Sunday, December 30, 2007

Say Hello to Marketing Catalyst, LLC

After looking at several CMO offers at new firms I realize that my reluctance to accept is not based on the nature of the offers, but the lack of personal potential.

I have been blessed with a great run of success leading professional services firms to new thinking in how they approach their markets. At every firm I felt grateful and empowered by individual partners who sought my guidance, agreed to learn and helped my programs work to their own success.

I have determined that I want more of the best of what I accomplished, and the best way to realize it is to launch a business where the success of individuals (lawyers and accounts) is my primary focus.

Say hello to Marketing Catalyst, LLC.

Over the next several weeks, or months, I will be writing about putting my business together. I imagine it will include all the marketing stuff that goes on plus the adventure of recruiting additional professionals to join me and issues faced by clients that will always remain anonymous.

My first pitch: If you are (or know of) a law or accounting firm partner that is challenged to move their practice forward and lacks the professional network or skills to create one -- send me an email. I am ready to help them create their own success.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Skiing and Business Development -- No Matter Your Skill Level You Can Have Fun!

I went skiing today at Bear Mountain with a great friend who would be classified (according to my PSIA training) as a beginning level skier (I had traveled to the mountain as a board member of the adaptive ski school to take care of some school business) -- so why not throw on a pair of sticks and have a little fun! We skied together for about four hours before beating a retreat back to Orange County ahead of the anticipated end-of-day skier rush hour.

There is something wonderful about skiing that I have always observed and appreciated -- no matter the skill of the skier a great time is always experienced. Isn't this wonderful? A beginning skier remembering their challenge on an intermediate slope is as accelerating as an expert skier recalling a dive over a double-diamond cornice.

This is where business development and skiing make a crossover. Never are any two lawyers (or professional service partner) at the same level of business development expertise on any day. On one day a lawyer is challenged to say hello at a cocktail party while another is trying to extend their A+ network to one more introduction. Each experiences an equally tough challenge, and each feels an incredible rush when they succeed.

You do not have to be the best to succeed. You only need to be willing to take one more step.

My friend tackled a tremendous slope today that was outside of her comfort zone. Actually, it was incredibly intimidating for her -- and she conquered it in her own fashion. Tonight I imagine she is talking with friends and relating how the experience was huge and fun for her.

You do not need to be the very best at everything to succeed, nor do you have to be the best at everything to have fun. Just have fun with what you are comfortable to do and that fun will lead you to new levels of capability.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Know When to Say No: Picking the Right Clients

An article by Jason Fried on hiring the right clients at Signal VS. Noise is right on the money in his discussion about taking control of the client selection process.

Years ago, at an annual marketing retreat for a large law firm one of the more successful attorneys, when asked what his marketing objective was for the next 12 months responded with, "I only have one objective this year... No more *#!!-hole clients."

It can never be said too many times that the relationship between an attorney and client is personal. A client selects an attorney because they feel a trust connection. You (the attorney) need to feel that same connection as well. Focusing on mutually positive relationships definitely impacts your work/life balance. Working with people you like will significantly reduce the stress of getting the job done.

More importantly, working with clients you don't like puts you in the position of pretending to make-nice -- an incredibly stressful and unhealthy way to get through the day.

Choosing a client without considering the relationship is a high-risk gamble.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Predicting Who Will Succeed

Great tools and advisor's is high on my list of gotta-haves for me -- especially when it comes to hiring and working with people. One set of tools I feel pretty confident about is the DNA series over at PeopleBest. I must of course disclose that the CEO and founder, Jim Hunter, is a good friend of mine. . . but that just adds to my confidence. But he is not operating another run-of-the-mill HR consulting firm. He has developed and successfully deployed his tools allowing clients to predict the future success of individuals.

Even more amazing, the results are specific to what someone might accomplish within your firm (lawyer or staff), not generically to the bigger world, but just for you. The PeopleBest tools can also predict what will happen if you change pricing, compensation, alter policies or any of the many variables of business and people.

I know, I know -- you're thinking, yeah right buddy! Well, snort away. I've seen it in action and it comes as close to magic as is scientifically possible. Just for hoots and grins visit the PeopleBest site and take the free profile just to see a part of how it works.

You can email me later when the magic is happening for you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Email: How You Write is as Important as What You Write

Years ago writing was a celebrated form of artistic expression. Great writers were masters (whether in book or letter) of using the written word to articulate and emote so that in the absence of speech each thought was clearly communicated.

