By Lisa Salazar (@Lihsa)

A UK study, Elastic Generation: The Female Edit, offers some refreshing insight into a woman’s perspective on advertising.

Conducted by J Walter Thompson Intelligence, 248 UK women aged 53-72 were surveyed. For comparison,  276 UK men were surveyed, as well.

When women push back on patronizing and stereotypes in marketing and advertising

Marketing to women

Identifying this group of females as the “elastic generation”, the report comes to this pivotal conclusion:

The two words women choose to describe advertising aimed at them? ‘Patronising’ and ‘stereotyped’. As a result, 72% say they pay no heed to advertising. Nine out of ten say they would just like to be treated as a person, not a stereotype. Elastic Generation, p. 3.

I would surmise that this general feeling floats all the way across the pond.

Continue Reading When women push back on stereotypes in marketing and advertising

In the last several weeks, I have been called, emailed or otherwise pitched to by a variety of solutions providers. I have to tell you despite having a great memory, I can’t remember a single company name nor what any of the companies who wanted my firm’s money do.    The reason I can’t recall any of those fine details is because I was too put off by the approach, lack of planning and general disrespect for my time that within two minutes of each call, I zoned out.  I have also had a series of great sales pitches in the past while, where halfway through the call I wanted to purchase the service or product regardless of the price, because the person pitching to me understood my need, met a challenge or was generally on the ball. I get that sales can be a tough a grind and I generally applaud the tenacity and bravery of sales people.  But to the sales people who fall in the first group, I offer this:

Do your research
There is no excuse today to not research targets. Ten minutes on LinkedIn, Facebook, even the good ol’Google should provide insight into me as an individual, my role with the firm and how your product or service might be work for me.  Failing that, ask me what I do in the realm of whatever you are trying to tell me and then listen to my answer.  Use my answer to probe further or offer up a synergy of some kind.  I recently had a sales person fail at this exercise when, after hearing my answer to her question, responded with (and I am loosely paraphrasing) “oh, well this product is not for you then, we have better success with firms who want to be innovative”. I hope she wasn’t suggesting that I am the poster child for stagnant approaches to laws firms. A quick read of my LinkedIn profile suggests otherwise, I think. I shouldn’t have to say it, but don’t insult your prospective clients either. 

Study the Site
As it happens, laws firms, like any businesses today, have websites.  The websites, like the firms, vary in their sophistication but at the very least the sites will tell you something about a firm. Visit that site before you pick up the phone. Don’t, for example, try to sell a litigation boutique access to your corporate database or a Canadian firm exclusively US content without making the case for why I should listen beyond the initial pitch.  If a firm very obviously can’t benefit from your product or service don’t pick up the phone or draft the email. 

Avoid Jargon
I work in Marketing we invented catch phrases and slogans. Please use your own language when you call me to tell me about your product or service. I don’t deal well with jargon or salesy chatter that describes specifically nothing. Don’t tell me what “law firms” all over are doing or are interested in, as it assumes that I don’t know my business and that I am relying on people like you to tell me what I need. I don’t.  I do my own research, but if you were to call me and tell me how another firm in a similar geographic area or with similar practices is benefitting from your product or service, I am all ears. 

I love learning about new products and services in the market, I thrive on hearing how other firms are using products to their competitive advantage, or to increase efficiency. Don’t stop contacting me –  ever.  All I ask, is that before you do call or email me, please spend a bit of time doing your homework if you want me to listen. 

I’m going to make this post short and sweet. American Lawyer Media (ALM), stop acting like this is 2002 and quit with the Pop-Up Ads on your site. There is a good reason why Internet Explorer created a Pop-Up blocker in 2004!!

Nina Platt reminded me this morning of just how annoying and counter-productive these are when you’re trying to actually read something on an ALM site and you have to navigate through the pop-ups and the over-zealous ad placements on the page. I count two pop-ups surrounded by four additional ad placements. We all understand that you need to get ad revenue… but be a little more classy about how you do it, okay?? And LexisNexis, it makes you look bad, too.

