Having worked at a few large firms, I can say with some certainty I know a great CMO when I meet one. And my current CMO, Aleisha Gravit, sits at the top of that list.   Her guest post today is a great example of her vision and thinking on the future of CMOs in law firms. Take a look. With any luck, we’ll be hearing more from Aleisha in the future.

My friend and colleague Jennifer Manton, CMO at Loeb & Loeb, shared with me a great article, published by Deloitte Review, titled “From Mad Man to Superwoman: The inevitable rise of the chief marketing officer in the age of the empowered customer.” I am still scratching my head about the reference to Superwoman because, while maybe once dominated by females, that is no longer the case – especially in the legal industry. Maybe Superhero would have been a better analogy.

The article discusses the evolution of marketing and the CMO and how the rise in the role of the customer impacts the marketing ecosystem.  The article resonated with me because my role has evolved significantly over the last few years as a result of clients becoming more selective in their purchases of legal services and demanding more from the relationship with their outside counsel.  Philip Kotler, an influential marketing educator, said, “Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. It is the art of creating genuine customer value.”

The article really got me thinking about the law firm CMO and how the role is evolving.  Regardless of how one defines value, for the CMO of today and tomorrow, it comes down to metrics, analytics and critical thinking—core elements of any strategy.  There is a great reference in the article to CMOs gaining credibility “not by touting taglines, but by crunching numbers.”  I love this because I have always preferred to work with something tangible as opposed to ethereal.

Consider a book: the raw data/metrics are just words on the page.  Only when you begin to analyze them by looking for trends, outliers, gaps, etc, do they come alive and provide context for what is/might be occurring in the story/client relationship.  The data provides a backdrop to engage in conversations with lawyers and clients alike about the overall relationship; where, and if, it needs improving; and how to accomplish that in a mutually beneficial manner.  That’s adding value.

Are we on the verge of change in how the marketing ecosystem works within law firms?  Will firms and CMOs alike seek out more differentiation between traditional marcom and strategy?   Only time will tell.  In the meantime…read the article.

Back in August, some of you may remember I blogged about the power of news aggregators, asking the question, How Do We Make Them Read? Since that time, I have been watching new aggregators come on to the scene, new products being offered, new interfaces introduced, new pricing models worked out and all the while, I still can’t help but wonder how we make them read. Though, three new trends I am seeing out there in the world of aggregators is getting making the job of getting attorneys to read the news just a bit easier.

  1. Several of the products on offer, have started to include robust back end analysis and metrics with the aggregators. Clients (especially people like me in the competitive intelligence community) want to know who is reading, when they read and what articles have my clients clicked all the way through to read the full text. What are the trending topics of interest with a particular practice. Then I can be a step closer to understanding the issues of interest and how can I turn that into action, or identify a lead. Library Services, meet Business Development.
  2. Semantic analysis, though it can never replicate the human element completely (more on this in item #3). Some of the aggregator out there such as Digimind are offering a semantic analysis with the tool. The accuracy can be hit or miss on the tone owing to the algorithms and taxonomy, but it is nice to have a baseline for what you are reading, coded right into the article and interface. Certainly when helps to know if all the press on a given client is negative, or even perceived as such even if it is only 60-75% of the time. Maybe some crisis management or litigation is in coming down the pipe….Public Relations, meet Business Development.
  3. The most intriguing offering to me at the moment is the pairing of aggregators with other industry professionals. There have been others, but the most recent to come to mind is that of ShiftCentral announcing earlier this month, that former lawyer turned law firm CMO Mark E. Young, has joined the aggregator to head up what they are calling an Intelligence Agency. Competitive Intelligence meets Marketing.

As I sit with partners and watch their inboxes fill up with newsletters/bulletins/internals blogs and other informaton/intelligence items we have aggregated, I still can’t help but wonder how we’ll make the shift from better packaging and synthesis to action. News aggregators, like the ones reviewed in the past, or mentioned here today, certainly can take us part of the way. I think we are almost there…but the rest….

I read an interesting article in the AMA’s interview with David Edelman of McKinsey and Co. about moving away from the concept of the marketing model as a funnel.

Because of the new nature of marketing due to online commerce, Edelman proposes an alternative marketing model that they call the “Consumer Decision Journey.”

