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Professional Service Marketing: How to Stay Afloat

Guest post: Annabel Adams

As a young and fresh-on-the-scene marketer walking into the fast-paced, high-pressure (and high stakes) environment of a big-shot corporate law firm, I quickly felt a bit shell-shocked.

There was a perennial feeling of slight-panic amongst the staff – as if that level of on-the-edge, if-this-doesn’t-get-done-now-I’ll-crumble, sentiment, had to be maintained for efficiency’s sake (or the illusion thereof). Attorneys flew by me in hurried streams and I quickly coined their nicknames based on tie and suit colors.

This environment has got to be second only to the ocean in its aptness for the overused and cliché metaphor “sink or swim.” Since I’m not fond of sinking, I quickly learned a few invaluable lessons about professional service marketing. Here are my top three:

Be creative with your creativity.

National law firms are notoriously bureaucratic – they have to be. For marketers, this means that your creativity has to go through channels of superiors, committees, and state Bar rules before execution. So, I learned to be creative as to where I could exercise my creativity. Maybe my jokester press release headline playing on the word (legal) “briefs” wouldn’t gain approval, but I found that my informal (yet professional), succinct and bullet-proof-styled memos to the press yielded great results. Sometimes, constraints on our creativity make us more creative – a common sentiment amongst poets, including Wordsworth.

Be adaptable or be left behind.

When I first started working for the firm, social media in law firms was just starting to be implemented and, generally speaking, this firm was dragging its feet much more than its competitors. “But if we have a Facebook page, people might say something bad about us!” Oh no! Cue the horror-movie music! Part of my job was to be a mediator between traditional marketing and social marketing. Sometimes, your job as marketer is going to be center on translating what marketing is instead of actual marketing. Baby steps, people.

Understand that everyone thinks (s)he’s a marketing professional. And move on.

Let’s face it – ever since marketing went the “social” route, many people think of themselves as marketing pros just because they have a Twitter account. That’s fine and dandy, but it can make your job harder if you’re trying to implement cohesive marketing efforts. Empower people to see the inherent value that lies in marketing themselves and give them the tools and knowledge to do so. But don’t forget to make the stakes clear either. One stupid tweet can mean a break from your client, for instance. Strive to create some uniformity amongst cross-marketing efforts and guidelines for what is and is not appropriate for the brand, but understand that social marketing means you relinquish some control, and that’s okay.

Yes, Annabel Adams is gen-y, but she takes no part in generation-whine. Check out her blog for her no-nonsense approach to the work/life balance.


  1. […] Want to know about my other life as a marketer? Check out my guest post on professional service marketing on the WordView Editing blog here. […]

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