The advent of electronic communications has turned everyone into a writer -- and bad writing abounds. The many forms of electronic communications (email, instant messaging, social boards, blogs, etc.), each with it’s own set of etiquettes, further blurs the line of what we think we know about writing.

In business and marketing an email is still a formal communication and we can always use a few reminders of what works for us, and what works against us. Here are my thoughts on using email (and writing) for business.

  1. Start every email with a greeting/salutation and finish with a complimentary close. Just like a written letter, treating people with some measure of formality is always respectful and appreciated.
  2. Never send a written message if you can talk (on the phone or in person) instead. No matter how good a writer you may be, conversations are always the best choice.
  3. “CC” stands for “Create Commotion.” And if discovered, “BCC” stands for “I Don’t Trust YOU!” Unless your email has a specific purpose that demands bringing other people into the conversation, leave everyone else out of it.
  4. Every email you write creates a new volume of work for the person you’re sending it to (See #2). How deep do you like the in-box on your desk?
  5. Casual language, emoticons, acronyms and other text messaging short cuts have no place in a business communication. Write like you are educated and you will stand a better chance of being treated as such.
  6. Keep messages brief and on point. Any message that force the reader to scroll down to read all of it will not get read as carefully as it was written.
  7. Never write angry. If you must don’t send it right away. Do like President Lincoln -- hang on to it for a while. Later, if your words still match your thoughts, send it.
  8. Limit the size and number of attachments you send, if you must send them at all (See #4).
  9. Be careful of what you write. It’s embarrassing if our words are later used to affirm our ignorance.
  10. Proofread! Do not rely on spell-checkers to find your mistakes. As often as you misspell words you are also making mistakes in syntax, leaving in words you thought you deleted, or simply not writing your thoughts in a way that will make sense to the person you’re sending to.

I know there are plenty more rules. These are just a good start. I look forward to hearing some of yours.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Legal Marketers Need to Remember that a Decision to Buy is an Emotional Choice

It is my understanding that when a buyer or decision-maker has heard all the facts, reviewed any information available and heard any anecdotal evidence, will ultimately rely on emotion to state, "yes" or "no" in making a decision. I know I do.

There is an old joke about a prospective car-buyer walking onto a auto lot. The buyer looks at a lot of cars, reads the spec sheets, kicks tires and looks under hoods and finally states, "I want a blue one".

I believe that every decision, in its final moment, is an emotion-based choice. A person that has a hard time making decisions is facing an emotional difficulty, not a lack reason. Robert Plutchik's psychoevolutionary theory of emotion is one of the most influential classification approaches for general emotional responses. The words, "logic" and "reason" are not on his list.

My advise in this matter for you and to myself is to always consider the emotional leap that you are asking of a buying audience. What in your message or materials are aimed at the feelings of your audience? Can you show them somehow that there are no bogeymen beyond their choice? You can't just point at the closet and state the bogeyman is not there -- your buyer has to see it, feel it and touch it emotionally to believe you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ignore Your Personal Brand at the Risk of Your Firm

I have always been a tough competitor and as a sponsor I am diligent about protecting my opportunities. However, I would not want to create adversaries along the way.

In Orange County there is a marketing personality that is quite aggressive about managing his sponsorships. So much so that at times he is quite impossible to deal with. There are frequent calls to organizers demanding oversight, multiple references to being a high-ranked sponsor, requests to review every detail, and an attitude of power because of money spent. The net result is that so many people can only talk about how difficult it is to have his firm as a sponsor.

Do not ever forget that the brand of your firm includes your personal interactions. If you are uncompromising and difficult your actions carry over to what the community believes about your firm.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Marketing Catalyst Departs from Rutan & Tucker

It has been said by so many that the statement has become cliché -- "follow your passion and you will find what you love to do". For me that passion is marketing professional services. Even more than that my passion is for starting from scratch and creating huge impact as quickly as possible.

My big news is that I have resigned my position as CMO. Rutan & Tucker is an awesome law firm that allowed me to do what I love, and, mission accomplished. We (the firm and I) are quite happy with what we accomplished together.

In the first six months we orchestrated a complete re-brand and laid a foundation for enormous cultural change within the firm. Then, over the next few years the firm assumed their role as a leading law firm in all things by stepping up to implement innovative business development programs, aggressive public relations, creative ad campaigns and a continuing willingness to explore what might be possible.

