Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How to Introduce the New, New Thing...

I am on the cusp on introducing blogging to the firm I joined. I do believe that blogging is not right for every firm or every practice, but in this case, I do. I read the stuff over at Real Lawyers Have Blogs by Kevin O'Keefe and am certain my firm is the perfect candidate for entering the blogsphere... but, how to do it?

My own blog (this very one) has been wonderful so I don't need to be convinced about what can happen if we journey forth. What would be helpful is words and ideas on how to tell the story so that the attorneys at my firm will get energized by the opportunity.

So here is my request; I'd like to hear from marketers of firms that have crossed this chasm. What did you say? How did you tell the story? What was your business case? I would love to hear your story.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Naming the four curves of want and get

See this post at Seth Godin's blog to see the curves in question...

A. Hero Curve (what everyone predicts they can achieve)
B. Loyalist Curve (several cash cow products with this curve create a saleable business)
C. Warrior Curve ("true-believers" and evangelists live on this line)
D. Hindsight Curve (only a co-dependent optimist can survive along this line)

I am surprised that Seth's latest book is riding on the Loyalist curve. Not that I'd like to make any effort to out-guess Seth, but has he considered the different methods on communication that would effect the sale of his book over the long haul?

As a blogger with a large audience it makes sense that the launch of his book would show an immediate spike in sales (a large audience of people electronically connected that knew the instant his book was available). I believe his book's tale will play out on a Hero curve simply because the rest of his audience will become aware through all of the older, slower methods of finding things out.

I wonder if there is one more curve that accounts for this disparity in the speed of knowing.

Friday, June 24, 2005

(mis)Leading the Competition

The ageless tendency to do things because "they've" (insert name of competitor) done it is not going away any time soon. It's the part in us that hates looking silly... if "they've" done it and it appeared not to have bitten them in the butt, then we can do it. Even more; We SHOULD be doing it too. Here and here are a couple of great posts that look at this tendency.

Now, let me share a twisty little marketing strategy secret with you. If your competition makes their marketing moves based on what they see others (you) doing then you might ultimately be able to predict what they'll do. It's like the mouse that hung the bell on the cat's collar....

The best part is; even as I share this tiny little secret, I trust in human nature. Even with foreknowledge my competitors will still watch each other like a hawk and venture forth only when they see someone else has "done it" and survived. This is how trends are born.

Remember - you can only lead from the front of the herd; not from the middle.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Every Audience Has Different Eyes

As previously announced I am working at Rutan & Tucker and this thing about "perceived image" has come up a couple of times. Depending on the audience I'm listening to the "image" of this great firm keeps changing.
  • Internally they perceive the quality of the firm they are (true believers) but definitely feel the rest of the business world has passed them over (we're here but no one can see us)
  • In the legal community they are the 100 pound gorilla. I hear comments like, "why would they need someone like you? They're already at the top."
  • Among other service providers Rutan is a big firm with a great reputation... "but I don't seem to do a whole lot of deals with them."
The journey, and a fun one at that, will be to bring all of the perceived firms together and make them one. The best part is it's not the firm that needs reinventing... it's a market that needs to be reintroduced to a firm that's already there.

Monday, June 20, 2005

What Do People REALLY Think?

You're walking into a business reception, and looking around, you recognize several people; Some are good friends, and many are those you keep running into at most of the business events you attend. Several of the people you see have passed opportunities your way over the last several months.

Before leaving the office for this reception you were in a lively discussion with another partner in your firm about business networks and developing referrals. The other partner had suggested that attending receptions and the like were basically silly. He/she had never really gotten much in the way of new business by working the "circuit" and considered it a huge waste of time and money. Your response was, "balderdash! I've been showered with opportunities ever since I started getting out to mingle."

The question to be answered here is, "why?" If both partners were to attend every event side-by-side yet one seems to flourish, and the other not... what gives?

The answer is; perceptions. No one fits into every crowd. The key is to know the crowd you fit.

This article at HBS Working Knowledge looks at "personal identity"; the person your audience perceives you to be. The main point we might take away from the discussion is; you are whom you are. Trying to fit into any other skin will not produce what you're looking for.