Count ’em… 2 Pop-Ups and 4 Inset Ads

New Orleans’ based newspaper, The Times-Picayune, announced that it is shifting its print publications to a three day a week schedule instead of its traditional seven days a week model. The focus of the paper will shift to its free online content and will attempt to look at ways of making online advertising more profitable. In addition to the Times-Picayune, the Birmingham News the Press-Register in Mobile, Alabama, and The Huntsville (Alabama) Times will also shift to a 3 day print schedule.
[note: see Ted Jackson’s gut-wrenching photo of the T-P staff hearing the announcement.]

Print newspaper subscriptions have suffered significantly in the age of the Internet. Although no one is saying that reporting is becoming obsolete, many of us are thinking that “print” reporting is becoming obsolete and the shift is to online or mobile app platforms. In fact, in today’s Houston Chronicle (print edition) an ad was run right next to this story saying that “Sunday Circulation” was up 2.8% for the Chronicle. Notice how the ad shows the iPhone, iPad, online, and print editions?? We librarians have felt the pains of a shift in how our consumers use our services, but I’d be the first to admit that I would much rather deal with the change in library industry than be a reporter today.

The whole issue of “Print vs. Online” has been raging for years now, with print being a consistent loser. The one element in this battle, however, has been the idea that advertising revenues are what will keep these news resources going (be they in print, online, app, whatever….) However, I just got off the phone with Toby Brown and asked how the heck can advertising dollars be spread over such a large number of resources in a way that can keep them afloat?? I just don’t see how current advertising structures will be sustainable over the next few years. In fact, Fox and NBC-Universal just sued DirecTV because they’ve developed an “ad hopper” which allows DirecTV customers to automatically skip over advertising.

It is a bizarre time in the news and media world these days. As we shift more and more away from traditional sources of news and entertainment, and we go online, streaming or app our way into the future of information access, the economics of the industry will constantly shift in order to try to support the industry. I thought that Vince Gill hit something on the head when he tossed out the fact that music singles today cost 99¢. A single in 1960 cost… 99¢. The prima facie economics of the news and media industry just don’t add up to profits. Consumers don’t want to pay more, pay walls don’t seem to be the answer, and advertisers are being more selective on where they place their ads. I, for one, would hate to be an advertising director in a major corporation right now.

Where will it all lead?? Here’s some of my (random) thoughts on the subject:

  • More “app-based” access. Apps would give the media provider more control over making sure ads aren’t skipped, and that ads are targeted at appropriate users (no Cadillac ads sent to 12 year old girls.) App platforms will include iOS devices, Android (mostly Kindle Fire), and gaming devices like XBox360.
  • More online access. Similar to the app-based, media providers will push their wears to where the eyes are. I’m sure that more attempts will be made to push ads to the right people, and prevent them from skipping over the ads… however, the success rate will be much lower than the app-based platforms.
  • More “subscribe to play” access. Many providers will shift to collaborative efforts and prevent their products from entering into homes that don’t have access to their product in another way. Initially this will mean you need a Cable TV subscription in order to use their online service. I think, just like the pay wall, this will fail. It is already being floated out there to keep Hulu-Plus subscribers from having access to certain shows, if they do not have a cable tv subscription.
  • More “crowd-funded” access. You’ll see more efforts like KickStarter on media projects. I could imagine a newspaper having a KickStarter project that funds their business for a three-month period of time, and in return gives something back to their supporters. People are eager to fund projects that they feel strongly about. Imagine that instead of a subscription, a newspaper says that for $50.00 you support our paper, and in return we dedicate a section of the paper to you or to a cause you support?? For $100 you get your name printed at the top of the first page for one day, etc. May sound silly, but one musician raised $450,000 from her fans. Media outlets do have fans, perhaps there is an opportunity here for them as well??

Everything is going to change. How will it end up?? No one knows. The only thing that seems to be understood at this point in the game is that it will take some clever thinking to come to that answer.

