Which form of Ownership is Most Effective for Marketing?

Ownershipmodel I was co-presenting a Web seminar for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) with my research partner, Suzanne Lowe of Expertise Marketing, on the topic of "Increasing Marketing Effectiveness at Professional Firms."

The question arose: is there any correlation between effectiveness and ownership structure?

Our study did not inquire specifically into the effect the form of ownership made on marketing. However, I can give an answer based on 14 years of law marketing experience and empirical data.

Most professional firms are partnerships.  As such, they operate by consensus, which causes slow decision-making and allows a rogue naysayer to kill a marketing project

When I was an in-house marketer, I vividly recall being in a meeting of partners who were eager to start a newsletter about their practice.  Each one after the other glowed about what they would write about.  Then one elderly partner raised concerns whether competing firms would steal our content, whether our content would really be new and worthwhile, and whether our partners were truly qualified to be published in print.  He went on with a continuing blather of doubt, risks and downsides.

The group decided not to publish the newsletter.  One naysayer killed a perfectly good idea.

I believe that business partnerships work best with two or three partners who can quickly and easily confer with each other.  Once you start to have 10 or more partners, it's very difficult to get a decision made.  As such, partnership is an INeffective form of ownership for marketing, which involves risking failure and taking unprecedented steps.

A corporate model is more effective for marketing purposes.  The shareholders elect a CEO who can make binding decisions.  There is a VP of Marketing who can establish firmwide strategy, set expectations for activity, and measure results.  If a MAJORITY of the shareholders don't like the CEO, they can vote him out.  If the VP of Marketing isn't getting results, he can be removed by the CEO.  Decisions get made, compliance is expected and results are measured.

Either way, you could learn a lot from our research.  Please visit http://www.expertisemarketing.com/marketing_study_results.html
to learn what activities yield the best results, the metrics to measure the activities, and proving ROI.  I assure you it will preserve your job and get you a pay raise.


What goes into a Marketing Budget?

Money Last week I was co-presenting a Web seminar for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) on the topic of "Increasing Marketing Effectiveness at Professional Firms." Joining me was my research partner, Suzanne Lowe of Expertise Marketing to present practical applications of our new research to marketers in the architecture, engineering and construction fields.

Then this unexpected question came up: Can you define marketing budgets?

Marketing is: communication addressed to groups of service buyers.  This is in contrast to business development or sales, which is: the selling of services to specific buyers (not necessarily new clients).  Typically the marketing budget includes the costs AND revenues (in order from most $ budgeted to least $) for:

*          Marketing department total compensation

*          Professional-client meals and entertainment

*          Tickets

*          Charitable and civic event sponsorships

*          Advertising

*          Events planning and execution

*          Collateral marketing materials

*          Directory listings

*          Charitable and civic dues and memberships

*          Public and media relations

*          Website design and maintenance

*          Presentations by professionals

*          Client gifts

*          Postage for marketing mailings

*          Holiday cards

*          Consultants on strategic planning and marketing

*          Marketing training

*          Marketing staff professional dues, meetings, travel

*          Firm network dues and expenses

*          Trade association dues and expenses

*          Marketing staff training

*          Marketing staff overtime

(Source: LMA Law Firm Marketing Budgets, 2001)

Many professional firms mush together business development and marketing; but the list above enumerates typical marketing Expenses. And what a lame list it is.

Not one of the activities showed up in our research among the nighest-ranked "best results" marketing and business development initiatives.  Most of them could be measured to demonstrate return-on-investment ("ROI") or very tangible outcomes.

If you're a marketer who wants to preseve her job, deserve a pay raise and make a difference at her firm, focus on activities that can be measured to show ROI. If it can't be measured, don't do it. Again, check out the research, "Increasing Marketing Effectiveness at Professional Firms."


Proof: Advertising Works!

"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half," said department store merchant John Wanamaker.  Now, thanks to ALM Media we have the report, "An Analysis of Advertising and its Effect on Law Firm Revenue Growth."

Click the link, complete the form and you'll have the PDF report. I wish I had evidence like this when I was the marketing director of a large law firm.  I was dealing with a marketing partner who was a combination troglodyte and bully, who zeroed out my advertising budget.  I explained that the firm had bought ads for many years in a row -- if only to announce a new office, partner or charitable donation -- and that we could save a lot of money by planning, and purchasing a schedule of ads.  He insisted on proof that advertising worked. 

