generational marketing

I write and speak frequently on the generational shifts and divides in law firms, along with my colleague Jonathan Fitzgarrald. We first started to identify generational trends and the impact on the law firm in 2013. We always mentioned the “next” generation, the “swipe” generation, but there was no data on them. Yet.

The studies are starting to come out, and if you’re worried about your Millennials, you need to start to panic about your iGen, a term coined by Dr. Jean M. Twenge. I just saw her on CNN, just read her article, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.

Continue Reading Here comes the iGen: And we all need to be worried

Jonathan Fitzgarrald and i started speaking about the generational divide several years ago. Our primary focus was on how the law firms, by not passing on leadership rolls to the younger generations, were putting themselves at risk, as their clients had already made the generational shift.

As time passed, and we began speaking at other conferences beyond legal marketing, we began to discuss the shifts within our firms.

So. Millennials. What are we going to do about  the Millennials? Aren’t we all asking the same question?

I had my own recent experience that I want to raise to the level of a warning to us all. My marketing manager left us to work for the do-good-work start-up where she had been volunteering. She felt she could balance her corporate life by doing good outside of work. Until they offered her “enough” money to join them full-time. Continue Reading A new Millennial conundrum

generations in workplace Jonathan Fitzgarrald and I were asked to contribute our thoughts on the generations at work for the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrator’s magazine. While our initial research and conversations in regards to the generational divide in law firms dealt with lawyers and their clients, our focus in this turns internal in regards to how law firms manage the different generations, recruit and retail lawyers, AND continue to build vibrant practices.

For the first time in history, there are four generations in the workforce—Silent, Boomer, GenX and GenY. The different mentalities, preferences, and motivations among the generations has introduced some unchartered opportunities and challenges. According to a recent Altman Weil study entitled Law Firms in Transitions, “Effectively planning the retirement of Baby Boomer partners is critical and must be resolved in the next 3 to 5 years. The timing is not flexible, and, if unaddressed, the cost in lost revenue and client relationships could be devastating.” Savvy legal administrators who understand the different generational markers and who customize their responses accordingly will benefit from a harmonious and successful working environment. A lack of generational understanding results in internal strife, increased turnover and loss of business.

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kapow1 Charlotte Proudman, you are my new hero. Good for you for calling out the Big Law partner who thought “complimenting” you on your photo was a great way to begin a conversation:

https://twitter.com/CRProudman/status/640934811381706752

Baby Boomers take note. Millennial women will not put up with comments like this. They have been raised to believe that they are equal in every way to the “adults” in their lives. And they have no problems speaking up and out. If the partner in question had just bothered to look at Ms. Proudman’s Twitter profile, he would have been well warned to keep his comments to himself: Charlotte Proudman When I was coming up in the working world, pre-Anita Hill, GenX and Boomer women did not have the terminology (sexual harassment), the tools (HR departments), and the laws (thank you, very much) to aid us when faced with a man 20+ years our age making rude comments, suggestions, and threats. When we spoke up we were fired. And that was that. Having a trailing edge Millennial daughter, I can honestly say, “Wow” and “Look out.” Well educated gentlemen, the rules have changed. Just talk to any teen-aged girl about “rape culture” and you will be schooled in ways that will make your BS, MBA, JD, PhD certificates not worthy of the frames that hang them on the walls of your offices. And if you think women like me are blowing this out of proportion, and are just too sensitive or serious, just take a look at the anonymous comments (here and here) from LAWYERS attacking Ms. Proudman for being a “feminist” and for her speaking out about the incident and “shaming” the partner in question. This is nothing more than a “blame — or shame — the victim” mentality (she shouldn’t post a picture if she doesn’t want comments) that is beyond disturbing. My personal favorite from “Bobby”: bobby

We have come so far, yet really, we haven’t. For any male lawyer who is wondering why Ms. Proudman is so offended by having her photo praised as “stunning,” please walk down the hall and ask any woman over 40 about the first time she was sexually harassed in the work place. For me, I was 23-years old working at a restaurant to help pay my way through college. Players from the local professional football team would come in and hang out at our bar after training practice. One Friday night, with a full station of tables working, my manager told me that “Mr. NFL player” at the bar would like me to join him. I was confused, as I was “working.” My manager told me not to worry about my tables, that he thought it was a very good idea for me to go join the player. I told him no. I wasn’t raised that way and went about my work. I was fired that week. That was my first story, but not my last. And if you’re thinking, “But that was in 1988; that doesn’t happen any more.” Um, yes it does. I was just recanting a story of the senior partner, after a major client meeting, leaning over in the limousine and kissing the associate. She did not return to the firm. He did. That did occur in this millennium. While I am sure the big law partner does not need any more shaming (the British tabloids have picked up the story), the lessons obviously still need to be learned. If we truly want diversity, and women in leadership roles in law firms, then we need to be seen and treated, in public and private, as the equal professionals we are.

