Dubrovnik, Ice Cream and Lawyers

Queuing for ice cream in Dubrovnik?
Is this the queue to see the famous Dubrovnik ice cream sellers?

I recently returned to Dubrovnik. It was 24 years ago that I last visited this Croatian (then Yugoslavian) city. I couldn’t remember a great deal about Dubrovnik. I had an image of the city itself and that had not changed as my wife and I walked the city walls. 24 years ago I was on my todd.

There were only two things that stood out in my memory of Dubrovnik. One was the two Americans I met who were in Dubrovnik for a day (doing Yugoslavia) They had just come from Venice and were on their way to Greece. They had ‘done Scotland’ they told me. They caught a train from London and got off in Leuchars, spent the night there and caught the train back to London the next day. Leuchars is a small Scottish town known for its airforce base (although now scheduled to become an army base in 2013) and little else. Why they hadn’t stopped in Edinburgh I do not know. But they had a great time in Leuchars and loved Scotland as a result.

The other thing I remember about Dubrovnik was the ice cream sellers. Just inside the main entrance gate two of them stood selling ice cream. Their sales technique was to throw the balls of ice cream high into the sky and catch them in your cone before handing it to you. Like jugglers they would do this in various ways e.g. behind their backs or under their legs. They entertained you as well as providing what seemed like the best ice cream ever.

I wanted my wife to see these ice cream sellers. Alas they were no more. Ice cream was still on sale at the same spot. However, no kiosk on the street. You had to go inside to get it. No juggling ice cream men but two dour ladies simply serving what you asked for with no special tricks involved. Perhaps Health and Safety legislation has outlawed such antics, although Croatia is not yet part of the EU ;-). I was disappointed. The ice cream was nice but not as good as I could remember (or perhaps imagined).

This made me think about selling legal services. People often use a lawyer and then have no need to do so again for several years (hopefully not as long as 24 years).

What can/should law firms be doing that will make them stick in a client’s mind like the Dubrovnik ice cream sellers did in my mind? That will make those clients want to return. But when they do return the law firm needs to keep the sparkle and not let it go out as it did for me in Dubrovnik. Any ideas?

Update: 2 October 2011

When I wrote this post I had not carried out an online search for ‘ice cream sellers in Dubrovnik’ to see if any of the old school ice cream sellers still existed. For some reason I did this today and I discovered they do. There are a number of YouTube videos of ice cream sellers performing tricks in Croatia including in Dubrovnik. The one I liked the best, and that brought back those memories of 24 years ago, was this one (although it is in Igrane, Croatia and not in Dubrovnik):-

It would appear that the ice cream shop I went to in Dubrovnik still does these tricks also. They just were not doing them when I was there. This raises the question of consistency. If a law firm is going to wow its clients to ensure they return the next time they need a lawyer then the firm needs to be consistent. How do law firms ensure such consistency?

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  1. Lawyers could do juggling with their pens or iPads – depending on their level of confidence I suppose. For the expert juggler maybe a pen, paper pad and an iphone all together.

    (great post btw – although my comment may be less than serious, the idea of lawyers thinking creatively about marketing and promotion is excellent)

    1. Thanks Peter

      Most lawyers are probably too busy juggling their cases to contemplate juggling anything else or, indeed, wowing their clients.

      It was suggested to me on Twitter today that “WOW is having a flowers budget or sending m/s Thank U notes or thinking about the client before they call you.” Sounds like small things but perhaps those small things make all the difference and produce a wow. Perhaps law firms don’t have to do juggling tricks to impress their clients. Handing them the cone might be more than enough!

  2. Hi Brian

    I want one of those cones.

    When it comes to legal services I cannot help but wonder why so many lawyers get caught up in the ‘gimmicks’. Juggling i pads and pens and scrambling to be at the top of the top top tweeters lists amazes me.

    The big question, (in fact the most important question) In my opinion should be to ASK your clients What they want? You have the data, you have the clients but do you ever ask them? What they expect from you?

    Is it instant access to their lawyer (Many clients do in fact use a lawyer on a regular basis, you only have to walk through Glasgow Sheriff Court to notice the regulars).

    Some clients and this strikes me as obvious cannot believe that their lawyer is not available outside of office hours and charges for EVERY scrap of information.

    The lawyer who is accessible and engages will be the one who goes to the top of the class.

    And in this very competitive market, especially given that other businesses will soon be competing with law firms Alternative Business Structures, in the fight for the ‘client’ it amazes me that ADDing value to your legal services is not at the top of every list of every law firm. Talk about the law – how to and various topics that would interest your client. (Your very own Martin Minton @Landartlaw wrote a great post about crofting law which is an example of this)

    How can we give more. How can we do more. These are key questions.

    Ultimately clients will return to the lawyer who does a good job, knows the law and delivers what is expected of them in this competitive market.

    As I am at present still in the land of academia doing LL.M (but with a background of over 10 years in marketing) I will take your tale of the splendid ice cream to heart and when I do eventually practice I will hope to give me clients that special treatment every time. (probably with a cone and raspberry sauce too and a lovely picture of it on face book, youtube and digg it)

    Great Post Brian as always


    Michelle Hynes

    1. Thanks Michelle

      It sounds simple but indeed most lawyers do not attempt to be accessible or to engage. Often quite the contrary.

      Now… raspberry sauce. There is an idea!

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