Sad that “Houston Dads Go
Back to College
” is missing

Of course the big IPO news this week is Facebook’s public launch and the latest round of estimates places its value at the IPO somewhere in the $100 Billion range. Unbelievable! No, seriously, that’s completely unbelievable, bordering on insane. At nearly 100 million users, that’s a value of $100 per user. None of those users actually pays for a subscription to Facebook, but they are all bombarded with ads (at least those not creative enough to add an “ad blocker” to their web browser), and play silly games that they may, or may not pay to play. I’m sure some have paid over $100 to play these games, and some have clicked on those ads for gout treatments, but, no one that I know of has shelled out a dime or clicked on a single ad.

Now, my evidence is purely anecdotal, but I’ve been trained that if something sounds too good to be true, that’s usually because it is. Whether it is believing that your house will increase 10% a year in value, every year, year in, year out… or, that having a law degree will guarantee you an awesome job once you graduate… or, e-discovery will be a law firm cash cow forever… if something doesn’t pass the smell test, it’s probably because something is rotting inside it.

I’ve put the actual ad that popped up on the side of my Facebook page this morning. Usually I get some hipster-looking “Houston Dads Go Back to College” ad, but that was missing this morning. Is there anything listed here that someone would actually click on?? (Granted 61K apparently like that Gout Study!) General Motors has already pulled out of Facebook ads, can the site rely upon “class B” advertisers to keep revenue growing forever?

Don’t get me wrong. I am a Facebook fan. I jump on there and update my status almost everyday… sometimes multiple times a day. I know there is significant value in this product, and that having 100 million users makes it a multi-billion dollar product. However, $100 Billion? sniff-sniff… no, I don’t think so. However, there seem to be bankers out there and investment brokers that will pump that amount of cash into the company in return for stock with the idea that it will continue to grow at some double-digit amount forever. sniff-sniff… that just doesn’t smell right.

According to Facebook IPO math, we should go public with this blog and Toby, Lisa and I could split the $250K ($100 x 2500 RSS feed subscribers.) It wouldn’t be enough to retire, but we could bank-roll the 3 Geeks Bar & Grill that I’ve always wanted to open. This would lead to Toby and I having our infamous 3-beer solutions every night, night in, night out, forever… eventually, we would take over the world. sniff-sniff… actually, that smells pretty good.

I recently got the issue of Bloomberg Businessweek routed to me and was quite intrigued by many of the segments included in their Second Annual How To Issue, an issue that the publisher describes as “…a cocktail party…[that’s]…all about the mix of guests.”  Although not all of the segments were relevant to the different roles I play within my firm, there were many that were, including:

  • How To…

Probably based on things that are at the forefront of my mind right now, there were two segments that really resonated with me.  The first one was How To…Design a Logo.  The author, Sagi Haviv, works for a firm that designed many iconic logos, including those for NBC (peacock), Chase (octagon), and National Geographic (rectangle).  The main question he says has to be asked when looking to design a logo is “What problem is our client trying to solve?”  Many companies think the need a new logo, when really what they need is to refresh or change their marketing, messaging or packaging related to their existing logo.  Logos should change when they are too complex or are no longer relevant.  Your logo needs to be appropriate, relevant, simple and memorable and the challenge here is how do you make a logo memorable and still keep it simple.  Another related issue to logos that the author didn’t go into involves tag lines.  Once you have a logo, you need to ask whether it needs a tag line.  If so, I think the guidelines that Haviv sets out for logos also apply – tag lines also need to be appropriate, relevant, simple and memorable.  If you are thinking about rebranding (or branding) your library, keep these things in mind as you think about and develop a logo and tag line.

