Marketing Versus Rainmaking For Law Firms
As attorneys, we did not spend a lot of time in law school learning about marketing, branding, public relations or rainmaking. As a result, many times these words are thrown around interchangeably in the legal field. However, there are fundamental differences between these words and what they mean to growing your legal practice.
Let’s begin with a definition of marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
And, marketing is a science.
The science of marketing takes into consideration ideas from:
- psychology (branding, need creation, satisfaction of wants),
- research (targeting your ideal market),
- technology (using technologic tools including CRM systems to reach your audience), and
- economics (your pricing strategies).
Marketing, in its truest form, is about creating awareness for a product or service, positioning it in a way that makes people who have a need for this product or service know that you have it available for them, creating demand for this product or service when they don’t even know they want it and pricing it to be bought.
However, let’s bring this down to a usable level.
You’ve opened a law firm, you have your name on the door, you have a website and brochures and now you are waiting for the phone to ring with all of those wonderful clients.
I have always coined this “The Field of Dreams Method of Marketing.” The “I hung a shingle, have a website and brochures, why aren’t client’s coming out of the woodwork to hire me?” mentality. When there are few attorneys who practice in your area of law, this method of marketing can be effective. In rural areas, competition is not the problem, people knowing you exist is the issue. Therefore, hanging a shingle, or putting up a website or sending notifications of the opening of your law firm may be all that you need.
However, if you are in a larger metropolitan area, and there are bound to be many attorneys who practice in the same area of law that you do. So, how do you get your practice known?
Marketing will help her with this. Marketing will allow you to create an identity – or brand; it will help you to create awareness of your law firm to others.
There are many marketing tactics you can take to create awareness:
- Business Cards
- Niche Marketing
- Direct Mail
- Social Media
- Public Relations
And so many more. Each one of these can put you in the mind of prospects, but it won’t turn them into clients (not unless they have an immediate need and no other options – but that’s a different article on how clients chose attorneys).
This is where Rainmaking comes in.
Rainmaking, also known as business development, is about creating relationships that will turn prospects into clients and referral sources. It is a process that takes marketing that one step further from creating awareness of who you are and what you can do into relationships that will turn into business.
There is an oft quoted phrase by Bob Burg that you may have heard:
“All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
All of the marketing tactics above help with one of these criteria – the “know” part. Rainmaking, or creating relationships, is about the “like and trust” criteria.
This means that you must actually start to interact with others in order for them to like and trust you. Any tactic which allows you to interact with people is the beginning of your Rainmaking. You must continue to build the like and trust criteria through personal interactions in order for Rainmaking to be an effective way to develop business.
So instead of lumping Marketing and Rainmaking in your mind as one, think of Rainmaking as the natural extension of marketing – that is, once you have the awareness of others, find a way to create relationships which will morph into new business.