Well, it’s that time of year. The legal marketing community is headed off to the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference. The conferences keep getting bigger and better. Pretty soon we’ll be saying goodbye to conference hotels, and hello convention centers. A few things to note:

  1. Whether or not you are attending the conference, or have a Twitter account, the hashtag to follow is #LMA14.
  2. I am still looking for anyone who would like to help blog on sessions. Just send me a message on Twitter @heather_morse.
  3. I know EVERYONE reading this will be in my session on Generational Marketing with Jonathan Fitzgarrald on Thursday. It’s a competitive time slot, so I will forgive you if you attend any of the other sessions. Especially if you write a recap for this blog. LMA Session
  4. Don’t just bring your business cards. Immediately connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Half the conference is about networking and building relationships. Don’t miss out on that.
  5. Start making your connections now. The conversation and connections have already begun on Twitter.
  6. The LMA Technology Committee will have a couple tables set up at the Friday Networking Lunch. I’ll be there, along with my co-chair, Laura Toledo. Stop by and say hi. We’ll even buy you lunch :D.
  7. Wear comfortable shoes.
  8. Oh, and rumor has it that a group of us are staying over on Friday to get our social time in with friends. You’re welcome to join us.

I’ll see you at the kick-off reception Wednesday night. Looking forward to the #Swag and Passport to Prizes.  

Thanks to the folks at Spark Media Solutions for doing a great round of post-session interviews after our presentation, Generational Marketing: Strategies and tactics for engagement with Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials.They really picked up on the main themes of our session, and provides a great recap of our session.

Jonathan Fitzgarrald and I appreciate the feedback we received, and look forward to presenting next week in Orlando at the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference.

Last month came the news that another law firm is closing its doors. This time north of the 49th parallel.

One of Canada’s largest firms seemingly collapsed overnight. But, like most law firm failures, the collapse was a long time coming.

Canada’s online legal magazine, SLAW, sums it up well in this post, Requiem for Heenan Blakie:

Heenan Blaikie died from a combination of greed, poor management and failed leadership wrapped together in an antiquated business structure ill-suited to “more for less” client demands in a marketplace gradually filling with non-traditional competitors.

As I have said repeatedly, the Canadian legal profession is now entering the most disruptive period of time in its history. It has never faced such strong client demands for value and efficiency. It has never faced competition from non-traditional legal providers.

These are structural changes that never go away; they amplify.

And all of this in an environment of flat legal services demand, over capacity and legal tech entrepreneurs!

Layer in partners who are more loyal to themselves than to the firm and one can see that Heenan Blaikie (like every other law firm in Canada) was a house built on sand, not bedrock.

I fear that many of us can insert “name of American law firm” in place of Heenan Blaikie and tell the same story.

Yes, we’re chatting about this in my circles. What does this mean? Why? What will it take to change law firm culture and business models?

Some argue for the ability of non-lawyers to co-own law firms, thereby giving more control of the actual business function to the true professional business people.

Some argue we need true business development and sales people. Lawyers are not necessarily cut out for this.

Some argue that the services themselves need to be repackaged and sold (think AFAs).

Some argue that the growth through lateral hiring binge is unsustainable and a leading cause of law firm failure.

It’s the compensation plans. No, it’s the commoditization of legal services.

And then there are those lawyers who just want things to go back to the way things were. Institutional clients. None of this business development crap.

There are no single right answers. And there are no single wrong ones here either. These are all contributing factors, leading to a perfect storm that will continue to result in the roller coaster of growth through acquisition, and big law failures, along with a lot of mid-sized failures as well.

I’d like to add another layer to the conversation of change and disruption in the legal industry: There is a generational shift taking place and very few people are talking about it, nor the impact it is having on our sales culture, nor our business culture.

Continue Reading Why the generational shift in leadership is impacting the legal industry

pointing-finger-vector1I was at a conference earlier this week, hanging out with the other exhibitors. Speaking with different marketing, business development folks from different industries. There were seasoned professionals. Entry level sales people learning the ropes. A mixed and diverse crowd from product to service providers. Inevitably the conversation would turn to the state of business and how we were gaining and retaining clients/customers. I started testing out my generational marketing positions, to see if others are seeing and experiencing what I am seeing and experiencing. Is my hypothesis of the generational shift in management impacting direction all in my head, or am I on to something? I spoke with one gentleman about 10 years older than me. A true Baby Boomer. He was being asked to do things differently than he’s been doing it for decades. He didn’t get all this marketing and outreach. What about relationships and how they used to do it? He wanted to go back “there,” wherever “there” was. He was being challenged by the times and he was definitely outside his comfort zone. When I referenced the Millennials, his retort was: “Is that the ‘entitled generation’ they’re always talking about?” And then he went on a mini rant.