The second segment that struck me was How To…Do A How To and this segment, written by Martha Stewart, is what inspired this blog post title.  Martha’s advice boils down to simplifying your instructions, keep it to as few steps as possible and add embellishments later.  If instructions get too complex, people will get disengaged and discouraged and possibly even give up.  And, finally, Martha hates PowerPoint decks and suggests doing something more innovative.  Many of us have access to software and resources to create more interactive tutorials or video content, but they do take more time and effort to create.  However, if the payoff is people actually paying attention to them and learning how to do something that will help them be more effective at their jobs, isn’t it worth it to abandon the PowerPoint or, for that matter, Word document with screen shots?  Whether it is making a souffle or cite checking a brief, simple clear instructions presented in a new, creative way may very well turn people into better cooks and researchers, respectively.

At the beginning of January, we decided to run an experiment where we’d offer free advertising space on our blog. As we end the first full month of the experiment, we think we’ve had a pretty good start to the experiment, and would like to share some of the details on what’s happened so far.

First of all, we had to actually take the idea of running free ads, and turn it into something we could manage easily. We decided that for the format of our blog, we asked that the advertisers get us a web-friendly image that was 167 pixels high by 200 pixels wide. They would also need to get us a link to the website they wanted to direct the reader to. On our side, we needed to find a way that would rotate through the ads and make it fair for all of the advertisers. After scouring the Interwebs for a few minutes, I found a couple of scripts that would work on our  Blogger site. One was a rotating script that would run the ads in order, but would change the ad every 10 seconds or so. The other script was one that would randomly pick the ad whenever a page was loaded. I decided to go with the random script over the rotating script because it seemed to be the “fairest” way to run the ads. The rotating script didn’t go to waste, however, as we used it to run some of our kudos for the blog (see the rotating images on the right-hand part of the page below the “Follow Us on Twitter” links.

I would have thought that we would have about a dozen or so potential advertisers right off the bat. And, we did have bites from about that many within the first week of the experiment. What was interesting, was that we had about half of those that were really interested, not get back with us once we said get us a link and an image and we’ll post it. I found that to be interesting. I also found it interesting that some of the advertisers’ links were directly to a site, while a couple of them had set up the links to track the amount of traffic coming from these specific ads.

Now that we’re stepping into month two of the experiment, we’re looking to bring in some new advertisers. If you’re interested in free ad space on 3 Geeks, then contact me about it (I’ll probably just tell you to get me a 167 x 200 ad and a link.) As with January, we’re looking to encourage the growth of smaller, local or regional providers… but, we’re pretty open minded, so even if you’re a huge corporation, but are running something unique that would be of interest to those that read this blog, we’ll talk with you about that, too.

I want to really thank the five inaugural advertisers (slash guinea pigs) in this experiment. Onit, PLI, Jones McClure Publishing, Kiiac, and CALI were all brave enough to trust us with their brand, and I hope that our little experiment has sent some new folks their way. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to put them back in the rotation later in the year.

Back in 2010, the 3 Geeks decided to try out advertising on our blog. Onit, a legal project management provider, was our first advertiser. We were a bit cautious about going down this path. Our initial and on-going intention for the blog was not about getting rich. Mainly we’re having fun exploring ideas in various realms.
So for 2011 we have decided to try something different on the blog. We will be giving select vendors free advertising space on the blog. We will keep the single advertising spot we currently have, but give it free of charge to a select vendor each month. Primarily we want to encourage the growth of smaller, local and regional providers. But we’ll keep an open mind for others.
So if you are interested in taking advantage of the 3 Geeks, send us a note with a request and the reason(s) you think your company worthy of a spot.

Who knew attorneys could be so self-effacing? Very funny, clever and effective take on the Texas Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars.

It just says so many things … 🙂

I was listening to a podcast by some new Twitter friends’ podcast last night, called the Extraordinary Everyday Lives Show, in which they were discussing online advertising.

EEL, celebrating its third year online this month, is a regular podcast series run by Dave Wallace, Kent Newsome and Mike Seyfang, and covers all things technological. From blogging to mashups, they’ve got it covered.

So I listened with great interest when they began discussing Eric Clemons’ Tech Crunch article, Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet last night.

