You’ve probably heard a lot of chatter about “big data,” “data,” “metrics,” and other buzzwords, which can sound like a lot of fancy talk about things you can’t be bothered with (Spoiler alert: in general, it’s not).

While I’m not going to get into a big discussion about data and all the ways you can use it, I AM going to talk about two practical things you can use today in order to support and improve your content marketing efforts. If you’re thinking “hey, ‘content marketing’ sounds like something for other people to do, and not me!” ask yourself – do you write articles or blog posts? Do you participate in speaking engagements? Do you write memos that you send to your clients and prospects? Do you want more people to know about the kind of law you practice, and how you can help them? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes” then content marketing IS for people like you, too. And for our purposes, when I use the phrase “content marketing” I’m talking about the actions that we undertake to promote the written and oral work  you do as a lawyer to a wider audience – it’s likely something you’ve done all your career, but it just may not have been how you referred to it. 
Continue Reading “Metrics” is Not a Dirty Word

Today, I’m excited to bring you a guest post from my friend, Jennifer Simpson Carr. Jenn joined Lowenstein Sandler as a Business Development Manager in 2013. With 10 years of experience working in law firms across the US, she has worked extensively to help firms and attorneys engage target audiences and win new business in competitive markets. She recently attended and presented at the Legal Marketing Association’s Southeast Conference, where she gained some excellent, actionable advice that firms can implement immediately. Below, you’ll see her five takeaways from the conference, which range from client service to analytics to succession, and her advice for what action firms can take to implement them.

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Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the LMA Southeast Conference (LMASE17), which I found to be one of the most inspiring and thought-provoking conferences in my 10+ years in the legal marketing profession.

I find conferences energizing. They offer the opportunity to connect with the legal marketing community, share ideas and strategies, and gain new perspectives. This conference was no different and set new standards of excellence.

LMASE17 offered three days packed with educational programming, many sessions addressing the topics that are top of mind for in-house business development and marketing professionals as well as the agencies that support them.

As I reviewed pages of notes and contemplated how to use some of this newly-acquired wisdom to make an impact, five themes stood out to me as strategic and actionable, and yet easy opportunities for any professional to affect change.
Continue Reading 5 Actionable Takeaways from LMASE17 to Make an Immediate Impact at Your Firm

Recently, I was asked to appear as a guest on a new podcast with Louise Kulbicki, which focuses on teaching non-native English-speaking lawyers “Legal English.” Paid members can also get access to further learning materials, including quizzes and transcripts. Our conversation centered on the importance of social media, and LinkedIn in particular, for making and maintaining networking relationships. For the full podcast interview, head to this link here.

Louise has generously offered a 50% discount to Zen readers for Podcast Pro Membership, for a limited time – use the coupon code “Launch” when registering to benefit from this discount!

Although Louise also provides a transcript, I wanted to highlight below some of what we discussed and why I feel social media and LinkedIn are excellent tools for lawyers. 
Continue Reading Networking with LinkedIn for Lawyers

iSGu85T8TXS9zXJ20iBU__MG_9585With Instagram offering multi-account support (yay!) from within the app, it’s an appropriate time to talk about some marketing strategies for how to get noticed for using Instagram professionally.

Instagram is my favorite social media platform, and if you’re not yet familiar with it, or using it, Wikipedia tells us that it is:

mobiledesktop, and Internet-based photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately…Instagram lets registered users upload photos or videos to the service. Users can apply various digital filters to their images, and add locations through geotags. They can add hashtags to their posts, linking the photos up to other content on Instagram featuring the same subject or overall topic. Users can connect their Instagram account to other social media profiles, enabling them to share photos to those profiles as well. Originally, a distinctive feature of Instagram was its confining of photos to a square; this was changed in August 2015, when an update started allowing users to upload media at full size. In June 2012, an “Explore” tab was introduced, showing users a variety of media, including popular photos and photos taken at nearby locations, trending tags and places, channels for recommended videos, and curated content. Support for videos was originally launched in June 2013, and had a 15-second maximum duration and limited quality, with Instagram later adding support for widescreen and longer videos. Private messaging, called Instagram Direct, was launched with basic photo-sharing functionality in December 2013, and has gradually received major updates incorporating more features, most notably text support and “disappearing” photos. In August 2016, Instagram introduced a “Stories” feature, letting users add photos to a story, with the content disappearing after 24 hours. Instagram added live-video functionality to Stories in November 2016, augmented reality stickers in April 2017, and face filters in May 2017.”

Many of you may be thinking “so what? It sounds like something for kids to use, and not that big of a deal.” So let’s look at the usage statistics:

After its launch in 2010, Instagram rapidly gained popularity, with one million registered users in two months, 10 million in a year, and ultimately 700 million as of April 2017. Its users have uploaded over 40 billion photos to the service as of October 2015. As of April 2017, Instagram Direct has 375 million active users, while, as of June 2017, the Instagram Stories functionality has over 250 million active users. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. The popularity of Instagram has sparked an engaging community, including dedicated ‘trends’, in which users post specific types of photos on specific days of the week with a hashtag representing a common theme. Instagram has received positive reviews for its iOS app, and it has been named ‘one of the most influential social networks in the world’.”


Continue Reading Instagram: How Lawyers Can Use it & Get Noticed

carl-heyerdahl-181868Does this sound familiar?

  • “I wrote a blog post, but no one called me to give me a case, so blogging must not work for business development.”
  • “LinkedIn is just a rehash of your resume, so it can’t work for business development.”
  • “Twitter is full of people talking about what they had for breakfast, so there’s no way I’m spending any time on there.”
  • “People only use Facebook to see what their friends and family are up to.”

Raise your hand if you don’t think social media works.