You are running around, lamenting the advent of technology, the evolution of business practices, your resistance to change, and “Why can’t we go back to business as usual?” and you call THEM entitled?? Is it not as arrogant and entitled to expect the business world to never shift its axis because it will force you to change and evolve? To grow? Learn new things? Is it not entitled to expect your clients to use a certain software because it will be too expensive for you, the service provider, to upgrade and train your staff? And, besides, no one in your office wants to learn how to use it anyway? Is it not entitled to expect your clients to receive information the way YOU want to send it, not the way they want to receive it? Is it not entitled to expect your clients to slow down because you do not want to catch up? And when I start playing with the numbers, are not these members of this so called “entitled” generation the spawn of the Baby Boomers and older GenXers? The same ones who are now lamenting their existence? In my program we discuss making others feel less than to make you feel better about yourself. And is that not what you are doing every time you dismiss a Millennial as “entitled”? Are you not attempting to make yourself feel better in your own limited world by refusing to open yourself up and see where the Millennials and younger GenXers are getting it right? Millennials put family and personal life first. They want a true work/life balance. They cherish experiences. They don’t want to waste all of the daylight hours in an office with artificial lighting. They are happy to get the work done, they just don’t see why it has to be done between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (or 8:00 p.m. to prove how “loyal” they are), or within the walls of your ivory tower rather than from their laptop at home. And they are not necessarily driven by the same dollar that you are. While my peers bitched, moaned and complained about their Blackberrys interrupting their personal lives back in the ’90s, I embraced mine as liberating me from my desk so I could go have a life. And I never looked back. I don’t want to go back to the “way things were” any more than my great grandparents wanted to go back to the horse & buggy days once they bought the first automobile on their block, or the telegraph v. telephones, or rail travel v. air travel, or landlines v. cellphones, or card catalogs v. Google. Every generation will bitch and moan about the next. (Really?? Twerking??) But it’s not going to stop it from coming, changing, or the world evolving. And, yes, it’s happening at a quicker pace. So be careful when pointing that one finger towards “they” who are “entitled.” I was taught that when you point one finger out, there are three more pointing back at you.

I began my discussion of generational marketing with Talking ’bout My Generation:

In short, generational marketing recognizes that the different generations make purchasing decisions in different ways from one another.

The different life phases we are in presently, coupled with our upbringing and societal norms, provide us with different perspective than those we follow, or those who follow us.

I immediately got an email from my friend and legal marketing peer, David Bruns. He recommended I download and read “I Would Die 4 U:  Why Prince Became an Icon,” by Touré.

In short, the book discusses how Prince, a Baby Boomer, became such a huge icon for Generation X.

No icon is so talented that they don’t need the right generation to receive their message. Of course, some icons transcend their time, but that’s nearly impossible without first connecting deeply with the generation that’s consuming culture when you’re at your peak. The difference between being famous and becoming an icon is, in part, having the good fortune to have a generation that’s interested in your message. Pg. 17

It’s the Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers, theory of 10,000 hours of experience to achieve mastery, plus the luck of timing when that knowledge/skill is needed, the audience is ready, as in the case of Prince.

The author goes on to discuss Prince’s less than welcoming response when he opened for the Rolling Stones on October 9 & 11, 1981, here in Los Angeles. He was pelted with garbage and drinks, and literally booed off the stage. Twice. (FYI. The Sports Dude and I were at that concert. He even saved the ticket stubs).

Controversy was just too controversial for the crowd of hippies and boomers. We up and coming Gen Xers got it, though … we were waiting and ready for the Purple Revolution that was about to come out with “1999.” And we were really confused why the adults in the crowd didn’t get it.

So what does Prince have to do with legal marketing and generational marketing? It’s all in how we interpret his experience to our industry. Continue Reading Prince, A Revolution, and Legal Marketing

Where they Boomers got their name.

Generational marketing is a term that I picked up at the Chief Marketing Officer Institute earlier this year, and something Jonathan Fitzgarrald and I continue to toy with in terms of how this applies to legal marketing.

In short, generational marketing recognizes that the different generations make purchasing decisions in different ways from one another.

The different life phases we are in presently, coupled with our upbringing and societal norms, provide us with different perspective than those we follow, or those who follow us.

Roger Daltry is now 69. What happened to not trusting anyone over 30?

For example, I’m an earlier member of Generation X (born 1961 – 1981). I came of age during the Cold War.

I was raised by my Silent Generation parents (1925 – 1942), who came of age post-WWII. Only one of their five kids are a Baby Boomer (1943 – 1960). The rest of us are Gen-X.

And my parents were raised by their G.I. Generation parents (1901 – 1924), who grew up during, and were shaped by, the Great Depression.

One of the greatest challenges I face in the work place is working with the Millennial generation who were raised with technology at their fingertips (sometimes referred to as Gen Y; 1982 – 2000). The Baby Boomers really don’t get them at all.

Continue Reading Talking ’bout my generation