You know the advertisements that I mean. Whilst plenty of cash has been splashed on some strong photography and ample media space – it is a shame that the best approach they could come up with was to disparage the competition.
It seems some firms are doing this to new market entrants.
Outside the legal profession, I suspect that few consumers realised that they may be able to buy legal services from a supermarket – well, a few more do now! When a construction manager orders a new piece of earth-moving equipment, I doubt they care much that JCB is a privately-owned business and Finning is a US corporation. They will seek the best equipment for the task at hand and the best value deal.
Does a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk really taste any different since the company was bought by Kraft? Does a solicitor who trained with one firm provide a lesser service when they take a new position to work for an alternative business structure?
There is no reason why a solicitor who works for a supermarket or any sort of organisation is any less likely to provide the same service than he or she did before when employed in private practice. In reality there may be many reasons why service could be improved, such as increased investment in technology, support structure, training and quality control. Fee-earners will be freed from the need to get involved with management and marketing. It is not often that I meet a partner who relishes their responsibility for marketing.
The best brands will not wish to jeopardise the value in their brand by providing a poor legal service. In fact they are likely to take positive steps to ensure standards are achieved or exceeded. It is hard to imagine John Lewis or Marks & Spencer dipping their toe into any activity where they could not be certain of absolute quality control. Back to the faceless onions… Nowadays, subject to social media policies, no one in business needs to be faceless. Anyone can be accessible and visible via LinkedIn.
Sometimes, for busy people, a face-to face meeting may not always be necessary. Sometimes it is surprising how quickly you can establish a rapport with someone just over the phone, judging professionalism and trustworthiness by whether they deliver on their promises. In fact many people are time-poor and if you can earn their confidence over the phone then they will save themselves the effort of making further enquiries. We do an increasing amount of business with overseas lawyers who rarely demand a meeting and whilst I avoid the wonders of a webcam, I usually like to load up the LinkedIn profile to see the face of the solicitor that I am speaking to.
Brands are built on the basis that customers can expect a consistent quality of product or service. When it comes to knowing their onions, I can’t help thinking the Co-operative is probably one step ahead on this – they are certainly one step up the food chain!
Sue Bramall is director of Berners Marketing and former head of business development at Pinsent Masons