Terry M. Isner, President, Marketing and Business Development at Jaffe, was kind enough to answer a few questions about branding, and why professional services marketing doesn't have to be boring....
Claire Trévien: Firstly, I love that you describe yourself as a mix of 'business strategist and artist' - it chimes with a recent conversation I've had where I was told how important it is to bring your 'whole self' to work. Professional services marketing still has a bit of a stuffy image - how difficult is it to persuade firms to be more creative in their approaches?
Terry Isner: It is important for me to be creative and have fun everyday. I have always wanted to do a program called “Being creative in a non creative environment”, funny thing is lawyers are funny and creative but put that suit on them and they become … a lawyer. So as you can imagine as soon as the suit goes on the guard goes up and the challenge begins. But recently we have seen some big moves away from stuffy and for those firms that lead with strategic and creative thinking we are seeing positive change. The beauty in working with law firms is that they follow more often than lead, so now that we are seeing more creative websites, marketing and branding from those firms leading the charge, we can expect more creativity to be the norm.
CT: Can you tell me a little bit about the process of rebranding Bradley – what was the biggest challenge?
TI: We didn’t re-brand the firm we did however help them find the heart of their brand. They worked with several talented marketing teams on the branding exercise and we were brought in to close the circle and tie everything together under a common brand promise. Our job was to expose the brand element/promise that resonated with their clients, community, staff and stakeholders and to do so we had to look at both the history of the firm and its current relationships finding that common core value and unique culture that differentiates them from their competitors. The challenge was pulling together all the pieces and finding the brand nugget.
CT:Do you have advice for smaller law firms who want to change their image?
TI: Change their image? If you refer to changing an image, related to character, culture, focus or expertise, I suggest finding out where the brand equity lies before doing anything. But if you are referring to the brand identity, then have a purpose, be consistent, be relevant, be authentic, and when possible be creative and unique.
CT: Personal branding has been a hot topic for quite a few years now – can any lawyer today avoid social media altogether?
TI: NO! If you are looking to build a personal brand you need social media for the reach and for the connection. But if you are not ready to commit to social media don’t jump in for the sake of being there. Take some time and dip your toe in under listening mode, watch how others work the tool, read what concerns and success others have related to your interest/expertise, join groups and find out how you can contribute, then create a strategic plan for engaging, sharing, and building brand recognition on certain social channels.
CT: It’s easy to get sidetracked by all the shiny new tools popping up everywhere. What do you think is the next big thing for professional services marketing?
TI: My eye is on the übers of the world, Avvo for example. This is a great example of the power of mobile and apps. Law firms need to update their use of technology ASAP! There are still too many things that law firms are not utilizing to be distracted by new shiny tools. Stay focused on content, SEO, a mobile website, branding, and social media.