How Senior Partners Can Help Associates Market

As I have mentioned in past articles, it is critical that you start marketing early in your career. I kick myself all the time about how I started marketing so late in the game and how much more I could have accomplished had I started at an earlier stage in my career. But of course I had no idea what to do — I needed training and was too dumb to even know that I needed training. Alas…. In any case, I have made it a mission of mine to teach others about what I have learned over the years.

For associates, you are working long hours and focusing on doing the best legal work, and so marketing may get pushed to the side, but I urge you to make it a focus at a very early part of your career and “define your job” as including marketing a component. And it is a lot easier than you might think.

There are many marketing resources that you can use and I have written about a lot of them. However, it is possible that some of the best resources are sitting just down the hall or even in the next office. Those resources are the senior partners you work with.

Many partners have gotten their clients and built their network through various marketing tactics and younger attorneys can learn a lot from them.

So here are a few simple and straightforward ways that associates can get marketing help from friendly Senior Partners:

1. Pick Their Brains — You should be asking the partners you work with as many marketing questions as you can. Let them know you are interested in learning how they got to where they are in their career. Maybe you could even take a partner out for coffee. I have learned that most people would like to be helpful and who doesn’t like to tell people about their accomplishments.

2. Ask Partners to Host a Marketing Seminar — At my firm, we regularly have partners speak to the associates about what marketing initiatives succeeded, but maybe even more importantly, what initiatives just plain failed. Indeed, it is very important to not only talk about successes, but to also mention that failure is common and indeed more likely than not for even the highest quality rainmakers. If this takes the format of a seminar — with multiple senior partners speaking — you can hear from a number of people with different personalities and ideas and see how they approach certain situations with prospects. Even just hearing marketing stories can give you ideas. And I promise — absolutely promise — you will be amazed at how just about all the senior partners have completely different and divergent views about what does and doesn’t work.

3. Tag Along — Ask partners if you can sit it on marketing calls or meetings — especially evening events. Indeed, there is no better learning tool than to see a master in action. Also, to convince a partner to bring “a young whippersnapper along,” you could make the point to the partner that clients often like to see, and get to know, the associate who will work on their matters.

4. Go Whole Hog — Ok, go right on into a senior partner who is a rainmaker and ask her if you could be her mentee. A lot of us senior partners are kind of, well, flattered, and it makes us feel good to take a young attorney on as someone to show the ropes to. I know I feel that way if someone asks me for help.

5. Make it Clear That Marketing is in Your Blood — If a senior partner knows that Toby (the associate) is hugely “into” marketing, the senior partner just wants to have Toby around for marketing things. Good things just start to happen without anyone making any particular plan. Toby just learns a lot and becomes a key player without doing or asking for any of the foregoing things.

Power Niche Marketing: The First (Marketing) Threebie: Get Out And About

When I teach marketing to my young associates, as well as my partners, and when I need to remind myself what is important, I go to these three things, which I call the “Threebies.” Why do I call them that?  Being honest, just so it gets remembered, I gave it a kind of silly-sounding name.

These three Threebies are utterly critical to do. You cannot remind yourself of this enough times. If you master these – and anyone can master these as you will see – you are going to succeed at business development. And if you don’t really master them and internalize them, you are going to fail.

The first Threebie is very simple:  Get Out and About!

One of the great truisms of marketing and sales is that for those people who get “out and about,” good things (and bad things) happen to them. For those who don’t get “out and about,” nothing (good or bad) ever happens to them. They are essentially those “cold and timid souls” that Teddy Roosevelt referred to in his famous Man in the Arena quote, who “know neither victory nor defeat.”

On this front, I can say safely, and with the certainty that comes from informal empirical verification over many years, that those who sit in their offices and answer the phone when it rings are dramatically less likely to be successful in marketing and sales than those who are always out and about – having breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and drinks, attending sporting or other events, learning and interacting with others in their industry.

This entire concept is an outgrowth of the statistics issue that I discussed in an earlier article. Those people who are out on the town – at a breakfast, at a lunch, at a seminar, at drinks with the girls or the boys, going out with people in the practice area, etc. – are the people who actually bring in this is loosely called “networking.” What is networking anyway?  Some people think it is some esoteric thing that requires an outgoing personality. But it isn’t. It is just two things:

  • An exchange of information; and
  • Two or more persons getting to know each to develop a comfort level so that they can work together or do business together

Said very simply, in networking you are just telling people what you do and having them tell you what they do, and seeing what pops out of that.

