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Firm marketing inspires email vitriol

Firm marketing inspires email vitriol

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A spat has developed over how law firms can better market themselves. Read the various letters to The New Lawyer here.

Letter to the editor

RE: Firms weigh up name changes. See original article here.


I am writing in reference to your recent story: 'Firms weigh up name changes' on 6th Aug 2009.

The article quotes a Mr. Boundy who states that:

“If partners understand the importance of a short, catchy name, its clear they are more marketing orientated and therefore more aggressive marketers overall, so odds are the firm will do better in the long run,” said Boundy.

I think Mr. Boundy has confused marketing with promotion. There is no evidence that firms who are more marketing orientated and aggressive (akin to a promotion orientation) will perform better. Research shows that it is indeed a market orientation (which is a firm culture and set of behaviours) that has a significant impact on law firm performance but this has next to nothing to do with external promotion or aggressive marketing.

Law firms are already grappling with the concept of marketing and how it applies to law firms and comments such as those by Mr. Boundy are sending the state of law firm marketing back to 1976 (Bates vs State Bar of Arizona) when it was all about promotion.

For law firms to truly benefit from marketing they must embrace the concept on a strategic level, whereby listening to clients and being innovative is at the heart of a firm’s strategy. Transplanting the ideas of consumer goods marketing to law firms is nothing but a recipe for disaster.

Robert Sawhney
Managing Director
SRC Associates Ltd
Hong Kong

 

RESPONSE FROM BRUCE BOUNDY
Dear Editor
Your respondent clearly has little or no understanding of the power or value of marketing. In fact “promotion” or “sales promotion” are actually subsets of the marketing process not a separate discipline. Note that firms whose primary services are to individuals do tend to benefit more from broader based marketing activities (whether aggressive or otherwise).

We have numerous case studies of Australian law firms who have grown their businesses significantly from adopting this strategy.

As a humble marketer I am not sure of the relevance of quoting a 33-year-old US case. Once again your respondent is displaying their ignorance by attempting to relate case law to the ability of marketing to grow a law firm’s business.

We must also always have a healthy level of cynicism for people who make the statement “Research shows” without ever actually quoting any valid source for such a statement.

And our final coup de grace lies in our response to the statement that by “transplanting consumer goods marketing to law firms is nothing but a recipe for disaster”.

This is errant nonsense. The ability to understand buyer psychology when marketing to a sophisticated audience is to attain one of the highest levels of competency in the marketing discipline.

To attempt to refute this skill being transferable to the legal industry is absurd.
 
Yours,

Bruce Boundy
Managing Director
Legal Marketing Agency
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