Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Law Firm Marketing: The Nutmeg Lawyer Reviews VistaPrint

What the Hell is a Nutmeg Lawyer?  
Tips for Solo Practitioners
Forgive me for saying so, but if you work for a Big Law firm or government agency, there are some things you probably don't have to worry about.  The firm may provide you with supplies, business cards, or even clients.  You don't need to worry about creating a presentable letterhead, a logo or even a website.   It is usually done for you.  For the most part, marketing the firm is not your biggest concern. You may even scoff at the notion that an attorney needs to market himself.  The "M" word is beneath you. For small firm and solo practitioners, marketing can be the life blood of a law practice. So if marketing is a bad word, consider me Richard Pryor.

These days you can't turn on the tv or pass by a bus without seeing some lawyer's face plastered on it.  If you don't have the money or the stomach to do that sort of advertising, you need to get creative with your marketing efforts. I never wanted to be a lawyer who advertised on a bus or put on a leather jacket to ride a motorcycle for a commercial. For over 70 years, our firm has relied on word of mouth advertising.  We do seminars and write legal columns.  We join bar and civic associations. We have been lucky to have generations of clients who have been with our firm since the 1940s.  To make sure we continue to attract new clients and keep our old client base, we try to insure that each interaction with our office is a great one.  

It drives my staff crazy.  When I come into the office each morning, I do a walk through.  I try to imagine what the client sees when he comes into our office.  Is there a messy workplace?  Are the magazines outdated?  How are visitors greeted by my staff?   I wanted to make sure that the firm projected a professional image. A first impression can go a long way.

I have taken this obsessive/compulsive behavior to every aspect of our marketing efforts. If you've ever seen the film American Psycho, you might remember the scene where a group of Wall Street investment bankers exchange and review their business cards.  In the three years I have been a partner in my firm, I have changed the appearance of our business card at least eight times.  The first time was when I learned some clients were having a hard time reading the phone number.  Another was when a client made a comment that the new card looked like one a bouncer should have at a strip club.  Even in an era of twittter, text and facebook, the business card remains an integral tool for lawyers.  Of course, changing your business card every three weeks can get pricey with a private printing company.  Some firm's simply don't have the budget for it.

In an effort to reduce our printing budget, I starting looking at several online services.  I settled on a company called VistaPrint because it allowed me to upload our logo and make my own changes.  I could play around with the design a hundred times before I submitted my order.  If you are not familiar with this company, it is an excellent resource for marketing materials.   You might be familiar with their ads touting free business cards.  With this company, you can basically order a variety of customized printed material at a price level usually associated with high volume orders.  It's another reason  I like the company. I don't have to order a large volume of items.  If you have a limited printing budget, it can be a godsend.  You can order what you need.  Through their website, you can create also create a logo, letterhead,  process credit cards, create banners, websites, rubber stamps as well as customized promotional materials.  

With the ability to make customized items, it gives me the ability get more creative with our efforts to create a professional image of our firm.  For example, in the past, I would scrawl my client's next court date on the back of my business card.  It was sloppy.  I decided to create some next court date / appointment cards where I can fill in date, time, and courthouse.   Its much more professional.  I also created some customized thank you cards made with our firm's logo.  You would be surprised at the effect a thank you card can have on a client.  Through things as simple as letterhead and business cards, you can give your firm the "aurora" of a larger practice.  Creating a professional image of your firm can help you compete with much larger firms.  How many times have you sized up another attorney based on his letterhead?   OK, maybe its just me, but nice letterhead can help your practice when that practice is really just a card table in your mother's basement. 

These are just minor suggestions to help improve your practice. Things like a nicer letterhead, appointment cards, a professional business card, and an easy to use website are just the ingredients to making your law firm into a great sandwich.  (Why do I write these posts at lunchtime?)  Of course, the quality of your work is what really matters. Taken as a whole package, the little extras can provide your client with an experience that will encourage them to stay loyal and to refer others to your firm.

Is there a company you would recommend to a solo practitioner?  Let us know about it.  


Corinne A. Tampas said...

I used a local printer when I first started out a number of years ago in a smaller California town. My reasoning was that I wanted to keep business in my community. It was a disaster. Not only was the cost at least ten times the cost of an online printer, but the quality of workmanship was poor. (The local printer omitted the ".com" in my email address.) I ended up paying, at a "discount", to have the work redone. The turnaround time was several weeks.

Since then, I have used Vista print. When I relocated, I had a batch of business cards that I was not quite happy, Vista redid them, at no charge, and the turn around was less than a week.

I do not know what the moral of this story is, but I constantly hear from local businesses that they are being squeezed out by "cut rate" or big box stores. Perhaps there is a lesson here for attorneys: quality is important, price is a consideration, but good service is what makes a customer remembers a company.

Tomasz Stasiuk said...

I use Vistaprint for online designs, but another company when working with a designer -- when I only have to upload a .ai file.

Vistaprint's prices are fine, but the upsell at checkout makes using the site a pain.

Love the graphic you chose for this post! I remember that scene well.

attorneydavid said...

I just ordered some business cards from vista in a direct mailing. Then in the 10 pages or so on addons I noticed matching letterhead. I thought it'd be cool to match letterhead and attach a card to it since I was ordering for direct mailing which I've spent hours shopping around the internet. It's hard to discount time cost, but if you don't shop around it's like they'll discount everything.
I'm planing to hand address the envelopes with a work at home but so many details. ack .

Anonymous said...

I'm a paralegal. I can't think of a single lawyer who doesn't know the difference between a possessive and plural, as in "are the magazine's outdated"? I don't think this is from a lawyer. I see another comment, "If your a practicing lawyer..."

Horrors, I say!!

Adrian M. Baron said...


"I can't think of a single lawyer who doesn't know the difference between a possessive and plural, as in "are the magazine's outdated"?"

I can only assume that you don't know too many lawyers. Of course, you referred to single lawyers. I am married. Most married men do not know the difference between the possessive and the plural. My wife owns everything.

Thank you for pointing out my typhos and gramatacal mistooks. I kan ashure you that I am indeed a lawYer and it wont happan agan.

Kidding aside, writing a daily blog while running a law practice is not always an easy task. I blame twitter and my public education for the typographical errors.

The staff of the Nutmeg Lawyer is just me. As such, an occasional typo or five may slip through the cracks. I do appreciate when people catch my mistakes. I will update the post accordingly. :)

bizandlegis said...

Super blog and nice writings

Thanks for all posts

Thanks in advance for coming posts...

Keep writing...............


Biz and Legis
Online Legal Service providers with Virtual Legal Service and Legal Process Outsourcing

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