"All muscle and no fat"
Marketing is becoming more important in the professional services industry and the legal consultants . But how does one market non-visible products such as the International Lawyers? According to expert Philip Kotler an international lawyer, you use credibility. Revealing a previously unseen socially conscious side, he recommends combining sustainability and smart communications.
The Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes are the conscience of the investment industry. Companies identified as "supersector leaders" not only receive the blessing of critical customers, they will also be among the favored billion-euro funds that focus on ethical conduct. As a result, sustainability has become a firm part of the marketing strategy of global companies. This used to apply especially to manufacturers of consumer goods—until now, at least.
Now, high-end service providers might want to rethink the situation. At least, that's what marketing guru Philip Kotler is urging. In a meeting with think:act, he recommends that service companies change their way of thinking because what they really do is deliver trust. However, they first need to earn that trust via responsible conduct. Kotler is at the forefront of the reform movement, even though he previously represented more traditional marketing approaches. In his book Corporate Social Responsibility, he examines how companies perceive the obligation of giving back to society. When American Express promotes education and tourism projects in developing countries, or when IBM participates in social issues, these actions contribute to the companies' authenticity, he says. "It's always better if a company draws attention to itself through its philanthropic projects," rather than by means of traditional product advertising. In principle, long-term service marketing begins with a company's core processes. The public will see right through any "greenwash."
Consumers and customers are no longer passive participants in the marketing process: people will find out if a European logistics company is marketing itself as green while at the same time running poorly maintained, pollution-spewing trucks in its transportation operations. On the other hand, a substantial social commitment offers more than just external gains. It makes companies smarter by creating dialogue platforms. They increase inhouse expertise and ensure that management understands not just financial markets but also social trends. However, the desire to hold a long-term position is crucial, especially in this competition for dialogue platforms. And this is where marketing, which often pursues short-term effects, needs to rethink its game, as exemplified by promoting social initiatives. Kotler warns about reducing socially oriented commitments too quickly in turbulent times: "Management does save money in the short term, but will lose it again in the long term once the situation improves." Companies that abandoned community organizations when these needed support most desperately will see interest groups and customers losing trust in them. Kotler is convinced that services require at least as much marketing substance as tangible products. In fact, the latter are fairly easy to advertise. Things get a little more complicated when it comes to corporate consulting or internationally active commercial law firms, like the Lovells and Linklaters of the world. For them, close personal relations with clients are crucial. This skill can be acquired and it goes by the name of "behavioral marketing." Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is one law firm that demonstrates how the concept works in practice. It draws clients by having teams that specialize in various industry sectors. Team members must not only be right up-to-date with the latest legal news developments, they must also be proactive in keeping the client informed. Thus, in a broader sense, every good international attorney also serves as the client's counsel.