A Law Firm Marketing Blog Series Edition #25
Welcome back to our blog series, in which we talk with some of today’s most knowledgeable legal marketing minds. In our first Let’s Talk Legal Marketing edition of 2020, we feature Ben Glass, the Founder and President of Great Legal Marketing.
We hope hearing the thoughts and ideas shared by the people in these blog posts, will inspire you to make positive changes to your marketing strategies. The biggest goal of this series is to get the conversation going, so let’s dive in.
Our Conversation With Ben Glass
Our LTLM blog series has been going strong for almost two years now, and to celebrate our 25th edition, we decided to reach out to the legendary Ben Glass for some of his thoughts on marketing in this new decade of law. Glass has been operating his own practice since 1995. He’s also spent the past 15 years teaching solo and small firm lawyers from around the globe how to market their firms through his company, Great Legal Marketing.
Of course we can not ignore that this edition of Let’s Talk Legal Marketing comes during a challenging time. The coronavirus has changed life as we know it in recent weeks, and there are a lot of unknowns in how lawyers should proceed with selling their services during these uncertain times. Fortunately experienced voices like Ben Glass are more than willing to offer us guidance. In our below conversation with Glass, we discuss what kind of message lawyers should be sending out to potential clients during this time. Later on in the interview we ask Glass for his thoughts on how legal marketing will change over the next decade and why mindset plays such an important role in marketing success.
Answering Legal: In your opinion, should lawyers feel comfortable continuing to market their services right now?
Ben Glass: Yes, because the alternative is to just quit, and that is untenable for most of us. Right now there is someone in your community for whom you would be perfect and they would be perfect for you. Why would you let them wander into someone else’s office?
AL: What message should lawyers be trying to send out to potential clients with their advertising during this time?
Ben: We are prepared. We are technologically savvy. We are leaders both in the law and in our community. We will try to help you.
Be proactive in reaching out to current clients and your referral sources. Again, be the leader in your community. Think about ways that you can help someone, even if it is not in your exact practice area now. I’m not talking about starting a new practice area but lawyers are smart. We know a lot about a lot. Use this opportunity to build your tribe of people who see you as something much bigger than “just” a lawyer.
AL: You’ve had experience marketing during difficult times before. While this situation is certainly unique, are there any lessons that you learned from previous times of crisis that you’re using to help guide your marketing process now?
Ben: Now is not the time to stop marketing. Now is not the time to go at it alone. If you are not already in a mastermind group of really smart people, start one and put yourself in the center of it. Building a great business is much more about relationships (with clients, employees and vendors) than it is about advertising and marketing per se.
AL: Your firm has been going strong for almost 25 years. What marketing advice would you have for lawyers that hope to see their firms thrive over the course of multiple decades?
Ben: Being the best lawyer in town is not a marketing advantage and it entitles you to nothing. Understand business. Understand numbers and understand how to attract and grow people. This is the secret.
AL: What are some of the biggest changes you expect to see happen in the world of legal marketing during this new decade?
Ben: 1) That your market area will not be limited geographically. Already there are many lawyers with “national practices”. They do this through relationships.
2) There will be even more competition for the eyes of the consumer, thus making it more difficult. Also, you are likely to see a relaxation of the rules that require one to have a law degree to represent some people with legal issues. Why do you need a law degree to represent someone being sued for credit card debt? To help someone with a simple divorce? You don’t and we’ll see that change.
AL: Why do you consider “do good work and the clients will come” to be a dated notion?
Ben: It’s based on an entitlement mentality. “I’m a good lawyer thus people should hire me.” Consumers have no idea who is a good lawyer and who is not. There are many good lawyers out there who starve. Lawyers who are decent at lawyering, but great at marketing will continue to thrive. That’s just reality. You can fight reality or run with it.
AL: On your website, you recently wrote “So many attorneys I speak to are stuck in a rut because they’re convinced that the results they’re getting are eternal and unchangeable.” How much does mindset end up playing a role in an attorneys’ marketing success or failure?
Ben: Your mind is man’s superpower. You can choose to use it or not. If you choose to think then you can choose to think positively or negatively. Choosing to think negatively, or with a close mind, guarantees, at best a mediocre life. I’ve personally experienced the kind of change that comes with a growth minded mindset and I’ve seen it happen now with the thousands of lawyers we’ve worked with over the last 15 years.
AL: You recently released a new book called “Play Left Fullback: How Challenging the Status Quo Will Help America’s Solo and Small Firm Lawyers Build Better Practices, Be Heroes to their Families, and Restore America’s Trust in Lawyers”. Can you tell us a little about the project?
Ben: The book is a response to the 2016 report on lawyer wellness. Well, it’s a response to the established bar’s response to that report, really. The report said “too many lawyers are not happy with their chosen profession”. The established bar said “we are shocked, who knew lawyers were so unhappy”. Their answer to the problem of unhappiness is to prioritize a life of “wellness,” with a focus on meditation, eating well and getting exercise. That’s all well and good but it leaves out the most important ingredient to lawyer happiness: build a profitable business that does work you love to do with and for people that you like. No amount of meditation is going to overcome bad business practices or working with miserable people.
AL: What’s your best piece of marketing advice for a law firm just starting out in 2020?
Ben: Focus on getting people interested in you and staying interested in you based on something other than you are a lawyer. Lawyers are a dime a dozen. Leaders and interesting people are rare. Be interesting and for goodness sake don’t wait to be asked to lead.