Best Firm Ad -- EVER

Niemanmarcusad300 The best professional firm ad EVER appeared on page 105 of the November 2005 issue of Corporate Counsel magazine. Click the image to see a larger version.)

What makes this ad outstanding is the thinking and strategy behind it -- not the soft-focus photography, glitzy design or snappy layout.  It's not because of the model in the photo, which ad rules would replace with someone "young" and "beautiful."  And it's not the ad agency gloss. 

It is outstanding because it shows a picture of a client - not the office building, but the human being!  Plus the client heads a $3.8 billion company that sells really expensive things.  There he is -- the president of a name brand company, saying he uses Thompson & Knight.  And firm that Neiman Marcus has used the firm for 90 years! Now that's a long-term relationship.

It doesn't show any lawyers from the firm.  It doesn't show the firm's office building.  There are no courthouse columns, scales of justice or gavels. All these mistakes are omitted.

The first thing that you notice is the Neiman Marcus logo -- at first I thought it was an ad for the store! The second thing you notice is the word trust. For a five-letter word, that's a mighty big and powerful word.  Neiman Marcus trusts Thompson & Knight, and has since 1915.

Plus the firm has given it's client what all clients want: lawyers who have personal chemistry with the executives and know their business.  The ad even says, "They know our culture and our business."  Clients don't want technical experts; they are a dime a dozen.  They want someone who is going to help them make a buck.

Kudos to T&K Marketing Director Becky Jackson and her talented crew for this incredible coup. If I were in the fancy department store, apparel, jewelry or home furnishings industry, and saw that the top exec at a big company was willing to state in print how much he liked his law firm -- I would send them the first piece of new work that came along.

Find out your Marketing IQ

Genius According to this "Marketing IQ test" given to a national sample of more than 1000 CEOs, the average Marketing IQ of Chief Executives is just 79 - with 100 being average and 160 being the highest score possible.

I learned about this test on Harry Joiner's Marketing  Of course the 20-question true-false test is geared toward product marketers, so the test can make a service marketer feel pretty stupid. The test ranks test-takers as "A death-wish marketer" and "Dangerous to your company," so grin when you submit your answers.

But the test also gives you the correct answers, so you'll learn about speed-branding, the meaning of "brand equity" and whether focus groups can be used to make serious decisions.


The Chiseling Client

A client called a lawyer up and tried to chisel him down from 15% to 20% to handle a matter. The lawyer actually begged the client not to
leave his firm. He failed. Listen to this podcast and find out how to prevent this from ever happening to you.

MP3 File


Neil Witmer Responds: It's Wishful Thinking to Try to Convert Non-Rainmakers

Neil_witmer_1 Recently I met with Neil T. Witmer of Oak Brook, IL, who has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology.  According to Witmer, the "grinders" and "drones" in professional firms lack the essential personality elements to develop new business.  You cannot change their personalities, and they may be unable to change themselves. He said there is no point in trying to turn them into rainmakers. See "Marketers: Forget the Grinders and Drones."

Agreeing with Witmer were J.D. Hull at the What About Clients blog, David Easterly of the Clifton Gunderson CPA firm, and Mark Merenda of the Smart Marketing blog. 

Gerry_riskin135The holdout in disagreement was renowned consultant Gerald Riskin of the Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices blog.  Gerry said Witmer didn't understand law firms, adding, "It is not personality that drives the client attraction process, but a combination of what the lawyer does and the skill to convey it -- skill that almost every lawyer has or is quite capable of acquiring. "  He went on: "1) Almost all lawyers (OK -- there may be a few extreme exceptions) can be trained to dramatically improve their client-relations skills; 2) In law, the most important business development comes from ever-enhancing the satisfaction levels of existing clients."

Here is Dr. Witmer's reply:

"Well, this is my first experience being caught up in the crossfire of a blog.  I am now more acutely aware of its potential to compromise reputations.

Mr. Riskin, you are correct that our research and practice has not yet been within the legal arena.  However our formulas have proven to apply universally across every other industry we have encountered.  My breakfast meeting with Larry Bodine was intended to explore how legal professionals develop business.  Larry highlighted the frustration of many of his clients by the lack of business development skills of their "library lawyers."  Without getting into unfortunate insect metaphors, here is the gist of the issue, as I see it:

While expertise and reputation are important factors in attracting new business, there are certain traits that some people simply lack and cannot be trained, such as drive or confidence.  Most "library lawyers" who lack drive or social confidence are valuable contributors in a library role but should not be trained to develop business.  We should not "forget them," but should forget the wishful thinking of converting them to business developers.  At the same time, their client management skills can, and should, be trained and coached, something that Mr. Riskin and Edge has aptly demonstrated."


