advertising. A marketing plan can exist without television advertisements, radio spots, or direct mail. Marketing is the development and delivery of legal services and is part of the firm’s long range planning process. The final result is the marketing plan. The process of marketing involves all of the following elements:
An effective marketing plan incorporates all four of the above elements. Promotion can involve any of the following broad categories:
An integrated plan must address and include the following components:
Objectives are those things the firm wants to achieve for the money and time invested in the marketing pro-gram. Objectives should be formu-lated using:
Marketing strategies concern those things the firm must do to achieve their objectives – the how, who, when and where of the plan.
A set of strategies should be devel-oped to fit each objective.
Just as the basic market-ing elements and components must be balanced in the overall plan so must the other mana-gerial concerns of the firm. Managerial functions such as administration, personnel and organizational structure, prac-tice management, finance and accounting, automation, facili-ties, and attorney compensa-tion should be blended and ba-lanced within the marketing plan. Each functional area should dovetail and support the overall plan.
Marketing, as opposed to adver-tising, is necessary for everyone. It is an essential process for practic-ing law successfully in today’s competitive environment. Howev-er, since the process involves nu-merous sub tasks and requires a long range focus – it is difficult to get started and virtually impossible to accomplish during the typical distracting normal workday. Firm Retreats are often suggested for projects requiring such a degree of concentrated focus. If a firm retreat is not feasible the firm should plan several Saturday sessions at a local location other than the law firm. An agenda should be formulated and the components of the integrated marketing plan should be divided into appropriate sub tasks. An appropriate focused market-ing strategy will provide the firm with a road map for the future.
John W. Olmstead, Jr., MBA, Ph.D, CMC is a Certified Man-agement Consultant and the presi-dent of Olmstead & Associates, Legal Management Consultants, based in St. Louis, Missouri. The firm provides organizational per-formance, management, leadership development, and marketing advi-sory services to law and other pro-fessional service firms. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Lawyers Competitive Edge: The Journal of Law Office Economics and Man-agement, West Group. He may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.