O'Keefe Reveals Web and Blogging Secrets

Kevin_okeefe_250 Lawyer, mega-blogger and lexBlog chief Kevin O'Keefe revealed the little-known secrets about getting traffic to your site at the 11th Annual Super Conference sponsored Wednesday by the Alliance of Professional Associations and the PM Forum in Chicago.

  • People don't trust sponsored links.  Those are the paid ads at the side and top of Google search results.
  • A site map will help raise your search engine results, because it's a page of links to your site.
  • Nobody reads your calendar on your blog.  You might as well get rid of it, because people will search your blog by topic but not by the date you posted something.
  • A blog post should be short -- two paragraphs and two sentences each, maximum.  No one will read anything longer. (I guess I violated this rule right here!)
  • Just quote and refer other blogs
  • and you can get huge traffic to your own blog.  That's what Kevin does, and his blog has a Google ranking of 8 out of 10 (this is very high). Kevin says he does no original writing on his own blog, and instead has created a clearing house for information from others. "You get the viral marketing buzz by quoting other bloggers," he said.
  • Put content in the <title> tags on your site.  Most home page title tags say "Welcome to our site," when they should instead describe the services of the firm instead, improving search engine results.  Most lawyer bio pages are titled "lawyer bio," which is a mistake.  Instead, each bio title tag should have the lawyer's name, industries and skills.
  • Start using RSS.  This method of syndication will be built into the next version of Windows, known as "Vista."  RSS will be built into Internet Explorer, Word and Outlook.
  • Kevin uses Netnewswire to follow 200 news feeds.  He sees the title, sources and when the post went online.  He organizes them by category and decides which to put on his own blog.
  • He uses Newsgator to search for certain words, like "marketing," his own name and his company name.
  • Major law firms are launching blogs, including Davis Wright Tremaine's Telecom Law Blog, Sheppard Mullin's Antitrust Law Blog -- one of 7 blogs the firm publishes in place of its newsletters and PDF files -- and Preston Gates & Ellis's Electronic Discovery Blog.
  • Get ready for the Web of the future. Today's Web sites must comply with CSS and XHTML standards.  Ask your developer. The new Web of audio, video, entertainment and journalist is just over the horizon.
  • Podcasts are catching on.  Your firm can record an interview with an expert, and people can download it, and listen to it on their iPod.  You can also post the podcast to iTunes and Apple will list it online.

And you can tell Kevin loves it, he gets a thrill from getting lawyers excited about writing blogs. Most effective is lexBlog's one-page advertisement: it shows a set of empty train tracks at sunset.  The caption says, "Blog.  Don't get left behind."


Creating a Tsunami of Publicity

Richard_levickred Author, lawyer and über-publicist Richard Levick told an audience of accountants and law marketers how to create a "tsunami of publicity" at the 11th Annual SuperConference sponsored today by the Alliance of Professional Associations and the PM Forum in Chicago.

  • You must break through the clutter.  25,181 new products have been introduced in 1998 and it's too much for people to absorb. People see an average of 86,500 TV commercials a day.  Running a single print advertisement, as many professional firms do, is simply inadequate.
  • Be the first to do something and this will break you out of the clutterFor example, who flew over the Atlantic Ocean second?  No one remembers.  Everyone remembers Charles Lindbergh, who was first.
  • "You've just removed yourself from the marketing committee" is what you should tell lawyers who, when considering a novel marketing idea, ask if whether there is a precedent for any other firm is doing it.
  • You are not entitled to say you have a brand until people tattoo their logo on their arms, as owners of Harley Davidson motorcycles do.
  • People buy based on emotion.  They explain their buying choice with rationale, but a feeling is what made them buy.  Law firms have it backwards: they are selling based on rationale.
  • Don't promote all your services evenly.  Law firms do this, making sure each practice gets its equal space, and it's a mistake.  In contrast, grocery stores put the most-needed items -- eggs and milk -- at the back of the store, and force customers to walk past a lot of products to get to it.  Candy is strategically displayed at eye level for kids.
  • Optimize your Web site by commenting on top news stories.  If Condoleeza Rice is on the front page and the evening news, publish an item that refers to her.  This way, people searching on Google for the top story will find your professional firm Web site.
  • Spend more on marketing.  The typical professional firm spends a scant 3% of gross revenue, and most spend only 1.5%.  In contrast, major plaintiff personal injury firms spend six times as much.  Corporations spend up to 15% of revenue on marketing.
  • Talk about what's going to happen next.  Levick does this in a free e-newsletter called Next Alert.  "Next Alert, an e-mail newsletter, combs all media - from industry reports and trade publications to consumer blogs - spotting the crucial legal, business, and media trends affecting multiple industries throughout the world."  He garnered 30,000 subscribers for it in only 5 weeks.

Add it all up, and you've got a tsunami of publicity.


Never Discuss Ideas with the Director of Marketing

DilbertsmallOnce again, Dilbert has hit the nail on the head with the cartoon panel (at right) from the Sunday paper.  A foolish young intern had a great idea and was discussing it with marketing.  This is a horrible mistake in Dilbert's dysfunctional firm. 

First of all it threatens the boss.  If the pointy-haired boss were to accept ideas from another manager, it would be just like he's the boss's boss.

