The Co-Op has launched a huge new TV ad campaign for its recently launched legal services division . Nothing unusual about that of course – the Co-Op is a national brand and will want need plenty of customers to justify all the money spent.
But, frankly, I cannot believe the approach they are taking. According to Marketing Week, the ads focus on the Co-Op’s alleged “simple and straightforward approach and use of plain English”.
Hmmm. The insinuation is straightforward– “go to the Co-op if you want straightforward and accessible advice. You won’t get that from a regular family solicitor.”
Ian Mackie, sales and marketing director for the Co-op’s legal division, makes this approach outrageously clear, telling the magazine:
“We’ve done a lot of research and talked to a lot of customers about their fears and anxieties of using legal services and talking to solicitors. They worry if they can trust the advice, or if they’re being ripped off or the jargon makes them feel small. We understand that. It’s a natural thing for the Co-op to put the customer at the heart of our plans. For a solicitor it’s an alien approach.”
“An alien approach”!! How does he think law firms attract any clients at all through our doors? Solicitors do not represent other solicitors – we represent the public, people with no legal expertise and we have to be able to communicate with them. We work every day with clients who rely on us to represent their best interests during some of the most difficult and emotionally-draining experiences in their lives. If all we did was bombard them with legal jargon and make them feel small, none of us would stay in business very long.
The suggestion that family law is some kind of closed shop in which the views of our clients count for nothing is very wrong. We do not operate in a vacuum and here at Stowe Family Law our reputation for expertise and trustworthiness has been carefully constructed over many years of hard work. Many of our clients come to us via the recommendations of previous clients. There are few more valuable commodities than a good reputation,
Similarly any solicitor who tried to “rip off” or mislead customers would be discovered pretty quickly and go out of business just as fast. Solicitors work to a strict code of conduct and the badly behaved can be ‘struck off’ and have their right to practice removed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Yes, just like doctors.
You may think I am overstating the case with the headline to this post but I think it is if anything an understatement.
The Co-op is at heart a supermarket and it is taking the same approach to law as supermarkets do to food retailing – rely on a strong brand name, pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap and try to drive rivals out of business. But the rest of us aren’t going anywhere.