There are many available tools for effectively marketing a law firm but one resource that’s all the rage but not might not immediately jump to mind is the popular KonMari lifestyle.
The brainchild of Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo, KonMari essentially boils down to taking stock of everything you own and then eliminating whatever fails to bring you joy. For legal marketers, that means figuring out what you’re using to do your job and getting rid of anything that doesn’t help you accomplish your firm’s marketing goals.
(Author’s note: I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s best-selling books but I’m one of the millions of Netflix customers who have been watching her hit TV series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”)
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List Your Lists
If you or your law firm are not compiling a list of contacts grouped by category, then please open an Excel file right now and start by listing anyone you know who might refer your business before you return to finish reading this post.
In all seriousness, a good list will include the contact information you have collected over the years through emails, business cards, personal contact, church affiliations, etc. Don’t worry if your list includes your clients, your accountant, your doctor, and the last 10 lawyers who’ve sent you business. The key is how you keep your lists maintained and organized.
At its most extreme, the KonMari method would tell you to erase any contacts who fail to bring you joy, but that isn’t necessary for the purposes of a contact list. Instead of flushing out the baby with the bathwater, you can simply create an “inactive” tab for anyone on your list who you know you don’t want to receive a particular communication.
One facet of KonMari that should be employed is to go through every contact to make sure they are listed where they need to be. If your “Clients” list includes people who you never want to work for again, then create an “Inactive” tab so you’re not wasting the firm’s money on postage or data entry.
Once you have a well-maintained list of contacts, you’ll come to appreciate it as one of the most valuable pieces of property in your marketing arsenal. That is why I always advise clients to constantly update their lists and make sure they’re organized in a way that will be useful going forward.
File Your Digital Files
Effective law firm marketing relies on a variety of well-executed communications, many of which include photos, logos and other imagery that takes up valuable space on your hard drive.
Of course, it only costs pennies per year to hold onto a digital copy of a photograph or other electronic file, but the valuable space they maintain in your marketing toolbox make the KonMari method applicable here as well.
That means going through all your digital files and organizing them much like you would a good contact list. If someone no longer works at the firm, then make sure they’re not listed in a folder with current firm lawyers. This is particularly important at larger firms where several attorneys may share the same last name.
While some may laugh at the notion of someone misidentifying a lawyer who works four offices away, I can tell you that it happens more often than you think. In fact, I’m particularly haunted by one incident years ago while working with a new marketing director at a client’s firm.
Although trying to show some initiative, she immediately found herself in the doghouse after distributing an announcement about a new hire that included a photo of the young woman lawyer’s elderly father, who also worked there. Turns out she grabbed the first “Smith” (not the lawyer’s real name) in the photo folder. It was not the right Smith. Lesson learned.
It is also important to put your digital files into categories that will be easily identifiable and accessible to members of your team. Logos, photos, honors badges, and everything else should be clearly labeled to save time when you need to find them.
Make sure everything is grouped in such a way that it will prevent someone from unknowingly using an outdated or flat wrong file. In some instances, it is best to take Marie Kondo’s advice and simply delete those files you’ll never need again. If you can’t bear to delete them, create a sub-folder labeled, for example, “OLD LOGO DO NOT USE.”
KonMari Your Office
Admittedly, my office could use Marie Kondo’s help. Even though my wife and I keep a reasonably organized home, garage and storage shed, I lean more toward Oscar Madison than Felix Unger when it comes to my office. That’s not a good thing.
The KonMari method will tell you to eliminate things from your work area that distract you from your goal and replace them with things that will make you happy and, ostensibly, better at your job.
Are you getting publications stacked on your desk that you don’t want or need? Cancel the subscription, which may save your firm money in addition to clearing your desk for something more useful.
Do you have a dead plant sitting in your office window? Put it in the trash and replace it with a photo of your kids. What about a shelf filled with books you’ve already read and never reference? Give them to a local school and donate the bookcase to a worthwhile charity.
In my office, that meant taking down yellowed newspaper clips taped to my computer monitor; removing stacks of magazines that I never looked at when they arrived and would never have read; and getting rid of other stuff that one could generously describe as “clutter.”
Instead, my desk now is home to my computer, my monitor, a coaster, a smiling panda piggy bank and a magnetic bobblehead dressed as a businessman with paperclips for hair. The piggy bank and bobblehead make me smile, so I think Marie would approve.
The KonMari method may not sound right for your work space, but I recommend giving it a shot if you find yourself uninspired after looking around your office.
I know Marie Kondo wasn’t thinking about law firm marketing when she began her worldwide campaign for tidying up, but the KonMari method – as Marie herself will attest – is applicable to far more than just bulging closets and chaotic garages.
Bruce Vincent is a writer and editor who has been helping lawyers get things organized since before Marie Kondo authored her first book. Clients regularly call on Bruce for help with their most important marketing and public relations projects. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.