What's left unstated in the comic strip is that in the dysfunctional accounting or law firm, it's essential to keep the marketing director away from any strategic information.  This includes hiding:

  • Firm financial information -- all marketing director are English majors, and there is no need to confuse them with numbers. They don't understand them.
  • Any plans or new directions the firm is going to take.  Everybody likes surprises, especially the marketing director.
  • Advance notice of any new office openings, mergers or lateral partner hirings.  Again with the surprises.
  • Advance notice of anything newsworthy, particularly scandals, arrests or indictments of partners, departures of entire practice groups, malpractice suits, enforcement actions by government agencies, and mass layoffs.  We want the marketing directors caught off-guard and flat-footed, to see how they respond under pressure.
  • The arrival of an RFP.  If a major corporation has a particularly complex request for a proposal, partners should let it age to ripeness on their desks for months, if necessary.  It should be given to the marketing director 24 hours before it is due, preferably on a Friday before a Monday due date.  Marketing directors are happy to work from 7 am to 9 pm, weekends included, because none of them have any personal lives.

Never discussing ideas with the marketing director leaves them with more free time to write brochure copy, plan parties and give office tours.  The marketing directors will constantly be putting our fires and never have a chance to think about strategy.  And then Dilbert's boss will have prevailed.


Law Firm Sends Announcement About New Marketing Director

Tia_achison_announcement_3Now this is more like it!  A law firm has actually sent out a printed announcement about the hiring of it's marketing director!  (Click the graphic to see the full size announcement.)

Kudos to Tia Atchison, the new Director of Marketing at Ulmer & Berne LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. Beforehand she was a Business Development Administrator for the labor and litigation practice groups at Hunton & Williams.

As Monica Bay has pointed out, "Marketing executives in law are becoming more strategic. They are using technology. They are change agents. They are fighting to be seen as integral strategic players within legal practices that are still characterized, unfortunately, by strongly prevailing 'caste' systems."

Law firms typically send out announcements about new partners and associaties, but at least one firm has realized the importance of announcing a new senior manager.  Tia's accouncement lists all the firm offices, and inside has a die-cut for her to insert her buiness card.  There is enough space for her to include a personal message.  You can reach Tia at tatchison@ulmer.com and 216.931.6304.


The Suburbs are the Place to Practice

Hdr_logo I just spotted this article in the Business Ledger, a newspaper that covers the Western suburbs of Chicago.  While the piece focuses on my home turf of DuPage County, the article applies to suburbs and cities everywhere.  Key points of the article:

  • Increased competition is driving professional firms into the suburbs
  • How deeply marketing has made its way into the legal professions.

Well-established suburban law firms are finding increased competition from Chicago-based practices that are following clients to the collar counties and opening satellite offices to serve them.

What it means is that while Chicago remains the epicenter for the legal profession, things are heating up in the suburban market.

The Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois reports that in 2004 DuPage County had 3,983 registered lawyers and Kane County had 1,035, compared to 41,796 in Cook County.

It is safe to say that most fresh faces just out of law school are still initially looking at big law firms downtown, seeking the bigger salaries and excitement of working in the Loop, but suburban attorneys contend that there are growing opportunities for specialty lawyers in the suburbs because of their demographics and proximity to major businesses.

"I worked for a big Chicago firm for many years," said Tim McLean, partner at Clingen, Callow & McLean, LLC, in Wheaton. "When I decided to come out to the suburbs I was told that I was committing career suicide by not working in a big Chicago law firm.

"It is quite the contrary. I have found it better in DuPage because we can be much more cost efficient than a Chicago firm can be."

Many big corporate enterprises have made the switch too, as more companies are moving away from the big city and setting up shop in the suburbs.

"There is a lot more corporate clientele in the suburbs now," said Shawn M. Collins, partner and founder of the Collins Law Firm in Naperville. "Big business is a growing trend in the suburbs and now they don't have to go to Chicago for good legal service."

Daniel Purdom, managing partner for Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP, in Lisle, believes that there is no lack of opportunity in the suburbs and as technology advances, location is less of an issue.

"People still believe that that Chicago is the place to be," said Purdom. "Clearly there is a huge mass of lawyers there, but with technology the way it is, location is not as significant."

Because of this many attorneys are finding that they can operate with a much lower overhead in the suburbs than it is possible to in the city. That then equates into lower costs for clients, who are often paying for the same top quality attorney they would find downtown.

"Some people want the prestige of a big thousand-person firm," said McLean. "But those are the same people that I went to law school with, and it is more cost-efficient out here."

However, with greater opportunities comes increased competition, and not only from other home-grown suburban firms, but also from satellite offices of large downtown firms that are branching into the suburbs.

"That trend has occurred over the last 15 years," said James M. Huck Jr., president of Huck Bouma PC, the largest firm in DuPage County with 26 practicing attorneys. "Our competition now is with larger Chicago firms that have located out here."

Naperville's Collins believes that this will continue to occur because it is a convenience to lawyers who live in the suburbs as well as the local corporate clientele.

The most notable example of increased competition is how marketing has made its way into the legal profession. For instance, advertising by a law firm was unheard of 25 years ago.

Attorneys of a generation ago regarded advertising disdainfully, but even if some of today's firms still share those views, all agree that if a firm does not market itself, it will soon find itself out of the market.

"Law firms have to beat their chests more than they did in the past," said Naperville's Collins, who has advertised aggressively. "I always tell young lawyers that the first casualty for this business is modesty. The generation before never advertised, but if you don't do it today, it will hurt."

McLean said that his firm only operated on word of mouth for the first ten years and experienced growth, but has recently had to begin advertising because "good service alone isn't enough to help you grow anymore."

Wessels & Pautsch, PC was founded in St. Charles and specializes in management-side labor and employment. That niche allowed the firm to expand beyond the suburbs with multiple offices and establish a national presence, but it has also had to develop new ways to keep its name out in the marketplace.

