Social Media… There is so much chatter that it is hard to separate the relevant from the not so relevant. But every once in a while we find a nugget of insight. My friend Tom Kane posses a thought provoking question in his blog Legal Marketing… Social Media: The Cure for Institutional Marketing Mentality? Tom is a lawyer who has been in the legal marketing arena for a long time. Lawyers could learn a thing or two from his insight.
In the early days of legal marketing (oh say 1986) most lawyers were not the least bit interested in the subject. In fact, the “M” word was an anathema. When it became acceptable to some law firms, individual marketing efforts were still avoided. The best that can be said about it all was that firms started doing PR, then brochures, advertising, and eventually, web sites. What I refer to as “institutional” marketing. “Personal” or individual marketing efforts were still mainly avoided, except by the one or two firm rainmakers.
The reason was pretty simple, lawyers expected the firm to carry the ball and keep their plates full. Especially in large firms, the attorneys believed that the work would always be there, so why should they be doing something they hated. They didn’t go to law school to learn to be a salesperson (errrrr, “business developer”). When the world changed and these non-producing lawyers were asked to leave for failure to bring in enough business to support themselves, much less other junior lawyers, some among their ranks began to wake up to the “neo-new normal”.
For the 17 years when I was an in-house marketing, I argued, with limited success, for lawyers to adopt “personal” marketing efforts instead of relying solely on “institutional” marketing. After all clients then and now mainly hire lawyers, not law firms, with some exceptions of course. I have argued on this blog to that effect.
Now, social media may have come to the rescue. Clearly, lawyers are gaining recognition and a higher profile there.
Believe me, social media may not be the cure that puts personal marketing in the forefront for developing business for lawyers, but I wouldn’t bet against it.
Interesting observation… I think Tom has recognized the true opportunity every lawyer has to build his or her book of business through credibility acquired using social media. Whether you are in a large firm or a solo… YOU are who a client could be looking for. Be the one they find with credible information on the topics you know your potential clients want to know about. THAT builds credibility… and ONLY you can do that, NOT your firm’s institutional marketing. So get busy!