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.
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.