"We have more seminars now because that is a good way to keep our name out there," said Richard H. Wessels, chairman of the board and founder of the firm. "We also put out a newsletter that has a mailing list of over 15,000. That is a substantial cost for us.

"Things have changed. It's much faster paced. The big downtown firms will market so you have to do it to keep pace."

Law firms like Purdom's Hinshaw & Culbertson have their own complete marketing department. Even those without marketers on staff acknowledge that having to advertise helps them see eye to eye with a client on business-related matters.

"It really helps us understand our clients," said McLean. "I'm an entrepreneur. I deal with them everyday and this gives me a better understanding of what they go through on a daily basis."

According to Wheaton's Huck, to stay afloat and remain strong, successful firms will have to offer a specialty that fits the market around them.

"It is best to be specialized and more sophisticated because that is much more profitable," said Huck.

He said that intellectual property, tax and employment law lawyers will find a lot of opportunity in the suburbs.

"Intellectual property is a hot area," agreed McLean, whose firm provides that service. "A lot of corporations and inventors in this area need to protect their ideas and inventions."

Hinshaw & Culbertson has white-collar crime as one of its specialties, largely because of the area's affluence.

Over the next few years job opportunities are going to be increasingly competitive for lawyers just out of law school, as a large number of students entered graduate programs during the economic downturn.

Huck believes that job growth in the field will occur mostly in places like Kane County, where population growth is peaking. DuPage County may have reached its ceiling in terms of job offers for lawyers, but not for opportunity, he said.

Regardless, many firms see this as a benefit as it could potentially spark a surge in applications and encourage more lawyers to look at the suburbs.

"I think that it is inevitable," said McLean. "It's happening in metropolitan areas across the country. We are seeing more and more firms thriving in the suburban area. You don't need the presence of a big downtown location. Long term, the suburbs are the place to practice."


Marketing is dead

Kim_tasso135 So says Kim Tasso, an independent consultant based in Middlesex, England, specializing in the professional services sector with more than 20 years' marketing experience. Writing in the Summer 2005 issue of pm magazine, the worldwide journal for marketing professional services from the PM Forum, she adds that business development is thriving.  Here's her article.

Some firms feel it is enough simply to re-spray their marketing department as 'business development' in order to remain in vogue. Others are recruiting a new breed of 'marketing' professional to spearhead their shiny new business development teams. The brave ones even call it by one of its proper names - new business sales or key account management.

While some may dismiss the trend as a flirtation with a new management fad, others will recognize it as what economists call a weak signal - which has a nasty habit of turning into harbingers of major change and sometimes crises. It may be an expression of the disappointment and dissatisfaction with the lack of accountability, return on investment and the torrent of ivory tower missives from marketing teams that have lost touch (if they ever had it) with the needs of their partners and, more importantly, the needs of the clients. In which case, dear Marketers, wake up and smell the coffee - you had your chance and failed and your days are now numbered. Partners are demanding faster and more obvious results.

Taking a more optimistic view, it could be that marketing has been incredibly successful in educating the partners and fee-earners in the need to take a more strategic approach to analyzing their markets, setting clear goals and developing structured marketing plans. The marketing knowledge and skills have been successfully transferred to the lawyers, accountants and surveyors and they have looked over their past failures and have subsequently established sophisticated and integrated marketing campaigns that are generating a flow of high quality leads.

So now they need people who can confidently coach them through pipeline management and sales conversion. If this is the case, then marketers can dust off their rusty selling skills and return to the front line.

If your firm has taken the dramatic step of establishing a separate business development function, then marketers must do their utmost to ensure that the overall effort remains 'on strategy,' integrated and effective. They must learn all they can from this new breed of client-facing, short term results oriented deal makers and prevent the silos of independent action re-emerging to threaten the greater needs of the practice. Or face being pigeon-holed into a relatively passive brand-defending communications function - forced into a worrying past-time of watching all that work in strategic planning and positioning being sacrificed at the alter of the 'quick win' major sale.

I'm up there with the optimists. And I'm delighted to witness the revolution. Call me a traitor but it's a fantastic opportunity - and one that some of us have fought hard to win. We are finally being freed from the shackles of behind-the-scenes support and taking our rightful place alongside the fee-earners as we participate in meaningful dialogues with clients about how they want their professional services delivered in the future.

The future is bright, the future is business development.


More People Use Internet Search Engines than Yellow Pages

Yellow_pages The day has finally come: More people use Internet search engines than yellow pages.  I knew all along that the overpriced yellow pages were a dying business.  The yellow pages were exorbitantly expensive to advertise in, and would carry hundreds of undifferentiated listings (look up "lawyers" for example") that made it difficult for consumers to use.  YP ads were always a bad idea for professionals, because only bottom-feeders and bargain hunters use them to find accountants, lawyers and consultants. And the YP publishers made sure consumers had a low opinion of them, by delivering them in a plastic bag in the middle of my lawn.  I am glad to see the Yellow Pages dying.

I knew Yellow Pages were going the way of the dinosaur when I noticed people looking up phone numbers on Google.

Here is Kevin O'Keefe's synopsis of the new study:

When it comes to looking for a lawyer, more Americans are turning to the search engines than the yellow pages. So says a June 21 study from Harris Interactive on the behavior and preferences of Americans when searching the web. 54% search online rather than use a phone book. Though 63% are looking for the addresses of phone numbers of people, almost as many (58%) are looking up information on local businesses.

