Friday, September 30, 2005

Variety is the Spice of Marketing Opportunity

I attended a meeting today of an association. It was an annual event where the leadership of the association introduces their sponsorship packages for the coming year (in this case '06). Everyone in the room (about 24 people) was from a law firm.

What a wonderful variety! On appearance alone I would not have guessed that collectively the group were all law firm marketers or marketing partners. Some were resplendent in high dollar business suits (men and women). Some looked like their uniform of the day was decided in the mail room. Some looked geeky and out of place while others had an air of indifference. Very eclectic.

In the Q&A even greater variety emerged. The association has a multi-tiered program with multiple choices within each tier. Each marketer revealed their focus by the types of information they sought. Some focused on eminence; some on networking. Some seemed only interested in golfing. There were a few that sounded like prestige was their target, while others were looking for the bargains.

In total it was obvious this random, eclectic group would probably never butt heads in the open market (for the most part) because they were each focused on different avenues for creating opportunity. I feel this is a wonderfully good thing.

With so many attorneys and firms out there in the free market trying to build their name (and billings) it is refreshing to be reminded that there is room for all of us to play successfully. There were a couple of firms in the room that I know I will go head-to-head against... But there is another 90% of the "competition" I don't have to worry about.

And because the people that are doing the marketing are so different as individuals I'm certain we will all have different approaches (which attracts different clients).

Variety is good for all of us and each of us.
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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Brief Editorial for Today

Making an Effort

It's the second time in a few days I've linked to something written by Barbara Walters Price, yet I am not ashamed. Her words make sense and I am happy to listen.

This post addresses the reasons why reaching out IS effective and should have equal priority with billable tasks. Only a few moments each day will pay off for you and your clients. Read and be converted.

The Culture Gap

The culture within a law firm is as important to marketing success as any other part of a program, strategy, or plan. I can dream all I want about what I'd like the market to see but the culture of my firm will ALWAYS reveal itself. This article by Ed Poll (legal coach, mentor and author) at discusses how compensation systems effect how a culture evolves.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Good Things in Little Moments

Did I mention I'm having a professionally good time at Rutan & Tucker? Today was a BIG day at the firm (with regard to all things marketing)! We worked through some very important strategic choices and the edict is to keep marching (Note to competition: This is disturbing news for you).

What I am learning along the way as a law firm marketer (because I can NEVER stop learning):
  1. Believe in myself (of course with sound reason and excellent counsel)
  2. Believe in the people of my firm. They are just as excited at the possibility of something fantastic happening as I am.
  3. Allow others to state and own their opinions. I do not have to agree. Yet, how silly would it be to for me to tell someone their feelings are not valid.
  4. Learn to smile. NEVER to humor anyone, but to acknowledge, within myself, I am promoting the process of discovery.
  5. Good is not found in the goal, but in the process.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Headshots vs Mugshots

I've written about the importance of headshots so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to direct you to, "A Digital Camera is NOT Your Friend" over at BWPrice's Marketing U. The universal tendency to post headshots that look like mugshots minus the number-board being held at the chest is a trend I hope will soon dissapear. (FYI; my new firm is in transition as we speak)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Do You See What I See?

I’ve been mulling this article at Wired on differences in visual perception between cultures. Incredibly interesting stuff. The study is a macro view of something that happens between people, one-to-one, every day.

The most illustrative example I can think of in working with attorneys, and accountants for that matter, is in the area of creating graphic marketing elements; Like logos, name marks, style templates, etc.

Take a name mark for instance. When I first look at the name of a company/firm that has been stylized for effect (think Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, UPS) I always look for the rhythm and flow of the mark. Do the lines, colors, and white space work together? What feeling comes from the image? I would say that I see these types of “images” not as words and letters, but as pictures. My training, experience, and aptitude lead me in this way.

It would make sense that someone else with different training, experience, and aptitude would see these same things quite differently. Someone else might focus first on the words, names, letters…. And have no feeling for the flow of the shape.

In the legal and accounting world the partners that shape those firms are highly skilled at discerning words and letters. Their quest for excellence revolves around the technical ability to dissect literal meaning from words and numbers. The shape of these things are quite secondary.