"Firms that make a commitment to advertising have higher growth rates," states the new four-page report.  ALM conducted a series of research analyses throughout 2005 to quantify advertising effectiveness -- to measure whether an increase in law firm ad spending leads to an increase in law firm revenues. Their industry-wide findings measured the relationship between law firms' advertising spending and their revenues by comparing firms that advertise and those that do not. Among the findings:

  • Firms that make a commitment to advertising have higher growth rates.

  • Financially successful firms advertise.

  • Firms that advertise make more money than those that don't.


And here's the really intersting data:

Firms that spent $100,000 or more in at least 3 of the 5 years included:

  • Arnold & Porter LLP
  • Baker & Daniels
  • Barnes & Thornburg LLP
  • Crowell & Moring LLP
  • Dickstein Shapiro Morin &Oshinsky LLP
  • Epstein Becker & Green, P.C.
  • Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner
  • Foley & Lardner
  • Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.
  • Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP
  • Holland & Hart LLP
  • Howrey Simon Arnold & White
  • Jones Day
  • Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP
  • Littler Mendelson
  • Morrison & Foerster LLP
  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
  • Proskauer Rose LLP
  • Ropes & Gray LLP
  • Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

I'll bet you've heard of all these firms.

Kids' Texting Acronyms Revealed

It's more popular for kids to send text messages to each other than to talk on their cell phones or even talk in person.  Working on tiny phone screens they've developed their own abbreviaitions, many of which are incomprehensible to us parents.  In case you missed it in the Sunday paper, here's the Rosetta stone of key phrases:

Book * A3 is "anytime, anywhere, anyplace."
* ASLP is "age, sex, location, picture."
* BD is "big deal."
* CMI is "call me."
* CTN is "can't talk nmv."
* F2T is "free to talk."
* FYEO is "for your eyes only."
* IAD8 is "it's a date."
* LDR is "long-distance relaŽtionship."
* LYN is "lying."
* MMAMP is "meet me at my place."
* P911 is "my parents are coming."
* PRW is "parents are watching."
* RUMF? is "are you male or female?"
* STATS is "your sex and age."
* YIWTGO is "yes, i want to go private."

Rob Nickel, a former undercover officer specializing in online crime for the Ontario Provincial Police in Canada, put together a glossary to help adults "speak Internet" in his book Staying Safe in a Wired World.  To learn more on the Internet, visit  www.safebrowse.comwww.cyber-safety.com and www.getk9.com.


Hubbard One Ex-Leaders Now Selling Wine

Kent_zimmerman135_2 Ever wonder what happened to Kent Zimmermann and John Fish after they sold Hubbard One to Thompson West?  These two guys built up a Web business that had much of the AmLaw 100 law firms as customers, and they won several entrepreneur-of-the-year awards.  So how do you follow that up?  Kent briefly went to Thompson's LegalWorks conference business, but left after about a year.  John I totally lost track of.

They're  back, according to the June 19 issue of Crain's Chicago Business: They're set up a web site at www.openmarketwine.com and they're reselling bottles of boutique wine to connoisseurs in the 33 states that allow direct shipping of wine.  The U.S. Supreme Court made this business possible with a ruling last year that overturned laws banning cross-border shipping of wine.

Zimmerman, age 34, said they're picking "diamonds in the rough" -- small wineries that produce a few thousand cases a year and that are not widely distributed.  John and Kent net a 15% commission from each sale.  Fish, also 34, has his father scour the wine publications to find high-ranking wines from small, family-run vineyards.

They're promoting the Web site by sending direct mail to Wine Spectator subscribers, and contacting associations of professionals, like lawyers.  While they may face competition, it's a good market niche: the price of a $7+ bottle of California wine grew 13% to 58 million cases last year.

Where's Waldo? Identify the Bloggers

Here's the graphic that opens the article "Joining Blogomania" from the June/July 2006 issue of Law Office Computing.  Can you identify the bloggers? I couldn't belieive it that my own picture was in it.  Can you find it? (Click the picture for a bigger view.)