Other findings of interest include:

  • Google is the most popular search engine, followed by Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask Jeeves.
  • Google users also tend to use search for business or professional research more than other search engine users.
  • More than 45% of adults searching for news are looking for differing viewpoints, and 42% are searching for supplemental information.
  • Search engine users aren't as loyal as many believe. Just 13% reported that they used Google all of the time. There was even less loyalty among users of the other search engines.
  • More than half (56%) do not understand the difference between the paid and organic types of listings. Among those that do know the difference, only about half (51%) prefer organic listings. And in general, men express a stronger preference for organic results than women, who tend not to have a preference.

Yellow page folks will of course say that they are now set to display search results on the search engines for lawyers who are advertising in the yellow pages. However lawyers relying on the yellow page companies to get them on the Internet, such lawyers are getting a pretty weak presence on the Internet, assuming they can be found at all.

A strong Internet presence in the form of a well designed blog providing information on the niche area the lawyer practices in or well designed search engine optimized Web site rich in content is the answer. Both will get a lawyer high search engine rankings and do a much more effective job than relying on the inferior quality stuff you've come to expect from yellow page ad sales people. You know the type - the sales people only get paid commissions when they sell you upgrades like a color ad resulting in the purple and green law firm ads that look like an ad for a bordello.

Source of post: Chris Sherman at SearchEngineWatch

Survey: GCs want law firms that Understand their Business

Corporate_legal_times182 General counsel are no longer measured by their legal prowess, but by the business acumen, according to the Corporate Legal Times | LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell 16th annual survey of general counsel.  Accordingly, they look to retain law firms that "have a good understanding of their company's business; offer cost-saving alternative billing methods; work with them to manage their legal risks; and generally adhere to budgets.  The survey results are published on pages 36-46 of the July 2005 issue of CLT. (Sorry, nothing online to link to.)

Mhlogoblock Staying within budget is a big deal in the corporate world.  "The small number of firms that have insisted on bucking our system or disregarding our preferences have been deselected, or are being phased out," said one GC.

Even though the survey found that most GCs believe that the level of law firm service has improved over the past five years, there are still negatives:

  • 46% of GCs don't believe law firms understand corporate budget pressures and 1/3 say law firms pad their bills.
  • 42% of GCs say that law firms don't adhere to budgets.
  • One bank's internal attorneys now estimate how much a matter should cost before they issue an RFP. 
  • When an entire industry is being sued, GCs want law firms to form join-defense groups to pick one law firm to represent all the companies.
  • 99% of GCs say that law firms rarely or never ask for an evaluation.  55% of GCs said law firms should ask for feedback at the conclusion of a matter

On the other hand, law firms say:

  • 90% of law firms offer alternatives to traditional hourly rates, but clients don't ask form them.
  • Some law firms are requesting feedback from GCs, even going to far as to hire third-party consulting firms to conduct post-mortem surveys of key clients.

The Strategic Lawyer Gets More Clients

BigbluecomJill Schachner Chanen, a Legal Affairs Writer for the ABA Journal, has written an excellent article called "The Strategic Lawyer" on page 43 of the July 2005 ABA Journal.  I mention it here because you may have overlooked the marketing angle. 
The article makes the same point I do to my law firm clients: corporations are placing a premium on advisers who understand their business and the company's big picture.
According to Chanen, clients are sick of "profit-minded, specialty-touting multinational megalaw firms.  Given the high salaries firms pay lawyers, clients can no longer hire advisers who have nothing to offer besides basic legal training." Instead, they want a strategic lawyer (or accountant, consultant or other adviser), who:
  • Knows how to approach a problem in light of the company's overall business strategy.
  • Helps the client accomplish its business goals.
  • Is one part cosigliere, one part Sun-Tzu warrior and one part Yoda.
  • Shows clients how the law helps them gain a competitive position.
  • Are business-centric, not law-centric.
  • May say "no" to a client, but will have another suggestion to meet the business objective.
  • Understands the client's business, how it operates, how it makes money, who its competitors are, what its key relationships are and what its goals for growth are.
  • Understands how much risk the business accepts.
  • Won't suggest filing suit if it would jeopardize an important business relationship.
  • Advises clients how to set up new systems for oversight so that it can prevent litigation in the first place.
  • Thinks how a matter fits into the larger policy perspective of a client, starts forging consensus and develops a team around a problem.

These strategic lawyers are known as "rainmakers."


Law Firm CMOs earn an Average of $225,208

Elizabeth_lampertMarketers with the word "Chief" in their title earn an average of $225,208 and a median (half are above/blow) of $200,000, according to statistics released today.  The compensation for marketers with "Director" in their title averaged $111,696 in salary and a median of $99,000.

The average annual base salary for 51% of all law firm marketers combined is less than $75,000; however 26% receive $100,000 or more.  At the same time 17% of marketers said they received no annual bonus; 51% received a bonus of only $5,000 or less.

These are the findings of a new Legal Marketing Association "Roles and Compensation Survey" that will be released July 22. A sneak preview was presented today during an LJN Web Audio Webinar, "What Legal Marketing Professionals Command for Full-Time Salary."

Furthermore, within the last two years, 85% of marketers received no signing bonus; only 10% did get a signing bonus of $5,000 or less, and only 5% received more than $5,000.  Regarding moving allowances, 91% did not receive a moving allowance; only 9% got one but the average amount was only $712.

The LMA report will include additional information on reimbursements (for Blackberrys and cell phones), reimbursement of association memberships, severance pages and employment contracts.  It will be free to all LMA members and survey participants.  A link will be sent out to a page on the LMA Web site where members can download the report.

