Bass Berry Markets Skillfully with momentum

Bassberry Bass, Berry & Sims has done it again: produced a second issue of a 30-page oversize magazine for clients called momentum that talks about client success stories.  The brilliance of the editorial focus is that when clients and targets receive it, they'll see articles about themselves, not the law firm talking about itself.

The firm, which has 200 attorneys in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee, spent the money to make it look like a newstand magazine: matte paper stock with shiny varnish on the pictures, a table of contents organized by 14 industries, lots of pictures with people (not buildings), a cover with pictures of the chairman and CEO of HCA Inc. hospitals, sidebars with drawings of their clients, and did I mention lots of pictures?

This firm knows what they're doing when it comes to marketing. The first issue of momentum won marketing awards from the Association of Legal Administrators and the Legal Marketing Association.  Managing Partner Keith B. Simmons gives away their marketing strategy on the opening page, saying "Our client relations department and the many other contributors to the magazine deserve a lot of credit for presenting a readable, attractive publication, but the real story of momentum's success lies in the very interesting stories our clients have to tell."

I immediately read the first article about Jack Daniels Whiskey.  The writing is so well done that the law firm name is not even mentioned.  But you know this is a key client of the firm for whom Bass Berry has done a lot of M&A work. In fact I had to read carefully to even find the firm name, for example in the article about HealthSpring managed health care going public -- where I found a passing reference to the long-standing ties between HealthSpring and Bass, Berry & Sims.  Very subtle! Very effective.

Here's why the magazine markets the firm so well:

  • They don't "market their organization" -- that is, talk about their internal, administrative practice group structure until page 29.  Instead they ahve "organized around the market," a smart marketing technique in which the law firm features all it's glamorous brand name clients.
  • It's fun.  Page 27 has a recipe for cornbread dressing from Cracker Barrel restaurants.  It makes you want to eat the picture of the meal.
  • The graphics are superb -- ranging from a photo of a country music band taken at night with a green light, to sidebars entitled "Not Quite 20 Questions" profiling clients concisely with a flattering hand-drawn portrait.  I'll bet every client requested to have the original artwork.
  • It's designed to actually be read -- with short articles, short paragraphs and short sentences.
  • The magazine displays an impressive list of national accolades on page 28, including being ranked by Corporate Board Member magazine as the #1 corporate firm in Nashville for 5 years in a row.

The marketing staff that created this luminous magazine are not identified anywhere in it. They decided to be the fine hand behind the initiative.  Kudos to Jennifer Phillips, the Director of Client Relations, and her talented team.

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Arthur Darby - November 14, 2006 12:22 PM

And kudos to Larry Bodine for bringing this idea to our attention.

Doug and Rosa Lee Phillips - November 14, 2006 12:35 PM

We are extreemly proud of our Daughter Jennifer. Not only is she a great business woman, but she has a fantastic relationship with us as her parents, showing much love and caring. Calling home to check on us every day. Thanks for the kudos to her and her staff.

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