Posted by: johnocunningham | August 6, 2011

Time: The Biggest Obstacle to Lawyer Marketing

Rachel Brushfield a career coach from Oxford, UK, recently kicked off a powerful discussion thread in the Legal Marketing Group of Linked-In with one simple question: “What are the top 3 factors that get in the way of lawyers doing marketing?”

Numerous in-house and independent marketing professionals have participated in the thread, as well as some practicing lawyers, so I thought it would be interesting to compile their responses to see what the most common answer was.

The most commonly perceived obstacle in the way of lawyers doing marketing was very simple: Time.

Now, if you think about that, it is really interesting. When lawyers object to studying their markets, promoting or selling their services on the basis of time, what they are implicitly saying is “I am so busy that I can’t take on any more business right now” (because, clearly, if you have inadequate time to do a few marketing tasks, then you have no time for another major case or transaction).

By contrast, no C-suite officer in any successful business would ever think: “I need to do the work of serving customers or clients all day because I have no time to devote to marketing.” If they even began to feel overwhelmed by daily “tasks” then they would immediately get to work on improving their infrastructure, financing, workflow engineering, process management, technology tools, hiring and/or training to accommodate growth.

But the approach that lawyers typically take is to focus almost exclusively on serving their clients (as long as demand is there) and then they turn to “marketing” when the well runs dry, not understanding the length of the sales cycle or the fact that it takes a constant focus on “marketing” to keep the well supplied.

So it might be possible that the biggest thing a law firm CMO can do is to help lawyers work more “on” their business, instead of working entirely  “in” their business. CMOs, COOs and other professionals are well-suited to educating lawyer-owners about the “liberating” application of process management, workflow engineering, technology enhancement, hiring, training, and delegation.  These tools can give lawyers some time to focus “on” their business and to be prepared for massive growth “in” their business as well.

What were the other perceived obstacles to lawyer participation in legal marketing? More on that in my next posting.

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