Honesty starts with "self". As soon as you know whom you are in business, the business that is yours will come.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

How Many Marketers Do YOU Need?

Thanks to Andy Haven for getting kick-starting my brain this morning... His post on marketer to attorney ratios is a great look at a common misconceptions in professional services. His comments illustrate the natural tendency to storm-the-castle "whether you're with me or not!"

I was recently talking with a firm that believed it might not be an attractive challenge for me as a marketer because they had "fewer attorneys than the firms you've worked with in the past." Their view was in line with what Andy commented on.

My answer to the firm, and what I believe as a marketer is that it's not the size of the firm that creates the challenge; It's the size of the audience they're marketing to (hmmm, goals...).

In every battle plan there is an objective. To accomplish the objective a commander looks at all of the many units at his/her disposal and all of the special things each can do. When the battle plan is put in motion the various units will charge out in many directions, each doing the thing they do best. But each unit, and each individual is breathing one plan; To stand together again on top of THE objective.

SO... how many marketers should you have; or attorneys, or staff? As many or as few as it takes to accomplish the objective/goal of the firm. Large firms may only need a few; Small firms may need a bunch. What's your plan?

Thanks again to Andy for this mornings bowl of Wheaties.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Doing the Right Thing... Not Your Thing

A quick trip to this article at Mobile Magazine will offer you a great insight into real-life experiences in customer service. From the eye of the user your effort at effectiveness may be something entirely different to the customer. Read and heed.

Create Relationships; Live Longer

Yet another reason that professional networks and building relationships is healthy!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Renewable Events

I sit on the organizing committee for several different industry association events; And at every kick-off meeting and subsequent post-event meetings a single question always comes forward. “What are we going to do to make the event better this time/next time?”

I have one mantra with regard to producing good events that continually draws an enthusiastic audience; “Entertain!” If the priority of the organizers is to create an event that is first and foremost, entertaining, the question of better becomes less important.

A good example is a local chapter annual awards event that I’ve been a part of for several years. At one time it was a fairly predictable evening of sponsors coming and going from the stage reading commercials for themselves and award winners that went on too long and was as dry as desert sand.

One year we decided that “entertainment” would be the highest priority. Then looking at our own experiences with dead-slow events, we eliminated everything we disliked about those events from our own program. No more sponsor speeches or presentations, no more video loops on how bright the future looked, no more commercials about associations or our greater purpose in this world.
  • In place of what we eliminated we put professional emcee(s), some we paid (b-list comedians) and some we did not. The criteria was that the emcees had to be comfortable talking to and entertaining a crowd without having to rely on scripts and cue-cards.
  • We eliminated sponsors from the podium (though they still came up to hand the award to the recipient (but no speeches or comments allowed).
  • The award portion of the program could last NO LONGER than 40 minutes.
  • The reception and networking time was extended
  • Sponsors were given greater visibility in PR and pre-event activities with award winners.
  • Everything was measured against an entertainment barometer. If it didn’t sound fun, out it went.
The results have been remarkable. Attendance keeps going up each year. Sponsors are getting incredible feedback and exposure. People are calling to ask when the next event will be and want to be sure they’re on the “list”.

I know that over the long-haul even great things become stale. But, because we are focused on what the audience will enjoy, I imagine we won’t need to worry about “better” for a while yet.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Guru's Vs. Gossip's

Each new day I fire up my newsreader program, FeedDemon, and cruise through several channels of news and noise generated in the previous 24 hours by bloggers and media. It's not a tough ritual at all... much more productive for me than reading the paper or watching Headline News. I have come to understand though that the main providers of the information flowing into my newsreader, bloggers, can be divided into two groups (is there anything in this world that cannot be separated into two groups?). The two groups are the "guru's" and the "gossip's".

The Guru bloggers generate "first-time" content. When content appears on a guru site it is typically new. It may be links to current affairs (see Slashdot) or information with commentary (see Defective Yeti), new thinking and lessons targeting a particular group of readers (see MarketiningProfs) or simply a personal conversation made public (see Dooce). Most important about this group is that what they publish is fresh and new.