Ljn_audio300Interestingly, the four panelists said they were seeing higher salary amounts being paid than reported in the survey.  The panelists were Elizabeth Lampert, Director of LJN's Web Audio Division and President of Elizabeth Lampert PR; Bill Crooks a recruiter with Priority Search International in Orlando, FL; Silvia Coulter, Managing Partner of Coulter Consulting Group in Boston, and Nathalie M. Daum, National  Marketing Manager of Quarles & Brady Streich Lang in Phoenix and immediate past president of the Legal Marketing Association.

Bill_crooks Crooks said that in his placement work, he found the following salaries being paid:

  • Marketing Assistants (e.g., who do data entry work) at a Top 200 firm are paid $30K to $40K.
  • Marketing Coordinators are paid from $40K to $70K in large cities like New York and DC.
  • Marketing Managers earn $75K to $110K depending on their duties.
  • Practice Group Managers $80K to $180K.
  • In the future the higher salaries will be in business development, not marketing.

It's a great time to be looking for a job, according to Crooks.  "It's very competitive among the firms.  Salaries are tending to be bumped up. A lot of firms are competing for top talent, even if the person is coming from another industry. In certain markets there is a feeding frenzy, with three firms competing for one person.   It's more competitive to find PR managers and Marketing Managers now than it is to hire a Director or CMO."

Each panelist offered a great hiring tip:

  • Crooks said if you can't get a signing bonus, ask the firm to pay you $10K to $15K to make up for the fact that the firm can't contribute to your 401(k) plan in the first year.
  • Coulter said new marketers should make certain that there is a mechanism in place for marketers to get sales reports from partners and feedback on sales calls.  Otherwise it's difficult for the marketer to demonstrate ROI to the firm.
  • Daum said to make sure that the partners know what you are doing for them.  "Provide the partners a report on what kind of activities you're doing on their behalf," she said.
  • Lampert said that marketers must provide competitive intelligence on salaries.  She crediting the LawMarketing Listserv and LawMarketing Portal for requiring employers to state the salary in a job posting. 

Why Buying a "Boat" is Bad for Marketing

Cadillac_dts All the U.S. car companies are now promoting employee discount prices.  If you are tempted by this fire sale, whatever you do, don't buy a "boat."  This is a huge, expensive car that most professionals justify as "needing to impress the clients."  In my opinion, owning a boat sends the totally wrong marketing signal. 

Owning a boat says:

  • I'm rich as Croesus and privately look down on people with less money.  This car cost $60,000, which may be as much as you earn in a year.  I got the money from fees that suckers like you pay me. 
  • I took my home equity line up to the limit to buy this overpriced car, and I'm irresponsible with my own money. Can you imagine how I'll handle your money?
  • I'm totally into status, prestige and conspicuous extravagance.  Developing a relationship with you is secondary to that.  I want you to view me with awe, not trust.
  • Lincoln_town_car_2 The car drives like a pig, so I know nothing about cars.  It may have 290 horsepower, but it weighs 4,000 pounds.  It's like driving a living room around.  If I'm that stupid with a car, imagine how good my professional skills are?
  • I drive an old man's car, so I guess that makes me one.  I want squishy handling, ravenous gas consumption, and no feedback from the road.  So do you think I want any feedback from you?  I'm too old to care. Imagine how old my professional skills are?
  • I like a car that's almost 5 feet tall.  Makes you feel kind of small doesn't it, shorty?
  • The turning circle is about 40 feet, so people better get out of my way. I'm not very nimble and demand a lot of space.  It kind of reflects the way I practice my professional.  So look out, small fry.
  • Sure the car is a gas pig and gets about 15 miles per gallon on premium fuel.  But what do I care?  Let other people buy fuel-efficient cars, so there's more for me.  By the way, my fees are kind of like the price of oil, if you know what I mean.
  • Yes, I know that mafioso and pimps drive this kind of car, but they're not admitted to practice my profession.  People don't look at them and me in the same way, do they?

The Next Time You Buy Business Cards

Notecards1Here's a great tip I picked up from Eric Mack's blog for the next time you order business cards.

When you return from a conference, you'll ordinarily bring back a stack of business cards.  When I receive the card, my habit is to note the date, occasion, what we discussed and my follow-up action.  Your pile of cards will look something like the photo on the right.

Eric writes, "Some of the people I gave my card to took meticulous notes on the back, while others simply placed them their coat pocket.  For this latter group, I wonder if, now that a week has gone by if they even remember what we spoke about and why I gave them my card in the first place."

Notecards2_1 "It occurred to me that I could do something simple but powerful to increase the likelihood that people I gave my business card to would take notes and define the next define the next action on the back -- I could print a next action form on the back of my cards. Now I know that there's not a lot of room on the back of a business card to begin with, however, a simple trigger list should be sufficient to encourage folks to think of and write down the most important keywords that will help them deal with these business cards when they get around to processing them.

Here's what I've come up with so far (see above).

What if everyone did this?


