If you go out on the Internet and look for definitions of marketing you’ll find dozens if not hundreds. Many of them involve long, convoluted sentences with many semi-colons. You’ll see the words "solution," "leverage," "value" and "systematic" scattered around like pineapple at a luau. But the definition I use with my marketing students is one that covers it all, and quickly:
Marketing decreases friction in an economic process.
That’s it. If you advertise, you’re making the public aware of your service. That removes friction, since a complete lack of awareness of your organization would be, in our Newtonian metaphor, like having the emergency brake on. It works the other way, too. If you have a service that is clearly superior, you can charge a premium. That’s more profit per unit work. Less friction.
I think this definition is helpful with law firms because it takes the emphasis off the high-visibility, retail advertising model on which many corporate lawyers are fixated. Marketing just makes it easier for clients to find, utilize, understand, appreciate and pay for your service.
Do you need marketing? Of course. And lawyers are often great at key marketing activities like networking and relationship management. Some might call it sales or business development or even professional development rather than marketing, but that’s moot. Sales is just marketing at the personal level. If you go out to lunch with a potential client, that’s sales. If you and one of your partners plan on doing it together so that you can introduce the client to a different key competency of your firm, that’s marketing.
So stop worrying about whether or not to "do" marketing. You already are.
What you’re probably not doing is being very organized about it.
And that’s a post for a different day.