As I said, mission accomplished. Now, it is time for me to look for my next challenge. While I am reluctant to leave behind a steady job with a great firm I must honor my passion -- I am a builder, not a maintainer.

If you are looking for change and innovation and are ready to step up to success -- I am available.

Are you ready for remarkable change?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Taking Care of Clients is Personal

Taking care of clients is just like taking care of a spouse or significant person in a personal relationship. If you are going-through-the-motions in a personal relationship everything travels downhill pretty fast!

Face it, people can feel the difference between caring (a concerned connection) and careful (keeping the status quo). Think about good and bad relationships in your life, just as I have in mine and you know this to be a truth.

But staying connected to clients is challenging. So much to do and such a big backlog of work -- couldn't we put together a customer service program to cover the bases so I can keep trucking along?

Yes . . . and no.

If you really care, what you do comes from your heart -- not a customer service program. Yet so many firms (lawyers and marketers) miss the opportunity to really connect with their clients because they wish for "client satisfaction" to be a process of actions, and not actions based on real care. If you want to be connected to your clients try not to do or be any of these things:
  • "We'll have to do this to keep them" - If you're going through the motions they already know you could care less. Cut your losses by admitting what their business means to you right up front and ask for their help in keeping the relationship alive.
  • "If our competition is doing it then we should too" - If you're following the moves of your competition you've already lost the battle. This means that you have no idea what your clients really want and are willing to copy someone else in hope of recovering from your own mistakes.
  • "They're talking to our competition" - If you knew your spouse was ripe for an "affair", would you confront the spouse, or would you confront yourself? I suggest the latter is the first step.
  • "This won't cost nearly as much as finding a new client like them" - Wow! You really don't care, do you!
  • "We'll look good" - Do you remember the fashions of the '70's or '80's? We didn't look good but we thought so . . . and yet we had friends and connected with people. "Looking good" is never a real thing and "doing the right thing" always is.
  • "I need the firm to show them I care" - No one else can do what you need to do. When a relationship in trouble there is only one thing to do -- step up.
I know there are so many wonderful professionals totally focused on doing the right thing for their clients. The thinking illustrated above is only an example of what some people think. Sincere care for clients (people) cannot be taught in schools or seminars. It is learned by example and mentoring. Teach it, evangelize it and tolerate nothing less. The reward continues long after the effort is made.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

12 Steps to Healthy Living for Law Firm Marketers

  1. We admitted we were powerless over all people/principles/partners — that our work-days had become an unmanageable struggle to control or fight even when reason is not present.
  2. We came to believe in our knowledge of marketing and a belief in ourselves that could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to return our will and our lives to what we believe we are capable of accomplishing without giving in to our inner voice of fear in face of external challenges.
  4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of our real capabilities as marketers and our ability to deal with differing opinions.
  5. Admitted to ourselves, and to another marketing professional the exact nature of our weakness.
  6. Were entirely ready to seek mentoring and training to improve our skills or capabilities.
  7. Humbly ask for help when we cannot be our own resource.
  8. Made a list of all persons we have struggled with by standing on principle and habit, and became willing to work with them with self-empowered energy and understanding.
  9. Made direct diplomatic effort with such people wherever possible, except when to do so would be incorrect or without benefit to either party (when future actions are more effective).
  10. Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through self-improvement and mentoring to increase our understanding of sound marketing and business capabilities.
  12. Having had an awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other marketers, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Resumé of Bruce Allen

