“Good” Friends Can Make Good Clients

One day, years ago, I had lunch with two friendly faces. We met at a nice little place in downtown Buffalo. One gentlemen was a business partner of mine at the time (Let’s call him Bob) and the other was a fellow soccer coach, who also happened to be an attorney (Let’s call him Don).  While we caught up on the details of our lives, people kept dropping by our table to say “hello” to my friends. Most of the interactions were very formal and very brief, but it happened often enough that it struck me as odd and definitely left an impression.

When our meal came to an end, Bob and I walked out together and he marveled at how funny it was that I was on a first name basis with one of the most powerful and influential people in the area. I didn’t even know who he was talking about, which made it even more comical for him. It was then Bob explained to me who Don really was. I had no idea that my good friend Don was in fact, “Mr. Smith, high-powered attorney extraordinaire” to most of the free world!

Interestingly, this has happened to me again and again, over the years. The office is on high alert because “Mr. So-and-So” is coming in from large company X.  Mr. S shows up and guess what? He’s actually Jimmy or Sandy or Kev. I usually get greeted with a “Tommy” or “Tommy Boy!” and then there’s five to ten minutes of soccer talk before we even broach the business of why they’ve come to Algonquin.

You see, I’m heavily involved in the soccer community here in Western New York and that involvement has led to some great friendships with some well-connected people.

My point here is not to convince anyone that I’m a big shot or special in any way. Name droppers annoy me to be honest, hence the fictional names above. But, to me, stories like this are great testaments to the fact that it’s so important to think beyond the office… To get out into our communities and become involved. There are thousands of organizations out there in need of quality leaders and volunteers. Finding one that speaks to you can offer the amazing opportunity to both make a difference and make some new friends. And, to be brutally honest, sales guys can always use more friends.

I realize this might come across as calculated, but that’s not my intention at all. I’m not suggesting you join boards or organizations in order to schmooze potential clients. What I am suggesting is that if you put yourself out there, in a way that you’re genuinely motivated to do, you’ll meet like-minded people and like-minded people often make the best clients.

The cornerstone of the corporate culture here at Algonquin Studios is the idea of “Family, Faith, and Work,” recognizing that “Faith” doesn’t have to be Sunday worship. Maybe your faith is about building houses with Habitat for Humanity or teaching kids the value of team sports and exercise with Buffalo Soccer Club. Whatever it is, think about giving it some of your time and best efforts.

I hear it all the time. “I don’t have time to volunteer for an organization outside of my day job.” But the funny thing is, if you make the time, you just might find that you really enjoy it and who knows… Mr. Smith, who sits on the board, might just become your “good friend Don.”

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Building A Brand: Some Thoughts From LMA12

At last week’s Legal Marketing Association annual conference, I was lucky enough to get away from our exhibitor booth to attend a breakout session entitled The Evolution of the Law Firm Brand: How to Promote Individual Attorneys within the Parameters of the Firm’s Brand.*

Obviously, I don’t work at a law firm (though I did spend some time in my mid-20s at an old-school firm where the senior partners still smoked cigarettes in their offices and called members of their all-female support staff “baby.” Yes, I’m serious). But, I am responsible for helping to craft the Algonquin Studios brand and for translating it into “outbound communications that strengthen the firm’s marketing message” (stolen directly from my job description), so I figured I’d be able to find some interesting overlap in the marketing messages from this session, as they apply to a law firm or a professional services firm – and I was right!

Some great insights from the session:

For Law Firms

  • There are too many law firms, with too many lawyers, in the mix these days. Legal marketers need to focus on differentiating their firms and attorneys from the competition.

How We Can Apply it at Algonquin Studios

  • Similarly, there are many web and technology companies to choose from these days and our work is frequently commoditized. Clients are often looking for the best price rather than the most helpful service or reliable vendor. It’s important that we strive to constantly distinguish ourselves from the competition and show prospective clients how we’ll bring real expertise and value to our relationships.

For Law Firms

  • Focusing on individual attorneys’ personal brands, rather than pushing the firm’s brand, becomes incredibly important when you consider that 56-75% of legal site traffic happens on attorney bio pages.

How We Can Apply it at Algonquin Studios

  • A quick look at our analytics information shows that, while they don’t pull in the same super high percentage of traffic as bio pages on law firm sites apparently do, our principals’ bio pages and the AS “about” page both consistently rank in the top five for page views on our corporate site. Creating quality content for these pages – content that demonstrates our knowledge but, more importantly, helps site visitors feel connected to us – is not only smart, it’s vital to the success of our company.

For Law Firms

  • In order to make bio pages successful and accomplish the differentiation needed, the attorney and their personal story need to come through in the biographical content.

How We Can Apply it at Algonquin Studios

  • We need to humanize our professionals; allowing prospects to feel like they really know us, understanding what we can do for them and what a relationship with us will be like before they ever call our office or come in for a meeting. Site visitors should be able to tell what we do and, perhaps even more importantly, what we love about what we do.

For Law Firms

  • Legal marketers need to remember that it’s their job to facilitate, assist, and coordinate the creation of thought leadership content at their firms. And, they need to resist the urge to author content on the behalf of their attorneys.

How We Can Apply it at Algonquin Studios

  • In an ideal world, there would be a ton of people here at Algonquin able to pitch in on our content creation efforts. But we’re all incredibly busy and finding time to compose a blog post or co-author a report is tough. This is where our own marketing team comes in – encouraging folks to contribute, managing our editorial calendar, reminding authors of upcoming posts, offering to do preliminary research, and more. Sure, it might be easier (and possibly less time-consuming) to author it all ourselves and slap someone else’s name on it but the content we create needs to have a personality. And that personality needs to be genuine, which can be hard to pull off if you’re pretending to be someone else!

My takeaway from this session was that, while we’re on the right path, we’ve got some real work to do on the Algonquin Studios corporate site and in the creation of our thought leadership materials. I’m pretty excited about working on our brand and our corporate personality… and helping the talented individuals who make up the great team here at Algonquin work on theirs, too!

*Moderator: Adrian Dayton, CEO; Adrian Dayton & Associates
Presenters: Aden Dauchess, Dir. of Digital Media; Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP
Robert Algeri, Partner, Great Jakes Marketing
Peter J. Winzig, Dir. of Mktg. & Corp. Development; Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., LPA
Joe Calve, Chief Marketing Officer; Morrison & Foerster LLP