We’ve decided that we’ll start the new year by being avuncular.
Well, okay, pompous.
Somehow, a few folks have decided that the two of us – guys with faces that were made for radio and voices made for the shower – know something about law firm marketing. And we’re certainly occasionally asked by others at our firms why we seem to attract more publicity than many of our peers.
So, in a spirit of unlimited pomposity – er, generosity – we offer four new year’s resolutions to make if you want to market your law firm more successfully in 2008.
Resolution number one: Do it.
We don’t much care what “it” is. Give a talk; write a short article in the business trade press; write a law review article; write a book; start a blog (or contribute a guest post to this one).
But don’t sit around complaining that you’re never asked to speak, and journals are never asking you to write articles, and the press never calls for your opinion about stuff, and clients never call. If you want to have a reputation, start creating it.
We know that this isn’t much fun. We know that your law firms won’t seem to appreciate your efforts. We know that you’ll be devoting nights and weekends to the task. But, ten years from now, you’ll have done something that lasts forever – you’ll have made a reputation for yourself.
We’ve noticed an odd thing over the last few years: No one wants to do anything, but everyone wants to have done stuff.
You’ve written a book (Bexis) or two (Herrmann)? I’d like to have done that.
But I just couldn’t.
You’ve kept your blog going at a clip of 300 posts per year? Where do you find the time? I could never do that.
But I sure would love to have done it.
We’ve got some sad news for you: If you want to have done it, there’s only one way to get there.
Resolution number two: Do it now.
The article that you publish at age 30 will be on your resume for the next 35 years of your working life. That’s a long, long time for your effort to pay off.
The article that you publish at age 62 will be on your resume for only the last three years of your working life. There’s not much time for payoff there.
We don’t want to hear that you’re too young or too inexperienced to start now. Surely you worked on a brief last month that contained at least one interesting thought. Expand that thought into an article, and get it in print.
Do it now.
Resolution number three: Do it alone.
If you wait for help, it’ll never happen.
Law firms have only limited resources. The firm will be like the wind at the back of the half-dozen superstars the joint is able to promote aggressively. Everyone else is largely on their own.
And, as we said not 20 paragraphs ago, no one wants to do anything to generate business (except for eating the fancy dinners and playing the free rounds of golf, of course). No one wants to give speeches and write articles and build a reputation. No one wants to sow the wheat.
But everyone wants to eat the bread. After you’ve baked the bread – when you’ve made a name for yourself — you’ll have plenty of company. You’ll have people asking to help with cases, and asking you to co-author articles with them, and asking you to lend your name to worthy causes.
But don’t expect any of that attention now.
To get things started, do it alone.
Finally, new year’s resolution number four: Give it time.
“Young men are easily deceived, for they are quick to hope.”
When we were young, we, too, were quick to hope.
We’d write an article and expect the phone to ring.
And it did ring: a law school classmate or two would call to say they’d seen one of our names in print, or some lawyer would call to praise an article to the heavens and then say, “I have an issue a lot like the one you wrote about, and I was wondering if you had any free research you could share with me.”
It turns out that, unless you write Brandeis’ article on privacy, no one article will change either the world or your life. Don’t be quick to hope.
But a series of articles in the trade press – one article a year for twenty years – and a series of speeches, and a law review article or two, and all of the other time-consuming stuff that no one wants to do, are the things that reputations are made of.
Trust us, we’re not really marketing gurus. We’re a couple of guys who have experimented with a whole collection of activities – some for fun, some to influence the law, some with an eye toward developing business – and have had a few limited successes along the way.
And we’ve learned just one thing for sure: The only way to succeed is to try.
And the time to try is now.
Do it. Now. Alone. And give it time.
2008 could be the start of something really interesting.