Whatever you may be thinking as you read this, I strongly urge you to get out of your chair, stop hiding behind your desk, and get “out and about.” You may feel like this is a waste of time, because at first you don’t know anyone and you have nowhere to go, but you have to admit that if you don’t get out and about, nothing is certain to happen; however, if you get out, then something “might” happen…..

You might be thinking that you don’t need me to tell you this as it is obvious, and you don’t need to read my article to tell you obvious things. Well, sorry for my French here, but that is utter bulls**t. I watch carefully what goes on, and almost all lawyers absolutely need me to tell them this because so many of them in fact just sit in their offices and don’t get out and about. Instead of being the like The Little Red Hen and hunting for leads, they sit back and largely wait for the opportunities to come to them.

And here is a weird, strange, and oddly inspiring statistic, at least in the legal and professional services world. If you want to be in the top 10% of professional service marketers, just do one single thing. This is because 9 out of 10 lawyers do absolutely no marketing at all!  So if you just do one thing, you are in the top 10%!!!!

That is kind of interesting, isn’t it?  I admit I read this in a book by David Maister called Managing the Professional Services Firm (affiliate link), and I am not sure these percentages are really true, but based on my own experience and observations, I think it is probably fairly accurate.

In any case, the first Threebie is to get out and about. Don’t sit around. Be like The Little Red Hen. She didn’t sit around. She went out and got it done.

My next two articles will – unsurprisingly – reveal the second and third Threebies….

Power Niche Marketing: The Great Marketing Revelation – It Is All Statistics

Here is one of the great revelations of marketing. This is something I figured out over time and I am not sure exactly how. Certainly no one told me this and I didn’t read it anywhere. Maybe it is because I was a math major and just think about things mathematically. It is this:

Marketing is a game of pure statistics.

Ask anyone – I mean anyone – how they got their clients or their customers – especially their first clients or customers — and it is (almost) always completely serendipitous. It was a result of a series of events that could not be predicted or planned for.

I was picking up my three-year-old daughter from a play group because my nanny who usually does was sick, so there I was. I met the mom of my daughter’s friend, who happens to be a high-powered… and we were talking. I mentioned…. and then she said……. and the next thing you know, there I was…..

It is all completely random. Indeed, if you make a marketing plan with ten target customers or clients, it almost always works out that your best shot fails and one you thought had no chance at all turns into a big win.

In the legal world, if you ask a big rainmaker for advice you will hear everything, and stated with incredible confidence too, as to how you get clients. You hear:

It is on the golf course – that’s where “real” business is done.

It is from across the table – clients see you take their lawyer to the cleaners and they want you on the next matter.

You just do great work and the clients will find you.

You meet people at the synagogue or church and then talk business later.

You get clients from referrals.

You just be a nice guy, since clients like to work with people they like.

You just be an asshole, since clients want someone tough working for them so they can feel protected.

The reason you will hear just about everything from all sorts of people is that this happened to work for this particular rainmaker, so she thinks it is critical, and the be-all and the end-all of marketing success, but it is (almost) always happenstance that tricks the person into thinking that is “the way” when it is just “a way” that happened to succeed in that circumstance.

You simply cannot predict what will happen.

Of course, I cannot “prove” my theory that it is all about statistics; however, I am pretty certain I am right. So please consider trusting me here.

Now all this talk about statistics may sound very depressing. “Bruce is advocating the randomness of life, which effectively means not only marketing, but life itself, is purely random and therefore pointless. Gee!”

However, once you accept my theory that marketing is essentially random and statistically based, and you get over being a bit shocked by that, some amazing revelations spring from it:

First – if you know you cannot predict outcomes, then the best chances of success will come from making as many marketing attempts as possible.

Second – you should spend as little time as possible on each attempt, since you are trying to maximize the number of attempts.

Third – within the framework of the first two points here, you should make the attempts as effective as possible.

That is what a statistician/mathematician would do with the foregoing information, right? Instead of trying to pretend the world is not what it really is, a mathematician would just do the foregoing, wouldn’t she? It is all just simple math – I don’t think of myself as a weirdo (although that is of course a subjective self-evaluation); however, I live my life by mathematics, since math doesn’t lie to you. It tells you the truth which, as I noted above, I highly value, and then I work from there.

