Marketing Lessons from “Suits” on TNT

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Got a voicemail recently from an old business associate, “Hi, it’s Gary. I just turned 50 and am finishing a new book. Want to tell you what I’ve been up to.  Give me a call…”

Why would anyone want to return that call?

For the last 30 years or so, I have paid close attention to everything around me, trying to learn from others mistakes, successes and lessons, to apply to my own career.  Can’t help myself.  So I am acutely aware of political campaigns, ad campaigns for consumer goods, how people try to sell me, and even TV shows. 

And to it is with “Suits,” a new show on TNT. It concerns a college dropout (Mike) with a photographic memory, who is so smart he takes and aces the LSAT for others (for a fee, of course).  He accidentally gets hired by a major New York law firm and becomes an associate for one of the firm’s top sharks even though he never did a day in law school.

In a recent episode, Mike is invited to play racquetball by one of the other partners in the firm, Louis Litt.  Unfortunately, the actor who plays Louis looks like a cross between Cro-Magnon man, orangutans, and humans. Usually he plays hit-men and crooks as a character actor, which fits in well with being cast as an attorney…

Louis, the partner, is trying to get the attention of one of those billionaire juveniles like the guy who started Facebook.  He sees the kid regularly at the racquetball club and pitches him everytime he sees him, to no avail as the young businessman uses a fraternity brother for his legal work. So he decides to shlep Mike with to see if he can change his luck getting the kid’s legal work.

There were some marketing lessons to be learned:

-    The partner, Louis, took Mike to do personal marketing: Lesson - It is vital that partners acquaint young people in their firm (and others with little or no marketing acumen) with personal marketing and networking.

-    Louis sees the prospect consistently, just in case he decides he wants to talk: Lesson – Consistency is vital to marketing success just in case the prospect has gone from cold to hot

-    Louis pitches the prospect every time he sees him: Lesson – although in this episode it comes off as being pushy and absurd (pitching the prospect in the locker room without a towel…), it is important to let people know in some way you are interested in their business. 

-    Louis realizes he needs to match his young associate to the young billionaire who may have much more chemistry than a 45 year old ape and a 25 year old kid: Lesson – People hire people who are like them, who are similar in age, demographics, interests and goals.

-    The young associate, Mike, knows who the prospect is and talks to him about his business in a way that shows he is intimately familiar: Lesson – one needs to do enough due diligence, casual and otherwise, to be able to talk to the prospect about WHAT THEY ARE INTERESTED IN (see opening paragraph to this blog)

-    The two young fellows hit it off as they share common interests: Lesson – no surprise there

-    The young billionaire decides to shift his business from his buddy to Mike’s firm: Lesson – It was the personal chemistry between the two young men that allowed the prospect to realize his legal needs were not being met by his friend.

So, look all around you for marketing lessons and apply some of them to your own practice,  Successful marketing is right in front of your nose.

Allan S. Boress, CPA, FCPA is the author of 12 published books on marketing, selling and managing the business development process for CPAs.  He has consulted with over 500 professional firm and trained over 200,000 professionals since 1980.  His “I-Hate-Selling” methodology is available at


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