Working much like a clock, and beginning at 9 p.m., he suggests that customers:

  1. Consider
  2. Evaluate
  3. Purchase
  4. Post-purchase experience
  5. And, if it is a successful experience, they will begin a loyalty loop; if not, they will begin the “consider” stage again.
Well, I couldn’t help but think that if you considered this model in 3-D, it looks a lot like a cyclone. And the less you are considered, the more chaotic your marketing efforts must be.
So how does this model apply to as professional services providers and, specifically, law firms?
Yes, lawyers are not bought online. But, believe me, I know from first-hand experience, they are looked at online. And in this day and age, I can certainly tell you who a firm’s best marketers are just by looking at their web site.
Think of a law firm’s point of purchase to be when that firm is given an RFP. Then think about the post-purchase experience as how the potential clients react, respond, evaluate to the law firm’s response.
If a law firm is doing it right, they are in the Loyalty Loop and they are causing some serious damage in the courtrooms/boardrooms.
If not; well, all hell just broke lose.
Like Toto heard, “we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
Are you listening?

This is the last in a three part series on the evolution of marketing. Parts 1 and 2 looked at fundamental changes in the marketing landscape, Part 3 will look at how marketing is responding to these new challenges.
The Reaction
As with most new technologies, there have been mad rushes to adopt certain channels as the ‘go to’ options for getting customer attention. These rushes have also been followed by the traditional backlash, with businesses not realizing hoped-for returns on their marketing efforts for a given forum. With all this chaos and constantly changing environment, it is challenging for businesses to focus and direct their marketing in the right channels with the right kinds of messages.
In some respects, it is back-to-basics for marketing professionals as they need to re-examine their customers’ wants, needs and habits. What is different are the dimensions of those factors. Now different customers chose different channels for their content. And they even chose different channels for different types of content. For example, someone may read a hard-copy morning newspaper, but then immediately switch to RSS feeds for their industry updates. So a business not only needs to understand the type of customer they want to reach, but also the probable methods for how these customers prefer to consume content related to their products and services.
What Does This Mean?
Marketers need to look at the entire universe of channels and plug into the high value ones with the appropriate messages. And as they do this they need to engage with their customers in a positive dialog. The return on that effort will be valuable, direct customer input along with new messages actually designed by the customers and passed on to their own, expanding networks.
In defense of the legal market, there are some providers proactively approaching the Marketing 2.0 challenge. Even some large firms are actively engaged with Twitter. However, as challenging as marketing has become for the entire market, the late arrival and slow-to-adopt-change nature of the legal profession, means the challenge is rapidly increasing.
Like most aspects of change presented by the New Normal, the legal profession is in great need of ground-up reassessment of its marketing practices. Starting on this now (or yesterday) would be a good idea.
This concludes the three-part series on Marketing 2.0. We explored the shift in marketing power from provider to customer and the qualitative change from one-directional messaging to a chaotic conversation. With change becoming a constant, we can expect further dynamic shifts in the role and purpose of marketing.

The second post in this series on the evolution of marketing, explores the shift from one directional marketing (provider-to-customer) to interactive, multi-directional marketing. In the first post we discussed how things shifted from a scarcity of the number of available marketing channels to the scarcity of customer time and attention. This interactive aspect has a bigger impact on marketing and therefore gets a bit more attention here. Again, editorial on how this change applies in the legal market is added in italics.
The Next Layer
The persuasion aspect in the original marketing method directed content in one direction. Business crafted a marketing message and wrapped that up in various forms of advertising to push it in front of customers. Customers only served in a receive mode. To stay fresh, these messages became more dynamic and creative and actually drifted away from product descriptions to emotive appeals. Knowing your car had power breaks was useful, but imagining you powering through the curves on the Pacific Coast Highway was compelling.
With the rise of the Internet not only did the number of channels spike, but the ability for the customer to participate actively blossomed. This was Web 2.0. Here we saw the rise of Blogs and Wikis, followed by social media platforms such as MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. Beyond the scarcity dynamic, this Web 2.0 environment presented a qualitative change in the way customers consumed information about products and services. Instead of passively accepting the information presented by the provider, they could participate in the development of the marketing message.
What emerged was a conversation between business and customer. Although this continues to present a challenge to business, it also presents an incredible opportunity. Businesses can find out directly and almost immediately how customers react to a new offering, price and brand. And any deficiencies will be quickly identified with possible solutions coming right from the customer.
Lawyers are trained in talking at people not talking with them. They present to courts and juries and give advice and counsel to clients on deals and regulations. As well the ethics rules generally frown on marketing interactions as that may create attorney-client relationships. Therefore ‘interactive’ does not come naturally to them.
This new interactive environment also drove a shift from persuasion to value in the style of messages being presented by business. In addition to appealing to their emotions, customers now need to find some direct value in a message, even if it is just entertainment. In other words, to get customers’ attention, business needs to motivate them via their self-interest to consume marketing content.
Successfully meeting this new-style value challenge presents a qualitative increase in the value of marketing. Valuable content, combined with an interactive, participatory audience, leads to customers extending a message much deeper into a market. This multiplier effect means one customer finding value in content will pass it along to their own network with no additional cost to the business. Multiply this effect out and well-crafted messages can reach an audience of millions at a very low cost.
Where business has stumbled in this arena is attempting to deliver old-style, one-direction messages in this interactive environment. Businesses push out a message and then either don’t engage with the customers or attempt to defend their message when it is critiqued. As might be expected, customers have not reacted well to these attempts. Business continues to struggle with this challenge, as it is a bit of a moving target.
Lawyers are stumbling – to say the least. Many legal blogs have comments turned off out of fear someone might ask a question. This eliminates the interactive component. Blog posts are are the typical newsletter style of content and tweets are mostly ads. This misses the mark on providing value over ad copy and their messages die before becoming part of any conversation.
I predict this interactive aspect of marketing will remain a substantial obstacle for lawyers.
In Part 3 of this series, we will explore how the market is reacting to these fundamental changes and what it all means for marketing going forward.

