You would think it was easy to smile at people and hand out leaflets, but oh no. I discovered last week what hard work canvassing is. In a world where Tesco law is just round the corner, marketing and sales are becoming more commonplace in the legal vocabulary. So, conscious that we need to find ways to compete with big brand names, we tried out a marketing project in Crossgates shopping centre, Leeds.
The aim was to increase local brand awareness of Simpson Millar LLP and the range of legal services. I was involved as the focus was on our Will service in particular. With much organisation and efficiency from our marketing team we were all set up with an impressive looking stand, information booklets, lots of freebies to give away and a prize draw.
With all that you’d think the public would flock to the stand and ask me lots of legal questions – in just the first half hour I learnt that it doesn’t work like that.
For starters there’s a general suspicion that there’s a catch. “You don’t get summat for nowt”. And then there’s an understandable reluctance to get sucked in to a lengthy marketing gambit. Add to this that shoppers are there to shop, are busy or intent on getting home and all of a sudden a stand full of goodies behind a grinning lawyer is something to skirt around quickly and avoid.
Many folk used furtive glances to work out what we were about but did not dare make eye contact with me for fear (presumably) that I’d give them the hard sell. I understand why, it takes energy to say no to a persistent salesman and we all share an abhorrence of cold calls.
So, standing still smiling out at the world would not result in a mutual exchange of pleasantries and promotion of our wonderful legal services.
I was forced to be proactive! Fortunately I’m a quick learner. I soon discovered that offering to talk about legal services did not encourage conversation but instead taking a step forward and a polite “Can I interest you in our prize draw?” caused many to stop to find out more. And, there really wasn’t a catch, we really were giving away a DAB radio and anyone could tick the “do not contact me” box on the form.
As soon as the suspicion was allayed then those who wanted to had a chance to talk to me about Wills or other legal stuff. All in all we received a warm reception and our friendly approach was met with good humour throughout. Crossgates shopping centre is called a community shopping centre and for good reason, there was a marvellous atmosphere of a communal meeting place for family and friends.
But what hard work! Being that long on my feet, keeping enthusiastic and pleasant for hours on end was physically draining. So this weekend it’s feet up and then I’m looking forward to getting back behind my desk on Monday!
Many thanks to the whole team for taking a turn (and to those left behind to after the ranch)