This level of understanding the perceptual differences of people based on what they do in their work is important. Creating materials that have appeal to a specific target audience can pass or fail on these differences.

I’ve seen newsletters so poorly designed that I wanted to cry for the author and yet listened to others RAVE about how fantastic the information is that is written on the sheet. I’m busy thinking, “I can fix that”, while someone else might consider it as already perfected.

Lesson for self; if I show something to my attorneys and they don’t “get it” it is not necessarily a miss on my part, but a reflection of perception. And, if what I am showing to my attorneys is ultimately targeted at other attorneys, I will be taking their advise.
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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Guest Post at Thom Singer Blog

My posting of late has been sporadic. The experience of bringing things along at Rutan & Tucker is proving to be a large, but wonderful task. Today was a key decision point. At a meeting this morning we discussed some critical, visual and visceral elements in the refreshing of the Rutan brand. I slept only a few hours last night as my mind was busy processing, over and over again, the business case for the changes I would propose. Even after reaching out to so many professional friends to check my thinking and test my proposals I still worried it into a sleepless night.

And today, after the meeting is over.... Well that is another story for a time not too far from now. But tonight I will sleep good.

In the meantime, Thom Singer, an excellent marketing mind, author and blogging colleague is hosting a post of mine at his site, ""SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED"---- The Business Development / Networking Blog". Of course I'd like you to read what I wrote, but don't stop there. Thom is as innovative a thinker as is out there these days. And do yourself a favor, BUY HIS JUST RELEASED BOOK, "Some Assembly Required"!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Short Rant on Assumptions

Here is the comment: "Most blogs are created with commercial interests in mind." It was made in a post by Alex at myeasyblog. I certainly don't wish to condemn many of the great posts that Alex has available for his readers... just this one stated assumption.

I read the line with interest and then toddled off to to do a quick survey of the tags they're tracking. Then a side trip to Live Journal (most of their users are 15 to 25 years old); to MySpace where 4.5 million "spaces" have been created by consumers; then to the French Skyblog where they're currently hosting over 2.9 million sites, primarily, again, the under 25 crowd.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Words that say nothing but fill the void come and go. Over the years the words have been, "Right", (as in "riiiight"), "Great", Really". Or phrases like, "Isn't that something", or "That's nice". Just little words to fill the gap after someone else says something that doesn't require a response... and yet we feel the need to say something.

The word I am hearing is, "Exactly!", pronounced, "exACTly". I heard it at least a dozen times today and, in a moment I knew I have been hearing it a LOT lately.

No great epiphany here. Just reporting my observations. Exactly.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Gaining Approval for Your To-Do's

Lessons from leaders about the decision making process are invaluable. I am going to print and distribute this article.

Getting from "To-Do" to "To-Done"

Boy do I need this. Building a marketing infrastructure from scratch has a whole lot of "to-do's".

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Twenty-Eight Design Aphorisms

Found this little gem of a list over at the Speak Up blog; "Twenty-Eight Design Aphorisms Before Boston…" (The reference to Boston is the annual American Institute of Graphic Arts national conference. My favorite, at least within the context of marketing in a law firm, is number 20: "A connoisseur of design is not a designer."

Bigger or Better: Two Distinct Goals

I’ve been running with the “bigger is better” crowd for so long I’d almost forgotten that bigger is just one possible goal in the quest for better.

Working at a solid regional law firm I am learning the powerful advantages of being the biggest and best in a smaller arena. Right now the firm has incredible cache that cannot be trumped by the national or international firms popping up all over our backyard.

In fact, my firm is not even competing (in most cases) with any of these mega-firms. Their business model is different, their ideal client is not attractive to us, and their overhead burden makes it impossible for them to be as agile and flexible as us.

Since starting with the firm several months ago I’ve had a bit of an expansionist mindset lurking in the shadows of my planning process. What I know now is that my best success will come by building an ironclad identity for the firm deeply rooted in it’s strength within our current borders. We will probably get bigger along the way, but that will come as a result of; Not as the reason for….
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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Legal Marketing Growth is Global

Larry Bodine is blawging from the PM Forum 10th Annual Conference in London here and here. His observations are definitely worth a read.

