28 September 2010


It seems sometimes that the world is full of marketing gurus, mostly American. Certainly my inbox is full of their words of wisdom, and I have invested much time in reading them. Those daily emails are like a security blanket – so long as I keep on reading them, I tell myself, something good will happen. They often seem to be telling me what I already know, but don’t act on – nothing wrong with that, indeed it’s extremely useful. But there’s something just a little foreign, a bit too American, about most of them, so their teaching isn’t necessarily what an English lawyer needs. On top of that, many of them aren’t lawyers, or if they are (and I think by now most Americans probably are lawyers) they haven’t practised much, or at all, or for a long time.
No, if I were to be able to specify my ideal marketing guru, I would want someone who understood my profession – ideally, an English solicitor. One who had practised, and not too long ago, so knew at first hand how to bring in clients. One with proven rainmaking experience. And, because we English are still rather tribal, let me specify a north-easterner, to whom it would be easier to relate: and let’s also specify a shared interest or pastime – which, of course, in my case must be long-distance running. Finally, though these of course are entirely optional (though always desirable) characteristics, I’ll throw in female, blonde and good-looking. After all, not every business relationship is entirely conducted online.

Any marketing guru – or entrepreneur lawyer, or rainmaker, or whatever: you’ve got to expect creative titles with this sort of person – who offers an e-book with the arresting title The Naked Lawyer is likely to attract attention. Not a bad start: obviously someone with a good grasp of how to market. When the headings in volume 1 of that work include “wakey, wakey”, “status quo doesn’t rock any more” (never did for me, anyway), “eat my dictaphone” (by the way, that’s a trade mark that ought to be acknowledged) and “get naked”, few readers aren’t going to find their interest well and truly engaged.

Chrissie Lightfoot is the author of this work, and of lots of other things including the Law Society’s Gazette’s In Business blog. She is a solicitor (non-practising at the moment, with so much else going on), so she knows about the peculiar needs of the profession: but she has also set up her own businesses, and understands what it’s like to be the client too. She was born and raised in the northeast (though she’s now based way down south, in Leeds) and she runs. Coincidentally, she also ticks the optional boxes.
When I met her, she’d been waiting patiently despite not receiving the message that I was running late (even before I bumped into Julian Lloyd Webber on the tube, got sidetracked talking to him, then lost my way on leaving South Kensington station – I think I’d have been OK if I had followed Julian). In fact, “running late” is the wrong expression altogether, because I wasn’t running at all, but that’s another story. She’s the sort of person who’s always bubbling with ideas, and while the purpose of the meeting wasn’t a marketing tutorial her infectious enthusiasm coupled with my having read volume 1 was just as effective. The key message of Chrissie’s book is “reach out and relate”, or ROAR, and without needing further encouragement I’ve been reaching out and relating to my clients and contacts – or what I perceive as reaching out and relating: there’s scope for a lot of personal interpretation – ever since. I don’t know yet how well it works, but it makes me feel a whole lot more positive about what I’m doing.

I'm not going to let all my other gurus go, but I'm going to pay particular attention to what this one says from now on. I’ll hang on, passively, to my security blankets for the time being – but the naked lawyer has no need of them.

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