Just Because … It’s Halloween Flashback Time – Cooler Style

Hope everyone has a safe Halloween. I’ll be escorting Supergirl and Dorothy along the yellow brick rode to sugar heaven.

As we prepare to watch, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” let us all be grateful for technology. Remember the days before DirecTV, TiVo, and video-on-demand, when we had to wait once a year to watch our favorite B-movie.

Here’s a little blast from my childhood past.

Mad Monster Party (1968)

What can I say? Stop-motion, Boris Karloff, Phyllis Dillar and Mummies.

And what about those teen year? A KROQ Flashback: The Bollock Brothers “Horror Movies”

Can you hear me now? Twitter Radio Interview

Yesterday Brian Carter, keynote speaker and Director of Search Engine Marketing (PPC), SEO, and Social Media at Fuel Interactive and I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Bob Ambrogi and J. Craig Williams on their radio program, Lawyer2Lawyer.

Although the program’s focus is on Twitter, we also delve into the broader topic of social networking and social media.

You can download or listen to the program, Social Media, Twitter & Law Firms, here.

Follow us here.
@heathermilligan
@briancarter
@bobambrogi
@jcraigwilliams

Measurment

My earlier post about networking behavior off-line mirroring networking [savvy] and behavior online earned a comment from my esteemed colleague and fellow posse member, Tank. He questioned online networking’s return on investment. This topic is clearly debatable. I thank Tank for challenging me to dig deeper.

One thing is proven: with all things that you measure, you need to establish a goal. After goals there are objectives, strategies and tactics. From there you have a variety of benchmarks. I always start my social media consulting projects with a plan; much like what I’ve done for years when using traditional marketing tools and tactics.

Recently I was enlightened by an attendee at a presentation I gave to the Virginia’s Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association that in some cases ROI is a misnomer. A more accurate measurement might be ROO. Return on Objective. I like that. May not be as hard core as some law firms require, but all the same its a measurement. I welcome further thoughts on that idea.

Whatever you choose to call it, as the online medium matures, our ability and our need to report on effectiveness will intensify and also evolve.

Several well-recognized and respected thought leaders, Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer and Chris Brogan of community and social media, have blogged here and here on the measurement of social media. I’ll summarize their thoughts, but ask that you read the posts and comment on this blog so we can all benefit from your ideas.

Mr. Falls suggests that measuring ROI on social media is a bit like “trying to assign multiple choice scoring to an essay question.” He referenced the thoughts of Joanne Puckett of Ketchum who said at PRSA International in Detroit that:

….. there are three types of results in interactive measurement: outputs (impressions, share of voice, tone, etc.); outcomes (attitude shift, behavior change, expanding reach); and business results. She said about business results, “We haven’t figured that part out yet.”

And he referenced:

“Katie ( Katie Delahaye Paine ) hit the nail on the head near the end of her round table discussion when she said, ‘Ultimately, the key question to ask when measuring engagement is, ‘Are we getting what we want out of the conversation?’

[Mr. Falls] And, as stubborn as it sounds Mr. CEO, you don’t get money out of a conversation. And they’re not going to. And neither are any of us unless we start looking at the results in relation to the goals.

If your goal is to participate in the conversation, to enhance your relationship with your audiences and become a trusted member of the community that surrounds your brand, then your measures should prove you’ve done those things. Your ROI is what you got out of the conversation, not what you got out of their checkbook.”

Chris Brogan puts it this way.

You Can’t Have Strategy Without First Having Goals

Strategy is essentially the diet, but the goal might be weight loss, muscle growth, cholesterol reduction, allergy aversion. See how it’s not one-size-fits all? Before you know which diet to start, you need to know the goal.

  • Goal: increase attendance at our live events.
  • Strategy: add upcoming.org and Facebook events components, blog, invite local geek groups. Possibly purchase Facebook ads to test that, too, targeting regional. Craigslist?
  • Measurements: add a “Where did you hear about us?” field to the registration form.
  • Measurements: check link referral logs.