Learning Happens Every Day

Bearing the moniker, “Attorney” is not a statement of social status; It is a job description. Or, more simply stated, it is not who you are, it’s what you do.

I came across an attorney this week while visiting with attendees at an event that made every effort to exude his status as “socially superior” among fellow man. He pointed out that certain functions and involvement with others was subject to a scale of worthiness.

In the contest of life it is fun sometimes to come across individuals that have inflated their position and title to represent what it is not. The joy of watching a jaw drop as they are addressed as an equal is too good to pass up.

Though I do not believe this is the case within my firm today, I did once work at a firm where certain partners were incredulous if anyone disagreed with their opinion.

Today though I had a personal moment when I thought it was happening again… And thankfully was proven wrong. Not in a bad way, but in a good way. I talked… discussed my fears straight-out, and was right up front with the people I work with and for (not something I would have been brave enough to do several years ago).

My conversations with smart and caring partners pointed out to me a truth I already know, yet in the moment, had forgotten.

That truth is, "Change is tough". Not everyone can or will change within the pace of my expectations. I value these lessons in life. I can never be ready enough to listen and learn.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Thank You

Last night I had occasion to pause and reflect on all I am blessed with. One of the blessing I am grateful for is the people that visit with me here. I started this blog just for me.... A place I believed would shout into darkness yet provide me with reason to record my thoughts. Over time people actually started visiting, and some came back. I am extremly thankful and grateful for those that read what is written. I hope my words bring clarity to yours.

NASCAR, Parity, and Law Firms

"Parity" is a wonderful ideal for people dreaming of, "all things being equal." In NASCAR at every race the league officials are constantly tweaking with the rules and regulations in search of the perfect balance to equalize the capabilities of the cars on the track. And, at every race, the crew chiefs are looking for the golden loophole (almost never found) to give their car a definitive edge.

Yet, with all the emphasis on parity, every year the same drivers and teams leap to the front of the championship race, and other are eternally languishing far behind.

So what are the consistent winners doing to gain an edge where so many seek to make "all things equal?" The answers are a lesson for law firms.
  • Winners never gauge their decisions on what others are doing. The focus is on doing the best things for "this team"; not on hoping that others teams will dream up great ideas we can copy.
  • Winners nurture more than just a car and a driver. It's all of the people that keep a team running. Nurturing everyone in the organization produces excellence at every level whether its administrative support, truck drivers, or the kid working weekends to buff shop floors while the team is at the races.
  • Winners acknowledge reality. If the rules of enforced parity prohibit us from being any better at this one thing, then we shall hunt for other things we can excel at... But only after we are certain we are smack on perfect at the things controlled.
  • Winners are patient. Often the winning car starts the race in the worst shape. But a race is longer than one lap. Time and attention will win the day. Resignation to having a bad day is NEVER acceptable among winners.
  • Winners break a lot of things all the time. To simply push the boundaries of "good enough" produces knowledge untold.
  • Winners do not know the meaning of "status quo". You can tell me till you're blue in face that I am confined to being equal... But I am not going to believe you!
  • Winners fight to win a war. The battles only illustrate a trend.
There are so many lessons from so many legends in racing for law firms.

So what is the parity among law firms? Actually, the better question is; "What isn't an equalizing factor between law firms?" Every attorney has equal access to the knowledge required to provide counsel. Every law firm offers an equal amount of service potential subdivided only by breadth and geography.

The only true difference between law firms is the willingness and desire of it's people to set their own course, create their own challenges, and strive forward without regard to what any other law firm is attempting.

The only course out of "parity" is to STOP BEING THE SAME! Find and nurture your differences, and most of all, discover and nurture your people. There is not much that can withstand the assault of true believers on their march to success.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Can Sales Circumvent the Buying Process

I received some feedback on my RFP post of a few days ago that I'd like to discuss. Two separate people stated that RFP's are proof that marketing is not really needed in law firms.

