At the moment, I am having an ongoing dialogue/debate within some of my clients about marketing, and the effectiveness of different approaches. In my practice, I develop individual practice plans with attorneys of all ages and stature. It is my experience that the younger attorneys lean heavily toward a digital marketing focus, i.e., social networking, blogging and other forms of electronic information sharing. The more traditional in-person approach, understandably, is preferred by many senior partners. In my view these approaches are not mutually exclusive and the "bridge" between the two methods is an art form.
Lost in this conversation is the reality that someone, usually a senior partner, is or has been doing the in-person relationship building that creates the opportunity for "next generation" digital relationships to begin and flourish.
Perhaps a deeper understanding of how legal and professional services are actually purchased would be beneficial. According to a research report by Hinge Marketing (www.hingemarketing.com), a successful marketing and branding firm in Virginia, professional services are purchased based on three simple principles:
- A belief that you are the right person to solve their problem (be careful to define problem correctly);
- A belief that you will make the purchaser's life easier; and
- Your likability.
Satisfying these criteria may be difficult to accomplish over the internet.
Whether you agree with these criteria or whether the internet is more effective as a means of marketing is not really the argument. If we focus on results, then I believe all techniques and approaches are worthy of consideration.