Legal Marketing Alchemy: Turning Clients into Gold

Greg Conderacci, a Baltimore-based marketing consultant with Good Ground Consulting LLC, was the featured speaker at the Chapter's Baltimore City Group meeting on May 17, 2010. His topic, "Legal Marketing Alchemy: Turning Clients into Gold," was one that naturally piqued the interest of the luncheon audience.
 
Conderacci told the audience at the downtown offices of Tydings & Rosenberg that too often, marketers answer the client's common question, "What do I need," with a noun - and that is the wrong answer. 

He gave the example of a hardware store owner who is talking to a distraught customer whose basement has just been inundated with water. "What does that customer need?" Conderacci asked the audience. The responses varied from "a sump pump" to "new carpeting" to "a lawyer to sue someone." All were nouns.
 
The speaker said that's not the best approach. What the customer needs is to get the water out of the basement. In real life, the store owner knew how the house was constructed and told the customer to remove a plug in the basement and let the water drain out. The water was soon gone, and the store had a customer for life.

The same applies to professional services marketing, Conderacci said. Clients don't "need" marketing plans or events or social-media presence. Those are nouns. They need to bring in more clients, to keep the clients they have, to become better known. All of those are verbs. Marketers who keep that in mind are the ones who are really client-oriented.
 
Conderacci also discussed studies that have divided professionals into five categories; the hard worker, the challenger, the relationship builder, the lone wolf, and the problem solver. Despite the audience's apparent belief that problem solvers, hard workers, or relationship builders were the most successful, the studies showed that among the highest achievers, a plurality were "challengers."
 
Challengers, Conderacci said, are unafraid to challenge the client's approach and to propose their own.  They "openly pursue goals in a direct, but not aggressive, way to overcome increased customer risk aversion." Professionals who content themselves with providing solutions to problems identified by the client are toward the bottom of the pyramid of value. At the top of the pyramid are service providers who are trusted by the client to help the client set objectives.
 
By Jonathan Groner, public relations and writing consultant in Washington, D.C., for the May/June 2010 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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