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Question: Must we really spend money on a slick print brochure for our law firm when nearly everyone gets their information via the Internet? How can we use printed pieces most effectively?
Tina Emerson. Sure, the Internet is a “go-to” for information, but for professional services, it is merely an introduction — a little taste, if you will. The same goes for brochures and other marketing collateral. You want the bulk of your information to come from real discussions with real people who will drive work to you and your firm. Neither the web nor a printed piece can do that, but they do serve as support to your business development efforts and should visually reflect the culture and professionalism of your firm.
If you choose to print a brochure, the information within should not be so detailed that it has no shelf life. Law firms merge, attorneys join and leave, offices move. So if your budget is limited, think about how many times you are up for a redesign and reprint. In the spirit of savings, printed materials should also exist in a digital format that can be modified quickly and emailed. Both digital and printed versions should have room to grow, meaning that outside of the general firm information, there should always be space to include the specific information that the recipient needs or has requested. For example, if a contact says, “Send me information about your IP practice,” you should be able to print up-to-date information and seamlessly insert that description into your general materials.
Imagine that every piece of marketing collateral is a metaphor for your services for each client. Every lawyer and every firm wants the client to feel that services are customized to their needs. So if the legal work is customized, why should the promotion of that work be any less so?
A slick brochure can never take the place of having a real discussion with a prospective client about their needs. There are too many variables that a brochure cannot communicate. Relationships should be your marketing strategy. Simply being pretty just isn’t enough.
Tina Emerson is marketing director at Rogers Townsend & Thomas, PC, in Columbia, S.C. With 15 years of B2B communications experience, she leads the marketing and business development efforts for the firm’s offices in North Carolina and South Carolina. She serves on the publications committee of Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @tfemerson.
Jim Jarrell. Finding that delicate balance between keeping up with constant changes in the market (internally and externally) and the need for compelling marketing collateral that sends a focused message perfectly aligned with your brand is a challenge we all face. The reality is that even though many clients have become more technology-savvy, most still want something tangible when they walk away from a meeting.
There are ways you can deliver these tangible products without printing brochures that are obsolete almost as soon as they get delivered by the printer. Technology has improved so dramatically that the difference between something printed in-house versus a third-party service provider has become less obvious. Because of this, many firms have already taken to redesigning their marketing collateral so that they have the flexibility to not only print it on demand in-house, but change and adapt it (or tailor the message more directly to the client) as the need arises. There’s also the added benefit that the only storage space being taken up by these brochures is that small corner of the server.
Still, there are certain things you will always need on-hand (for recruiting purposes or a last-minute meeting with a target client, for example), regardless of how digital our world becomes. My advice is to keep those pieces generic and non-specific, for longer shelf-life. There’s nothing wrong with presenting the basic brochure in person and saying, “Here’s a general overview of our firm’s services. When I get back to the office, I’ll send you some more specific information based on our conversation today.” At best, you’ve given yourself an automatic reason for a follow-up; at worst, you’re demonstrating thoughtful consideration of your targets’ needs — maybe they don’t need or want a copy of every possible tri-fold brochure in the storage room. And remember, brochures don’t sell work, but they do predispose a prospect to feel a certain way about the firm.
Jim Jarrell manages marketing and business development activities for Indianapolis-based Barnes & Thornburg’s litigation department as a member of the firm’s Chicago office.
Kevin Sullivan. Law firm brochures are still important in marketing, albeit, less important than in the past. In addition to the easy access to firm information on the Internet, there has been a move away from “standardized” brochures toward customized communications written for a specific prospect. These customized marketing “pitch books” address the specific concerns of the prospect — or existing client if you are offering to cross-serve from multiple practice areas.
Customized pieces take more time, but they demonstrate several important points:
The customized document will create a more positive impression and likely will enhance your chances of winning the business. The client will appreciate that you addressed their need without trying to “sell” everything your firm offers.
That doesn’t mean you should shred all of your brochures. These have a place at events and trade shows where you can’t speak to every person in the room. They can be used for “last-minute” meetings when a prospect calls to meet for lunch that day. You can keep a small set of brochures in your briefcase so that you can share one when you have a chance meeting with a potential client on an airplane. Candidates for employment at the firm should read the brochure to help them gain a positive opinion of the firm.
So, the brochure still has its place, but customized communications will leave a more positive and lasting impression.
Kevin Sullivan is CMO at Fisher & Phillips LLP in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter @kevinlsullivan.
No, not every law firm has a professional marketer or business development coach on staff to answer questions. So send us your questions via email or use the comment section below, and we’ll pass them on to the experts at the Legal Marketing Association. Watch for the best ones here in Ask the Expert.legalmarketing.org The Legal Marketing Association provides professional support and education as well as opportunities for intellectual and practical information exchange.
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