Both posts are definitely worth reading and chewing on. Tank, others,….ur thoughts?

Addendum: Just saw that Chris Brogan posted on ….MEASUREMENT this morning (10/30/08) over on chrisbrogan.com. Check it out.

Personal Branding Best Practices – Don’t Leave Home Without ‘Em

I’m in the process of preparing an upcoming presentation to legal marketing professionals on personal branding–establishing, developing, maintaining your reputation.

I’m interested in the one activity you do (or perhaps one activity you have observed from someone else) regularly and consistently to communicate your brand. Responses can range anywhere from “I always have/use breath mints to communicate ‘fresh and clean’” to “I only drive American-made cars because I want communicate my commitment to country.”

Thanks!

Ready for trial?

It’s been interesting to watch the discussion of technology in marketing, especially online and most notably about conversational media such as Twitter, on this hallowed space, on the Legal Marketing Association listserv and other spaces for the last few weeks. I was especially caught up in the back and forth by Jayne Navarre and Matt Sherman, my fellow Coolerites, both with passionate and well-reasoned points of of view. But one thing Jayne said really hit me square in the gut:

“An in-house director has to be a little of everything to a lot of people. Studying how technology works is often just not practical.”

If we ask ourselves why this shift to technologies has been occurring with increasing rapidity, the answers are obvious.

  1. We are an information-age society and economy. Profit proceeds from addressing process needs with technological solutions. Starting and ending points remain fixed, but getting there is increasingly information technology-based.
  2. Technology (and especially computer and internet applications of technology) is a world in which most people under 25 have been immersed as a matter of course. My children do not remember a time when our house was computer-free and online access-disabled. Those days are a dimming memory for me, as well. It is as natural for them (and ever more of us) to look to computers for tools to accomplish their goals as it was once for us to look to photographs on film or X-acto knives.
  3. The push for productivity across the spectrum of work is largely dependent on information technology because we cannot manufacture more human energy or time in a day, so the richest option open to get more work done in the same time is automation. Decisions are made of aggregated information bits, experience and wisdom (which is a form of knowledge ecology), and collection and distillation are largely add, subtract and compare processes, which semiconductors do with incredible speed.
  4. There is no known limit to the inventiveness of the human mind. As ideas become new tools, they are themselves modified by use and new application. Therefore, there is a constant evolution with which we must grapple.

Jayne’s admonition to the contrary, my strong belief is that, for us to be a valuable part of the wisdom of our firm and its business growth through marketing, we must try every new solution. Our experience is the fundamental entry point for our firms into technology that improves client relationship management, communication, knowledge demonstration and prospect development. It may be that, after our initial experience, we judge a particular solution not useful given our firm’s culture and brand. Or we may become evangelists for a tool or set of tools. In any case, we can’t make that judgement, exercise our wisdom, at a distance. Deciding to stand pat or to move with a new tool is dependent on our willingness to give it our attention.

Asking “what’s next?” is still important. But “are you ready to try it?” is much more crucial. Are you?

I have an opinion

This morning on Twitter (don’t worry, this is not a post about Twitter) @pistachio retweeted this challenge:

“Bravely facing another Monday? Let’s start something. FINISH THIS TWEET: “I’m not afraid of ___.”

Me? I am not afraid of having an opinion and standing by it.

Not the grandest of answers, I think it’d be cool to be A-OK with jumping out of an airplane, but I find it to be extremely freeing.

I began The Legal Watercooler in hopes of having a conversation. In the beginning, I was concerned at the lack of public comments, but then I started tracking my Sitemeter stats. People were reading the blog. I have, on average, more than 100 unique visitors a day.

Then I started getting private e-mails and phone calls to a post, a Tweet, or a listserv comment. I am now involved in the most amazing, complex and thought provoking conversations off-line, every day.

