Humble Marketing Oxymoron or Appealing Alternative?

What would happen if you pared your firm’s marketing activities down to the essentials that matter? I’ve spoken with a lot of professionals lately who feel pressured to keep up with a constant stream of promotion.

In response, some are opting to take a more humble approach. They don’t want to downplay their capabilities, but they’d like to feel more at ease with the style in which they communicate them.

If this platform sounds appealing, here are a few ways to get started.

  1. First, determine if it makes business sense for your particular firm. Does it align with what your target clients, referral sources and employees expect? How? Some stakeholders want to see all your firm news all the time, others don’t.
    • If you have an aggressive growth strategy, your marketing and communications need to reflect it.
    • If you want to become more selective, it could make sense to focus intensely on a few messages and communication channels.
  2. Then, make it a strategy that guides deliberate marketing and communication choices. Then go for it. Say “no” everything else.
  3. Try prioritizing social listening to find out what clients are talking about. Posting endless streams of announcements on your site and social media profiles without ever engaging in market or industry conversations is not humble; it just adds to the noise competing for reader attention.
    • A listening strategy helps you learn the issues and problems that vex target audiences, and then make an informed contribution or propose a solution at the right time.
  4. Be seen in all the right places. It’s possible to be visible without appearing grandiose. Try techniques that place you directly in front of your target markets.
    • Speaking engagements or media interviews as a subject matter expert are good starting points.
    • Involvement in industry initiatives such as research studies also works; it demonstrates a collaborative approach and often generates early-market information that can be a competitive advantage.
  5. Emphasize how you learn and earn capabilities more than awards and accolades. It shows that you’re focused on continuously generating quality results for the clients who keep your firm afloat.

One way to gauge whether a more humble marketing approach is right for your firm is to decide what you are emotionally committed to as an organization. Is there a central purpose or goal that everyone can support? If so, any efforts to convey it have a good chance of being perceived as authentic and a good chance of persuading clients that you’re the right provider to help them.

More than a Google Search: 4 Questions to Assess Your Reputation

When I ask young professionals how they plan on building their reputations, the answers that I usually hear range from “do whatever I’m told” to “don’t screw up” to “incessantly self-promote”. Of course, there’s more to it than that.

A reputation rests on:

  1. The esteem in which you are held
  2. The respect people have for you
  3. Your perceived level of trustworthiness
  4. The admiration that stakeholders have for your character

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Moral Outrage and Social Media: The Perfect Storm

Cecil the Lion has dominated world headlines since the announcement of his killing at the hands of American dentist Walter Palmer. Cecil’s death has brought the controversial practice of trophy hunting, the serious issue of poaching and the concerns of the animal conservation movement into the spotlight.

Cecil the Lion (source: Wikipedia)

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Women, Wisdom & Wall Street

What’s it like to be the only woman in the room during corporate board meetings? Or the first woman to chair a financial regulation authority in the midst of an economic crisis? Last week, I  attended a panel discussion where three groundbreaking leaders – all lawyers by training – talk about their experiences as women affecting change in a male dominated industry.

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5 Benefits of a Social Media Sabbatical

Have you ever wanted to cease and desist from all social media communication? I have. And I did. Here’s what happened…

…well, actually, nothing happened. Despite dire warnings from bloggers proclaiming the “10 online activities you must do every day to build a valuable personal brand”, nothing bad actually happened. Actually, my business grew.

The benefits of a social media sabbatical Read more

The Trust Imperative: Part I

Do you trust the leaders in your organization to make decisions in the best interest of the entire firm? Do you trust them to proactively deal with important issues or prevent crises? Studies such as the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer would indicate that your answer is likely “no”.

Some of the current notions regarding trust are based on the times in which we live – a legal market that is changing as well as shrinking, record numbers of unemployed law school graduates saddled with record amounts of student debt, daily news of trust violations between business, government and society. Read more

Misquoted in the Media? Set the Record Straight.

Being interviewed for a news item or feature story on your area of expertise is a great way to build a professional reputation. It looks good in a Google search. It associates your esteem with that of the publication. And you can refer to the coverage in marketing materials without sounding self-aggrandizing.

But what if you’re misquoted?

As reporters rush to meet deadlines and editorial departments dwindle, your erudite articulation might come across as an arcane patois. Read more

Aligning Employees to Execute Strategy: Getting Started

When firm leaders agree on strategic objectives, it’s time to align employees towards achieving them. As with anything with multiple moving parts, adjustments can help the system work at its best.

Last week, I discussed the difference between employee engagement and employee alignment. Engagement is what motivates people to arrive at work each morning. Alignment is what they do when they get there. Read more

Employee Engagement vs. Employee Alignment

Have you noticed how many law firms have won awards for their workplace strategy? In the quest to attract and retain talent, many law firms build an “employer brand” through the pursuit of third-party recognition.

This seems like a no-brainer for any organization. What firm wouldn’t want to be known for having a satisfied workforce? And who wouldn’t want to work for one? Read more

Keeping Clients When A Key Partner Leaves

When a key partner in a large law firm moves to a competitor, do his or her institutional clients tend to leave too? The answer might depend on how much internal conflict there is at the firm left behind.

Michelle Rogan of INSEAD recently published ground-breaking research on the relationships between large, multi-unit advertising agencies and client firms. These relationships are very similar in structure to those between law firms and institutional clients, where services in several areas of professional expertise are provided through personal connections developed over time. Read more