Eight Survival Secrets for Marketers

Monica_bay135Andrea L. Meacham, Chief Content Officer of RainToday.com in Framingham, MA  (ameacham@raintoday.com and 508-405-0438) wrote a good synopsis of Monica Bay's keynote presentation at the recent Legal Sales and Service Organization's "Raindance" conference. The full article on online, but here's the part about Monica's 8 Survival Secrets for marketers.  God knows we need to know these secrets:

State of the Industry: Marketing and Business Development Secrets

In her keynote address, Bay outlined what she called "Eight Survival Secrets" for professionals responsible for growing and developing law firm clients in the current environment. Though the secrets were directed to law professionals, I see most of these concepts as being relevant for any professional service field. I thought Ms. Bay did a great job of summing up the paradigm shift in a way that pinpointed some of the toughest areas of change--in law specifically, and in business in general--so here they are (with some paraphrasing):

  1. The model of law has changed from "Private Club", with firms submitting three-word invoices (For Services Rendered) to their clients, to a corporate-like business model.
  2. The required attitude of law has changed from "Eat what you kill" to "Collaboration" with clients in every size of law firm.
  3. The "billable hour" client relationship is changing. Though billable hours are not entirely dead, fee structures are evolving to include more of a direct tie to a service relationship. The selling structure of client projects has been impacted by clients who aren't happy with billing; clients who are asking for accountability; and other traditional corporate forces.
  4. "Barbie does marketing" is no longer the case. Marketing executives in law are becoming more strategic. They are using technology. They are change agents. They are fighting to be seen as integral strategic players within legal practices that are still characterized, unfortunately, by strongly prevailing "caste" systems.
  5. It's all about customer service. Firms need to value their clients and employees, and treat them with respect. Firms need to list their corporate-level, non-partner executives on their firm web sites (not currently the norm) so they can be found by the world for potential partnering and client opportunities. Firms need to change their ways from sending "For Services Rendered" bills to saying "Thank you" and "How did we do?"
  6. Firms need to increase their visibility. For example, the rise of blogs is a wide-open and incredible opportunity to let internal firm stars shine... and they can't be done by committee. They must be an individual voice. But they are one example of how to put your firm on the radar of potential clients.
  7. Lawyers should be fearless and admit there's much to learn about business. Rather than being afraid, intimidated, or embarrassed to reach outside their primary area of knowledge, lawyers should embrace business terms and become willing students of what it means to run your firm like a business.
  8. Don't use jargon! Don't say strategic, centric, value-added, or solution. Don't talk about channels, or vertical markets. Write for your mother. Language is power. It should be used to build bridges, not walls.

The Blogger Diaries | Stepping onto the Cutting Edge

Lpnameplate FROM: July / August 2005, PAGE 64

BY: Larry Bodine

It took about 10 minutes for lawyer Andrew W. Ewalt to set up a Weblog and step onto the cutting edge of marketing. For Andrew, a solo practitioner in Storrs, Connecticut, starting up a blog was no sweat. "It was easy. I'm computer-savvy enough to see a button online and click it to see what it does." You can find "Andrew Ewalt's
Law Blog" online at http://andrewewaltslawblog.blogs.com.

Although he admits to spending 18 hours a day in front of a computer, Andrew is not a hair-tinted techno-geek. This is a real lawyer who practices in probate and estate administration, life and estate planning, business law, taxation law, elder law, bankruptcy, and residential and commercial real estate. All that made Andrew seem a perfect subject for the magazine's new series "The Blogger Diaries."

Law Practice will chronicle Andrew's blog and his online marketing efforts over the next year, providing updates in every other issue. You'll get to see what he tries, what works and what doesn't. And to help him avoid missteps, the magazine has appointed me to be his blog coach--because I am a hair-tinted techno-geek (and a lawyer to boot).

Why track how a blog works for a lawyer? Blogs are absolutely red hot in marketing circles. Fortune magazine declared them the number one technology trend in the country. The Wall Street Journal carried an article, "Blogs Keep Internet Customers Coming Back." And BusinessWeek made blogs its cover story.

Andrew_ewalt135_1 As of May 2005, 27 percent of U.S. adults online read blogs--which factors out to 32 million people, according to Pew Internet. But there are still fewer than 1,000 lawyer blogs, according to www.blawg.org. The world is blogging and the legal profession is standing on the sidelines. This is a major marketing mistake, especially when setting up a blog is so easy.

Day One: The Starter Steps

For Andrew's blog, I recommended he sign up for a TypePad account at www.typepad.com. He chose the $14.95 per-month service (and the first two months are free). It's a better alternative than Blogger, which I consider a kid's option. It's also less complicated than Movable Type, which must be installed on a server.

Andrew chose the three-column layout and "classy" design for his blog. Then he switched on the commenting feature, which allows his readers to join in a two-way conversation with him. At my suggestion, he put his tagline under the blog title and turned on the calendar feature, so readers will be able to easily locate past posts. He also put his photo, Web site address and phone numbers in the "About" section.

Then he created his "blogroll," a list of other, related blogs to which he's offering links. Remember, the blogosphere is all about linking. You want lots of people to link to you, and you get them by linking to other blogs. Plus, it helps you rank high in Google and Yahoo searches.

In general, search engines favor blogs because they are primarily text and are frequently updated (just what search engines like). In fact, many blogs rank higher in searches than law firm sites, because traditional Web sites are junked up with flash, animation, frames and other search-engine repellent.

Andrew's first post, "Ideas for Preventing Identity Theft," went online on May 13, followed by a May 16 post, "Good News for Individuals Facing Long-Term Care."

Stay tuned. It only gets better from here.

Larry Bodine (lbodine@lawmarketing.com) is a strategic Web and marketing consultant based in Glen Ellyn, IL. He runs the LawMarketing Listserv (www.LawMarketing.biz), the LawMarketing Portal (www.LawMarketing.com), the PM Forum Web site (www.PMForumNA.org) and, oh yes, his own Professional Marketing Blog at http://blog.larrybodine.com.



Dragon goes back to the store

I returned the Dragon Naturally Speaking software to CompUSA today, because it only works on PCs.  And of course, I just bought a Mac.  But I got my $202 back!

