In my last blog post “Be a Bespoke Attorney: Why Targeted Is Best” I talked about how it is best to abandon the old school and expensive top-of-mind marketing and move into the more efficient world of fewer leads but higher conversion.

Chances are if you are old school, then you are not reading this blog anyway. I realize those who are set in their ways are going to continue doing top-of-mind marketing. In the long run, that model is not sustainable. In the long run, those firms will go the way of the dodo bird. Target marketing is lean and mean; it is wholly efficient.

As a business person who is involved in law, you have to know and understand microeconomics. The days of just hanging out a shingle or “blasting your name everywhere” are over. The simple Business to Consumer (B2C) model is no longer where it’s at. You need to start looking at Business to Business (B2B) or really Business to Agent (B2A).

The old school idea of an Alfred Marshall microeconomic legal market of simple supply and demand does not hold in today’s market. Primarily because there is imperfect information in the market, I am a believer in Joan Robinson and Edward H. Chamberlin. The presence of asymmetrical information between buyers and sellers seems to me to be descriptive of the legal arena a la “The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism” by George Akerlof. (A brilliant read that I highly recommend)

What you should always be striving to do is to get to the top-tier decision-makers in the least expensive way possible. By top tier, I mean those who have lots of disposable income and those who value quality. In a word: agents.

You cannot afford to cater to the lowest tier (i.e., those who are price conscious) as you will always lose. There is always going to be someone who will do it cheaper, and the race to the bottom is unsustainable.

The legal field is tiered in terms of buyers and sellers based upon one primary feature: price.

There may be many tiers, but the only relevant one for our discussion is the one in the price bracket of those that you want to attract: the highest tier.

For this tier, it seems to me that the industry is almost completely controlled by agents–especially agents who assist those in this income bracket. As a general observation, those who earn a sufficient yearly salary to be in the top tier generally don’t have time to do anything except to delegate decisions such as from whom to buy legal services. They engage professionals or agents to act as a filter and prevent them from wasting their most precious commodity: time.

Consider the recent Harte-Hanks survey. It reveals that the people involved in the decision-making process for products by those in the highest tier came down to only two people–even in a very critical field of a business (technology). Only two people were involved in both the information gathering stage and in the final purchase decision. This is remarkable because these are very big companies.

You need to reach that one or those two people in that top-tier person’s life in a targeted way.

By simply being B2C, you are more likely to reach the 14-year-old who mows the lawn of the top tier person. That’s a huge waste of marketing dollars and efficiency, as most people within this B2C top of mind method have no interest in your product or service and no influence on the purchasing decision.

Targeting that fails to get your ads to exactly the right people, based on solely his or her ability to influence the decision-making of that top tier, is a waste of money. Those who act as the filter to this tier of buyers is the key in the sale, as opposed to top-of-mind marketing that is wholly passive such as general listings on the internet or static media like billboard and directory ads. Top-of-mind marketing and passive marketing will be most effective in other tiers. While those who can afford such legal services do use the internet, it is different than what others may have told told you about. Top tier decision makers use the internet as a supplement by looking at the candidate lawyers or law firms that the agent preselects–as opposed to looking seriously for lawyers in the grand universe of possibilities, then going to the agent.

So the key is to get to this filtering agent. You can and should use direct marketing to agents in the area who are known to attract those who can and do buy such legal services in this top tier. Certainly, the number of these agents is limited, but they are readily and clearly identifiable in any geographic area.

As I was taught classical microeconomics, it is just a simple microeconomic traditional, directed, and targeted B2B campaign, just applied to the legal field. Competition theory. This is simply good old-fashioned targeted market analysis and segmentation as popularized by Dr. Kotler.

Under market segmentation theory to achieve competitive advantage, companies should:

  1. Identify segments of demand
  2. Target specific segments
  3. Develop specific marketing “mixes” for each targeted market segment

Direct and targeted marketing provides the best return on investment (ROI) across all industries.

So think to yourself, am I simply B2C? Why haven’t I segmented my marketing to capture the top tier? Who are the filters of information in the local top tier? Why haven’t I direct marketed to them B2B style?