If you’re a long time reader of Zen, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of social media. I’m not here today to tell you that it’s the right tool for everyone – any more than I would tell you that public speaking or writing articles or attending networking events is the correct tool for everyone. But I AM here today to tell you that you’re asking the wrong questions about it.

All the time, I hear from my own lawyers, from marketers, and in the industry, people wanting to know whether anyone is “really getting business” from this “social media stuff.” 
Continue Reading Social Media & Lawyers: You’re Asking the Wrong Question

We are finally here at the “ugly” of the 2017 Super Bowl commercials – do you already have your list is mind? The first couple were really easy for me to come up with, and the last few were late additions after some extra thought was given to the crop of ads this year.

No need for extreme measures just Switch to Sprint!

https://youtu.be/w_8ms2RzSYk

Sprint, seriously?

The best that you could come up with after spending all of that money on this spot was the idea to fake your own death to get out of your phone contract?

Seriously icky and disturbing.

And while his family watches no less? Really? Just a no, all around.

We get it. You want to give us the message that it’s hard to get out of your phone contract. But is that really the reason you should switch to Sprint? Because it’s so hard to get out of your phone contract that you need to fake your own death? That’s the best you have to offer us?

Huh.
Continue Reading Super Bowl Commercials – The Ugly of 2017

Now that we’ve seen our lackluster list of “good” Super Bowl commercials for 2017, let’s dive into the ones that I thought weren’t so hot. The majority of spots made it into my “mediocre” category, so it’s harder to choose “bad” and “ugly” ads this year than you might think – but I’ve buckled down and come up with a few for you!

CURE Auto Insurance 2017 Super Bowl Commercial: Don’t Follow Too Closely

https://youtu.be/HrHpVdgynAA

CURE Auto Insurance has never made an ad I’ve liked, and this year is no exception. But I find this one to be especially disturbing. The message in this spot is the idea that you shouldn’t “follow too closely” – they’re an auto insurance company, so they’re banking on a double entendre. They literally mean that you shouldn’t follow people too closely in your cars (though they’ll protect you from people that do, is the brand claim), but the metaphor in the spot is people who “follow” you too closely on social media.

However, the ad comes off as really creepy and stalker-esque. Which real-life following mishaps can cause too. Differently executed, this commercial might have been funny. But instead, it’s a bit traumatizing – for anyone who has ever been harassed online and off, cyber- or in-person stalked, this ad isn’t funny in the least. And they’re an auto insurance company, whose message also gets lost in there somewhere too. Not only is it a big miss on the messaging, it leaves me with a negative feeling about the company, which is really not something you want to achieve with your marketing.
Continue Reading Super Bowl Commercials: The Bad of 2017

Gratuitous photo of me with the winningest Super Bowl QB of all time
Gratuitous photo of me with the winningest Super Bowl QB of all time

It’s that time of year again – the time when football fans mourn the end of another season with the pigskin and marketing fans rejoice because the best and brightest (usually) bring out the year’s highlights for strong ad campaigns. Also, guacamole tends to abound, and when is that ever a bad thing?

2017 was a little bit different, and definitely in a bad way. We had a little bit of a warning, because advertising was down – Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University talked about some of the reasons for it in his post “Why Super Bowl Ads Are a Tough Sell in 2017.” And it makes sense. In seven years, ad buys for the Super Bowl have at least doubled in cost (really, NFL?), and that doesn’t take into account that companies now must create an entire social campaign around their 15-60 second spots. Where they used to have to draw only on their creativity for the ad, and perhaps a fully branded campaign around it (depending on the brand), they now have to consider both the social impact and the social engagement that the spots will generate – before, during and after they air.

This year’s crop of spots also saw some big names absent too – no Doritos or Butterfingers meant that we were already lacking some traditionally funny giants right off the bat. The tense political climate of the moment had a lot of people asking whether brands would play it safe, or take risks. In some cases, it had fans misreading the intentions of brands’ ads, because of the context of the environment. Overall, it was a ho-hum crop of spots – both on the good side AND on the ugly side. While I still have a few for you in the “ugly” category for next week, I felt like I was missing both the highs and lows of previous Super Bowl ads.

But without further ado, let’s look at my top five commercials for this year, and what lawyers can learn from these spots.
Continue Reading Super Bowl Commercials: The Good of 2017

Grunge cracked zombie virus concept background with some soft smooth lines

In keeping with our theme of zombies (this is the last post on this for a while, I swear), when last we saw our intrepid band of beloved Walking Dead characters, they were coming up with a plan to fight Negan and the Survivors. Without a plan, they spent much of the previous season just reacting to a bad situation – they thought they had all the information they needed on Negan, and took out one of his outposts, only to learn it was a small segment of his followers, and **spoiler alert** people died.

While no one is going to die without a content marketing plan, a rigorous, strategic plan can turn what is haphazard actions taken with fingers crossed into an efficient formula for building your online reputation into something that works for you. A plan combats the two issues we addressed with hit-or-miss content marketing last week,

  1. You’re a busy person who needs efficient marketing that works for you.
  2. Your audience is comprised of busy people who won’t hunt through tons of content to find the gems.


Continue Reading Combatting the Zombiefication of Legal Content Marketing with a Plan

Grunge cracked zombie virus concept background with some soft smooth lines

On all The Walking Dead quizzes I’ve taken, the results always show that I’m a Carol (TWD fans, you know what I mean).

But we’re not fighting actual walkers (or Saviors) – just the zombiefication of legal content marketing that’s been happening over the last couple of years as the patina wears off on our shiny new toy of content. Who’s with me?

This week, we’re looking at the second tactic that Shane Snow of The Content Strategist outlines in his piece for combatting content zombies, and that’s data – YAY DATA! 
Continue Reading Combatting the Zombiefication of Legal Content Marketing with Data