A lesson I learned several years ago that has been invaluable to me is that of "identify, don’t compare." When you compare, you’re looking to match your situation exactly to that of someone else’s – and when we do that, we’re always going to come up different (and that can paralyze us).
But when we identify, we’re looking for those elements that run through a situation that are the same as ours – and this gives us the inspiration to keep moving forward, instead of giving up because we think we’ll never be the same. That lesson comes in handy when I’m sitting in a session like the Zappos one from the LMA Annual Conference. Although it’s easy to try to compare Zappos to legal marketing and come up lacking because they’re a consumer-driven business, when I identify instead, I find many parallels which allow me to take the lessons that Graham was sharing with us and apply them to my own situation.
As you know, yesterday I was all fired up about the benefits of bringing in speakers from outside the legal industry and challenging our fellow marketers to take the lessons that they offer us and translate those into success within our own firms (which the "marketer in the car," Seth Apple agreed with). So before I head into a recap, which I’ll likely cover tomorrow, I’ll share what I expressed among some legal marketing friends, and said in the session as well. Whether you’re Zappos or a law firm, it all boils down to the customer or client experience.
Sure, as someone said during the session, people are happy to see a Zappos box appear on their doorstep, but they’re not likely happy to see their lawyer appear on their doorstep. But it’s not about that – it’s about making the client feel that they’re being taken care of and their needs are met.
I said in my post about the inside counsel new media survey that it’s common sense, and I believe that it really boils down to that. Whether I’m working with my clients (our member law firm attorneys) or their clients (in-house counsel), I ask myself, how would I want to be treated if I were on the receiving end of this information? What do I want to know about this person and how do I want to feel about this person in order to want to do business with them?
In some transactions, as a consumer or client, you want to be fairly anonymous, and therefore, you don’t really care whether the person that you’re talking to also likes to play golf (though you might!). But when you’re talking about something that means a lot to you – like your company, or your reputation within your organization – you have a vested interest. And so you care very deeply about the lawyers and firms that are representing you. You want them to care about you.
How can you accomplish that? By being interested in them – and I mean genuinely interested, not interested because you might get business. For example, when the city of Boston was on lockdown on Friday, one of the first emails I sent out was to our attorneys and marketing director at our host firm – I wanted to let them know that we were thinking about them. Not because I had a professional interest, but because I had a personal one. I remember what 9/11 was like for those of us in the tri-state area, and when people across the country reached out and stood strong with us, it was comforting.
So how does this translate for social media? And in particular, how does this translate for law firms?
Again, it’s about creating a client experience, as Graham Kahr shared. For Zappos, it’s doing things like ordering pizza for a woman stranded during a snowstorm with no power, who was checking the Zappos Facebook feed as a distraction. For law firms, it can be posting photos of your attorneys enjoying a charity event, or sharing client successes unrelated to the firm. It’s refraining from posting items related to your business when there’s an emergency. It’s answering every question you get through social media, even if it’s from someone who can’t give you business – you never know who they might refer you to, or how they might handle being ignored. It’s showing people that you’re listening to them.
We’ve said time and time again that people do business with those they know, like and trust. And so business development is entirely about relationships. Using social media to build relationships is just figuring out how to use a technological tool to do what you’ve always done – when you attend a cocktail party, it would be obnoxious to walk around handing everyone your business card and only talking to them for a second, about yourself. Similarly, it’s obnoxious to only send out tweets about yourself. You’ve got to interact.
"But…but…we’re lawyers!" I can hear you say. But consider this – someone at a social function, upon finding out that you’re a lawyer, might ask you a legal question. What are you going to do? You’re not going to answer it – you’ll tell them that you either have the expertise and could speak with them further in another setting that would be more appropriate, or you’ll direct them to the proper resource.
Similarly, on social media, when someone asks a legal question, if you have the expertise, you can tell them that you’d be happy to discuss it with them in the right setting, or you can direct them to another resource. The only thing that’s different is the medium.
That’s one of the reasons most social media strategists recommend listening first when you join a network – first, because it helps you to understand the unwritten "rules" of the ecosystem and second, because you start to learn what you like and don’t like about how people act within it. For example, it makes me very uncomfortable to meet someone at a social function who only wants to give me their business card and move on to the next "prospect." So I’m very aware of making sure it’s the right moment to hand out my own card.
Similarly, someone on Facebook who only posts about business (both individuals and brands) is going to leave me feeling cold. So as I interact with people through my personal and professional accounts, I’m very cognizant of that and act accordingly. I’m always asking – "How would I want to be treated" and "What would make me happy if I was the client?"
Today, as you’re interacting with people – be it clients, potential clients, friends, influencers or amplifiers – ask yourself how you would feel in their shoes. Look for the commonalities you have with them by identifying, instead of comparing. Remember that it’s not all about you – it’s all about them.
And tomorrow, I’ll dive back into my detailed recaps, starting with the Zappos session!