Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Large or Small, the View From the Middle of Any Herd is Holistic

I was reading post comments about Maxthon (a new IE-based browser) at digg this morning, and well down the string was this wonderful comment; "Besides the fact that it uses the IE engine, it only runs on Windows. A big limitation with many people migrating to Linux/Mac." What a wonderful illustration of shouting from the middle of the herd! Currently the Linux/Mac market share is somewhere between 2% and 4% against the 96% plus machines running Windows-based platforms.

The commenter, based on what he/she can see from their seat is amazed that anyone would consider switching to a browser not supporting Linux/Mac users. This is one illustration of how we use limited experiences within our "bubble" to project expectations holistically.

This phenomena has huge implications for law firm marketers and is a valuable lesson to be learned in moving our firms forward. It is human nature to make broad assumptions based on narrow experiences. When attorneys do not comprehend expansive new programs it is because they have no point of reference outside of their own experience. The same is true for marketers trying to comprehend an attorneys passion to do things a certain way and not consider other "fresh" alternatives.

The ONLY way to deal with this is to educate first, then propose. Stop using only the experiences of the legal industry to illustrate and measure. Stop relying on, "this is what other law firms are doing" and start sharing strategies and stories from other industries and professions. Start finding ways to show what other "herds" are doing--don't go to 10,000 feet, or 20,000 feet -- go to 100,000.

In the movie, "The Gods Must Be Crazy" a Sho (African origin) in the Kalahari desert encounters technology for the first time--in the shape of a Coke bottle. He takes it back to his people, and they use it for many tasks, none of which have anything to do with the designed purpose of the bottle. In the larger quest of the movie the Sho encounters Western "civilization".... A lesson for marketers and attorneys.

It is important to establish a common reference before different "herds" can establish common goals.