Marketing Medicine: Pro’s and Cons of professionals, accountants and lawyers advertisements
AK asks: From a marketer’s perspective, what are the pro’s and cons of having professionals – accountants and lawyers – advertise themselves. There has been much debate on this. The Law Society of Kenya has now allowed lawyers to advertise.
Chris answers: The ban on lawyers promoting themselves originated way back in British social history. The delivery of legal services was considered a public service, and not a means of making a living. However if you have ever received a bill from a lawyer, you will realise that this has changed in practice!
So the law society here, and in many other jurisdictions, has begun to relax on the matter of promotion of professional services. As a marketer, and as someone whose business delivers a professional service, I am in favour of business promotion.
As in all categories, successful promotion of law or accountancy must begin with the definition of a target audience. And an honest appraisal of what that audience thinks and feels about what’s on offer. This is hard for first-time marketers, and harder still for people who consider themselves pillars of the Establishment.
They have a tendency to view the market from the lofty battlements of their offices. They draw on the confidence of many years of giving advice to other people, but this makes it harder for them to take advice themselves. And they also have a problem unique to the structure of their businesses. They are partnerships. Their strength lies in building up a diverse group of professionals who are experts in their own areas. The more experts, the broader their offering to the market, and the more revenue streams they command. But a large group of opinionated experts means a large group of strong individuals. Which in turn makes it hard to get consensus on the values a shared brand that they will all buy into. And even when they agree what they are going to stand for, many of them may leave the brand discussion with a attitude that says:’ well I agree with the overall brand, but I disagree with points b, d and f.’ Thus the process of brand fragmentation begins.
I speak from experience of advising law firms, accountancy practices, and the high-end of our safari business in Kenya. Lots of strong characters; and good discussions - but a struggle to achieve and maintain consensus.
Neither the legal nor the accountancy sectors in Kenya face anything like the image issues that their international counterparts do … yet. But the more they open themselves up to marketing, the more they will. Remember Enron, and the role of the accountancy firms? Remember Tiger Woods and his impact as a brand representative on Accenture? And consider how the legal profession is reviled in the United States – ask any American.My wish, as our professionals turn their faces to the market, is that they with do so with modesty, with understatement and with decency. Let us have no ambulance chasers here. We live in hope!
PW asks: How does shopper marketing affect a consumer’s purchasing behaviour?
Chris responds: Shopper marketing is the latest buzzword in marketing. As a practice, it aims to complete the advertising ‘circuit’ by connecting mass media messages to the shopping environment. In other words, the brand message Madam Housewife sees on TV should also be present as her hand hovers over the supermarket shelf. Traditionally, this was done by printing low-cost paper and card materials, and persuading supermarket bosses to let you ‘stick stuff up’. Thankfully this is evolving and, if you are interested, I will say more about this in future columns. Just ask me.
Chris Harrison is a marketing and advertising practitioner of 30 years’ standing. From Nairobi, he leads Y&R’s network in Sub Saharan Africa. He’s ready to prescribe answers to your marketing questions, and you can consult him on
Twitter @harrisoncj or at www.chrisharrison.biz