My most recent column on Slaw appeared earlier this week, discussing what makes a good law firm testimonial. Coincidentally, on the same date, fellow consultant Ed Poll's LawBiz Tips Ezine arrived in my mailbox with an article entitled, "Testimonials Should Sell Soap, Not Lawyers."
Ed and I have had this discussion about testimonials before.The point of Ed's article (which he makes in his opening paragraph) is that Ed feels that lawyers should not use client names in testimonials, but I'm not sure that he believes that lawyers should stay away from testimonials entirely.
As Ed himself will tell you, he believes strongly in client confidentiality and believes that testimonials should not contain client names even where the client consents, because it dilutes the privilege and commoditizes lawyers. But there is no getting around the fact that a lot of lawyers get business through "word of mouth" or referrals.
What if a prospective client doesn't know anyone who has used a lawyer, or if their legal matter is too sensitive to discuss with someone else, so they do not want to ask for a referral? The fact is that testimonials - in the form of stories from real clients who have had an experience with a lawyer or law firm - can make a huge difference in getting a prospective client to take the next step and contact your firm.
As I point out in my post on Slaw about what makes a good lawyer testimonial, what is important isn't necessarily the name of the client - it's the story that they tell about their experience with your firm. Even anonymous testimonials can have a big impact. So if you're in Ed's camp and you believe that a testimonial which is attributed to a client by name is a bad idea, don't toss out the idea of testimonials entirely.
Does your firm use testimonials in your marketing? Have they been successful? Why or why not?
(For more about lawyer testimonials, see my recent post on Lawyerist, Effective Testimonials for Lawyer Marketing).