Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hildebrandt, Hand-Holding, & Driving Directions

Hildebrandt and Thompson are getting married. Congratulations are due to Brad Hildebrandt for being a builder and player in a tough industry! Hidebrandt has been the legal marketing industry's equivalent to the Big Four accounting firms. There is Hidebrandt... and then everyone else. What I have pondered is; If marketing and sales services for law firms are all the rage, how can there be so few superstars like Hidebrandt that have capitalized on the opportunity?

So far my answer to that question is "hand-holding." The task of a marketing firm is to enable its clients with greater recognition and saleability of business and product. And in legal services, business and the product are the same thing. An attorney. (Now don't get all weird on me and go off on all of the other ways to slice this pie. In its simplest form the business is an attorney, and the attorney is the product). Imagine if our "product" was a toy, and this toy could talk to us. The toy would probably tell us things like, "I don't like the colors you're using on my package", or, "When I'm sold from this shelf I can't see people coming and you have me right next to so and so and that's never going to look good for me." And, oh yeah, it's the toy that signs our check.

In other words; when our products have a voice we are influenced by what they want and less by what their clients want. So marketers have to hold a lot of hands as they try to do what is right AND keep their client happy. A marketing business faces real capacity and growth difficulties if the average buyer of its services is inherently high-maintenance.

Should attorneys have a voice in how they are marketed? Yes! Could firms be successful marketing organizations without involving multiple "interested" individuals or committees in every decision process? Yes!

Which brings us to driving directions. The stereotype is men have a built in compass and asking for directions is a violation of their machismo. As long as he gets within a few blocks of the target address, he will troll every street until he gets to his destination. Marketing is often treated in the same way. It does look as easy as getting in my car and driving "over there." What's all the fuss? I got it, I got it....