Marketing versus selling

With reference to Graham Irwin's article ' Market your firm for the future' (The Lawyer, 2 December 1997), I would like as a marketing consultant specialising in the marketing of legal practices to make three comments:

1 'Many solicitors are still coming to terms with the idea of marketing their services…' Firms of all sizes have been forced to get to grips with the concept of marketing, mostly to maintain existing work levels. Solicitors are, however, still coming to terms with how to establish an effective marketing function.

2 '…confusion still reigns over the difference between marketing and selling'. This is often heightened by marketing professionals who call their organisations 'Joe Bloggs PR & Marketing' or 'Corporate Communications & Advertising' when in fact all these components come under one umbrella: marketing. Selling is a component of marketing and should be seen how it relates to promotional literature, people skills and profile-raising activities. It would also help if lawyers could forget the word selling which is perceived as something dirty and tacky and replace it with 'entertaining' or 'relationship marketing'. Then they might feel more comfortable with the concept of selling.

3 'Selling is the final stage in getting a piece of work…' Far from being the final stage of getting a piece of work, selling starts early on in the marketing process. 'Closing a sale' occurs in the final stages. The selling process often begins without the fee earner knowing it merely by introducing him/herself. The art lies in being able to offer a solution to a potential buyer's problem and convincing them it can be concluded to the benefit of both parties.

Sarah McLeavy

Professional Marketing.