Listen online: A Dozen of the Best Marketing Ideas for Professional Firms Today

Patrick McEvoy, President of Rainmaker Best Practices interviewed me for 30 minutes last week and you can now hear the recording online at  Click on Audio Interviews With Industry Leaders and and log in with your email address.  You'll hear lot of powerful business development tips, including:

Patrick McEvoy

1. What's really wrong with law firm marketing today.

2. Essential questions you must ask and information you must have to develop a marketing strategy.

3. How I walk new law firm clients through a "discovery" process when getting a handle on their marketing "mess."

4. Developing a score for the orchestra and sheet music for the players in the symphony.

5. The tiers of business targets, and the order in which to pursue them.

6. The birth of the Internet 2.0. You'll hear how to be an early adopter in this bright, new online world, creating magnets for search engines, building e-newsletter lists with thousands of readers, how to choose what to blog about, how a bad Web site will hurt you and the three things that a law firm Web site must contain.

7.  Case histories of a professional firm's incredibly successful direct-mail campaign and the role of teleprofessionals in your firm.

8. Using competitive intelligence to look up a competing law firm and get the list of all their clients, or to look up a company and find what legal services they're buying and which law firms they're buying them from. Find out if other firms are eating out of your food bowl.

9. The No. 1 best selling technique, how to use it on clients and targets, and what to do with your marketing reimbursement account.

10. Don't market your organization; instead organize around the market.

11. What to look for when hiring a new attorney, so you don't wind up with another "library lawyer." The ability to develop business is now an essential element of a successful career. Learn the mistake that most law firms are making regarding

12. What you must be doing in your marketing efforts even if you have no money: including the very first thing you should start doing right now to get new business. Where to get active, go to every meeting and become visible. When to start writing a blog. The No. 1 way for professionals to establish their credentials.

Amazingly, I listened to the whole thing and it's not boring!

Hear it now at


New Blog: The Ethical Boundaries of Legal Marketing


  • How far can you go with that testimonial on your Web site? 
  • What's the limit on comparing yourself to lesser law firms? 
  • What is forbidden by the ethics rules but observed in common practice?   
  • For years the answers have always come from author, speaker and friend Will Hornsby.  (Click on the picture of the book to purchase it online). Now he's launched a blog called The Boundaries of Legal Marketing, at

    I've liked Will for years, especially when he gave a presentation with the tongue-in-cheek title, "How to Evade the Marketing Rules."  Will has always been the man with the facts on the LawMarketing Listserv, providing the final answer to a case where ethics tripped up a marketing effort.  But importantly, Will was always the authority -- not the advocate of using ethics to stifle marketing.  You can count on Will for a straight opinion on what the rules state.  I would be the guy heckling him affectionately from the audience, pointing out that many of these rules are not enforced.  Each state's disciplinary counsel is too busy with lawyers stealing from trust accounts to bother with the dainty niceties of marketing ethics rules.

    Nonetheless, Will is the law marketer's friend.  His vision is that his blog be an independent forum in an interactive electronic format. Like the ABA's former Lawyer Advertising News, the blog is supposed to be a quick and easy way for marketers to get information about ethics developments. He also welcomes comments.  I've added him to my blogroll.


    Marketing Rule: Call Things What They Are

    I travel a lot and encountered an annoying mystery in my hotel.  I was in a rush to get ready for a 9 AM meeting with a client.  As I was turning on the shower in the morning I had four choices to wash with:

    1. "Scrub" -- a semi-clear liquid.  Was this shampoo or body wash?  It didn't appear to say.
    2. "Wash" -- a clear liquid.  How was this different from Scrub?  Maybe it's body wash, a/k/a/soap.  Where the heck is the shampoo?  I decided to pick the actual bar of soap instead, because I knew what it was.
    3. "Tame" -- a yellow liquid.  Possibly conditioner?  I didn't need to risk it because I pack my own hair conditioner.
    4. "Soften" -- a white liquid that I guessed was lotion. Does this soften the hair or body?

    Being under pressure, in a rush and short of caffeine, I didn't want to decipher what these items were.  It left me completely irritated -- why should I have to guess what some marketer meant by using these quasi-clever terms?  I decided not to stay at this brand of hotel any more.

    Later, using reading glasses and a bright light, I discovered I had washed my hair with Scrub, which was identified as "bath gel" in tiny silver lettering printed on the shiny plastic bottle.  I'm glad I didn't open anything else.

