Karl F. Warner, Q.C.
Marketing: the right service, client, place and price
A lot has been said about law firm marketing lately. From introducing our new marketing rules — and responding to the resulting media coverage across the country — to looking at market conditions in which lawyers are competing, the Law Society has spent a great deal of time pondering the issue.
In our deliberations, we have learned that marketing is not simply about "banquets, brochures and baseball tickets," it is also about delivering the right legal service to the right client in the right place at the right price. In fact, marketing is about the way we as lawyers run our businesses: what law we practise, the quality of our practice, how we find our clients, how we serve our clients and how much it costs for clients to buy our services.
We have also talked about delivering services in a way that is "better, faster, cheaper." Some lawyers have pointed out to me that faster or cheaper may not necessarily be better. While this is true, the message of the mantra is marketing-based. Clients want us to be better at what we do — they want quality. Clients want us to deliver legal services as quickly as possible and not create undue delay. Clients want efficiency and don't want to pay for training time. They want quality, service and affordability.
This is a value proposition — how are we responding to it? The challenge is to ensure that we provide value for the money people pay us. In the age of online legal services, legal guides and forms for the do-it-yourselfers, lawyers still have the advantage of being the legal experts. We are educated, licensed and regulated. Our standards for professionalism and quality of service are high. We are committed to keeping on top of the developments in our profession and in the law.
We are called upon to demonstrate value — both within the profession and in response to non-lawyer competition. We must therefore be able to show the public that we are worth paying for. This means that we have to be on top of our game, know what we are doing and provide services "better, faster and cheaper" in the long run.
This is why marketing becomes more important and the Law Society is committed to helping lawyers improve their marketing skills and efforts. For example, in the Spring, the Law Society hosted a series of one-day marketing workshops for B.C. lawyers. The workshops were free to the profession and took place in Victoria, Nanaimo, Kelowna, Prince George, Surrey and Vancouver. These "Marketing 101" workshops emphasized what marketing really is (as opposed to what some of us think it is), and how web and case management technology can enhance a firm's overall marketing efforts.
The feedback we have received on the workshops has been excellent, so positive in fact that the Law Society will continue to sponsor similar workshops this Fall and Winter. These will be half-day sessions, covering specific marketing issues. We are currently developing the topics and, based on the feedback we received from the general workshop attendees, are considering sessions on marketing planning, marketing communications, case management and other aspects of technology and client relations. If you have topics of specific interest, feel free to contact David Bilinsky, our Practice Management Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a profession, it is up to each and every one of us to ensure that our marketing is client-focused and competitive. The marketplace is growing more crowded and our best defence will be a good offence through effective marketing.