Some lawyers are natural-born rainmakers. They are savvy networkers, eloquent writers, and engaging speakers. Others acquire such marketing skills through years of practice and by observing their peers in action. Then there are lawyers—no, then there are people— who have an unbending aversion to market themselves or their business. Let’s face it, some lawyers just plain dislike marketing— or as they see it—boasting, bragging or overselling themselves as thought leaders on a particular subject.
Often this resistance stems from a tendency for lawyers to stick to what they know best—practicing law. The internal monologue of ”if you do your job well, clients will be happy, right?” outweighs the possible discomfort of trying something new. Even if “if you do your job well, clients will be happy” is true, the problem is that many lawyers do their jobs well, and true rainmakers find ways to differentiate themselves from the pack of fellow brilliant lawyers.
In a recent article published by Legal Marketing Reader, former general counsel turned communications consultant, John Cunningham, offers 10 common reasons why lawyers hate marketing and tips on how to “work with the anti-marketing mindset.” Here are a few of Cunningham’s gems:
1) “Marketing violates our traditions and/or professional ethics.”
Some lawyers hesitate to market themselves for fear they’ll violate the Bar’s extensive sales and advertising rules. Cunningham recommends arranging a Q&A lunch seminar with a lawyer from the state bar ethics office to become more familiar with where the ethical lines are drawn. This is particularly important when writing website content and advertising copy. If your lawyers don’t have time to attend such an event, marketers may want to consider participating in a Q&A themselves so they are better prepared to address these concerns.
2) “Marketing is a distinct profession so I could do more harm than good with it.”
Cunningham suggests that while some lawyers are uncomfortable engaging in marketing, marketers can alleviate their anxiety by explaining “why involved lawyers get better marketing results.”
Another solution may be to shift their focus from “marketing” to “knowledge sharing.” Though lawyers may not be professional marketers, they aretrained in a particular area of the law. Therefore, when lawyers write or speak about a particular topic, they are not just marketing themselves, they are sharing information and insight on topics with which they are familiar.
3) “I do not have any spare time – I’m already busy.”
I’m sure we’ve all hit this brick wall. And given the countless hours lawyers bill, it’s an understandable objection. If a lawyer’s book is already full of business, why should he or she seek more of it? Cunningham explains that the benefits of marketing exceed business development, and that marketing is critical to lawyers’ internal survival and advancement,as well as to a law firm’s long-term growth.If these points aren’t convincing enough, he boldly points out that one lawyer’s clients are another lawyer’s targets.
Another solution is to reduce as much of the workload as possible. For example, you could suggest topics the lawyer can write about, provide specific publications and their author guidelines in advance, suggest a co-author who’s also looking to market themselves, and provide background articles and talking points to prep the lawyer before reporter interviews.
To read John Cunningham’s complete list of reasons why some lawyers hate marketing and tips to overcome these barriers, visit http://legalmarketingreader.com/attorney-marketing.html.