After speaking with many computer users, I heard nothing good about speech recognition software.  The universal word-of-mouth is that it's "frustrating" and "requires a lot of patience."  This is a bad match for marketers with a "get it done now" personality.  Besides, my Macaw can recognize and mimic speech already.

Harry__larry_croppedAlso, I got my medical staples removed from my left shoulder and the surgeon said I'm healing up A-OK.  I feel no pain from having a titanium plate inserted with 7 screws surgically inserted, which the doc said was a very good sign.  He said I could even take off the Velcro brace that holds my left arm still.  That means I can type again, so who needs speech recognition software?

Marketing lessons learned:

  • Take word-of-mouth seriously and keep your receipts.
  • Be grateful for the little things in life, like the ability touch-type, tie your own shoes and drive a car. One-armed people have a difficult time with these things.
  • Be willing to change course when circumstances change.
  • Listen to your inner Macaw.

Blogs work for PR, influence public and media

Presshat In his blog, Kevin O'Keefe tipped me off to a new study conducted by Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University shows that more than 51 percent of journalists use blogs regularly, and 28 percent rely on them to help in their day-to-day reporting duties.

As CEO of Euro RSCG Magnet says "The fact that the media are using blogs for reporting and research... demonstrates that blogs have an enormous potential to not only influence the general public, but to influence the influencers -- journalists and the media -- as well."

The study further found journalists mostly used blogs for finding story ideas (53 percent), researching and referencing facts (43 percent) and finding sources (36 percent). And 33 percent said they used blogs to uncover breaking news or scandals.

I find this to be totally true in my own experience.  Blogs attract reporters like investors to hot stocks.  I've been quoted in Business Week and numerous legal publications simply because the reporter ran a Google search and found my blog.  I always recommend that my law firm clients start blogs as a cornerstone of their public relations efforts.

Weblogs are poised to wield a greater influence over journalists -- and therefore over the stories they disseminate via the mainstream media. Sixty-eight percent of journalists believe that blogs will become a more popular tool for corporations [and also professional firms] seeking to inform consumers.

See "Study Bolsters Blog-Related PR Practices" for more info.


Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog wins TechnoLawyer Award

Jim_calloway100_1 Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog was named the Favorite Practice Management Blog of the TechnoLawyer Online Community. The other finalists were Adam Smith, Esq. and DennisKennedy.Blog

The TechnoLawyer @ Awards recognize customer loyalty. Every year, TechnoLawyer members vote for their favorite blogs, products, services, and Web sites in a variety of categories. In addition, @ Awards pay tribute to TechnoLawyer of the Year, Favorite TechnoLawyer Contributor, among others. Only TechnoLawyer members may vote in the @ Awards. (Last year TechnoLawyer named me 2004 Technology Consultant of the Year.)

The other 2005 TECHNOLAWYER @ AWARDS included:

Favorite Practice Area Blog. Winner: Patently-O: Patent Law Blog, edited by Dennis Crouch, patent attorney at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP in Chicago. With over 20,000 visitors each week, Patently-O has become a primary source for the most current patent law news and information.

BryansimsBryan Sims was named TechnoLawyer of 2005. Every year, the TechnoLawyer online community bestows this "@ Award" on a practicing lawyer who makes extensive use of technology in their practice, and who shares their expertise with the legal community at large.

Bryan practices civil and appellate litigation at James, Gustafson and Thompson in Chicago. Since 1998, Bryan has contributed 26 Posts to TechnoLawyer, including classics such as "The Power of a Wireless Telephone in Modern Litigation Practice," "How I Communicate v. How I Want to Communicate," "How Lawyers Find Local Counsel in 2004," and just last week "Getting the Most Out of Stamps.com."

Favorite Legal Web Site: Winner: Software Technology, Inc. Finalists: Law.com and LexisNexis.

Favorite Print Legal Technology Publication: Winner: Law Technology News (I'm honored to be an Editorial Board member). Finalists: Law Office Computing (You'll find the marketing column written by yours truly) and LJN Legal Tech Newsletter.


It's a Cold Day in Hell: I just Bought a Mac

Indextop20050427_1 As a businessman who grew up with DOS in the 1980s, used all the versions of Windows, left my beloved WordPerfect to switch to Word, I have now done the unthinkable:  I just spent $4,552 on a top-of the line Power Mac G5 Dual 2.7 GHz desktop computer with a load of add-on software.

I used to chuckle at Macs.  They were only used by graphic artists, oddballs and foreigners.  Only 5% of all computer users own Macs.  I told my math-genius son Ted to avoid Macs because I considered them orphan technology.  Macs were the computer equivalent of Betamax.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when my computer got hacked last fall.  Someone driving through me leafy suburban neighborhood with a packet sniffer found my wireless network, got around the encrypted security login, bypassed the firewall, slipped past the windows logon password and vandalized my computer.  He nearly put me out of business.  However my fastidious backing up and off-network extra computers saved me.  A triple layer of security did not protect me.

When my tech support goddess picked up my ravaged computer, she said, "Why don't you get a Mac? They never get hacked or hit with viruses.  And I think you're Mac person."

Her last sentence hit home.  I looked in the mirror, saw a guy who left senior management at age 50 to be an entrepreneur.  I like learning new software, so that makes me non-mainstream.  I speak German, have a parrot who says "Guten Tag" and "Achtung", so there's plenty of foreigner in me.  I do spend time snipping, cropping and enhancing photos, so there's the design element.  I realized the tech goddess was right.