Later this month I will be co-presenting with Jordan Furlong at the ACLEA Mid-Year Meeting in New Orleans. Our topic is using social media as part of your web presence and your overall marketing strategy. This prompted me to write a paper (for the handouts) on Marketing 2.0. I wanted to put a stake in the ground on how marketing is evolving in general and use that as a foundation for us to explore the value of various social media options in the presentation. I am breaking the article up in to three pieces for the blog and adding in some editorial (in italics) about how each article segment impacts or applies to the legal market.
Marketing Origins
Marketing, as we know it now, was born in the mid 20th century. The growth of radio and TV provided the means and impetus to get the attention of customers and persuade them to purchase products and services. In those days the limiting factors were the scarcity of marketing channels. We had 3 commercial TV stations and a limited number of radio stations. There were daily, weekly and monthly papers and magazines as well. But the main point here is that the owners of the distribution channels were in a position to determine who had access to their growing list of listeners, readers and viewers.
The scarcity of marketing channels has been even more pronounced for lawyers due to their late arrival to the marketing world (Bates in 1977) and the lack of knowledge on where their customers look for product information. This scarcity situation lead to lawyer referral service channels via bar associations and ultimately, the ubiquitous local TV ads for personal injury lawyers. Even today lawyers use of traditional marketing channels is quite limited. Their advertising dollars tend to be focus on client trade publications and other narrow channel options.
Over the past 10 or so years, this scarcity situation was changed dramatically. Now what is scarce is customers’ time and attention. The number of potential channels for delivering content to the market is now effectively infinite. So as a marketer, instead of competing for space in the channels, you are competing for position in the various channels along with individual customer’s attention.
The challenge of being late to the game is compounded in the web 2.0 space. As lawyers find the need to actually compete for position on the web, their lack of market knowledge about their customers is a tremendous handicap. Additionally their style and impulse is one-direction marketing. They are used to being the expert who others come to. The primary marketing experience for lawyers is letting customers know they are experts and thus someone they should hire. In an environment where the ability to even spot your customer is a basic skill, the ability to actually get one’s attention in the mass chaos of web content is well beyond lawyers’ current skill-set.
However the web is full of opportunities and resources for lawyers to easily access. So there is hope for playing catch up.
In Part Two of the series, we will look at the interactive nature of web 2.0 marketing options and explore the impact of customers participating in the marketing dialog.

Image [cc] Dale Gillard

At the prompting of fellow geek, Scott Preston, I joined in on the #legalchat Twitter feed this morning and really enjoyed the conversation. As with most Twitter conversations, we all are smart, good looking, and can answer almost any difficult question in 140 characters or less. At least that was my interpretation (your mileage may vary.) By the time we got to Question 4: “Are you or your firm working on developing an app?”, I got pretty confident here and make a broad statement that most of the apps I’ve seen coming out of law firms don’t have a lot of substance to them, and are essentially marketing products that bring very little value to the clients they are aimed at attracting. Perhaps the biggest reason for this strategy is that the “idea” for developing an app comes from the firm’s Marketing Department.