    Later I told several women business women about the experience, and they said that their teenage daughters would find the labeling and terms really cool.  Of course, teenagers are not the typical midweek customers of downtown hotels in major metro ares.  The hotels should cater to middle-aged business people who use reading glasses and want wi-fi, good cell reception and room service.

    So the takeaway for marketers is: call your products and services what they are, in terms that the customer can understand. 


    Marketers: Forget the Grinders and Drones

    Neil_witmer A perennial question asked by marketers is what to do with professionals (lawyers, accountants, consultants) who are "library lawyers," a/k/a "grinders" or "drones" who don't do any business development.  Should marketers try to teach them business development skills?  Now I have the scientific answer:

    Forget them. 

    Instead, work with the professionals who want to market.

    I just had breakfast with Neil T. Witmer of Oak Brook, IL, who has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology.  According to Witmer, the grinders and drones lack the essential personality elements to develop new business.  You cannot change their personalities, and they may be unable to change themselves.

    The five elements required for effective business development are:

    • Drive. A person must be self-motivated and persist in the face of rejection.  If a professional lacks this, they will never be a rainmaker.
    • Persuasion. This is a hunting skill that involves the ability to ask questions about a potential client's business needs, and to successfully find a way to help them.  You must convince the other person that you are the right one to solve their problem.
    • Confidence. Another hunting skill -- you've either got it or you don't.
    • Organization.  The is the desire for structure and focus, which Witmer describes as a "farming" skill.
    • Relationship skills. Another "farming" skill, this is the ability to get to know other people, start and continue a conversation with them, and take a personal interest in them.

    So if a professional lacks drive and confidence, forget them.  Leave them in the library or their offices, where they belong.  No amount of coaching, training or individual business planning will ever work for them.  They will always be people waiting for an assignment from someone else who can generate new business.

    Interestingly, there are three elements to drive:

    1. Achievement. The person must have a desire to reach a goal.
    2. Competitiveness.  The person must enjoy winning or beating others.
    3. Optimism.  This is the "can do" attitude that enables people to overcome objections and rejection.

    If one of the three elements is missing, the professional does not have Drive, and they'll never be a rainmaker.  Witmer is in the business of testing executives and sales people to see if they are a good fit for their jobs.  Stay tuned, because I've assigned him and his partners to write an article about this topic for the LawMarketing Portal.  To make sure you are alerted when the article comes out, subscribe to the free Professional Marketing Newsletter.


    Become an Elder Law Expert

    Senior_resource_cd I've just discovered a new marketing system that lets attorneys to grow and market an elder law practice.  The the Baby Boomers (myself included) getting near retirement age, this is a great practice to start now.  Developed by a New York state attorney, it's called the Senior Resource Guide SystemThe angle is that it grows your practice by:

    • Positioning yourself as a community benefactor for seniors.
    • Delighting your clients and prospective clients.
    • Giving you a nice handout or giveaway for your office, your seminars, and your Web site.
    • Gaining a network of referral sources -- in the medical, legal, and financial fields -- who will send you a steady stream of new business.

    In her first 18 months of using it, creator Meg Rudansky, Esq., was able to trace more than $100,000 of new business directly to this system. It has since gone much beyond that.

    It's a complete marketing referral package, including:

    1. A 22-page sample Senior Resource Guide to use as a template in creating your own version. This empowering guidebook is packed with information for seniors to enable them to build an appropriate support network, including listings of key professionals, services and organizations. The guide also includes valuable commentary on managing the process of dealing with long-term illness.
    2. A CD with a complete Guide template using Adobe InDesign CS 3.0.1. If you have this program, just change the specific names and listings and it's ready to go. Otherwise, give your changes to a printer or graphic designer.
    3. A comprehensive "How-To" guide that teaches you to use your Guide and marketing system for maximum referrals and revenue growth.
    4. A free hour of consultation with Meg Rudansky, creator of the Senior Resource Guide.

    You can a your copy of the Senior Resource Guide System today and enjoy the steady stream of referrals that naturally flow from the system. Buyers have nothing to lose.  The system comes with a 100% 14-Day money-back guarantee if you are not entirely satisfied.

    Meg_rudansky Meg Rudansky, Esq. practices in elder law, long-term care planning, trusts and estates, gift and estate tax planning, estate administration and real estate. She created The Senior Resource Guide System to provide other attorneys with marketing resources for forming referral source relationships and to give them the tools to create a senior guide for their community. Meg is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), and a member of Wealth Counsel, a national organization of estate planning attorneys.

    You can buy a copy of the Senior Resource Guide System in the Professional Marketing Store and enjoy the steady stream of referrals that naturally flow from the system.