The Evolution of Referral Marketing for NJ Attorneys and Architects is fascinating. Remember when commercials were only about products for sale on television? There were “new and improved” this and that, “try this new” whatever. That sort of thing constituted the bulk of television advertising. Websites, content marketing, social media and blogging did not exist. Marketing hadn’t changed in decades; Madison Avenue made certain of that.

There were ads for cars, trucks, cigarettes and booze, but never would one see a lawyer offering money for injuries, or for the hospitals that sent the ambulances for their potential clientele.

Remember when television ads for medical centers, prescription medicines, personal hygiene and contraceptive products, bankruptcy filing, and personal injury lawyers hawking their services simply did not exist? While we still see beer commercials, most alcohol and cigarette ads have disappeared from the television ad scene. The remainder has taken over mainstream television advertising, and portions of the late night commercial breaks.

Television Was Looked Down Upon in Professional Services

Television advertising was so crass and of low esteem. Community hospitals would never stoop to such a level, as doing so may damage their reputations. The American Bar Association forbid advertising of any kind but was especially fearful of television. Besides, most lawyers and other professionals seldom, if ever, considered themselves as marketers; they relied on reputation and referral. Only in the 1990’s when the Bar Association relaxed the rules did the “bottom-feeders and ambulance chasers” begin to the small screen.

Back in those days, it was considered a prudent and proud business that relied on the most traditional business model; word-of-mouth and referral was how business was done. Homogenous industries such as lawyers and accountants, architectural firms, banking, doctors and hospital executives networked in their local associations and the annual or semi-annual industry conferences. They relied heavily on their retainer clients to refer others. If one professional did not handle the client’s needs, they were referred to a specialist with whom they had a working relationship. A referral fee, however frowned upon, was and is the rule of the day even now in many industries. Referral networks and the reliance of referrals made sense, because it was the accepted marketing formula.

Today it is quite a different story. Professionals must consider themselves a business, not an island unto themselves. All manner of professional firms utilize mass media as a means of getting the word out, but costs continue to rise. With all the clutter of television ads, and consumers tuning them out (TiVo, the DVR,), the conversion rate is nearly impossible to accurately measure and overall effectiveness is often questioned.

 Where Are Professional Services Going With Their Marketing Dollars?

Like newspaper advertising, television is a valid form of push marketing. It serves a purpose but today companies are seeing far better results increasing word-of-mouth via the many social media platforms that have become dominant. The digital world provides solutions to expanding the overall marketing reach of professional services, and a great solution may be closer than you think.

At Zen Marketing, we provide workshops for companies that wish to enter the networking and word-of-mouth arena. These offer an affordable opportunity to apply social media strategies and tactics into a marketing formula and can involve many individuals within an organization. Social media is also a great entry into the use of inbound marketing, the most effective method of this digital age.

A study performed by Marketing Sherpa reflects a drastic shift in expenditures for all business (see Figure 1.) Please note the “traditional marketing” strategies are at the bottom of the budget expenditure graph.

Figure 1 Marketing Budget Comparisons

A good way to get one’s feet wet in the inbound marketing pool is to develop a social media strategy. By scheduling one of our networking and social media workshops, you can begin to understand the value proposition it presents.

Contact us and begin to grow your business digitally. Who knows, you might be able to save money and grow your business concurrently.