Legal Marketers - Let's Raise the Bar

This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking with my fellow co-leaders in the Legal Marketing Association's Social Media Special Interest Group (LMA Social Media SIG for short). Our main purpose was to debrief on our group's activities at the conference, to see what worked well and what didn't, but by virtue of the conversation, we ended up talking about the conference in general and some of the anecdotal feedback that we'd heard. 

One of the interesting points that was raised was it had been suggested that the Zappos session, bringing in an outside-of-the-industry speaker, was either loved or hated. Loved, because, as I've mentioned before, it was excellent, or hated because people didn't understand how a customer-driven organization like Zappos could have any relevance to legal marketing. 

Sigh. 

I'd had a similar conversation with a fellow marketer that I shared a car with on the way to the airport after the conference - he said that he'd love to see more outside speakers come in to share their lessons with us; that we as legal marketers had heard a lot of the same advice and seen many of the same examples over the years, so it would be refreshing to get a new perspective. And that it was then up to US to take the leap and make the connections with how it can work within our own firms and industry. 

I couldn't agree with him more. 

Listen, anyone who followed or participated in the tweet stream for LMA13 knows that we have our share of detractors - those who think of legal marketers as the "party planners" at the firm, or only useful when a new brochure is needed. But those of us within the industry know that we are so much more than that. I've been in legal marketing for eight and a half years and I've long seen a lot of talk about "getting a seat at the table." But those marketers who HAVE a seat at the table know that the way to get it is to stop talking about it, and just become instrumental in our firms' successes. 

How do we do that? 

Well, we've been challenging our lawyers for a few years to understand what their clients need and want. We've all sat in on client panels or interviews where the clients say that they want a lawyer who is their business partner - someone who understands their business, the challenges that they face, and can help them by using their legal expertise to meet their business goals.  

So why are we exempt from that advice? 

As legal marketers, particularly in a down market, it's our mandate to work harder and smarter, and to wear more hats than ever - I don't think that comes as a surprise to anyone. We've all had to be incredibly nimble to keep up with the changing pace of the legal industry, and it's up to us to do so in order to stay relevant and invaluable. Part of doing that is to remain open to learning and to use the creativity so prized in our positions. We're not going to be taken seriously by our attorneys if we don't constantly challenge ourselves to think differently and to figure out how within our own positions we can meet our clients' (our lawyers) goals for the firm and their own practices.

So when LMA brings in Zappos to talk to us about how they use social media to translate their core values of delivering happiness to their customers, we can identify how we, too, can create the ideal client experience based on what our clients want - without immediately writing off the advice simply because Zappos sells goods via the internet and we work with lawyers. 

Kudos to LMA and Jayne Navarre for broadening our minds - I go to the LMA Conference annually not just to see old friends (which is a wonderful thing) and not just to learn how to do what I'm already doing more efficiently, but also to stretch my brain in new ways, so that I can be a better marketer for my attorneys, and so I can better support them in their goals. 

Tomorrow, I'll talk more about how I see the lessons of Zappos applying to the legal industry, but for today, I challenge legal marketers to be more open-minded, thoughtful and creative. 

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Laura Toledo - April 23, 2013 3:04 PM

Imagine if we could only take advice from those in our industry...

This is how you get innovation. Ideas just don't appear out of thin air, without any influence. You look at what's successful - elements, not entire ideas. And then you work on implementation, how it fits into your situation. Otherwise, things would get very...incestuous. ;)

It's very short-sighted to think only in terms of "legal marketing" vs. "marketing."

Lindsay Griffiths - April 29, 2013 3:57 PM

So many comments seem to have ended up as spam for some reason, so I'm only just seeing this today Laura! I agree with you absolutely - it is short-sighted. We get very upset with our attorneys when they divide the world between "lawyers" and "non-lawyers" and it turns out that many of us are guilty of doing the same thing, and similarly to our detriment!

Nathalie Ross - May 6, 2013 3:19 PM

I was one of the "lovers" of the Zappos presentation! I have been in legal marketing for over 15 years and I was perched on the edge of my seat. I am blessed to work with a firm which is led by a principal who can see outside of the box. We developed our website from his vision and now are the number one resource for the HOA legal industry. Thinking outside of the box is a necessity to set yourself apart from the rest.The business environment is changing across the board not just in the legal industry.Ideas that come out of marketing in other industries translate well if you modify it to fit into the legal industry. To be an excellent marketer never be so naive as to think what someone else is presenting is not applicable to what you want to accomplish. There is always a message in there. I walked away with two things from this presentation,we are on the right track by thinking outside of the box with our online presence and there are still creative ideas we haven't tapped into. I brought my notes back and we have two large projects on the horizon so stayed tuned.

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