* Macs have equivalents to Outlook, Word and PowerPoint. Files created in Mac are fully transferable to PCs. My HP printer, flat screen monitor and Treo PDA will work with Mac.
* I am sick to death of viruses, worms and Trojan horses that routinely cripple my PC.  I have to run an antivirus programs constantly -- and it gives me warnings ever hour that it stopped a cyber intruder.  Viruses, worms, Trojan horses are unknown in the Mac world.
* I despise the browser hijackers, malware, adware and spyware that attack PCs.  These snakes don't bite Macs.
* I am tired of making Bill Gates the richest man on the planet.

Sure, a PC would have been a fraction of the cost.  But I'll gladly pay extra to be free of hackers and viruses.  So call me a turncoat, a prodigal son or an early re-adopter, but I'm in the Mac world now.

Will my new colleagues please introduce themselves to me?  Do you use a Mac?  What made you decide make the switch?


Market as Hospitals Do

Edhospital Professional firms should deliver client service and market as good hospitals do.  I just gt out out the wonderful Edward Hospital in Naperville, IL, and it was a superb experience.  Check this out:

  • They had room service! Before my shoulder surgery, all I had to eat was a plain bagel at 8 am.  I went into the operating room at 4 pm, woke up at 7:30 pm and was ravenous.  The nurse handed me a real menu, and I ordered a cheeseburger, diet Pepsi and brownie with ice cream.  The tray of food was before me in 5 minutes.  Talk about a great client experience!  Professional firms should have a tray of snacks, fruit and drinks in the reception area and all conference rooms.
  • I felt as if they really cared. Everywhere there were signs saying, "are you having a good experience? Please let us know!" I was checked on by at least 10 different nurses and technicians, all asking the same question:  was I comfortable?  They wrote their names on a whiteboard so I wouldn't need to memorize them.  They wanted to make sure I was in no pain, and I never was.  When I had trouble sleeping the single night I stayed in the hospital, the nurse asked, "would you like a morphine shot?"  Sure, why not, I said.  I got a great night's sleep.  Professional firms should demonstrate that they care personally about their clients too.  This is what clients really want.
  • They put leg massagers on my calves.  The medical purpose is to prevent blood clots.  But the psychic experience was to put me in a very relaxed state.  I highly recommend this for all law offices especially and accounting offices during tax season.
  • The TV had 100 channels and I had the remote. I watched a fascinating show on the History Channel about how the introduction of Russian MiG jets changed the course on the Korean War. Every professional office reception area should have a cable TV set.
  • The bathroom was easy to find (it was in the room.)  This is the first thing a professional should tell a visiting client is where this necessary room is.
  • The docs, nurses and staff explained verbally what they were doing as they did it.  This put me at ease as they prepped me for the operation, put in an IV in my hand afterward and connected a variety of humming, glowing machines to me.  Professions should communicate this well, explain the purpose for what they're doing and de-mystify the process.

The weak link in the whole marketing process was the surgeon, who spent a grand total of three minutes with me while I was conscious.  He was universally recommended to me, so I can only presume he did great work reattaching me broken collarbone to my shoulder with a metal plate and artificial bone grafts. I have a 5-inch "zipper" on my left shoulder held together with 16 office-style staples, and a brace that immobilizes me left arm.

I found the surgeon the same way clients find professionals: I drafted a short list from my insurance company, asked around for word-of-mouth references, and Googled the lead candidate.  I was disappointed to see that he has nothing about himself on the Web.  So when I first met him, I had to grill him on his experience with my exact situation, how many times he had done the operation, whether he was board certified and if he had ever been sued for malpractice (surprise answer: he had been sued once but the case was dismissed before trial.)


Last Will 'n Testomint

Million_dollar_bill_1I go into the slaughterhouse in a couple of minutes.  If I die before I wake, and being of semi-soft mind and body, I hereby bequeath and bestow:

  • My vast fortune in novelty million-dollar bills to the members of the LawMarketing Listserv, the smartest marketers on the planet.
  • My workaholic writing compulsion to uber-editor Monica Bay, the only person I know who can write more copy than me.
  • My collection of PM Forum mousemats, banner, booth equipment and sunglass clips, to the members of the PM Forum USA, a classy collection of in-the-know marketers.
  • Laura_kresich100_1My old nickname "Uncle Lar" to all the early adopters who joined me online in the last century.
  • To my trusted CoMo (company monkey), researcher and personal Valium, Laura Kresich, I bequeath my new nick name "The Chi" (short for Chihuahua and a second meaning.)
  • My twisted sense of humor to blogger and marketer Andy Havens, the funniest guy I've never met.
  • My collection of Bob Dylan, John Mayall, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Pretenders, Wagner and other music CDs to fellow guitarist and songwriter Russell Lawson, Marketing Director of Sands Anderson Marks & Miller, P.C. in Richmond, VA, and longtime LawMarketing Portal Volunteer.  He's the best musician I've never played a tune with.
  • My multicolored tinted haircut, to anyone who takes themself too seriously.
  • To the thrill seekers of the world, a white-knuckle ride on the entrance ramp from I-355 southbound onto I-88 eastbound in my turbocharged and modified Subaru WRX.
  • My encyclopedic collection of issues of Professional Marketing magazine, to friend and fitness buff Darryl Cross.  He has the strength of many men and is the only one who could life them all at once.
  • My capitalist ability to pounce on an opportunity, to my admired colleague, Mike Cummings.
  • To all my friends, well-wishers and colleagues I didn't have time to mention, a big deposit in your karma bank and many miles of happy motoring.
  • Last but certainly not least, to my clients, I wish huge inflows of new business, big increases in revenue, enjoyment practicing law and business, and the ability to see in the dark.

Gotta go. They're calling for me now...