Shock and Awe at LSSO: Sales Training Doesn't Work and Diversity Doesn't Matter

The word "surprised" isn't adequate to describe how I felt when I heard the statements at the LSSO (Legal Sales and Service Organization) Raindance Conference in Reston, VA.  Somehow "shock and awe," describing the sky on fire in Baghdad, fit better.

Simone_wu Diversity Doesn't Matter.  Three general counsel at the "General Counsels Unplugged: Everything You wanted to Know" session all agreed that ethnic, gender and racial makeup of law firms doesn't matter in deciding which firms their companies hire. 

The general counsel were:

  • Julie Alexa Strauss, VP and Corporate Counsel for Feld Entertainment, Inc., of Tysons Corner, VA. The company produces live family entertainment (Ringling Brothers Circus and Disney on Ice). They have 4 in-house lawyers.
  • Neal S. Winneg, GC of Upromise, Inc., an online college savings program.  It is a subsidiary of Sallie May, which has 26 lawyers in house.
  • Simone Wu, acting GC and VP at XO Communications, a Reston, VA, telecom services and broadband access company. It has 25 lawyers in-house. It spends $6 million on legal matters, from revenues of $1.5 billion. Astonishingly, Wu is Asian, and she agreed that diversity doesn't matter to her company when selecting a law firm.

Stunned attendees speculated that the companies involved were small, and not major national law firms where diversity definitely does matter. How else can you explain educated people saying stupid things in public? 

The next stunner came during the "Defining Business Development" session, where Sue Stock Allison of the Brand Research Company and Katherine Daisley, Marketing Manager for ALM Research, presented the findings of the new "Law Firm Business Development Survey."

SalestrainingThey surveyed 157 law firm marketing directors and CMOs from November 2005 to January 2006, who told them that sales training for the lawyers was the least effective factor contributing to the firm's revenue growth.

Patrick B. Sweeney of Sales Results Inc. in Arlington, VA, stood up at the front of the audience and said this could only be true if there is a lack of buy-in from top management.

I could also picture a room of bored partners, pretending to pay attention to an outside sales training consultant, and waiting to go back to billing hours.  Without followup and without requiring the partners to compose personal sales plans, of course the training would be ineffective.

Meanwhile, "cost cutting" somehow got on the list of as a growth factor. It made me realize that even though I was at a conference of sophisticated sales and business development professionals, there is a flat world out there populated by law firms that simply don't "get it."


Persuasion -- The Art of Getting What You Want

Attendance at today's LSSO conference perked up to 135, including exhibitors and staff.  Small yes, but the attendees were the creme de la creme of sales and business development.
mailto:dave@boldapproach.comDave Lakhani, author of Persuasion -- The Art of Getting What You Want -- explained how to be persuasive, which is a good thing, but not manipulative, which is a bad thing.
  • Focuses only on the needs of the manipulator. It is focused on one outcome no matter what the cost to the other person
  • Is dishonest and unethical
  • Always hurts someone
  • Is always discovered.
Persuasion, on the other hand, is:
  • Focused on achieving a positive outcome for both people
  • Relationship enhancing
  • Transparent
  • Engaging Compelling
  • Always honest and ethical
  • Is never discovered
Persuasion The President of Bold Approach sales, marketing and public relations in Boise, ID, Lakhani said, "If your intent is to help someone become a better person, overcome a problem and provide a solution - that's a good thing.  That's persuasion," and it applies to business development.  He listed 5 tactics to become persuasive:

Tactic 1: Tell a persuasive story.  Stories are oldest form of communication since the birth of our civilization. Myths are stories that are easy to repeat. If you meet someone and start with a pitch and bullet points - your prospect will have no interest. "But if you start with a story about someone in a similar situation, and how you helped them, they'll listen," he said. With stories, everything doesn't have to add up. Stories go in under our radar and causes people to be attentive and curious. Give a story about why you're here, how you got into business - its very powerful.

Tactic 2: Develop a Persuasive Persona.  Your appearance is the first thing people will judge you by. If you're in business development, you only want people to look at your face. Do everything so that people will look at your face - wear a dark suit, white shirt, red tie - which pushes attention to your face. Your face is where all your information comes from and is where people connect. Your voice and communication skills are also important.  If you're not a good public speaker, you need to focus on that, spend time at toastmasters, and get a speaking coach.