On the other hand, Gossip bloggers are mostly concerned with linking and ranting. Rather than develop new stuff, gossips feed on what others are discovering. In some cases they offer redundant opinions in favor of the author, and in others they shoot bullets and sarcasm at the author or story for being so "wrong". In the gossip group it appears to be all about getting and giving links to boost search engine rankings or simply to be noticed by others. I won't be offering any links to blogs I consider to be in this second group. You'll have to decide for yourself which ones they are.

It was this article at GeekyBodhi on blogger burnout that got me thinking about these two groups this afternoon. My thought, for myself and for other bloggers that worry about the quality of what we publish, is that I hope to be of the first group, not the latter. People I know professionally read my blog. It's part of my reputation and the impression people gather about me from day to day.

I hope when I sound like a gossip someone will send me a slap-upside-the-head email to straighten me out. In the meantime, the other day you would not believe what I heard.... (grinning).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

When is Too Much Too Much?

This post over at the blog Selling On Ebay encourages all business web site developers to be "closing on every page of the site." I can imagine there are some businesses that could benefit from the advise. But in the bigger picture I believe those businesses would be a very small percentage of the total.

AOL is currently running a commercial on spam protection. A man (representing unwanted spam) comes out from behind a pillar at the door to a business and starts shouting about free offers and "you are a WINNER" at people walking into the building.

The advise offered at Selling on Ebay has the same in-your-face feeling. When listing priorities for developing a web site, or any collateral, if every page is a selling page I can only imagine how negative and irritating that would be for visitors, prospects, and clients.

The writer of the advise goes on to say, "...when you continually close throughout your pages, you increase your chances for success. You build deeper relationships with customers and prospects; you guide readers through your site; you usher people toward the shopping cart; you up-sell and cross-sell, loading their cart up with extras and complementary products; and you generally get them to move in your direction or begin saying yes to your entreaties".

Being "ushered" around a site doesn't sound like very much fun at all. It feels like walking into a store to be greeted by salesperson that never shuts up and keeps nudging you every time you look away from where you are being directed. How any of what the writer recommends can, in his words, "build deeper relationships", I have no idea.

I would imagine the writer has had some success as an Ebay merchant, and in that context, to other online auction sellers his advise may make sense. I am going to continue to use marketing as a means to get invited into peoples lives and shy away from pushing my way in.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Group Hugs that Develop New Business

In 2001 a business friend and I created a small networking group with a great purpose and a tacky name; MoMM (Meeting of the Marketing Minds). We invited marketing leaders from Southern California professional services firms to meet once a month and talk about current challenges and share their successes. Four years later I can't imagine how I might've accomplished anything without guidance from MoMM.

Thom Singer teaches us exactly what peer groups can accomplish. Read his words and heed his advise. You will be rewarded!

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Finding a Pillar in a Haystack

Being able to immediately find something on a computer or a network just keeps getting slicker. It's no secret that in professional services being able to retrieve large volumes of data and documents is as vital as breathing in and out. To accomplish this monstrous task of being organized has become its own industry. Individually we devise folder naming strategies and filing methods in the hope that we'll be able to find the information later. Unfortunately, as the haystack of information gets larger and older, the needle we're looking for keeps shrinking.

This article at spotlights a new program for Mac OS that follows the Windows desktop search trend. I have been using X1 ( on my computers for a couple of years now and have almost completely stopped worrying about were I've stored things. Emails all live in one bucket, all document files live in one folder, all graphics in another, and iTunes handles media. When I need something X1 can find it as fast as I can type. I save time, and it's just so much easier.

There are a lot of desktop search engines out there (google on "desktop search"), each with its own bunch of features and screens. I've tried several and X1 continues to be the standard, at least according to me.

It's not often that a program jumps the shark at the end-user level; desktop search will make the jump. The ability to turn a needle into a pillar will reset our expectations and set a new bar.
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Monday, June 06, 2005

Are You Right Every Time?

