I ran into an old friend in the recruiting business (while waiting for an old friend in the recruiting business... weird) before lunch today and our conversation turned toward how the local market perceived his firm. In my circles at least (as I reported to him) his firm had once been a constant name heard in business conversations. These days the few times I'm hearing the name is when people ask, "So whatever happened to ___? Are they still around?
Years ago his firm had a high profile and was perceived as a guerilla to compete against. Then they went through a leadership shift and hunkered down at the back end of the 2001 tech bust. By focusing on quality and customer service the firm did an admirable job to weather such change and is really quite successful. But, now that the economy is considerably more robust and stable; they've chosen to... stay hunkered down.
My friend mentioned that he too has heard people wonder, and his competitors are fueling the fire lamenting the struggles of a once great firm. "Such nonsense!" he commented. "No one is going to listen to them." I sensed that he would like for things to be a little different and I simply offered, "If the marketplace is only hearing one side of the story (as told by your competitors) how can they spot the nonsense?"
I've said it before; In the absence of information people will listen to anything that fills the void.
Marketing a firm (professional services, legal, or otherwise) does not always have to be a complete, all-out, all the parts thing. Sometimes a marketing program only needs to be enough to fill the void. In the case of my friends firm: he does not need to return the big-dollar, high-profile days of old. He just needs to be seen (or heard from) again. A consistent PR and press release program and first person attendance of him or his people at a few strategically selected business events would go a long way.
Are you marketing your firm, or have you left your messaging in the hands of your competitors?