I understand that spamming remains a lucrative field because one in ten thousand or a hundred thousand or a million of the spam emails generates a bite. I have to think that marketing to lawyers exists on a similar principle, if perhaps on a slightly smaller scale.
Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice describes how he came to have a cold-call marketer invite him to use a turkey in a manner not condoned by the Butterball hotline:
So when a call came in from a company called Cyberlink Technologies, I had little expectation that it was going to be of great interest to me. Nonetheless, I answered the phone.
Caller: Attorney Greenfield?
Now I realize that in some parts of the country, lawyers like to be addressed as "Attorney" so and so. Not in New York. Not me. When someone asks for "Attorney Greenfield," no good can come of it.
Me: Who is this?
Caller: This is Timmy (I don't recall the name he gave me, so I made this up). Is this Attorney Greenfield?
Me; What is this in reference to?
Caller: Scott, is that you?
Scott? Now we're best friends? And no, I didn't forget that Timmy has yet to tell me why he's calling.
Me: What is this in reference to?
Ironically, Cyberlink Technologies is a website developer and SEO optimizer. Whatever made them target me, of all people, I can't explain. I am definitely not a likely candidate for their services.
Caller: I want to give Attorney Greenfield a referral list of lawyers who. . .
The rest of what the caller said doesn't matter. At this point, it's painfully clear that this telephone call is not something that I'm interested in pursuing, and so I interrupt and say, "I'm not interested. Good bye."
Which led to the inappropriate turkey stuffing:
After hanging up the telephone, another call came in within seconds, this time from an anonymous telephone number. Having already been disrupted from my work, I let it go to voicemail. When I later checked the message, this is what I heard . . . .: Hey Scott, hope you have a happy Thanksgiving. Take that turkey you're going to eat and shove it up your ass.
In my experience, people who market to lawyers have a high opinion of themselves, and believe that they are entitled to our respect and attention. They don't see themselves as cold-call telemarketers. They tend to be somewhat more sophisticated than the boiler-room drone calling you up to sell you magazine subscriptions or aluminum siding. And brother, do they know it. They see themselves not as a jackass with a cardboard suitcase and a cheap suit shoving their foot into the door before I can close it, but as a trusted colleague letting a friend know about an essential legal service crucial to victory for our clients. Yet, like everything else in marketing, 90% of what they are selling is overpriced crap.
Like Scott, I'm accustomed to these people calling me to sell placement services, referral services, marketing services, document management services, graphics services, jury consulting services, investigative services, and everything else lawyers use. They tend to do their homework first, and know my full name and position in the firm (technically, "Tyrant") before calling. Their approach is often polished, and they can get their verbal foot in the conversational door by sounding convincingly like a potential client or opposing counsel or clerk or something for long enough to start their pitch. And they always sound unjustly injured when I cut them off as politely as possible and say that I am not interested. Their tone is that of a child whose innocent prayer has been interrupted with a grammatical critique.
Recently they've started a new tactic that particularly irritates me: sorting through recently filed cases and dropping case names. After I file a complaint — or respond to one — in a case that sounds potentially profitable, I get calls from people saying "Yes, this is H. Hamilton Snodworth calling in connection with Ginormous Company vs. Merely Huge Company" — which gets me to listen, figuring it may be a new opposing counsel or a new witness or something. Then they launch into their explanation of how they have just the document management services I need to litigate that case. It's abysmally cheesy, and as I have told the last two such people to call me, I would never use the services of a company that marketed like that, even if I lost both arms in a tragic yachting accident and had to sort all eighty thousand discovery documents with my tongue and genitals. (People tend to be silent for a minute when you say "genitals" unexpectedly on the telephone.)
Cold-calling me will never get my business, especially with such tricks. It will ensure that I never use your business, even if I later learn about it from another source. What will get my business? Direct mail that identifies the sort of services you offer specifically and clearly (none of this "We help achieve excellence!") on the envelope. I keep files of such pitches to look through when I need those services.
(While you are at it, the blog Simple Justice is usually worth your time, and Scott Greenfield's recent throwdown against the crassness of legal marketing — that is, marketing by lawyers — is extremely entertaining.
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