WARNING to my Saints friends: This post will include references to the Los Angeles Rams. Please feel free to substitute Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, or the team of your choice when I reference the team.
My husband, the Sports Dude, is a Rams “super fan.” I didn’t dub him that, our local news channel did in a story that ran earlier this week. Being a sports fan led him to becoming a sports reporter. Eric a fan of the the Dodgers, Lakers, Kings, and Clippers, but the Rams, they have his heart.
How does a kid born in Paris, who emigrated here with his parents and brother speaking no English, become an American sports fanatic?
Simply put, it was the team: from the owner to the coaches to the players. They taught him the game, and he learned how to love it and them in return.
The clothes made the fan
My father-in-law, Henri Geller, was a men’s clothing designer back in the day, and he designed clothes for the Rams’ owner Carroll Rosenbloom and many of the coaches and players. My husband tells vivid stories of the players and Mr. Rosenbloom in his father’s design studio. They gave my husband his first tickets to an NFL game, which he still has in his memorabilia collection, and a fan was born, so to speak.
The Rams don’t know it, but they just created a Super Fan in Josh Garcia, the son of the team’s custodian. Watch for great things to happen for that boy.
Can law firms create Super Fans?
This of course got me thinking about lawyers, law firms, and loyalty and whether we too can create super fans?
Loyalty is the golden ring of any marketer. It can roughly be defined as the moment when your clients refer you to others.
But what about creating a super fan?
- Loyalty is not a brand. It’s not about rewards programs. You cannot bribe someone to love you.
- Loyalty is not about satisfaction. Dogs are loyal. Cats are satisfied.
- Relationships with our clients is satisfaction. They are transactional. We do something, they pay us, and they are satisfied. They owe us NOTHING.
- Satisfaction is a mood.
- Loyalty is a behavior.
- Satisfaction is the past. What you did for me yesterday.
- Loyalty is about the future. What I will do for you tomorrow.
Creating loyal clients comes from doing great work, meeting expectations, results. It’s begins with a transaction, and then moves beyond that.
Super fans have moved loyal. It’s no longer just business. Somehow the relationship gets into our DNA and changes our trajectory. It evokes an emotional reaction that takes us back to a precise moment. It’s an experience that your actions created in an authentic, organic, and unique way.
For the Sports Dude, it began as a child, and changed his life. He is a sports journalist because he was a super fan.
But what does this look like for lawyers and law firms?
Creating a super fan has nothing to do with our legal work.
For the firm, it has to move beyond the attorney’s relationship with the client: What is the FIRM’s relationship with the client?
It is the firm’s loyalty to “our” clients, to who they are, and how the collective we participate in their lives.
It’s when the firm shows up in a personal way when there is a life moment.
It’s when the firm creates experiences for them and their families.
It’s when the the line extends from just attorney-client, to friends, mentors, advisors, confidants, and extends further our to others.
Simply put: It’s when the relationship moves beyond just the attorney and now includes other members of the law firm: the managing partner, the receptionist, the billing clerks, the legal assistants, the marketing professionals, in the same “authentic, organic, and unique” ways.
Super fans are a one-way street
Loyalty is a two-way street. But when creating a super fan, it’s a one way street. It’s when we do (fill in the blank). It begins with us doing for them. Period. We are not expecting in return for these actions. There is no quid pro quo.
Coming back to my original question, “Can a law firm create a super fan?” I believe the answer is yes.
If we take a step back and look through our client rosters you can see them. Look for it not in the numbers, but in the relationships and in the stories. There is a bond there that moves beyond the legal services provided and the business the client has. It’s personal and deep. It is authentic. And it can be lost by the entity, the firm, as was in the case when the Rams moved away for what my husband calls the “20 year road trip.”
Losing your super fan
When the Rams left Los Angeles it became personal to the super fans. They no longer rooted for the players or the team’s success. Some may have moved on, and others just became what James Kane would refer to as satisfied.
And the same is true for your client super fans. Since it is more than just an attorney-client relationship, and based on more than just a business transaction, the firm also needs to continue to nurture the relationship and recognize that its actions could impact their super fans.
It means remembering that relationships are personal, and not forgetting to make those special moments, It means not taking the relationship for granted, or taking actions that are contrary to the super fan’s best interest, even though it poses no conflicts. It means doing for the client when there is nothing to gain in return. It means the relationship has to be more than mutual, contractual, and based on the law. You are not paid for it.
As I am writing this, I think of the people to whom I am a super fan. I am unwavering in my support of them. I not only refer them business constantly, even when I don’t give them business of my own. I think about the companies to which I am a super fan, and those that lost me due their breaking my trust in them. I felt these entities were no longer loyal to me.
In this crazy, competitive world in which we operate, there is a comfort in knowing we can still have deep, true relationships. That we can invoke that emotion and passion in others. And that no matter what, it is the bonds that connect us and unite us that truly make for good business relationships.