Is there a generalist in the house?

Like most Americans, I woke up this morning and put on my post-election quarterbacking hat. I have my opinions on what Obama did right, what he needs to do to be successful in his first 90 days, and what he must do to get reelected in 2012. Same thing goes for the Republicans, from John McCain and Sarah Palin, down to the grassroots of the GOP. I also have opinions on the California Propositions, from 2 to 4 to 8 to 11 – and I haven’t even read an exit poll.

And it turns out that all of my friends, colleagues, the residents of Twitterville, along with my husband, have their opinions as well.

But I realized something about myself in a conversation with Jayne Navarre this morning. I am a marketing generalist at work, and I am deconstructing the election from a generalist vantage point, looking at the election from a 360 degree view. As I do not have a specific niche that I am better at than others, I am not constrained by my favoring that discipline.

Some might see this lack of a specialty as a disadvantage, but I actually view it as an asset, and something that differentiates me from some of my peers.

Since I do not favor public relations over business development, I am able to weigh each equally. I find that I am more readily able to shift my focus from one to the other. I am quicker to grasp a new discipline, such as social media, realizing that letting go of traditional advertising might be the right thing to do.

As we prepare to enter uncertain times, I believe that my ability to remain flexible will be in high demand.

As a marketer, I am only one part of the law firm which houses others, from the partners and attorneys, to the administration and staff; from the finance and IT departments, to the library and office services, and so on. I believe that the ability to remain flexible within our personal departments will serve us well so that we can be responsive to the business needs of our respective firms, and the needs of our individual clients.

I Voted, Moving On

With a sigh of relief I voted today. FINALLY, what felt like the longest election cycle will be over in a few hours.

In what is being described as the costliest election in US history, at over $2.4 billion spent on the presidential race alone, only one thing is certain: 50% of the American electorate will either be depressed tomorrow morning, or hung over from partying all night long.

I believe that we all have the opportunity today to rise above party politics and show some grace and dignity whether our candidate wins or looses.

Whatever our opinions are about the elections, the candidates or the issues, I always like to point out that no one is sneaking over the border to get OUT of America. For all of our faults, we’re still doing something right. Our new president will be PEACEFULLY inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

So it’s time to get back to work. Grab a cup of coffee (Starbucks is giving it away for free, whether you voted or not) and enjoy some morning news & gossip that are worth the links.

Found via my Twitter community:

And to put it all into perspective:

The cost of being BIG.


Do you remember the 1988 fantasy-comedy film “Big” about a boy who makes a wish “to be big”? After being humiliated while trying to impress an older teenage girl at a carnival, Josh Baskin goes to a wish/fortune-telling machine (called Zoltar Speaks) and wishes that he were “big.” The next morning, he sees a face in the mirror he does not recognize. Overnight, he has become a 30-year-old man.

I can’t help thinking about the past string of law firms who made a wish “to be big” and overnight they were aged into – well I’m not quite sure yet? I know there are good reasons to be big, but what do you give up in order to be big? Let’s look at a story about banks.

I banked with a modest, no-nonsense, reliable, and trustworthy community bank for many years. It was never too much trouble for them to pick up the phone to speak with me about my accounts. But when I moved to a new city it was just too impractical to keep my money there. I hesitated to move my money to bank with a national presence because they always felt “too big” for me. But, Wachovia was #1 in customer satisfaction and that appealed to me. I’ve come to realize the standards for large banks are set so low that being #1 is pretty meaningless. So far my customer experience includes– the death spin of automated phone trees, surly tellers, unresponsive technical assistance, bogus fees, branches that can’t open accounts, lost paper work, and that’s just a few. Who is Wachovia and what did they do to #1?

Wachovia was an old regional bank that traced its roots to 1879. It was a successful local bank for almost 100 years. They purchased Atlanta National Bank in 1986 to modestly expand into a multi-state bank. Fifteen years later they went to Zoltar and made “the wish.”

In 2001 they merged with First Union/CoreStates. (According to some, it was actually an acquisition but they kept the Wachovia identity in order to get a fresh start following the botched up merger with CoreStates). And in 6 short years they “got big” acquiring Prudential Securities, Metropolitan West Securities, SouthTrust, Westcorp, Golden West Financial and A.G. Edwards. In 2008, Wachovia, looked in the mirror and saw things-not going so well. Yet in denial, had a deal to sell it’s banking operations to Citigroup, then they switched to a different deal with Wells Fargo and now things look like they’re headed for litigation. Be careful what you wish for, eh? Oh, and what about the Customers? Quite a distraction, I’m sure. My small business banker couldn’t take my call because he was too busy signing up new people for the special CD offers last month.

It seems they have become “so big” they can afford to not-care about customers; one or two at a time, perhaps. What happens when that snowballs into hundreds and thousands of customers who are not so happy? Furthermore, they abuse customers in increments of $6 for this and that, and will gladly put overdraft services on your account direct to a Wachovia credit card with cash interest rates. Pretty short sighted, in my mind. I think they got so big, so fast they spend more time trying to grow than looking after their customers, the ones who gave them a chance to grow. I’ve talked to a few employees who say they try to put things right, implement rules that work well, but combined with existing rules (and future rules) you get a big mess. The industry needs ….an extreme makeover. Sound familiar?

Do we really need to ask ourselves why big law firms dissolving? Is it really the economy? Who is the economy? Who’s minding the clients when the partners are focused on the next acquisition to leverage their profits; the over-paid, not-ready-for-prime-time associates? Have they grown so big in order to impress that they sacrificed the basic things that make a childhood so wonderful? What are they seeing in the mirror? Can Zoltar grant the extreme makeover that is needed? If only Zoltar were real.

Halloween Frights – more layoffs, dissolutions and acquisitions

My kids keep asking what I’m going to be for Halloween. After reading today’s Above the Law round up, I’m thinking “depressed legal marketer.”

But, once again, the Pollyanna in me is coming out. I’m listening to an NPR program, Out of Practice – Law Firms and the Financial Crisis, and realizing that we’re at what could be a historic turning point for law firm management.

The program confirmed to me what I’ve been hearing from my consultant friends: Those running the law firms – administrative partners, managing partners, executive board members – are taking a good hard look at their business models, and are open to change.

Law firms today, for the most part, are managed the same way they have for the past hundred years. Partners annually underwrite law firm operations from the real estate leases, to the books on the shelves, and everything in between. At the end of the year, the partners cash out the profits, and begin the year on a credit line. If the bank cancels your credit line, as they did with Thelen, the firm has no choice but to shut its doors, immediately. Profits from one year will not be used to carry the firm through the next.

But does it have to be so bleak? I find that it really comes down to attitude and choices. We can go with the doom and gloom driven by so many of the consultancies, or look forward to 2009 as an opportunity for growth and change.

  • Now might be the time to review your partnership agreements.
  • Now might be the time to upgrade to or hire a CEO.
  • Now might be the time to initiate, and follow, a strategic plan.
  • Now might be the time to explore growth opportunities.

Rather than look back and get depressed, I choose to look forward and be inspired.

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.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,572 other followers

%d bloggers like this: