7 Law Firm Marketing Fails

If You’re Going to Pitch Your Firm, Do It Right

marketing fail
Karen Moskowitz/The Image Bank/Getty Images.

As hard as it is to sell yourself and your firm, marketing is an activity in today’s legal market that not only must be done, but it must be done effectively and well. Don’t waste your time spinning your wheels and telling yourself you’re marketing by posting a once-in-three-months entry to your blog or sending out a boring newsletter on a topic that has been covered to death. In fact, don’t do any of the following:

1. Attend networking events filled only with lawyers

These functions have their place, especially if you are seeking referrals, hoping to gain greater expertise in an area, or are trying to establish better relationships with judges, law professors, and others with J.D.s. But if you are hoping to snag some actual clients, you might want to consider other marketing opportunities.

2. Sit with your law firm colleagues at a conference

Really? You can’t get enough of each other back at the office? Sure, it’s easier to sit and chat with those you know than with those you don’t, but there’s no need to pay a conference fee and travel costs just to sit and schmooze with your fellow partners and associates. Get out and mingle and don’t come back until you’ve met at least five people.

3. Market aimlessly

Telling yourself at the start of every year, or at the beginning of any new round of performance goal-setting that you’ll ‘market’ without being more precise can be largely a waste of time.

What do you hope to accomplish? What will be considered a success? How much effort is going to be devoted to various marketing initiatives? Are you trying to get more clients, build your personal brand, or create more awareness about your firm’s existence and its abilities? How would activities for each of these differ?

How can you take actions where you see results? Give this more than five minutes of thought.

4. Develop stupid catchphrases

Could we please just retire the phraseclient-centered practice’ and ‘we put our clients first’? Good for you! Can we all agree that clients know that law firms need clients to continue existing? And that by servicing those clients, law firms continue to exist? And that in today’s universe, with its downward pressure on fees and its inclination toward resolving disputes more amicably, a lawyer will likely propose an array of options to a client, from ‘do nothing’ to ‘litigate to the death’ along with prices associated with these various courses of action. Clients get it. Lawyers get it. Develop a slogan that sings, that distinguishes your firm in significant ways from others.

5. Publish an amateurish web page

Let’s agree that budgets are tight all the way around. Even if you are inclined to skimp on web page design, if you are going a do-it-yourself route, use something that looks professional. Thanks to the miracle of Wordpress, your site can look contemporary and be updated easily. Other do-it-yourself options exist, too; research them, and see how professional the results look.

You don’t have to incorporate a lot of bells and whistles to make your website look good, but you do need to make it look good. Check out your competition’s pages, and check out the pages of the firm you aspire to be, and aim high and design well.

6. Be standoffish and/or pompous in every public forum

Unless your brand happens to be ‘jerky lawyer,’ don’t be a jerky lawyer. Be welcoming, attentive, pleasant to deal with. We know you’re smarter than everyone in the room and that you understand both law and procedure. Congratulations. Now try to understand the art of the deal. Be a good guy. Don’t condescend. Be approachable, engaging, charming.

7. Give deadly presentations

No one wants to have to say, “My lawyer is the boring one in the gray suit on the right.” Don’t be dull. You don’t need to enroll in Toastmasters to become a better speaker, but you need to be interesting.

And by interesting, we mean ‘not boring.’ Learn how to tell a story, make people laugh, laugh at yourself, and alter your voice so that you are not speaking in a monotone. Excite your audience and yourself. Make people want to hire you. That, after all, is the goal.