Goulston & Storrs Adopts Chinese Names in Asian Market Push

Goulstongatewaylogo A cardinal rule of marketing is to speak the language of the customer.  Goulston & Storrs, a 185-lawyer firm in Boston, has taken this a step further and adopted Chinese names for themselves as part of their marketing push into China.

For example, Partner Timothy B. Bancroft is known as "Transcontinental Sailor," in Mandarin, which he has printed in Chinese symbols on his business cards.  The firm is also giving away tins of green tea and chopsticks labeled with the firm name.

The unique selling proposition is that Goulston will help mid-sized corporations navigate the Chinese hazards of regulation, corruption, lack of IP protection, and repressive press and Internet rules.  Up to now, only Fortune 500 companies that could afford the steep rates of mega firms could get this kind of entree.

Clients want to outsource work to China, sells goods and services there, attract Chinese investors (N.B.: China is the largest creditor of the US, holding most of our national debt) and seek Chinese companies to invest in.

The law firm is training its lawyers in the numerous and eccentric Chinese practices with business cards, toasts, seating arrangements and eating all the food on your plate.  (But hey -- there's 1.3 billion Chinese and only 300 million people in the US, so who's to say what's eccentric?)

"There is a large group of medium-sized companies in the US who have business in China who are not well-served by large law firms," lawyer Michael J. Meagher told the Boston Globe in its Business Section. "So there's plenty of business out there" for smaller firms. "But it's a big commitment in terms of culture, the language and the law, and it's a big learning curve."

L_lian_webGoulston plans to open office in Shanghai or Beijing, and here's why it's brilliant marketing:

  • The firm has found a need in the market and is filling it (as opposed to taking something it has to sell and pushing it onto the market).
  • It addresses a specific, underserved sector of the legal marketplace.
  • Goulston is going all-out with its Asian branding, as opposed to taking halfway measures like getting a few tchotchkes and brochures made up.
  • They have an Asian associate Lucia Lian (and probably will bring in Asian partners soon).
  • Their Web site lists successful transactions with Chinese companies Sohu.com and eLong.
  • They have a dedicated China team, including Daniel R. Avery, Timothy B. Bancroft, Matthew E. Epstein, Julie A. Frolic, Brian D. Goldstein, Lucia Lian and Patrick J. Mitchell.

Kudos to Manager of Marketing & Communications Theresa Bomba whose efforts led to extensive news coverage of the marketing initiative. Here's wishing Goulston ?? (good luck).

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