I have worked with lawyers since 1997. Many of you are pretty conservative when it comes to marketing.
Part of this originates with the fact that lawyer advertising, as you know, wasn’t technically allowed before 1977.
When the rest of the world was cutting its advertising teeth decades prior to that, Wikipedia tells us that:
“The first major case law decision on legal advertising is the Supreme Court ruling in Bates v. Arizona State Bar 433 U.S. 350 (1977).”
1977…yes, in the grand scheme of things, this is still pretty recent.
In case others reading this have forgotten, or never knew, what this was all about, allow me to enlighten you:
“Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the right of lawyers to advertise their services. In holding that lawyer advertising was commercial speech entitled to protection under the First Amendment (incorporated against the States through the Fourteenth Amendment), the Court upset the tradition against advertising by lawyers, rejecting it as an antiquated rule of etiquette.”
Antiquated rule, indeed, but that’s a discussion for another day.
That Marketing and Advertising Stuff Is Beneath The Profession.
Because the legal profession came to advertising a bit after the rest of the free world, this caused a bit of trepidation about the entire practice as many believed, and some still do, that the acts of marketing and advertising were cheap, tawdry and beneath the profession.
Many of you have abandoned this philosophy, or never had it to begin with. There is now greater understanding that marketing and advertising can be done with dignity, and within the ethical boundaries we have all been given, which can vary from state to state.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t many who continue to think it’s a crying shame that lawyers and law firms are being forced into the 20th century, much less the 21st. I still remember conversations with a few lawyers at my original firm who told me they thought it was a shame we “had to go down this path” when discussing advertising.
Is there cheap, tawdry advertising done by lawyers and law firms? You bet, and it makes me cringe whenever I see it because I care about that dignity and those ethical restrictions that have remained an important part of the legal marketing profession. The fact is there is cheap, tawdry advertising in just about every other profession and industry, too, so let’s not lay all the blame on lawyers.
On To My Point
Because of this latent adoption of marketing and advertising, many lawyers are a little too humble when it comes to marketing your marketing. Ethical restrictions, such as those that exist in Florida, do exist that limit the approach that can be directed toward our target audiences, and we always need to adhere to those.
But let’s talk about the times when you are already spending valuable time and resources developing content intended to educate your target audiences. There is a lot of great information being written and produced out there. There’s even content being written about content.
Legal and business blogs written by lawyers are growing in number and importance. General Counsel are visiting blogs, LinkedIn and legal news sites in order to learn, and to research you, your approach and your intellect.
My advice is that if you are going to spend valuable time developing this content and information, don’t let it just sit there. You can’t expect to put it out there hoping people will find it on their own.
You Have To Market Your Marketing.
You should not be afraid to consider some of these practices:
- Establish a presence in Social Media so you can share your blog posts every now and then.
- Follow up with a reporter who writes about your area of expertise, commenting on something they said or wrote.
- Comment on information your potential and current clients write, confirming or denying what is being discussed.
- Share what your colleagues are writing so others know what expertise they have access to through you.
- Place links to your important blog posts and articles on your LinkedIn Summary in the Publications area.
- Outline a timely, critical piece of information, and offer it to blogs you would like to write for.
- Share what others have produced.
- Share what you’ve produced.
- Keep sharing.
- Did I say share?
This doesn’t mean you have to be obnoxious, or spammy, or violate ethical restrictions. I guarantee you and I could sit down and look at all of the rules by which you are bound in the states in which you serve, and still come up with a nice, sophisticated way to market your marketing.
You Can’t Wait For Others To Do It For You.
I learned long ago that I can’t rely on others to do my marketing for me because it probably isn’t going to happen. It’s not their job. It’s mine. The same holds for you. If you and I sit around waiting for others to notice what we do, we’re going to miss out on a lot of opportunity, and that doesn’t need to happen.
Your time and what you have to share is too important.
Be ethical, but don’t be so shy, okay?
Now get out there and Market Your Marketing!
Photo by Frederic Poirot (creative commons)