Ultimately, the lesson I am giving you here is that, whatever you are doing with your marketing, be efficient with your time. Spending twenty hours writing an article will make you “feel good” like you are “marketing” and doing something useful, but just playing the mathematical odds, this is not a strategy that is as likely to succeed as would spending those twenty hours doing the other things I have suggested to you in prior columns and will suggest to you in future columns.

You should have no reason to be depressed about this revelation. Indeed, instead, you should be energized and excited by it. You just learned a key fact in how to play the marketing game:

Make as many attempts as possible.

Spend as little time as possible on each attempt.

Make your attempts as effective as possible.

Power Niche Marketing: 6 Things Not To Do

Here are some things that are almost certainly a waste of time. I think, to my embarrassment, I have done most or all of these things myself. Mostly they makes me cringe….. Since it is a lengthy list, I have split them into two parts. Part one is below.

  1. Trying to take someone to lunch without an agenda that makes it clear that the lunch is for the other person’s benefit.

In this situation, the other person will assume you are trying to just get business out of them, and they will cleverly and creatively avoid it for a loooooonnnnngggg time.

I wonder how many of you readers are – right now – chasing some poor prospective client down for lunch? And if so, how many times has it been cancelled? And at the last minute at that, I bet, which is kind of demeaning to you? And afterwards I bet you chased after the person to reschedule. And each time it gets rescheduled, is it weeks, or even months, till the reschedule date? And what is your plan for that lunch – to talk about the poor fellow’s kids and skiing and then (subtly) slip in something about getting his business, which is supposedly the point of it all?

Bottom line, you are thinking of what you want and not what your client wants.

  1. Making up a super-convincing PowerPoint to show people.

Unless it is really funny or funky or crazy or iconic or a dramatic visual presentation, it will just put people to sleep. They will do anything to get out of watching it or if you force them to watch it they will not pay attention, or even if they do politely force themselves to pay attention, they simply will not remember it.

Do you really think your analysis of your market share versus that of your competition is going to “make the sale”? I ask you, when was the last time someone sold something to you, and why did you buy it?

By the way, here is a super-sales story, and it happened only a few weeks ago. The doorbell rang and a traveling saleswoman showed up. Can you imagine how she made the sale to me, and I had no chance against her tactics?

Well, she was about seven years old, cute as a button, and was with her Mom. They lived down the street and she was selling Girl Scout cookies. She just said “….do you want to buy some girl scout cookies?” I hate most Girl Scout cookies, and the rest make me fat, so I bought only ten boxes.

Boy was this a devastating sales technique. I wonder what would have happened if she had brought a PowerPoint…

  1. Misusing the internet and the social networks.

Some people seem to think if they press the right button on the internet or on social media, the business will just roll in. This is not going to be the case if the use of these tools is in place of personal interactions.

At least I certainly haven’t found a way to do this in a professional service business, nor have I seen anyone else do this successfully. The internet can be used for generating leads and letting people know your brand. However, sitting in your office and playing on social networks just won’t get the job done.

By the way, a caution here about what I mean is in order. I don’t mean you can’t email people and build pre-existing relationships by putting forth positive statements about yourself and your Power Niche on the internet. Of course you can and should. What I mean is that you shouldn’t be using the internet instead of personal contact. There is nothing more powerful than meeting someone in person, shaking hands, and sharing a cup of coffee or a meal. That is a predicate to a “relationship.” A supposed relationship built over the internet is not much different from an email relationship with that fake Nigerian Prince.

  1. A party where you invite all your clients/customers so they can network, etc.

This can feed your ego, if the party has “all the cool people there,” but doesn’t get the job done nearly as well as sitting down with people and talking about “their” business and how you can help build it. It is also a lot of time and money that could be spent better elsewhere.

  1. Networking without a plan or a message.

Networking without a plan is a lot better than doing nothing, as I will point out in later columns, but not that much better. It is a variant of working “hard” but not working “smart.” If you couple the hard work you are willing to put into your networking with the smart ideas you will learn from my column, then you will convert this to a winning strategy.

