Do you remember when the “M” word was anathema? I sure do. That is why my in-house marketing titles (prior to acceptance of the M word and my CMO title) were Director of Practice Development or Client Relations or Client Services. Well, that abhorrence has been replaced with the “S” word. So, the euphemism “business development” has come into play in order to avoid using the current bad word.

Any lawyer who is concerned about being considered a salesperson needs to truly wake up. Every one us has been a sales wo/man since the day we were born. What else would explain our successful persuasion of our parents, teachers, wife/husband (you did convince her/him to marry you after all), children….you get the point. Each and every human being is a salesperson. So, lawyers need to get over it.

The fact is that much that has been traditionally called law firm marketing is really selling.

A couple of definitions may help us bring the two into focus. Although there are as many definitions of marketing as there are professors at business schools, for years I have defined marketing as the process of:

  1. determining the firm’s legal services capabilities,
  2. and the wants and needs of the marketplace/clients, and
  3. bringing the two together utilizing the 4 “P’s”:
    1. Product (the specific legal service or services that will be provided to solve an identified client need),
    2. Price (what fee will be charged for the identified services; hourly, contingency, fixed fee, blended rate, or other alternative fee arrangement),
    3. Place (how the product will be delivered; i.e., via branch office, Internet, clients office, etc.), and
    4. Promotion (the tools and techniques used to land clients which is where the selling part comes into play and overlaps).

Lawyers do many different things in promoting their services. Whatever those actions may be, the bottom line is that selling is the process of closing the deal with clients in order to become their lawyer.

Next time: Some of those activities that are really selling, but have been traditionally labeled marketing.