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What Attorneys Should Learn About Marketing From The Apple iPad

June 29, 2010
Apple iPad Marketing

Photo courtesy Apple Computer

What does the Apple iPad have to do with legal marketing? A lot.

Apple introduced the iPad in the spring of this year (2010). It came with modest applause from Mac fans; boo’s and jeers from the PC world. It wasn’t a full computer. It was, in essence, a giant iTouch. Most just simply said, “Why?”

That why was not a real question, but a rhetorical one. Those who didn’t “get it” simply assumed it would go away. An Apple failure.

But that didn’t happen.

First week sales were a few hundred thousand. It took a bit longer to hit one million in sales. PC fans assumed sales would fall off after the first blush.

But that didn’t happen, either.

In its first 80 days, the iPad sold 3 million units. Not too shabby. Pretty sure more PC manufacturers would jump at that. As would most phone manufacturers. Or any manufacturers of anything, for that matter.

Oh, and during this time, Apple also launced the new iPhone 4. As of this writing, 1.7 million in sales…in just 5 days. Not bad.

What about the attorney’s and their marketing lesson?

I consult with a lot of attorneys, accountants, financial professionals, and other professional service providers. The competition for lawyers is intense, and they’re diving into marketing like kids jumping in a pool on a hot summer’s day.

As much as attorneys have learned to “build a case” in law, they, as a group, don’t do the same in marketing. I find that all too often they look a quick fix, a silver bullet, or a miracle advertisement. “Just tell me which ad is the best, because I only want to run the one that brings in business.” (Real quote.) That’s like us saying, “Just use the defense that gets me off the hook, because I only want the one that guarantees the jury aquits me.”

Here’s three things I’ve learned to say when speaking on marketing to groups of lawyers.

1) Brands are built step by step over time. How you answer your phone, if you answer your phone, or what your voice mail sounds like—they’re all a part of your brand. Every experience your clients receive in working with you builds (or tears down) your brand. And it never ends. Your brand as an attorney is never done.

2) Don’t worry if everybody doesn’t “get it” right away. Marketing attorneys and law firms is about marketing expectations. When people don’t have the need for your services, they won’t hear much. Keep the message simple. Focus on being different, and being memorable. But when a potential client needs your services, they’re like patients in the emergency room: they want to know that there’s someone around to make things better. That’s what your brand needs to tell them, that you can help make things better.

3) First, be good at what you do. Then get people to understand what you do. Apple, in my opinion, didn’t do a great job of explaining what the iPad was for in the pre-launch marketing. Was it a tablet? A computer? A big “apps” screen? Apple’s first concern was doing their job of making a good piece of equipment that worked well. And they did that. Next came explaining it. How did Apple do that? They simply launched it. I bet their research showed that once in people’s hands, they’d love iPads. Every person I know with one was in love within five minutes of booting it up. Apple didn’t need to “sell”, they needed consumers to “experience” the iPad.

Three million units later, I’d say its working.

It’s been said that iPads are lousy for productivity. Why? Because as soon as you bring one to a meeting, everyone wants to play with it.

I know one attorney, a big PC guy, who was into music. He determined that an iPod was the best MP3 player and got one. A while later, he decided to get an iPhone, because his Blackberry just didn’t do all he wanted. Once he got that, he decided he wanted an Apple laptop for work. And yes, when the iPad came out, he got one of those, too. PC user, to Apple evangelist in 3 months flat!

I asked him which he used in court. His answer? “All three. I line them up. My laptop has all my files and notes. and my iPad has my case and presentation on it.”

“What about your phone?” I asked.

“That’s for calling home when court is in recess!”

– END –

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