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.

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

Having Fun with Nostalgic Marketing

What is it about summer that makes us so nostalgic? I spend a lot of time between June and September wishing I was hanging out with friends or family in Saskatchewan (where I grew up), even though I have a perfectly nice life in Vancouver. I’ll respond positively to almost any marketing message reminding me of long, carefree days where my only concern was to have fun.

Nostalgia has a special place in marketing and public relations. It appeals to our need for safety and security. It helps us feel connected to each other. And it reinforces our identity. Read more

Giving, Taking and Getting Ahead

Spring has sprung here in Vancouver with its bounty of networking events and opportunities to reconnect with colleagues.

In between fun appointments in my social calendar, I sat down to read “Give and Take” by Wharton business professor Adam Grant. If you’ve ever felt anxious about networking, skeptical about selling your services or burned out from fielding non-stop requests for help, this book is for you. Read more

Four Basic Marketing Concepts Every Lawyer Should Know

This post was originally published on

I’ve noticed that a lot of lawyers are suffering from information overload in all the advice about what to focus on when building a practice. Clarifying basic concepts is a good place to start. And truthfully, it’s also a relief to simplify some of the jargon.

Here’s a guide to the four concepts that most lawyers and firms need to consider.

Who you are: your identity and brand

Read more

Differentiating your Firm: the Triple-A Formula

If you’re tasked with leading strategic planning, cultural change or market positioning efforts in your firm, this post is for you.

A brand narrative describes the essence of ‘who your firm is’.  This narrative – or story – becomes the way people inside and outside your firm describe it relative to other firms. It’s an essential component of strategic projects because it sets the tone for future activities. Read more

Back to Basics: Trustworthiness and the Modern Firm

Trustworthiness permeates almost every aspect of my work with regulated professions. I’ve been on a mission to learn more about how to build, recover and regain organizational trust, and I recently attended the Summit on Building the Trustworthy Organization at Fordham University in New York. It was transformational. Read more

Words to the Wise: What My Clients Have Taught Me About Running a Business

“What would you charge for helping me with my practice plan?” said the wise client to the wide-eyed consultant. “Ummm….how about $X?”.

“Are you serious?” he laughed. “Add 30 percent to it and you’ll have yourself a deal. Don’t you know what you’re worth?” Read more

Why schedule your social media activity?

I have a confession to make: I haven’t paid much attention to my social media profiles or blog lately.  I wanted to…. I really did. But with a few large, time-sensitive projects underway and a 10-day break in Hawaii, my profile-building efforts quietly fell to the bottom of my priority list.

And yet. When I stepped away from the cacophony of “influencer” updates, tweets, group discussions and recommended expert reading, I noticed a pattern. The posts I appreciated most were: Read more

Three techniques to effectively build business

Overwhelmed by messages extolling the virtues of various marketing techniques? Here’s a primer to keep it all in perspective.

1. Develop your reputation

Most professionals still rely on referrals to attract new business. Which is why your reputation is so important. Read more