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.

How could you appeal to nostalgia when promoting your practice? We love to talk about “our ability to resolve complex problems” and “robust technological solutions”. These messages have their place. But sometimes clients just want to know how you’re going to simplify their lives. Here are some ideas:

1. Call an old friend from law school to ask how they’re doing. No agenda, no sales pitch, just a friendly hello. It would be so much more pleasant to receive a phone call or voice mail than a generic LinkedIn connection request.

2. With permission, post some old firm photos on your website or on Twitter using the hashtag #ThrowbackThursday. People will appreciate the self-deprecation.

Tom White with Warren Buffett and Paul McCartney in Dundee, Nebraska (via Twitter)

Tom White with Warren Buffett and Paul McCartney in Dundee, Nebraska (via Twitter)

3. Take care of your clients worries.Rather than ask them to make time for you in their schedule, give them their time back. Send them to a baseball game with their family. Create a local tourism guide with passes that you can give to them if they’re hosting visitors. Hire a student to mow their lawn or a professional organizer to work with them one afternoon and clear out clutter.

4. Create a community of ‘insiders’. Do you know two transplants from the same area who moved to your city or town? Introduce them to each other. Heritage is an essential component of branding; show people that you understand who they are (without making a lot of assumptions) and that you have some empathy.

5. Make the old original. You could publish a blog series sharing lessons that some of your senior lawyers have learned along the way or write an article that chronicles how far the firm has come since it was founded. If you can, tie those lessons to aspirations for future success.

If you doubt how powerful nostalgia can be, spend a moment looking at the simple selfie that Nebraska teenager Tom White took on July 13th. It instantly became one of the most shared photos this year. Why? It’s perfect. Not only because two of the most famous people in the world are in the background, but also because of the nostalgic scene. A warm summer evening. Cars are angle-parked on a quiet street. A happy teenager. Two old friends relaxing on a bench after eating their ice cream cones. All is good.

This article was originally published in Canada’s online legal magazine, slaw.ca on July 16, 2014.