  1. Conventional PR.

After flip-flopping on this a half-dozen times in the past ten years, I have concluded that, for most of us, and for most businesses, this is just about a complete waste of time. Typically PR sops up the personal time of the most senior, and most valuable, persons in your company, as that is who the media wants a quote from.

You might spend hours to get yourself quoted somewhere? So what? Are you really going to get hired as a lawyer because you got quoted in the newspaper? Hardly.

Sorry, but all of this is almost always a complete waste of time, not to mention a waste of the money you spend on a PR Firm.

You are better off taking the time and the money that you would have devoted to PR and using it on the other techniques I outline for you.

Having said this, PR can be good for a global law firm to maintain its global branded position as one of the top players in the legal world. But down in the trenches, for most of us with smaller-sized law firms, it isn’t likely to help your business succeed or help you become a great rainmaker.

. . . .

If you have been doing any or all of the foregoing things, don’t bum out too much. I think I did every one of them, other than the social media stuff. The past is irrelevant – all that matters is what will happen going forward.

By the way, if you have done some of the foregoing and it has actually worked for you, consider why that is the case. Is it pure luck, in which event it is great that you were lucky but you still shouldn’t waste more time on it? Or, do you maybe have a special angle on the foregoing that I personally haven’t seen but is nonetheless successful that could be exploited? I don’t like to admit it – but I don’t (yet) know everything…

Power Niche Marketing: The First Power Niche Marketing Lesson

Let me start this article with a short story, which I read in the New York Times about five years ago. It was about two warring pizza parlors. They were almost next door to each other in New York City and as far as I know they were both doing very well. I think they were each selling pizza slices for over $1.50 per slice. In New York at that time that apparently was a perfectly satisfactory price, which gave the seller a reasonable profit, and customers were quite willing to pay that price. All was well with the world.

Then one day, one of the pizza parlors lowered its price to $1!!!

The other one matched this lower price and then, in perhaps a fit of pique, lowered  his price to $.75.

The price war quickly resulted in the price almost dropping further to $.50, which is apparently break-even. This meant that neither pizza parlor was making anything at all. They were working for free. Their customers were getting all the upside of the pizza.

I don’t know how it ultimately ended, but one of the owners was defiantly quoted in the article as saying that if the other guy dropped his price further he would go even lower.

It was a sad and foolish story that resulted in a race to the bottom and, if it continued further, would logically have resulted in the bankruptcy of both pizza purveyors.

Well, when I teach marketing to my young lawyers, I tell them very simply: We don’t ever ever ever want to be like those pizza guys. That is the first lesson.

Ultimately, if you are selling the same thing as someone else, then you are in a very weak position. You have to rely on being likable or other clever strategies to market commodities, which really consist of trying to convince the customer your product really isn’t the same, or tying your “same” product to “non-same” services. Otherwise your customer has an easy ability to just say that the other guy is cheaper than you and you have no choice but to match the price, and away goes your profit. If you are reading carefully here, the (ironic) point is that if your product is the same as everyone else’s, the goal is to make it appear that it is not really the same.

So now we come to a very important insight about Power Niche marketing, so please read carefully here, as this is critical.

The concept of marketing in a niche is counterintuitive but very powerful. It means that instead of trying to be “all things to all people,” you instead pick a smaller subset of whatever industry you are in and learn every single thing possible about that smaller subset and dominate it. Basically instead of a small fish in a big pond, you become a small fish in a smaller pond, but since the smaller pond is so much smaller, you now look like a big fish!

Let’s go back to our poor pizza players and illustrate what I would have done in that situation. Let’s say that one of the guys had recognized that he was of Indian background (which was true based on the article). What if he decided to market Indian Pizza, which would be pizza that had interesting Indian toppings on it. Instinctively, this sounds like a losing strategy to many since you would be kind of giving up all the customers who like regular old pizza. So you might say instinctively that this is not a good idea.

However, the key fact that makes the Power Niche work so well is that you don’t need every customer to want you. You just need a tiny little bit of the market to want you in the worst way.

Please keep the foregoing thought not just for a minute but for the rest of your life. If you get nothing else out of my articles, this thought alone is of incredible value.

When someone tells you that they want to start a business and only one percent of a ten billion dollar market will make the product a success, your first question should be, how will she stand out in that market?  How will she be different?  If there is no answer to that question, then she will either completely fail or, if by some lucky break she succeeds, she will not make any profit from her success.