Tactic 3: Ask Powerful Questions.  Rudyard Kipling wrote, "I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who." It is more important than listening to ask powerful questions, so you have something important to listen to. Ask: What's your deadline?  What is your budget for this? Who is going to be responsible?

Tactic 4: Be An Expert
Experts have opinions and they share them. If you want to be recognized as an expert, you need to develop an opinion and share it. Everyone can be an expert at something - takes about 1000 hours of practice.  You should speak, write articles or a write book.

Tactic 5: Social Proof.   You can persuade people because human behavior is "Monkey see, monkey do." "If everybody else is doing it, you can assert that your prospect should be doing it too," he said. Also, give to receive: if you give the prospect a white paper or a copy of your book, they are much more likely to do something with you. Give someone a compliment, they will feel obligated to give you a compliment in return.

After listening to Lakhani, I was persuaded.


Thank you Google Desktop Search!

Have you ever opened a Word file that you were using as a template, entered new text, and then saved it -- overwriting the original version that you dearly wanted to keep?  I did that today with an article about a presentation on which I had taken an hour of notes.  After I saved over it, there was no way in Word to retrieve the prior version.  I was distraught.

So I opened a browser, used the Google Desktop Search to find the document, and noticed that 12


versions of the article were cached (click on the screen shot to see it bigger).  I clicked on "cached" and clicked among the choices until I found the last version of the earlier article before I overwrote it.

I highlighted and copied the article into Word and saved it under a new name.  Whew! I just love technology that saves me from my own mistakes.


Megafirms Offering Hefty Marketing/BD Salaries

Cmocompensation_1 According to the May/June 2006 issue of Law Firm Inc., sales and marketing professionals are hauling down some hefty salaries at firms in the Am Law 200, the Am Law Global 100 and the NLJ 250.

The top business development and sales professionals earn upwards of $250K.  Biz Dev is defined as the selling of services to specific buyers of legal service (not necessarily new clients).

Fewer CMOs and Marketing Directors, who handle marketing, defined as communication that's addressed to groups of legal service buyers, earn north of $250K.  However I know of CMOs at mega firms in major metro areas earning paychecks of $400K+.

Among the mega law firms:

The information derives from ALM Research and The Brand Research Company. If you're in the running for one of these top jobs, the research can be bought for $995, which is chicken feed if you get the gig.


Patton Boggs Magazine Hits Client Interests

Pattonboggscover Patton Boggs, a 450-lawyer business law firm headquartered in Washington, DC, has published "our new signature publication," Capital Thinking, for clients to stay a breast of critical business issues they face. (Click on the picture to see the full-size cover.)

The 16-page full-color magazine is excellent marketing because it:

  • Covers business topics, not legal topics.
  • Includes outside writers, like Carter Pate, the managing partner of PricewaterhouseCooper's DC federal practice and John Delaney, CEO of CapitalSource, a commercial finance company.
  • Has a jazzy, colorful and richly-illustrated layout and design.  (Publications from other law firms often have a color scheme ranging all the way from navy blue to gray.)
  • Includes a blow-in subscription card.
  • Links to a Web site, www.capitalthinkingmagazine.com where you can read and search the magazine online, and print out a PDF of the magazine.

The topics include trends in executive compensation, the health care crisis, how to do business in the Islamic wold, ending piracy in China, and the "Top Ten things to do when the SEC comes knocking."  Kudos to editor Mike Winkleman and the Patton Boggs marketing team for this well-executed idea.


The Anonymous Law Firm Spoof

Header If you want a good laugh, you've got to visit the Anonymous Law Firm, which makes every marketing mistake you can imagine on their site.  The home page proudly announces, "With clients, attorneys, values and traditions, the Firm holds a place of its own in most directories of legal enterprises."

The recruiting pitch to law students and laterals is, "Our recruiting efforts are focused on convincing individuals from top law schools to look no further than our firm for some of the most typical opportunities in the industry."

It's as if The Rodent wrote it, but it's by Henry Holt and Company.