Now, before all my Legal Marketing Association friends start balking at that statement, I think that for firms to initially buy into the idea of developing an app, it logically flowed from the Marketing Team because it can be a great marketing tool. Where most of these apps fall short, however, is that they tend to only be a marketing tool, and not an actual productivity tool that clients can benefit from using. In fact, if you look at almost any law firm app that’s hit the market, they tend to have the following resources in them:

  • Law Firm PR materials (alerts, articles and firm news feeds)
  • Office Location Trackers (advanced ones use the device’s GPS to show the nearest office)
  • Employment Information (hey, we’re hiring!!)
  • Attorney Contact Information (just in case you can’t find my number… here it is!)
What we’ve done so far is made a sophisticated mobile website. Not that there isn’t any value in that… but, really, it’s not that great of an app if it simply repackages your website data.
Off the top of my head I thought, “has anyone created a mobile app that allows clients to track their open matter information?”  Now that would be useful. Imagine that I’m a GC at one of our major clients and I can pull up billing information, contact information, docket status, and documents related to all my matters that the firm is currently managing. That would be a useful app! 
Right now, we conduct our application development process within the silo of the firm’s internal structure. All the bright minds of IT, KM, Marketing, Lawyers, etc. going into a room together and deciding what would be a cool app to build. The missing piece, however, is that it doesn’t seem that anyone is asking the client what they would like to see in a law firm mobile app. Do you really think the clients want an app that will show the closest office location? Do they want a list of current jobs available at your firm? Well… maybe, but probably not. Yet, do we take the time to actually ask them a question like: “What kind of useful information or resources could we provide you on your mobile devices that you would find valuable?” I don’t think most of us are. Perhaps we’re afraid that they’ll actually ask us to produce something that we are afraid to provide them. 
I know that a lot of people at this point are probably writing this post off because they think that firms cannot provide such products due to ethical or potential security reasons. I’d argue that if that is stopping a firm from developing a valuable mobile app that their clients would actually use, then you probably should scrap any idea you may have of developing a mobile app. Playing it safe and relying upon Marketing to come up with a design for a mobile app that regurgitates what’s already on your website will result in an app that no one will use. If you really want it to be used, you have to make it useful. If major companies like HBO, Westlaw, The New York Times, and others can produce secure products that are useful to their clients, so can law firms. It’s just a matter of stepping out from beyond the idea of “mobile app as marketing” and stepping into the idea of “mobile app as beneficial to our clients.”

A group of lawyers from Gibson Dunn’s Electronic Discovery and Information Law practice group launched the first publication in a planned ten-part series entitled “E-Discovery Basics.” The first publication, “Why Should I Care About E-Discovery?” went out yesterday and discussed how, despite the fact that most lawyers have little interest in learning anything about the topic, e-discovery has become too important and too intertwined in the legal process, that it is simply an area that in-house and outside lawyers need to understand. The trio of Gareth Evans (Partner, Los Angeles), Jennifer H. Rearden (Partner, New York) and Farrah Pepper (Of Counsel, New York) kick off the series by advising in-house and outside lawyers that just like death and taxes, “electronic discovery is unavoidable in an era in which virtually all business information and communications are digital.”

I contacted Gareth Evans by email and asked what the genesis was behind creating a series on e-discovery basics. Evans responded that he had discussions with in-house lawyers who wanted to learn more about e-discovery, but most simply “do not have a lot of time available” to devote to learning the topic, “and in many cases do not know where to start.” Gibson Dunn has published numerous mid-year and year-end reports, and client alerts that discuss e-discovery topics, but those seemed to focus on changes in the overall e-discovery topic, but didn’t create a good starting point for someone that may not have a solid grasp of the subject. Evans told me that his team “had not seen anywhere an easily accessible and comprehensive overview of all aspects of e-discovery” could be found, “so we decided to put together this series.”

The series is scheduled to go out on a regular basis over the next few months and cover the following topics:

  • The E-Discovery Life Cycle
  • Litigation Preparedness
  • Legal Holds
  • Preservation
  • Collection
  • Processing and Review
  • Production
  • Admissibility
  • Cross-Border Discovery Challenges

Evans said that the “intended audience is primarily in-house lawyers and compliance personnel,” but they are hoping that it will have a much wider appeal. “[W]e hope that these pieces will be valuable to anyone interested in learning about e-discovery.” The Marketing team at Gibson Dunn will be sending out the “E-Discovery Basics” updates to their clients and others as well as posting them on the practice group’s web page.