To continue here, a Power Niche for the pizza seller of Indian background could have been Dalal’s Indian Pizza Kitchen, “which creates mouth-watering Indian dishes fused with American pizza. After you have tried this incredible cuisine just once, you will never want plain old pizza again!”

This would have transformed this pizza seller from a pathetic player dropping his price lower and lower to beg any customer to come in, into someone with ownership of a very narrow niche that appealed to a much smaller subset of customers. How much could he have charged for a pizza slice in the center of New York City?  $3.00?  $4.00?  $5.00?  Or maybe $11.00 for the Tandoori Chicken Pizza Supreme?

Would this have worked?  Of course I don’t know that without trying — and part of marketing is trying new ideas and failing with some and succeeding with others; however, one thing is crystal clear, and that is that the Dalal’s Indian Pizza Kitchen idea has a greater chance of success than does selling plain old pizza next to someone else perceived to be doing the same thing.

Did you note that here I am proposing to innovate, as well as market?  And did you note that I am “creating” customers too – since I am suggesting a new cuisine that customers didn’t really know they wanted until they tried it?

This would be a perfect example of a Power Niche in action, since by being the “only” Indian Pizza purveyor he would have ultimate bargaining power over a very small subset of customers who would learn that this is the pizza they really want. So instead of being in a weak spot with no bargaining power, our pizza purveyor would now be sought after eagerly.
If you are smart, you will realize that this monopoly bargaining power position lasts only as long as no one else also decides to sell Indian Pizza. I will talk about this later, which is the fact that it is rare that a Power Niche will last forever.

The bottom line is that if you are just a salesperson selling a commodity and begging your customers, employees, bosses, and everyone around you, just to talk to you, buy your product, keep your job, etc., it is kind of a pathetic existence.

However, if you can truly build, develop and “own” a “Power Niche” you become someone who everyone wants to do business with inside your niche. In that niche, instead of you begging others to do business with you, they are genuinely interested in what you have to offer and hopefully begging you for your product or service and, of greatest importance, willing to pay top dollar for it.

Power Niche Marketing: Always Start With Peter Drucker

In this column I have staked my marketing reputation on the theme and theory that marketing is (almost) all about creating, owning and building Power Niches. Last week, I outlined what a Power Niche is – and that definition is found at the end of this article so everyone remembers it, without having to go back to my first article.

In order to move forward and establish the intellectual basis for Power Niches, I start with Peter Drucker. Indeed, he is always a great place to start in the business world. He is one of my intellectual heroes. He was not only incredibly smart; he was also someone who took the time to figure things out and put workable and usable theories together. Drucker, if you don’t know, actually invented the science of “management.” He died a few years ago. If you want to be a real thinker in the business world – or the marketing world – I urge you to read his work.

Anyway, Drucker says that there are two things which every business must do to be successful. If the business doesn’t do those things, the odds of success are not good, and the converse. Can you figure out what they are? Don’t worry, I couldn’t either, but as soon as Drucker told me it was so obvious I was kicking myself. The two things are as follows:

  • To innovate
  • To market

Of course! If you don’t “innovate,” you have nothing to sell, and if you don’t “market,” then no one will realize why they should want your product in the first place. But if you put them together, then you have something powerful.

Consider Apple. What would Jobs have done without Wozniak? What would he have had to sell? And what would what Wozniak have done without Jobs? He would have tinkered around until someone stole his ideas or maybe he would just have gotten a job somewhere. If you put the two together; however, you have Apple, which is arguably the most successful company in world history.

So, although I would like to “just” talk about marketing in this column, it is hard to extricate marketing from innovating. If your law firm just does widget-like legal work that is indistinguishable from the legal work of other law firms, you have a serious problem. I will talk about how to solve problems like this in later columns; however, the first step in a successful marketing plan, and in building a Power Niche, has to be some level of innovation.

Let’s look at another very powerful, and indeed in my view the most powerful, thing Drucker ever said, which is when he identified a key and basic question; namely, what is the purpose of a business?

