Posted by Senior Account Executive Julia K. Wakefield
As you’ve read in our previous posts, the public relations game has changed. Correspondingly, so has marketing. In an increasingly competitive marketplace and an age in which Internet presence is king, it’s no longer enough to market with brochures and business cards.
Especially in the realm of professional services, where success may depend upon claiming and dominating a niche area of expertise or clientele, many professionals are turning to tools like blogs or publishing their own content in the form of booklets, books, and like our client Ira Leesfield, magazines. In today’s South Florida Business Journal, marketing columnist Jeff Zbar discusses ways lawyers are marketing to expand their brand, increase visibility, and build credibility.
Lawyers create magazines, books to build credibility, gain clients
South Florida Business Journal – by Jeff Zbar
Jason Chalik carries a stack of business cards wherever he goes. He has a Web site and a blog, and he speaks at local events – all to build his brand and credibility as a personal injury attorney.
Chalik’s next step in personal branding will be to publish a consumer-focused booklet on what people should do in the event of a vehicular accident.
“The more information you can provide people, the better,” said Chalik, partner at Chalik and Chalik, P.A. in Plantation. “Instead of giving out a business card, telling people about my Web site or running an ad in the Yellow Pages, a book gives more comprehensive information. They will read and digest it, and appreciate the person who has provided it.”
The age of the business card-as-marketing tool is passing, said Paula Black, president of Paula Black & Associates in Miami’s Coconut Grove. Now, law firms and other professional service providers are turning to more substantial media to tell their tale and transform readers into clients. Books and magazines can create a more lasting impression – assuming they have “high production value” and target a specific audience, she said.
For example, some law firms target both consumers and other firms for work. One book, booklet or magazine cannot be expected to reach both audiences effectively, Black said.
“If I’m a partner at a law firm and I read ‘your company’ in the magazine, I’m going to think, ‘This wasn’t written to my law firm,’” said Black, who produces a recurring magazine for the corporate and securities practice group at Greenberg Traurig. “If you try to speak to several audiences, you speak to no one.”
Timothy S. Kingcade’s audience for his forthcoming book on personal bankruptcy are the South Floridians confused by the concept. The book will help build his brand and expertise – beyond his TV commercials, print ads and public relations. He doesn’t anticipate making much through book sales.
“My goal is not to sell the book or become an author. It’s more to make me an authority on the topic,” said Kingcade, principal with Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. in Miami. “There are so many neophyte attorneys who don’t speak bankruptcy. I want to be a better bankruptcy attorney and help people understand the process.”
Books are only one printed marketing venue. Miami attorney Ira Leesfield created the magazine Petition to reach out to Florida and New York law firms looking for specialized or Florida-based counsel. Working with public relations firm Schwartz Media Strategies and graphic design firm efSmart Creative, Leesfield creates and mails Petition to 106,000 attorneys in 10 states, the U.K. and other markets, he said. He also provides it as a free PDF download from the firm’s Web site.
“I don’t do TV, and I don’t mass market to consumers,” said Leesfield, a founding partner with Leesfield & Partners in Miami. “There’s no other way I can do this. My market has always been lawyers.”
The cost of a book or magazine, including copywriting and graphic design, printing and mailing, can vary widely, Black said. It can cost from a few thousand dollars for a short-run, black-and-white booklet to the $200,000 Leesfield said he spends for each issue of Petition.
“The cases we’ve gotten have more than paid for the publication,” he admitted.
Though he won’t spend nearly that much, Chalik easily justifies his expected cost. In the legal arena, everyone has business cards, he said. Those with a magazine or booklet stand out, as long as they don’t bombard readers with some heavy-handed sales pitch. Subtlety is important, he said. “It’s about the first impression,” he said. “You do more up front in hopes of getting a better return.