So where is everyone else? Why the fear of taking a stand? Having an opinion? I mentioned this off-line, and a friend responded, “Fear.” People are in fear of the economy, politics, for their jobs. In this climate of fear, in the day of the Internet, people are afraid of putting their opinions in writing.

In his first inaugural address President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” How true this is today.

So fear. Yesterday I was invited to participate on a radio program, Lawyer2Lawyer.

First reaction: fear. Why me? What could I have to say (LOL)? Second reaction: get it cleared with my management committee.

Fear again: what if my partners listen in? Next reaction: So what if they listen in?

My thinking is, if I was willing to say it during my job interview, and if I am still willing to say it at the water cooler, then I should have no qualms about posting it on this blog.

And, if I’m willing to say it on The Legal Watercooler, where I really don’t know who is listening in, then why not say it in a radio podcast that will be available on LegalTalkNetwork, Law.com and iTunes?

Brand or die? A Marketing Staple?

Can you afford to ignore your brand in 2009? What part of your budget is devoted to polishing, nurturing and feeding your law firm’s brand? Whether you are 1 lawyer or 100 lawyers -law firms with diverse practices often have a hard time defining their brand – or so it seems. Are lawyers so independent minded that the aggregation of which doesn’t easily turn out a concise description of who they are to whom?

Nonetheless, every law firm has a brand, whether they use to describe themselves or not. What can you do?

If you listen to what your clients are saying about you – as diverse as they may be –you’ll find a common thread. And if you listen to what the firm’s lawyers say about themselves you’ll probably find another thread. Further, if you listen to what employees say about the firm, you’ll have yet another perspective. Somewhere among those who are invested in your firm, a brand will surface. Do you like it? Do you need to fix it?

If you are not working on the care and feeding of your brand in 2009 you might be missing an opportunity and at the very most, bleeding the life blood from your legacy.

Anne Saunders, brand and advertising executive at Bank of America, recently told a reporter covering 98th annual meeting of the Association of National Advertisers that, “it would be a mistake to say you don’t need to continue to tend your brand, even in a challenging market like this.”

Others at the meeting last week told the NY Times:

“It’s incredibly important to be risk-takers in the economic climate we’re in.” “People have a tendency to pull back.” -Michael Mendenhall, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Hewlett-Packard.

“Let’s all go for growth. Let’s see this as an opportunity.” Increasing sales and profits has “never been more important.” “There has never been a more crystal-clear realization of why you need a strong brand.” -Rebecca Saeger, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at the Charles Schwab Corporation.

“Don’t go to the ledge. Don’t let the urgent overwhelm the important.” -Joseph V. Tripodi, chief marketing and commercial officer at the Coca-Cola Company

The “challenging environment” gave her brand “a unique opportunity” because of its “legacy of trust and confidence.” -Claire Bennett, senior vice president for marketing at American Express.

James R. Stengel, global marketing officer at Procter & Gamble, was asked whether consumers seeking to save money might be tempted to switch to private-label products (insert non-AMLaw firms) from brand names (insert AM Law firms). That would mean paying less attention to ads for brands — no matter how much marketers spent.

That is unlikely, Mr. Stengel replied, if marketers understand that “in these times, people are looking for the right value.”

That is where it really hits home, IMHO. Clients are looking for the right value. They always have been really, but things take time. And now you have a super opportunity to demonstrate and brand your value. If you have it……

Does this hit home for your firm? Let me hear from you. Why did we have to wait for challenging times to find and deliver new value to clients? Are you branding value in 2009? How far do you have to stretch to build this into your brand? Is experienced, efficient, and effective enough?

The Association of Corporate Counsel has initiated a community – the ACC Value Challenge which seeks to reconnect value to costs for legal services; an idea that has been stewing in marketers’ minds for several years now. Glad to have the lawyers on board.

If your brand tells a story about value, you should be all set, if not, maybe its time to dust off the brand and revisit it for 2009? In addition to business development coaching (the trend du jour) are you setting aside money in your budget for your brand? Or is do you think that is passe?

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