Don’t worry if you can’t get this one either. I couldn’t get it, and I suspect it took Drucker many years himself to figure it out. I was thinking it was probably to serve your customers, to serve your employees, to make the world a better place, to just make money; however, none of that is right. The purpose of a business, according to Drucker, is:

“To create a customer”

Wow! Makes you tingle a bit, doesn’t it? It is the use of the word “create.” He doesn’t say your purpose is to “get” customers or to “sell” to them or to “market” to them. It is to “create” them.

This goes back to the basic idea that you have to do some innovating if you want to market and sell effectively. Synthesizing Drucker, the ultimate plan as I see it is as follows:

Innovate and market to create customers

Steve Jobs said this beautifully when he said “don’t ask the customer what it wants; instead, show the customer what it should want.”

Or in another way, “it is not the customer’s job to know what they should want.”

The point here – as both Drucker and Jobs are saying to us – is to

Innovate and market to create customers”

Please consider this for a few minutes and take a moment to think how it applies to your law practice. Are you just “practicing law,” or are you innovating and marketing to “create” customers?

I used to just be a plain old lawyer, and my career went absolutely nowhere. Now I spend every single day thinking about how to “create” customers – just like Steve Jobs said above – and my career is quite successful. And to be clear, I “really” do this. The purpose of these columns is to teach you exactly how I do it.

This is the first lesson. You have two weeks until my next column. Your homework is to read what I wrote (above). Reread it a couple of times. And think!!! How can you “innovate and market to ‘create’ customers”? You might just be flailing around now and maybe even have no clue what I am talking about. But if you read what the Power Niche is (below) and just turn on your brain, I assure you that your time will not be wasted.

Here is the definition of Power Niche again:

In brief, a Power Niche is a small-sized niche within a bigger industry that no one else yet dominates or owns. The niche isn’t obvious so you have to figure it out and “create” it. You step in and learn everything about it and everyone in it. You tell everyone about what you are doing – incessantly – and become the real “owner” of the niche merely by staking out your homestead in virgin territory. This then becomes a virtuous cycle as the more you know, the more you do, and the more you do, the more you know. Before long you are the world’s unquestioned expert in this (smaller) niche. All of this enhances your bargaining power within that niche. Instead of begging for business in the bigger industry, you now have eager clients paying you top dollar within this smaller Power Niche.

Power Niche Marketing: What Is A Power Niche?

Welcome to my new column, “Power Niche Marketing.”

This column has a very simple purpose: to teach marketing to lawyers and other professional service providers.

Astonishingly, all of us lawyers need clients in order to survive, yet when we go to law school and start our careers and our careers move forward, there is simply no one teaching us how to get these clients!

And we are desperate to learn. We see the big rainmakers, with their (figurative) cigars having all the fun and making all the money, while we toil away in the trenches wondering “why?”  It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t seem fair. But we have no idea what to do about it.

In our desperation, we may ask a successful rainmaker, “How do you do it?  What is the secret?”

The rainmaker is always 1000% confident in her answer, and you hear things like this:

  • You get your clients from across the table.
  • You get them on the golf course.
  • You go to seminars.
  • You work the room.
  • You network relentlessly.
  • You get them from your high school, if it is connected.
  • You get them through just doing great work, and people hear about it.
  • You get them at the synagogue/church, etc…

The list goes on and on and on, with the only theme being that there is no rhyme or reason to it. And yet the rainmaker who gives you this advice is super-confident in it for an empirically misleading reason: whatever she is telling you worked for her!

Some of us in our desperation go to marketing courses, or seminars, but, alas, just about all of them (and maybe all of them) are taught by people who didn’t actually go out and bring in clients. Perhaps they are non-lawyers or, worse yet, people who failed at being lawyers and then turned to teaching marketing, thereby validating the old saying that those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

There really is nowhere to turn. But meanwhile, our profession is becoming utterly relentless in the simple truth that:

No rain = bad career.

Your troubles are now over!  Just read my column for the next year, and you will be a great rainmaker. Simple!

Okay, it is not that simple; however, I will stick my neck out and say the following:

  1. I am not some guy who couldn’t succeed and so is now teaching. I am out there every single day marketing and trying to provide strong value propositions to prospective clients. I am in the trenches, and I know what clients respond to.
  1. I have gained my expertise by ruthlessly examining internally my own strengths and weaknesses and, with brutal honesty (to myself), I have analyzed what works in practice and what fails. At the same time, I have tried hard to understand what is really and truly important to my clients. After many fits and starts – and more outright failures than I like to think about – a lot has become clear to me. I will be sharing what I have learned in this column.
  1. Finally, of everything that I have learned in the marketing world, by far the most important lesson I have learned is the importance, and indeed the power, in the “Power Niche,” which is a term I have coined. Although there are numerous sub-parts to my marketing plan, at the heart of it is the Power Niche; accordingly, you will hear a lot about it throughout the articles.

