Wanted: Acedemic Studies/Articles on Legal Marketing
February 2, 2014 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm a solo practitioner and that means I have lots of marketers telling me I need their services. As in, dozens of emails a day, between five and ten calls a week. The sad part is I know I need to step up my marketing, but everyone who contacts just reeks of "scam". I am interested in finding was to get educated about this which don't trigger my scam alert instincts.

Or at least the stuff I regularly see reeks to me, and that may just be my issue, as a lot of the books I've read on marketing strike the same "hucksterism" note to me.

I want to get out of the cycle where my distaste of marketing and marketeers leads me to avoid marketing and advertising. What I would like is to read some academic papers about legal marketing. Things aimed at the scholarly side where people really try to understand what's going on and are not trying to sell something. A way to educate myself where I feel I'm getting solid information from a disinterested party.

Alas, I have no idea where to look. Can you help guide me to some books/articles/journals which deal with these issues so I can start to build up my knowledge in a way that seems reliable. Articles where they actually ran experiments would be particularly welcome.
posted by bswinburn to Work & Money (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
SSRN is a good source of free law and economics type articles, such as Marketing Wills. Of course, marketing strategies will vary significantly depending on your practice and most of the materials out there seem to focus on PI advertising.
posted by Mr Mister at 3:56 PM on February 2, 2014

You're probably not going to find many academic articles on legal marketing, or really marketing in general, that will help you evaluate the services you're being sold. Academic marketing research tends to focus on broader ideas like what makes something memorable or how ideas spread rather than specific tools and tactics. However, business schools often have a more nuts and bolts focus; marketing departments at schools like Kellogg/Northwestern may have something similar to what you're looking for.

I'm a freelance writer and content strategist that has worked for law firms and other legal organizations. The following aren't academic resources, but I recommend them to my clients and I think they may help you separate the signal from the noise. I think Kevin at "Real Lawyers Have Blogs" generally has sensible advice. Lawyernomics also offers helpful articles on the basics of digital marketing for small practitioners. The Legal Marketing Association keeps everything behind a paywall so I can't speak for the quality of their resources, but they're the kind of organization that might be publishing data on the success of various marketing methods.

If you have some specific proposals or consultants that you're trying to evaluate, I'd be happy to take an hour and tell you whether they're scams (or overpromising) or not. Memail me if you'd like to talk further.
posted by Colonel_Chappy at 5:59 PM on February 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your local bar association may have a solo practice group, including programming targeted to solos and small firms - particularly important for state law requirements related to marketing, which vary widely. Check out the resources of the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division. I believe they have meetings and publications about law practice management, including marketing. Probably no experiments, but not scammy either.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 6:46 PM on February 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

One way to sort out the decent marketers from the hucksters is to look at what they actually want to do for you.

If they're decent, they're going to want to meet with you and get to know you. They'll have questions about who you are, who your clients are, what's your vision for your practice. They'll want to know what you think makes you and your practice special, and why you practice the kind of law you practice. These are all things they need to understand in order to tell your particular story compellingly.

If you're not entirely sure of the answers to those questions, a decent marketing pro will help you crystallize your goals to get to those answers. Then they'll talk to you about how to make your story interesting and engaging for your target audience. They'll also want to audit what you're currently doing to advertise your services, and what your results might be so far.

A decent marketing professional is extremely unlikely to offer you a solution that includes only print, TV, and radio. They'll also have recommendations for the web and social media that you should pay very close attention to.

The thing to remember about non-huckster marketing is this - it's not sleazy. It's not gross. I know a lot of people, especially a lot of people in professional fields, are exposed to a lot of sleazy marketers and terrible advertising. But what real, working marketing does is very simple and clean. It tells a true story about who you are, what you can do, why you do it, and how you can help people in a compelling way. And it tells it in the right spaces, where the right people can hear about it.

So, the thing to look for, to differentiate, is a marketing pro who wants to get to know you, and THEN presents you with options and solutions -- not someone who comes to you with a boilerplate plan and no questions.

Good luck!
posted by kythuen at 5:57 AM on February 3, 2014

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