♫ Saying, you got to play your cards and roll those dice,
You may never get a second chance in this life;
Don’t waste your time, ’cause time will tell,
Good things yeah they hardly ever roll around twice.
No second chances… No second chances….♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by Damian Follett.
This is the sixth post in the series on lawyers and marketing. We have previously looked at the product mix, the people who provide your services, how you promoted your services and the place where you render your services. In this next instalment of the examination of the 7 P’s of marketing we have not yet looked at the physical evidence that you use to wrap around your (largely intangible) legal services. This physical evidence is the material part of the services that you render.
What do we mean by the physical or material evidence of your services? Your clients will be looking at every physical and visual element of how your approach the market. They will be looking at your office and how it is laid out, how businesslike and professional it is and asking themselves…does it exude the right sense of trust and confidence? The physical environment in which you operate will send out many visual and physical clues as to your practice.
They will be looking at your waiting room and consciously or not be wondering if you match their expected price point by the way you have decorated your office combined with your choice of colors, furniture, artwork, magazines and the like. Is there a kid’s play centre or place for an office dog or even an aquarium? How is the space laid out? While functional is always good, people are also looking at how it is organized and what thought has been given to clients who may have to wait. Is there Wi-Fi? Air-conditioning? How are your employees ..and yourself…dressed? Are the chairs and tables comfortable, clean and professional?
What is the ambience of your office and in particular your reception area? Is it quiet and respectful? Or do you overhear conversations going on in the office? Is their quiet music playing in the background that provides a soothing atmosphere? You need to ensure that you have matched your ambience with the messages that you want projected about you and your legal services. Where is your office located and what does that say about your services? Is the signage directing people to your office clear and fresh?
Do you have a logo and corporate color scheme? Is it reflected on your office stationery, business cards, website and in all other forms of marketing that you employ? This corporate branding is increasingly important today in projecting your image to your clients and others.
Speaking of your website, have you had it professionally designed and have you kept it current with regard to recent events, articles and such? Does it render well on mobile devices such as smartphones? Do you have a blog? Have you updated it with new articles on a continual basis?
When a client comes in to sign documents, do you provide a folder with your logo and contact information printed on it for the documents, along with a business card, a pen with your logo embossed on it and perhaps a brochure on the firm that speaks to the full range of services that you render?
When you send out (by snail mail) copies of documents, articles of interest to clients and the like do you have printed notes with your name and logo on it to which you can write a few words to personalize the delivery of the documents or articles?
Does your signature block in your email contain your logo and links to your website and other information (such as a privacy disclaimer)?
If you sponsor events, is your logo, business name and color scheme reflected in the sponsorship materials?
Think about some other businesses with whom you have recently visited and reflect on these elements. While your services may be intangible, the physical evidence that you wrap around those services can be a strong element in how you market your services. After all you want to get it right since you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!
-David J. Bilinsky, Vancouver.