Here's the argument in a nutshell; We don't do any marketing (or very little) and we still receive RFPs. That means to me (the writers) that we are well known enough that companies include us when considering their choices. Why would we need marketing if we are already known?

I asked the writers how many of the RFPs they were winning. "Well... not that many..... But we are always invited to the party. Isn't that the point? People know who we are!"

If the definition of "knowing who you are" is that people know you are a law firm... then you (the firms of the writers) have achieved everything you could ever hope for.

Here is my response; Marketing is not the things you do; It is the emotional process you evoke. If an RFP is received from a company that has not been brought along an emotional and relationship building curve, and the curve is not honored, you will not get the business.

NO ONE buys cold. No bonding process; No sale.

There are natural human processes that have to be served for anyone to arrive at trust. "Marketing" accomplishes that task. Look at the chart above. If you don't do any marketing the prospect is still at the "Know of You" stage. You cannot start selling with any hope of success unless you take the time to bring the prospect around the curve.

Marketing is an emotion evoking process to gently bring a target audience to a desired state of readiness. Embrace the importance of emotional evolution and you will find success every time you go to bat.
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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The RFP: What We Need to Know

It’s so exciting to get an RFP from “Mega Name Brand Corporation” that most law firms will charge headlong into creating a response without a second thought. Don’t let your dreams and ambition replace common sense and good planning. Not every RFP is winnable nor is every opportunity a good fit for your firm. Before marshalling resources and beating your battle drums please take a moment (actually many moments) to consider what you’re about to pursue. I use the list below to help me decide if in fact I will be in the chase, and if so, what will be my best response.
  1. Who are the other firms proposing? Knowing the competition can really help tighten the focus of my team.
  2. Why did they contact us? Are we a name out of a hat or is there actually a relationship at work here? If my firm does not already have a relationship there with a high level decision maker or influencer it is always my inclination to pass on the opportunity.
  3. Is there a theme that surfaced in our talks we can flow throughout the proposal? Did the prospect talk a lot about some initiative within his/her company, or changes they are trying to affect beyond just finding new counsel?
  4. Where do they fall within in our existing client base? Is this a client that we would normally pursue? Do they fit our practice and resources? It may be exciting to have a shot at “Mega Name Brand Corporation”, but winning that business may cause mega long term difficulties.
  5. What is the criteria for selection and the relative importance of each? RFP’s are notoriously broad. Find out which criteria are the pivotal issues.
  6. Is there one important point that could make the difference?
  7. How will their decision be made?
  8. What individuals/titles will make the final selection recommendation and final decision?
  9. What does the prospect expect from my firm if we win the business? An RFP only asks for the professional qualifications of my firm. The actual working relationship with the prospect if we win the business will be an entirely different animal.
  10. 1Does the prospect have any specific concerns about a changing their legal counsel? Or, if they are adding a legal skill set to their outside resources, do they have any concerns about how attorneys from different firms will collaborate?
  11. Is a transition plan important to them?
  12. Are we meeting with the decision makers?
  13. Do we have a sponsor within the company? Will that individual review a draft of our proposal?
  14. Were there difficulties with prior attorney or law firm relationships?
  15. Have there been any persistant and repeating legal problems over the years?
If, after working through the questions above, you still feel certain the opportunity is winnable – Go for it! By the way, responding to an RFP you know you will lose IS NOT "good way to get our name exposed."

I could not write anything about responding to RFP’s without mentioning Harry Beckwith’s response technique; He chooses not to. To find out the stunningly simple method he uses that wins RFPs without responding you’ll have to read his book, “The Invisible Touch.”

Friday, September 02, 2005

Taking a Race Break

It's been a great week for my love of racing... but the blog is taking it in the shorts. I am blogging from the California Speedway in Fontana CA where I work as a volunteer during major race events at the track. This weekend is NASCAR and the Sony HD 500... And several other races including the Busch race tomorrow night.

But it's 14 hours days buried in client service amidst a few hundred thousand fans... So blogging will have to wait until I get home on Monday.

Oh yah... and I just happen to be a MAJOR Hendrick's Motorsports fan. So I'm thinking for a few days I'll not be missing the blog too much!

Go 24; 48; 25; 5!

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...