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Thursday, Sep. 20, 2012
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Law Practice Management Tip

Group Psychology: Focus groups can help attorneys launch marketing projects

Companies use focus groups all the time, in order to test and refine products and product offerings for the market. Most of the time, this strategy works out quite well -- sometimes, less well: notable exceptions being made for brownies, candy bars and whatever product development team greenlighted the Edsel.

Many attorneys, especially solo attorneys, get boxed into their original ideas, which remain unrefined by constructive feedback. But, it is the rare idea that is perfect from its embryonic state (though, I think, replacing hamburger buns with donut halves is pretty close), such that almost every product/product offering could likely be improved with honest and germane input. If you think of your pricing and service offering as products that you sell (which you should), the efficacy of using focus groups to refine lawyers' 'products' becomes more obvious.

When you think about it, this is not all that much different from what you do when you access your mentors: you're sourcing a group (preferably) of colleagues to get useful pointers respecting case-specific or general business strategy.

In addition to making you think more fully about what you're doing, and offering you starting points for tweaking your sales pitches (pricing, service; the comprehensive elevator speech) utilizing focus groups can offer these specific advantages:

  • You're allowed an advance preview of consumer reaction -- and, you can always test your jokes. (It's a good idea to include laypersons, who are trusted advisors, in your focus groups (when client confidentiality is not at issue), in order to gain a better sense of a client or potential client's possible sense of what you'd be offering them.)
  • A more relaxed trial atmosphere (think: spring training) in which to get the kinks out. (This is also a good time to develop feedback surveys, and to gain perspective on whether you're asking the right sorts of questions.)
  • Picking up verbal, body language and other cues is an important skill for anyone to have; but, this is especially so for business people, who are far more successful when they can pinpoint personal needs and provide solutions that answer for same. Your use of focus groups can be an effective method to test your ability to pick up these cues . . . because you can ask the group participants if you were right about what you were anticipating.

So, if you've got a seminar series to launch, or if you're tweaking your pricing model or adding a new service offering, consider utilizing a focus group, in order to get yourself ready for launch. Just keep in mind that folks are busy; and, if you want them to serve as focus group members . . . you may just have to buy them lunch. Might I suggest the following?

Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Office Management Assistance Program.

Published September 20, 2012

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