Have you noticed that everyone thinks that they're marketing experts? Few people who aren't lawyers would claim that they could successfully argue a motion in court, and fewer still would want to attempt a triple-bypass surgery unless they had completed the requisite years of medical school and residency. Yet, when it comes to marketing, people feel free to talk at length about their opinions, regardless of whether these opinions are based on any experience or schooling.
The explanation for this is really based on two factors.
First, we're all exposed to marketing everyday - one study suggested that the average American sees something like 3,000 marketing messages every day! So even if a person hasn't had any actual training in marketing, they're pretty familiar with the marketing that they think works and the messages that they think have failed.
Second, marketing is fun. It's like pop-psychology - when marketing works, it means that you've created a message that has convinced someone to do what you want them to do - namely, buy your product or service! For a lot of people, there's a lot more instant gratification in marketing than there is in - say - writing a motion in limine.
So what should a marketer do when he or she is constantly approached by good-intentioned co-workers with suggestions on how to improve the marketing? Simple: listen! A lot of the suggestions may be silly, but you're also likely to hear some ideas that you would have never come up with yourself.
Here are ten reasons to not only listen to employee suggestions about marketing, but to proactively solicit advice:
1. Brand Perception
If your firm's brand is important to you, you need to constantly ask people outside the marketing department for their perception of your brand. There's no better place to start than with members of the firm. Do they think the brand you are trying to convey accurately represents the firm? If not, you need to either work harder to educate your firm about your brand, or change your branding message to reflect the firm's ideals.
2. Web Site Usability
You can hire the best web designers in the world to design a beautiful web site for you, but at the end of the day, always remember that function is far more important than form. Before launching a new web design, ask a few firm employees to look through the new site. Can they intuitively navigate through different pages? Does it download quickly on their computers? If your firm's employees have problems using your web site, imagine how difficult it will be for people unfamiliar with the firm!
3. A Non-Marketing Perspective
Sometimes we can get caught up in the lingo and the current "hot buttons" of the world of marketing. For this reason, it's always good to bounce your ideas off someone far, far away from the marketing department. They'll bring you back down to earth, and reality.
4. Catch Mistakes
Did you spell the senior partner's name wrong? Is that upcoming seminar actually on a Wednesday? Whenever you're creating collateral or advertisements for a specific event or for specific attorneys, check with the actual people involved. They may find little changes that make a huge difference.
5. The First 30 Days Rule
There's a theory out there that an employee can contribute more good suggestions in the first 30 days of employment than he/she can in any other period in his employment. Why? Because a new employee isn't indoctrinated into the firm culture yet, and hasn't yet accepted company practices as "the way things should be." Ask new associates what they like and dislike about the firm's marketing. They may surprise you with some incredible suggestions.
6. The Word on the Street
Associates and partners are in constant contact with your firm's clients. As such, they're a great resource to ask about how clients perceive the firm, and the firm's marketing. Are the clients confused by the Web site? Do they get annoyed every time they hear one of your radio spots? You won't know unless you ask!
7. The Word in the Field
In addition to current clients, you can also ask your firm's attorneys about their experience pitching the firm's services to potential clients. Does your collateral impress potential clients? What's the brand perception? What additional information or material would help your attorneys close the sale?
8. The Best Rainmakers are Educated Rainmakers
When your firm's partners go out and meet potential clients, you want them to be as knowledgeable as possible about the firm's marketing position and marketing materials. If a partner's pitch mimics your collateral and web messaging, you've got a better chance of closing the deal.
9. Happy Lawyers = Happy Marketing Team
OK, now for a tip on self-preservation. Asking your firm's employees for advice on marketing does more than improve your marketing results. It also improves your job security! Involving associates and partners in the marketing process helps them to understand the role of marketing, and gives them a feeling of ownership in the end product. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
10. Learn the Trade
Many law firm marketers have JDs and may have practiced before joining a firm marketing department. Regardless of whether you have legal experience, however, you still benefit from talking to the lawyers in your office. By keeping up-to-date on current cases, hot areas of practice, and technology trends in the industry, you'll keep your marketing sharp and ahead of the curve.