In a discussion with my wife (who is a fundraiser) last evening, she pointed out there are many opportunities to over promise and underdeliver in both of our fields. I didn’t realize at the time that that wisdom comes from a quote attributed to Tom Peters, specifically “Formula for success: under promise and over deliver.” How true, and how dangerous the reverse is. It’s just bad marketing.
No matter what business one is in, the best approach is to follow Tom Peters’ advice; and that is especially true in the legal business when it comes to:
Client Deadlines – too often missed, and a good opportunity to over deliver. Let the client know when they can expect to receive your work product, and then (as I suggested in an earlier post) get it to them one or even two days early.
Promising a Favorable Outcome – dangerous area for many reasons. Not the least of which is Rule 7.1 of ABA’s Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by most states. I can’t imagine a responsible lawyer would do this, but even if subtly conveyed can raise unrealistic expectations which is unprofessional and dangerous to one’s reputation.
Keeping Clients Informed – here is an excellent marketing opportunity (second only to beating your own deadlines) since the majority of complaints filed with bar associations is poor communication and inattention to the client’s matter. Return calls promptly, send every appropriate document to the client, and give status reports regularly.
An important part of legal marketing, as I have preached for (maybe) too long is not rocket science, it is knowing how to give your client first class service, while not over promising and under delivering. It’s part of effective client communications.