This is not a lawyer bashing post — I like lawyers. I like their analytic thought process, mental agility and rational debate. However, when it to comes to marketing, many of them are out to lunch. And it’s not just lawyers. Accountants, pharmacists, doctors and other professionals are just as guilty of ignoring new ways to market and communicate with their target markets.
To a degree they are bred this way. The years of arduous study teach them to focus on their specialty. (Which is a good thing — when you’re getting a root canal you don’t want a communications strategist poking a drill in your mouth!) And each profession has a governing body which is often tasked with “marketing” the profession. With respect to top-level branding, some even do a good job (or at least rally the PR forces when faced with negative national attention). So other than a first-year course in marketing, many professionals don’t understand the intricacies of appealing to prospective market segments. I’m not excusing professionals for being social media and inbound marketing laggards, but I do believe they come by it honestly.
It's Starting to Sink In
Now here is where I get around to the point of this blog (hopefully you’re still with me). The professionals are now tinkering with social media and they are starting to get it. The early adopters are having some success and are being joined by others. An article in the Globe and Mail last week [Law Firms Dipping Toes in Social Media Ocean] related the, albeit slow, adoption of social media and blogging by the legal profession. It commented that while “some Bay Street firms may be wary that one lawyer’s wrong-headed tweet could upset a major client, many senior partners now see the potential benefits of stronger social media presence outweighing any perceived risk.”
What If I Say the Wrong Thing?
This is a significant hurdle that many small businesses can’t seem to get over: “What if we do something wrong?” “What if someone says something bad about us?” “Are we opening Pandora’s Box?”
If any group is concerned with a misstep, culpability, vulnerability or invoking the litigious masses, it’s lawyers. Yet they are getting past the somewhat ignorant or short-sighted thinking of “how will this work against us” to appreciate “how this will work for us.” That is not to say that it is easy and clear sailing; there are many threats of turbulent and tumultuous storms in the social media ocean. And any strategically thinking company will take that into account. But there are also promises of a much larger and receptive market across that ocean, so chart your voyage carefully and reap the rewards.
Using Social Media Effectively
Earlier in the month G&M ran another article [Many Professionals Missing Out on Social Media Opportunity], that highlighted a few professionals using social media effectively, and the surprise that more professionals were not aggressively pursuing this route. Both of these articles point to an historically reticent group (speaking from a marketing perspective) that is starting to understand and employ social media as a communications tool. Everything in the digital age is faster, including adopting new models of business. This doesn’t mean that you’ll have to “Like” the lawyer who just sent you a Cease and Desist letter or “Friend” the accountant who just pointed out you’re broke. There is a whole lot more to using social media strategically than digital pats on the back. Social media provides many effective and efficient means for professional firms to inform, educate and nurture relationships; allowing them to provide a more fulsome service to existing clients, and to attract a greater number of qualified prospects.
Now It's Your Turn
So we’re not quite at the point where your teenage daughter AND your 40-something lawyer understand Twitter and Facebook better than you do, nor would I advocate that. But if your lawyer understands the power of social media and is willing to incorporate it into his or her way of doing business to better serve clients, shouldn’t you be taking a hard look at it as well?
And that, I suspect, is the point of this rather rambling post: social media and inbound marketing are no longer some new fad to be experienced vicariously. Companies that do not analyze its potential and add it to their complement of marketing initiatives will find themselves behind their competition. And then they just may have to turn to Facebook or LinkedIn to find a good lawyer.
For more info, check out How to Decide which Social Media is Right for Your Business.
ps. We've also got some free resources on creating content for blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.
What social media will you try? Let us know so we can connect online!