New Jersey Super Lawyers magazine is out. You can read stories online at superlawyers.com.
Here’s a preview:
The cover story features labor and employment lawyer Angelo Genova who went from coffeehouse beatnik to Mr. Connected in New Jersey law and politics.
Other profile subjects include:
- Raymond Brown who represents Sudanese refugees and other international victims of atrocity in addition to chairing the white-collar crime practice group of Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis;
- Family lawyer Stephen Haller who represented former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey in his divorce, helping him win shared custody of his daughter;
- Owen McKeon who works with cigar companies to snuff out counterfeits;
- Environmental litigator Steve Kunzman explains how writing a brief is similar to writing a song;
- Geoffrey Rosamond who helps ex-convicts prepare for re-entry.
When you get a magazine in the mail, what’s the first thing you do?
If you’re like most people, you don’t immediately start to read the magazine. Instead, you probably flip through and look at the pages. And what’s the first thing on a page you look at? The photos.
Especially if the photos are of fellow human beings. And if we recognize someone, we slam on the brakes and dig into to find out why our next door neighbor, or college classmate, or fellow parishioner has her picture in a magazine. We can't help it. We're hardwired this way.
This simple, indelible truth is often overlooked by print advertisers. Too many print advertisers run cold, sterile “image ads” that have not a trace of humanity in them. No people, no photos, no story, no point of view.
In legal circles, large firms are notorious for creating people-less “image ads.” These ads are loaded with visual clichés associated with the law – Doric columns, courthouse steps, gavels, scales of justice, law books, or better yet, an open law book with a pair of reading glasses positioned just so upon the pages. But no actual lawyers.
Among more progressive large firms, a memo was apparently circulated at one time that if you want to shake up your ad, it’s okay to feature animals – lions, tigers, bears, and even elephants, are okay, but for god’s sake, keep the damn lawyers out of the ad!
The result. The completely forgettable ad. The airball of advertising. I’ll bet these image ads produce nothing but a deafening silence for a response.
If you’re a small or mid-size law firm that doesn’t have a big marketing department, or ad agency on retainer, and you want to get your money’s worth for your print ad, put your picture in the ad.
Why? Because anyone who knows you – colleagues, judges, opposing counsel, clients, past clients, potential clients – will stop and notice the ad. At that point you’ve already achieved what scores of print ads fail to accomplish – NOTICE and RECALL, the golden words of advertising.
It doesn’t matter that you’re not buff or beautiful. Remember: as a lawyer, you are the product. You are the brand. You need to get out there.
Your photo will reach out and grab the reader in way that words cannot. This is not a sophisticated concept. It’s not fancy. It’s not creative or award-winning. But it works!
In Super Lawyers, the impact of a photo goes a big step further: Notice and recall in the context of Super Lawyers equates to, “I noticed you were in Super Lawyers. You’re among the five percent they chose. That must mean you’re considered by others to be a pretty darn good lawyer.”
That’s a great message to get out there and it didn’t take a word of copy to communicate. In print advertising, the old saying is especially true: A picture – especially your picture -- is worth a thousand words.
The legal marketing world is all atwitter over online social networking (see for example, “Top Reasons For Using Twitter” by Larry Brauner, posted by the ubiquitous Larry Bodine on his LawMarketing Blog).
You better be Linkedin or you’ll be left out. Tweet or get beat. Why spend time taking clients to lunch when you can spend your noon hours blogging for dollars?
All this change is rather intimidating. Lawyers are busy enough practicing law and maintaining a semblance of family life. You got 73 emails in your in box and there’s a frantic client who’s already called you twice this morning. Who has time for online chat?
How do you build a client development strategy around all this change?
At least that what Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos says. The other night, on Charlie Rose, Bezos stressed that businesses need to focus on things that don’t change, i.e., the customer’s needs and wants. If you attempt to build strategy around things that change, he said, your strategy will keep shifting, and you won’t get anywhere.
A while back I consulted with a lawyer. I had one simple question pertaining to one sentence in a basic legal document. I had a five minute phone conversation with the lawyer that verified what I already knew. There were a couple of administrative email exchanges (acknowledging receipt of the document, promising to review and get back to me, etc.) which contained no legal analysis or other substantive work product. We never discussed rates or billing. A part of me thought she might not bill me at all for such a simple matter.
A month later I received a bill that took my breath away. A building contractor would not send this large of an invoice without first providing an estimate. An auto mechanic would not perform work for this much money without getting your permission.
To add insult to injury, there was no note or letter from the lawyer, just a bill with an obtuse and repetitive (not to mention questionable) block of text reciting the work performed, followed by a curt demand to pay the painful total.
Lawyers are expensive. I get it. But it wasn’t the cost so much as the treatment that bothered me – the presumptuous conceit that says you, Mr. Client, don’t need to understand what you’re buying. Just shut up and pay.
Like any other customer or client, I want to know up front what it is I’m buying, approximately what it will cost. I want to know that I was smart for hiring my lawyer. That it was a worthwhile expenditure and that I wasn’t taken advantage of. This is as true today as it was 50 years ago, and it will always be the case.
During the next year, how much focus, time and energy will we give to addressing the basic, immutable needs of our clients and customers? Or will we be too busy on Twitter?