I don’t disagree with several of EEL or Clemons’ premises: ad revenues are down and, as a general rule, people don’t trust advertising.

But I think both EEL and Clemons are a little myopic in their argument.

I counter that for advertising to be fully functional it must be done more holistically.

Yes, I agree, online advertising is declining. But it is declining in a way that the gold rush declined. The internet was a new frontier ten years ago–it was free-for-all. Literally. Businesses would pay for ANY kind of online advertising to just be a part of the game. “Boy geniuses” were raking in adult dollars for posting hyperlinks on web sites and trading site names like baseball cards.

But now the internet, and its audience, has matured and settled down. Buyers are more sophisticated and businesses are demanding more results for the dollars.

Businesses are asking advertisers for metrics, measuring ROI and reading the analytics. Marketers, like me, are analyzing the productivity and effectiveness of their online marketing efforts and asking hard questions about how advertisers are measuring results. Marketers are seeing, with a mixture of amusement and weariness, that no one online advertiser measures online traffic the same way.

Businesses have become more sophisticated and demanding better answers and advertisers are not able to coherently and intelligently respond. In fact, in true “Dan Draper” fashion, some of our online advertising channels are walking away from the sale because they cannot justify the ad spend to us.

Business’s naivete and wonderment at the internet is over. We still love the vibrancy of online art and flashy flash pages but know that when we started examining our own numbers these ads did not deliver the results we needed.

So, now with 10 years of legal marketing under my belt, which thankfully has corresponded with the 10 years of internet pandemonium, the dust has cleared and I have a clearer vision of just what does online advertising mean.

Online advertising is a channel. It is just another medium that exists alongside TV, radio, print and good, old-fashioned word-of-mouth.

Any marketer worth their salt will never rely upon any one advertising medium.

Because, think about it, marketing is war. Why do you think they call it a “marketing campaign”? To properly execute any campaign, there must be a a goal, a strategy, a task force, a plan, soldiers and ammunition. In a marketing plan, we will spend months developing and refining prior to execution, lining up our ads and educating our campaigners.

And, marketing professional services and law firms is even more difficult: we don’t even have a product to sell (by the way, this was an online business type that Clemons failed to cover).

As legal advertisers, we have the unique challenge of marketing services that, prior to the 1980 Bates case, we couldn’t, by law, even advertise. As it is, we still run the risk of violating ethics rules that are unique in 50 different states–let’s not even mention the international legalities. And don’t forget that we still, in this day and age, must persuade lawyers who still believe that any form of advertising or marketing is crass.

So how do legal marketers promote our lawyers in today’s marketplace? How do legal services fit into the online community? How do law firms position themselves online to maximize their exposure with out violating the market and their own sensibilities?

For, remember, at the end of the day, the only thing that is of real value to a lawyer is his reputation. And the service that lawyers sell is that reputation because, potentially, his reputation can stop a case in its tracks. A lawyer’s reputation, intelligence, personality and persuasiveness is what wins a negotiation, a trial and closes a deal.

Try marketing THAT online.

We, as legal marketers, learned very quickly that it “takes a village” to market a law firm. There is no one channel that will make a person think when trouble hits the door, “Oh, I better call Firm XYZ.”

Instead, legal marketing demands a consistent stream of a sophisticated blend of print, television, radio, online and face-to-face encounters. The ratio in that blend may change over time as measurements become more sophisticated and new ingredients, like Second Life or XML radio, may be added. But marketers will never stop using any one of these channels.

Print is still viable; maybe not in the manner we are used to using it, but print will always have its place. Online is still viable. It is no longer the “free-for-all” it once was but it, too, has its place if an ad company has accurate metrics.

Because, in the end, that is what is needed: consistent metrics for measuring ad traffic. Until all the web analytics tools and advertisers develop a consistent way to measure their ad rate, buying businesses will not trust them nor wish to invest ad dollars for services that don’t deliver.

So to turn a phrase, caveat vendor.