For those of you that have been asking for a primer on e-discovery, it looks like the E-Discovery practice group at Gibson Dunn is stepping up to fill that need. If you want to sign up to receive future installments of the “E-Discovery Basics” publications, you can send an email to clients@gibsondunn.com, with the subject line “SUBSCRIBE to E-Discovery Updates”.

image [cc] miss pupik

What is the future of legal directories?  Are they still valuable?  If so, in what form?
This question came to us from Dallas law librarian, Kevin Miles. What surprised me in this week’s answers was the fact that no legal marketing people chimed in to give an answer. Aren’t they the people that support these directories? Maybe I’m reading too much into that (frankly, it could be because they don’t read 3 Geeks), but it would seem that law firm marketing folks should have some opinions on this issue. I’m hoping that maybe we can get those marketers to give us something in the comments section (hint… hint…)

Next week’s post (see below) should also be an interesting question… one that Toby Brown and I thought of after a Jason Wilson tweet about why incoming law students are still encouraged to read Scott Turows’s One-L, even though the book was written in the mid 1970’s. My snide remark back to Jason was to ask “have law schools really changed that much since 1977?” We won’t ask you to go back that far, but we really want to know what really has changed in the structure of law schools in the past twenty or so years? Scoll down after you read this week’s answers, and chime in with your own perspective.

Sid Kaskey
Law Librarian

No future and it is not a question that keeps me up nights…but the legal digest for various states once available via Martindale now there is something still useful.

Martin Korn
Law Librarian

I believe that as firm to firm mobility increases it will become crucial for attorneys to have some sort of home base.  When an attorney moves from one firm to another much of their history is lost on the new firm’s website.  By maintaining a directory listing (and let’s face it, online is the only one that will matter) an attorney has the ability to keep her or his complete cv available.  It is also a great way to hang on to contacts from previous firms and clients, assuming the legal directories continue to evolve into social media sites.

Toby Brown

I don’t see how traditional legal directories can sustain in the long-run, or even sooner than that.  The value proposition to a lawyer or firm is that clients will find you that way.  That method of finding a lawyer is fading into the sunset.  Maybe lawyers with a “retail” consumer practice will find some short-term value there, but I just can’t see it sustaining.

New breeds of directories may have a fighting chance though.  One example I recently saw is BidYourCase where clients describe their needs and subscribing lawyers bid to get the work.  Even then, the site will need very strong SEO to be found by clients.

I realize some firms will cling to these tools, since they will get some clients from then.  But as my former boss and mentor used to say, “Bus bench ads work.  With enough of them out there, you are bound to get one phone call.”  The point being, there are much better ways to spend your limited marketing dollars.

Sarah Mauldin
Law Librarian

I find directories great for hunting down possible lateral hires, but not for much else.  I think they are dead in print, but may continue to live online as long as the pricing models are changed.  Ever since the Martindale Digests stopped being provided in print, I’ve had no need for the rest of M-H in print, either.

Next Week’s Elephant Post:

What Has Really Changed In Legal Education in the Past 20 Years?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t have a meeting at work without that overused phrase “The New Normal” popping its ugly head up in the middle of every presentation. To be honest, it could probably be used in one of our previous Elephant Post Questions were we morphed the Princess Bride quote (I think you need to look up the phrase “New Normal.” I don’t think it means what you think it means.) Any amount of change equals “New Normal.” Any amount of cuts, pain, reduction in force, bonus reductions, etc., is all chalked up to “The New Normal.”

Well… what’s the “New Normal” in law schools? For many of us standing on the outside looking in, we haven’t seen a lot of changes. Are we wrong? Is there something we’re missing?

If you’re inside the law firm environment, tell us what were missing. If you’re like me, and are standing outside looking in, then let us know what you think has changed (or, what you think needs to change.)

Yesterday, I was skimming through my RSS reader and came across the post from Thomson Reuters’ Legal Current blog entitled “The Game” stuns attendees at legal marketing awards program. The more I read and watched, the more my mind was blown. The folks at Legal Current do a great job of describing, in detail, what the Dutch Law Firm of Houthoff Buruma, along with Ranj Serious Games, are doing in “The Game”, but basically, it is a way to test the mental agility of the players when confronted with a complex international legal issue. Houthoff Buruma even brings in some of its client’s in-house counsel to compete against its associates in a friendly battle of wits.

“The Game” was awarded the Excellence in Legal Marketing Award by Thomson-Reuters and Hubbard One in co-operation with the Hildebrand Institute, but is seen as recruiting and training tool as much as it is seen as a marketing tool. Gretchen De Sutter, at Legal Current, gives some pretty high praise to Houthoff Buruma when she says, “Firms in the US are in general ahead of European law firms when it comes to marketing approach. It’s nice to hear the enthusiastic jury report of how they visualize that “The Game” should even be applied to Law Schools.”

Here’s the video that describes “The Game,” it is well worth a watch to see how the concept of interactive training can enhance the ability to train and test attorneys (although you don’t have to be an attorney to play it), and the possibilities that are out there to test potential recruits on how quickly they can think on their feet.