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Law firms are giving it all away

News

Cite as: December 2011 85(12) LIJ, p. 28

Legal freebies have moved beyond pens and notepads and now include kitchen aprons, lip balm, eye masks and beanies.

Legal marketing teams are using jellybeans to create sweet memories and beanies to keep a name top of mind as branded freebies move beyond office umbrellas to include everything from aprons and stubby holders to lip balm and eye masks.

RMIT Law Students’ Society president David Mejia-Canales has seen the lot.

“Aluminium drink bottles, jellybeans, jars full of Lindt chocolate balls, pens of every description, Post-it notes, flags, stickers, rock candies – I’ve seen all sorts of things,” he said.

Mr Mejia-Canales said pens and chocolates were the most popular giveaways at law careers fairs, where firms set up coffee machines and juice bars in a bid to lure the best and brightest.

“You think because you’re intelligent you see right through it, but having the Post-it notes and pens sitting on your computer you look at them all the time and you remember the names when you come to do your applications, so in terms of branding and getting your name out there I think it does work,” he said. “Everybody loves free stuff.”

Practising lawyer John Gray, who runs his own specialist law firm marketing consultancy, said lawyers were not considered the most adventurous marketers, but creativity often shone at “signature client events”.

“I’ve been told about baseballs being handed out at an event for a US-based bank, Tamagotchis for a major telecommunications client or firm branded sunscreen and bottled water for a day on Sydney Harbour,” he said.

Allens Arthur Robinson gave branded seat cushions to guests at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne; Freehills sent mini rugby balls to investment bank clients attending a Rugby World Cup-themed dinner; Mallesons Stephen Jaques used eye masks to help launch a report on what kept Australian directors up at night; and Slater & Gordon gave out branded fortune cookies and hired African drummers and Chinese dragon performers to launch its multilingual call centre service.

Mr Gray said a firm’s marketing approach depended on its target audience.

“In high-end corporate areas of law, the target client is unlikely to be swayed by a $5 promotional item or a clever turn of phrase in an advertisement,” he said.

“But in areas of the law that target individuals or industries, there is every opportunity for firms to stand out if they are willing to make some brave choices.”

Slater & Gordon marketing general manager Kalle Amanatides said the firm used a plethora of branded products, including lip balm for social workers, stubby holders for union members and magnets “so we end up on people’s fridges”.

“We probably do things a little bit differently,” Ms Amanatides said.

“We’ve been seen in shopping centres . . . [and] it’s not unusual to see a Slater & Gordon stand with hundreds of balloons with streamers.”

Maurice Blackburn general manager of marketing and communications Geoff Donohue said the firm’s focus was on combining information with practical gifts, “be that a pen a worker may use on the job or a water bottle when they go to the gym”.

“Many of our union clients appreciate items such as beanies . . . [and] jellybeans and chocolate covered caramels are very popular with, well, everyone.”

House Consulting director Alicia Patterson, whose marketing communications business specialises in law firms, said that unlike retail, the legal sector was not an early adopter of new marketing techniques, particularly corporate and commercial law firms that relied heavily on relationships.

“[They] have B2B relationships so they’re not mass marketing and the whole aim is to have good quality relationships with clients, which means spending time and energy getting to know the client’s business,” she said.

But Ms Patterson said firms were evolving.

Norton Rose business development manager Alison Polyik said when partners and senior associates returned from last year’s Christmas break they found a “recovery kit” on their desks that included a tube of Berocca.

“It just brought a visual focus to some of the work we were doing around the global financial recovery and it went down very well,” Ms Polyik said.

As firms think inside and outside the box, Mr Mejia-Canales has one warning for marketing teams wanting to appeal to students: steer clear of stress balls.

“You probably don’t want to associate a firm with stress,” he said.

Comments

John Gray, Law Firm Marketing
Great to see firms being really creative with their merchandising. And I love the tip about not giving students stress balls!
9/02/2012 3:59:00 PM


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