Sorry – What You’re Doing isn’t Really Marketing…

A lot of lawyers spend a huge amount of time writing articles.. and tell themselves that they have been “marketing”. But is that really true?

man writing on laptop

It’s about Impact

Lawyers know that they need to have a marketing strategy.

However, we’re also pretty concerned about looking stupid, and so we have a tendency to adopt marketing strategies that don’t involve the chance that people will say no to us.

As a result, writing articles is one of the things that lawyers have a great love of.  Articles on this, that and the other thing are all over the internet.

Many of these articles are terrible, and are more likely to send people to sleep then they are to inspire confidence.

But beyond that, is writing an article even a worthwhile endeavour? This is one of the topics in my book, In Practice – Moving Beyond Law School Theory.

Uncle Andrew has a strong opinion about this area – and I can tell you now, he’s not a huge fan.

What do you think – is he right?

Your So-Called Marketing

Dear Thomas,

One of the things you were learn over time (and in which I will assist you) is to devote your efforts to areas in which they will be most beneficial.

Your firm is, it seems, one of the “new” style firms who believe that an appropriate use of resources is to create a huge quantity of articles and newsletters for consumption by various groups of clients.

I expect that you will be required on occasion to participate in this process.  I encourage you, with all possible enthusiasm, to avoid getting sucked into this so called “marketing” program.

There are a number of reasons for this, which I will explain to you.

First – nobody reads those articles.  The sheer amount of effort that goes into them would suggest that they are somehow worth the cost of their production.  It is untrue.  The fact is that the vast majority of such publications are deleted or thrown in the bin straight away.  Bear in mind the reality that each person receiving your firm’s newsletter also receives about 20 others.  Are your firm’s articles really that good? I doubt it.

There is a suggestion that it’s worth the effort to “get the brand” out there.  That assertion is easily defeated by the self-evident truth – people don’t hire brands, they hire lawyers.

The next problem is that, even if people did read the articles, they do not achieve anything.  Articles don’t develop a relationship with clients.  Articles don’t make clients laugh (normally) and they don’t make clients’ lives better.  At best, articles from lawyers stuff clients full of yet more legal jargon, with the intention of demonstrating how wonderfully smart the lawyer who wrote it is, in the hope that the demonstrated expertise will prompt the client to say “ah huh – I remember 9 weeks ago I got an article from Joe Bloggs about taxation transactions and so I’m going to send all of my tax work to Joe”.  Of course this has never happened but, much like entering the lottery, the legal profession continues to waste time with this vain hope.

Now as you will know, I’m not against clients knowing how smart you are – but it has to be in a useful way where you can demonstrate both personality and expertise.  Articles generally don’t achieve that.

You see, the process of writing articles is a method of self-deception.  It has been created by lawyers who know full well that they should be “marketing” but don’t have either the knowledge or the courage to do it properly – by developing real relationships with actual people.

So, instead, these same lawyers convince themselves that they are “marketing” by putting pen to paper (or having you do it for them) and then sending out as many copies as they can to as many people as they can think of.  In doing so they pat themselves on the back having done some “marketing” and then promptly go back to legal work, having achieved very little.

The final problem for you in particular, Thomas, is that any article you write is unlikely to bear your name.  Instead your hard work will bear the name of your supervisor.  So even if everything I have said above is incorrect, the production of articles at the behest of others will do your career no good at all.

I will write to you about how marketing endeavours should look, but for the moment I impress upon you – do not get trapped in to a process of article production for your firm, in particular for other people who will take the credit for your efforts, and spend their own time billing their clients heavily.

Best regards,

Uncle Andrew

So What are you Doing?

Is what you’re doing marketing? Is Uncle Andrew on the money this time, or has he forgotten to read up a bit more on content marketing?

Let me know in the comments – what have articles done for your business – anything? Nothing?

And last but not least – pick up your copy of In Practice – Moving Beyond Law School Theory!

Happy Lawyering!

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