Abovethelaw's lawyer-journalist, Kathryn Rubino, is attending the Legal Marketing Association's annual conference in Austin, Texas. Here is her report.
No surprise, the meme is all the change in how to develop business. As Adrian T. Dayton puts it, "More has changed in the last 5 years than in the last 100 in marketing."
One of the shifts is that a source of competition is the low-cost service provided by online firms. Yet, most establishment lawyers aren't factoring that it.
The intensity of this threat had become obvious to me about a year ago. The What and How online firms deliver service are becoming increasingly sophisticated. For example, some have on-call, onsite, immediately available lawyers for small business consultations, paid for as a subscription service. My own corporate clients ask me to refer to them the best of those services for their own business and personal needs.
Another takeaway from the conference, related to this, is that technology can't be ignored.
I have found that too many lawyers don't realize that tech is dynamic. You can't just hire a digital consultant, set up your website with its blog and media center, and that's that.
Bill Marler of Marler Clark, an early adopter of technology, is always assessing what should be added or deleted.
Gene Grabowski, partner at kglobal public relations, handles myriad accounts involving legal issues. One of his strengths in crisis communications is advising clients what kinds of social networks and social media they should leverage in the first 24 hours of, for example, a recall. Because of that, Grabowski has become the go-to expert for the media to interview about trends in reputation management in litigation.
A third takeaway from the Legal Marketing conference is the importance of flexibility. Some fingered that as the number-one trait needed by chief marketing officers. Planning has its place. But the game is more about the ability to identify opportunity and figure out how to seize it, then exploit it.
Although that might have been new to some attendees it's standard procedure for those of us who had to do 180s to survive the two deep recessions since the turn of the century. "Opportunistic," was the term I used in 2010, to mentor the founder of a medium-sized business whose default was detailed strategic planning.
One piece of opportunism for lawyers is for them to jump on their social networks and social media vehicles to provide how-tos during unexpected developments and threats to human safety. That's why they have to have to have their arms around those communications platforms. Marler is the master of that. From what I can discern, he "owns" the foodborne disease category. When it comes to the public relations outreach, Grabowski is the dominant force in helping clients be opportunistic. Along the way, he is re-writing the rule book.
To these three I would add the necessity of experimentation. Most of my clients don't do it. They should. One doesn't need formal training in A/B testing to simply try out one tactic with 50 prospects and another with a different 50.
Why this hasn't become standard, no matter the discipline or size of the enterprise, is fear. Primarily, the leadership is terrified of being wrong. So it stays with what they assume will work. When it doesn't, they turn out an improved version. Meanwhile, the competition has already eaten their lunch and is heading toward their dinner table.