Senior Marketing and Development Executive
Successful brand strategist with a proven ability to grow revenues and market share in the professional services marketplace with firms such as Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and Deloitte & Touche.
Senior professional services marketing executive known for ability to position a firm and partners for explosive growth. Proven track record of strategic positioning, creative conceptualization, business and relationship network development and motivational leadership with an innate ability to grow and maintain strong client relationships.
Areas of Expertise Include:
Revenue & Profit Growth | Partner & Firm Positioning | Strategic Planning | Brand Management | Relationship Development | Market Research & Analysis | Team Selling Leadership | Collateral Development | Influential Presentations | Public Relations | Event Leadership | Public Speaker & Coach | Positive Client Relationships
Education & Affiliations
  • Masters of Business Administration (Marketing), National University, San Diego, CA 1986
  • Bachelor of Arts (Business Administration) National University, San Diego, CA 1983
  • President of the Board of Trustees, United States Adaptive Recreation Center
  • Advisory Board, Barney & Barney LLC
  • Advisory Board, PeopleBest, Inc.
  • Board Member, Orange County Venture Group
  • Board Member, Association for Corporate Growth
  • Board member, National University Institute for Civic Entrepreneurship
  • Service on numerous boards and committees for industry organizations and fundraising events.
Business Acumen / Leadership
  • Accomplished the successful re-branding of Rutan & Tucker LLP in less than six months resulting in a complete reversal of declined market presence. Accomplishment resulted in multiple accolades to the firm and self from industry and community.
  • Developed the Fast Start business development mentorship program currently in use at Rutan & Tucker to enable personal growth for potential “rainmakers” and create synergies across multiple practice groups. To date more than 20% of senior associates and partners have volunteered for the program realizing at least significant new client matters in the three months since inception.
  • Successfully developed creative marketing strategies for multimillion and multibillion dollar corporations and partnerships, orchestrating from concept to completion to accomplish brand, product, and service offering goals. Budget responsibilities of over $15 million.
  • Created marketing and sales initiatives for international law firm Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. Programs and strategy received significant recognition within the legal community for innovation, creativity, and firm growth results. The firm grew from 250 attorneys to 750 while partner earnings doubled in the same period.
  • Created and led the marketing strategies across multiple regions for the technology practice of Deloitte & Touche resulting in a #1 market share in all markets.
  • Produced and directed “Deloitte Fast 50” programs (an annual awards program honoring fastest growing companies within a region based on revenue growth) resulting in more than $38 million in new billings over a four year period.
  • Created and orchestrated numerous mar-com projects on national and regional levels. The projects included a wide range of mediums from simple collateral development and product/service rollouts through video production, user manuals, catalogs, annual reports, and print and advertising.
  • Directed and participated in press conferences, developed communications strategies, published numerous press releases and established favorable media relations to enhance positioning and public relations goals.
  • Directed a national sales force posting 15% + sales growth in each of three years and increased new account sales over 125% in a declining market.
  • Founder of BAM!, a business communications and marketing agency working with early stage and technology and professional services companies. Clients included Price Waterhouse, Ingram Micro, Thomas Bros. Maps, Geneva Companies, Mercury Technologies Group.
Professional Acknowledgments
  • Profiled by the Orange County Register as a leading “catalyst” in the venture capital and professional services arena.
  • Nominated in 2006 and 2007 to OC Metro’s “Hot 25” list of market/community influencers for accomplishments in marketing and community involvement.
  • Acknowledged voice in professional services and fast-growth company marketing and leadership.
  • Nominated for the 2007 Elite "Excellence in Legal Marketing Award" where I was cited for influence on law firm marketing innovation.
  • Current nominee for the 2008 AeA Glenn Ross Technology Community Service Award for efforts to bolster and support the technology business community in Southern California.
  • Author and publisher of the Marketing Catalyst blog on professional services marketing and business relationship development. The MC Blog is cited as a leading resource on the Internet for professional services marketers.
  • Talented speaker and trainer with keynote appearances for UCLA, National University, UC Irvine, the American Electronics Association, Software Council of Southern California, Legal Marketing Association, American Mortgage Bankers Association, American Marketing Association, multiple venture capital and fast-growth conferences, and Co-Emcee of the Annual AeA Technology Awards. Speaking topics include marketing, leadership, relationship development, entrepreneurship, branding and professional services marketing.
Employment History
  • Rutan & Tucker, LLP / Full service business law firm
    Chief Marketing Officer / June 2005 to present
  • Deloitte & Touche LLP / International professional services firm
    Sr. Practice Development Manager / Sr. Marketing Manager, 2000 to December 2004
  • Brobeck Phleger & Harrison LLP / Corporate law firm
    National Marketing Manager/Director, 1997 to 2000
  • Somerset Automation / Venture-backed enterprise software company
    Marketing Director, 1993 to 1997
  • BAM! (Bruce Allen Marketing) / Business communications and marketing agency
    Owner and Principal, 1990 to 1993
  • Informative Research / National mortgage credit reporting agency
    National Marketing & Sales Director, 1987 to 1990
  • South Coast Stationers / Commercial office products distributor
    Partner / Sales & Marketing Director, 1984 to 1987
  • United States Marine Corps / Specialized government agency providing preemptive combat services
    1973 to 1981 - Final Rank and Title (E-6), Senior Drill Instructor,

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