In the movie Lion King Pumbaa, Timon, and Simba are stretched out in the grass gazing at the night sky.
Pumbaa: Ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?
: Pumbaa. I don't wonder; I know.
Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?
Timon: They're fireflies. Fireflies that uh... got stuck up in that big... bluish-black... thing.
Pumbaa: Oh. Gee. I always thought that they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.
Timon: Pumbaa, wit' you, everything's gas.
Truth matters little when we are certain of what we believe. At HBS Working Knowledge this article by Martha Lagace tells us to "start an argument" when we hear "yes" too often. That's a tough challenge... to seek out disagreement.

Partners at professional services firms become partners because they know the right answers. I'VE experienced success because I have good answers. We get used to being "right". Over time we become less able to learn new things simply because we are absolutely certain about what we believe we already know.

In the HBS article Martha states that we are creating our own limits by only listening for "yes". Disagreement sparks ideas, broadens our knowledge, and stimulates growth. Both for the individual and for the company (or firm).

Of course, this is not a call for people to be disagreeable. It's just a warning to all of us that hearing "yes" too often has its own set of traps. Maybe, from now on when I hear a "yes", I am going to ask, "why?"

Friday, June 03, 2005

Marketing Catalyst Joins Rutan & Tucker LLP

I am extraordinarily happy to announce I am joining the law firm of Rutan & Tucker LLP as their Chief Marketing Officer. YES! Of the many firms to work with in Southern California this is a keeper of an opportunity!

The movement of my career is its own case study. I’d like to do as I would normally do and hand out great advise in nice rosy and round tones, extolling the do’s and don’ts of finding a great job… but not here. Not this time.

When it comes to finding a place to work and a job to do I might only suggest that you pick what you love. I did. It’s feeling good.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Plan an Intelligent Pursuit

Lawyer Don arrives at the partner meeting and announces that he’s heard CBA Widgets company is looking to expand through multiple acquisitions over the next several months, and, Don’s referral source informed him that CBA Widgets was also looking for a good M&A attorney. After a brief conversation with the CFO at CBA to secure an meeting the following week Don hunkers down to create the perfect proposal and presentation. Along the way he uses time from other partners, admin’s, and marketing support, and finally the day before, has support people working overtime to get the presentation printed and bound.

When Don arrives at CBA’s offices he observes the company does not appear to be nearly as large as he’d assumed. The cars parked in the executive slots are all older than a few years, the office space is smaller than expected, the reception area is right out of the 1960’s, and the staff has an unmistakable “home-grown” feel. At the meeting, attended only by the CFO and his secretary, he presents his perfectly planned pitch offering up several great benefits for using his firm. The CFO’s first comment after his pitch was complete is, “How much do you charge?”

Certainly there is often more to any story than meets the eye, but if this was an opportunity you were chasing; how does it feel so far? Are you getting that feeling in your gut telling you to cut your losses and get out fast?

This scenario, in it’s many variations, happens all the time and all too often. Some partners will say that it’s just how things are. “You have to take your chances to find the good clients.” I believe the above should NEVER happen… EVER! Here is how you can be certain.

  • Never start the proposal process until after you’ve met with the company face-to-face and asked them specifically what they are looking for. Your first meeting with them should always be about getting information; not giving it.
  • Always research the company and it’s people before you talk with them or prepare anything for them.
  • Always research any information offered to you by the prospect about their markets and opportunities. Their passion for what they state does not always translate into reality.
  • Always measure the potential client and business opportunity against your current client base. Is this company a good match for your practice or firm?
  • Use the appropriate resources for the size of the opportunity. If your research reveals the opportunity as fairly small, then firm resources you consume should be smaller.
  • Only include information in the proposal you’ve discussed with the prospect. Your firm may be able to offer a lot of different expertise, but the prospect should only hear about the expertise they’ve expressed an interest in. Maybe all you need is a short letter outlining what you propose to do and another meeting to seal the relationship. Save the rest for another time.

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Graphic Artists are Crazy

I might know. I am one. But, not like, "Wooo Hooooo, la la la la la, put me in a rubber room!!" Go online and look at any portfo...