Among the mock news items are, "June 1, 2006: Summer associate tragically killed in scavenger hunt accident," and "June 7, 2006: The Firm announced today that due to increased toner costs, the starting salary for first-year associates will be reduced by $18/year," and "May 26, 2006: Jim Watkins, a senior partner in the Tax department, finally overcame his recent intestinal blockage and passed a solid stool in the men's bathroom on the 33rd floor."

The Mission statement says what sets the firm apart is "Our People, Our Style, and Our Logo" and other hilarious blather.  The "Offices" page features a photo of a dungeon.

The best section is "The Meaning of Life" in which the firm says it discovered its attrition rate is 80% per year.  They launched a proprietary investigation, finding that, "the meaning of life is hard work, performed without rest and without complaint, for purposes often vague and unclear, in concert with people you neither trust nor respect. And that those who seek meaning elsewhere are simply misguided, and in line for a life of failure and disappointment."

The site is designed to promote a new book, Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman, saying it is "A wickedly funny debut novel about a high-powered lawyer whose shockingly candid blog about life inside his firm threatens to destroy him."


Corporate Law Firm Charges Fixed Fees Exclusively

Examplarlaw_1 I was talking to the General Counsel of a Fortune 500 express delivery company, and he was gushing about a law firm Web site that touted it had stopped charging clients by the hour.  In fact, Exemplar Law Partners in Boston says it is the first corporate law firm to exclusively adopt a fixed price model to charge for its services.  The idea is to enable business clients to manage their legal budgets better.

This is the kind of bold, client-oriented marketing and brand distinction I've been waiting to see for 10 years! The general counsel I was talking to loved the idea.

The 10-lawyer firm was founded in 2005 and its Web site lists no lawyers, except CEO Christopher Marston. The firm represents entrepreneurs, corporations, 50 universities, and high-net worth individuals in corporate law in Asian and Latin American markets, entertainment law and real estate.

Marston, who earned a J.D. and an M.S.F. (Master of Science in Finance) from Suffolk University Law and Business School, says "Are you tired of hiring expensive lawyers who wait for you to make costly mistakes to get your business?" on the Web site.  "At Exemplar, we treat you like a partner and empower you to make informed business decisions that give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace."

They also offer a service guarantee.  "We encourage you to determine what the value of the service was worth to you based on your experience. If it was less than the price you paid, call us, articulate the shortcomings, and we will negotiate a fair price with you."

On his blog, Marston says, "The most common question I am asked about our model is how we actually price out legal work. Most people ask "How can you price when you don't know how long it will take?" he says. "The error in the reasoning that the question implies is that there exists a relationship between time and value to the client. The basis of a value pricing model is that there is, in fact, no direct relationship at all.  Most clients want the work done faster, not slower. I do not meet many passengers on airplanes who think they should pay more because it took longer to get to their destination. . . . . "

You know this firm is different when the CEO quotes Malcom X: "If you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem.  Marston says Exemplar Law Partners "chooses to be a part of the solution."


Ruberto Israel Makes it Easy for the Media to Call

Ruberto_cover_1 Would you like to see your firm quoted in print?  You've got to make it easy for reporters.  They are not going to do any extra work if they can avoid it to find someone to quote.  So 25-lawyer Ruberto, Israel & Weiner in Boston distributed a 12-page, glossy "Media Resource Directory" and sent it to news reporters.

I wish law firms had sent these booklets out when I was a print newsman back in the day.  The directory contains:

  • The firm phone number, on every page.
  • Legal topics from Alternative Dispute Resolution to Women in the Legal Community, with a name and an email address of a lawyer to contact.
  • Brief bios and pictures of each of the lawyers, plus the firm's Director of Marketing, Howie Altholtz, the former marketing director at Nixon Peabody and a law grad of Suffolk University.

It's missing a few things, such as a FAQ about the firm describing the number of lawyers, statistics and rankings of the firm.  But these can be included in the second edition.

Nonetheless, the it does its main job right: "The Media Directory makes it easier than ever to reach these experts when you need them most," Altholtz writes in a cover letter.  "We hope you will keep this directory handy and that you find it useful one day when you're on deadline or developing a story."

Reporters can call the lawyers directly, or Altholtz or the firm's media counsel.  Kudos to Altholtz -- I'll be checking the papers for the firm's name.