Ultimately, virtually anyone can become a successful rainmaker by following a few simple teachings. This is really true. There are some tricks of the trade, but it is not a secret handshake – it is actually quite easy. Just keep an open mind, and I will be of great use to you.

I will get into the heart of the Power Niche in my next article, but so I don’t become one of those “annoying” serial writers who always puts the excitement in the “next” article to bring you back, I will let the cat out of the bag right now and tell you what I mean by a Power Niche:

In brief, a Power Niche is a small-sized niche within a bigger industry that no one else yet dominates or owns. The niche isn’t obvious, so you have to figure it out and “create” it. You step in and learn everything about it and everyone in it. You tell everyone about what you are doing – incessantly – and become the real “owner” of the niche merely by staking out your homestead in virgin territory. This then becomes a virtuous cycle as the more you know, the more you do, and the more you do, the more you know. Before long you are the world’s unquestioned expert in this (smaller) niche. All of this enhances your bargaining power within that niche. Instead of begging for business in the bigger industry, you now have eager clients paying you top dollar within this smaller Power Niche.

The goal of this new column is to teach you exactly how to build a Power Niche and become a rainmaker (or grow your book of business if you already are a rainmaker).

Reinventing The Law Business: Goodbye, My Readers

I have now been writing this column for Above the Law for over two years. Indeed, this is my sixty-ninth article. And this will be my last article under the Reinventing the Law Business name.

While I have enjoyed coming up with new ways to look at law firms and the legal industry (and will continue to do so for my own firm, Duval & Stachenfeld LLP), I also want to share my thoughts on another passion of mine – marketing. It is at the heart of what I do, day in and day out, and I would like to share my ideas with other lawyers. This is something I am quite good at, and I think I could be very useful in helping people at all phases of their careers to become excellent rainmakers and business builders. So I will be starting a new column – in two weeks – that  will be called:

Power Niche Marketing

So if you like what I write, you will still have me around. And if not, you will not be rid of me so easily.

To conclude this series of articles – and leave you with possibly the most important and all-encompassing thoughts about the law business – I submit to you the following:

The law business is unique in that there are really “two” customers to satisfy:

First – of course, there are the clients. If you don’t make them happy, then you have a serious problem.

Second – and not as obvious – there are the lawyers at your firm. If you don’t make them happy, you have a serious problem of a different sort.

The question might then be asked, which is more important of the two?  I believe most law firms believe the clients are more important, but I beg to differ. This is because a well-run law firm with high-quality lawyers (i.e., “Talent”) can always seek, and usually obtain, more clients. But when the high-quality lawyers – the Talent – leave, there is nothing left to sell – it is game over.

To paraphrase Peter Drucker, lawyers are so-called “knowledge workers.” They carry the means of production between their ears. If they aren’t happy, they can easily leave.

And this is the essence of the great mystery of the law business. On its face, it is SO simple; you just buy hours wholesale and resell them retail, at a marked-up price. What could be easier?

However the trouble is as a law firm you usually own nothing at all, since there are no non-competes and the lawyers are free to leave any time, and take the clients with them. So all you really own is the desire of the lawyers to stick around.

Which brings me to the conclusion I stated above: namely, that your number one mission should be keeping those lawyers – your Talent – on the team. If you can do that, your law firm will succeed, and if you cannot, your law firm will fail. As Dr. Seuss says, “Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed.”

Indeed, I believe in my heart that the reason my firm has succeeded so well, so far, is that we make our mission “ATR,” i.e., Attract, Train, and Retain Talent. When we focus on this mission, everything else falls into place so easily….

I hope this article – and my previous articles – have been helpful to my readers and to the legal profession as a whole.

I take this opportunity to thank Breaking Media and www.abovethelaw.com for the chance to address the legal community through their esteemed media outlet.

I will see you – my readers — in a couple of weeks in my Power Niche Marketing column.

My sincere best to everyone.