Thanks to my friends at Martindale for allowing me to preview the beta site for Martindale Connected. I was asked to do this to provide candor and feedback.
Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t think it is appropriate for me to share the specifics of what I saw and what I said, right now. In the end, that would not benefit the legal marketing community. My intentions are not to scoop any other blog as to the features of the new product, because Martindale isn’t finished and who knows where they’ll end up.
I hope that the comments I shared with them will be taken in the spirit given; I just want the best products out there that will help my attorneys do the best job they can for their clients. Contrary to others’ opinions, I am anything but Pollyanish.
(Sidebar – I tried to find the blog comment that accused
me of being Pollyanish when it came to the MH brand.
If anyone can send me the link, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee).
PRODUCT: Martindale Connected combines the best of what LexisNexis has to offer, in what could be a very cool social networking environment. Let me make myself clear: COULD BE.
But we all know that marketing is about four Ps and not only one. Martindale has the product, now they need to work on the pricing and promotion and placement.
PRICING: Web 2.0 is about sharing information in an open environment. We are now accustomed to, and expect, social networking to be open to all and free to the users. I am all for everyone making a buck, and making lots of them, but as Profnet v. HARO shows, a corporate giant cannot survive on a pricing model originally developed in the 80s, 90s or pre-Web 2.0. It’s time to get creative.
Jaffe Associates just released a White Paper, Web 2.0 and PR 2.0—The Way Jaffe Looks At The Present, that sums it up well:

Web 2.0 is all about sharing content—and lawyers and law firms generate a lot of useful content in the course of doing business. It is an ideal medium. Some popular examples:

  • The founders of Wikipedia built a site on wiki software, primed it with information that was already in the public domain, and then opened it up to the entire world.
  • The founders of LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace put up social networking sites, and then opened them up to anyone who wants to post a profile and create a network.
  • YouTube did this for audio and video podcasts, and Flickr and Photobucket did it for photographs.
Martindale is in the position to do the same for lawyers. To quote Field of Dreams: “If you build it they will come.”
I believe that the right pricing model has the potential to get most of us to take a second look at Martindale, and open the doors to new customers. After seeing what I have seen, I would be the first to line up (and you know I would). The flip side is, without the right pricing model you are susceptible to other Web 2.0 products happy to fill a need you are not fulfilling, which can then over overtake your market share in a matter of months.
PROMOTION: LexisNexis and Martindale will have to go a long way to woo back clients and legal marketers. I have a list of law firms, including many from the AmLaw 100, who have discontinued Martindale listings.
I look forward to seeing how Martindale will work with the legal marketing community to embrace their new product. Because, let’s face it, we’re the ones who will be promoting the product in our firms, the costs will come out of our budgets, and, in most cases, we’ll be the ones managing the use.
PLACEMENT: Web 2.0 has shaken up the placement of products. There was a time when the only authoritative guide to lawyers was Martindale’s AV rating. That is no longer so. In Web 2.0 anyone with an idea, and basic knowledge of how the Internet works, can take an old idea and turn it into a multi-billion dollar company. Facebook and Google come to mind.
Right now LinkedIn and Legal OnRamp are connecting lawyers and purchasers of legal services. The Association of Corporate Counsel has a mission to reconnect the value of legal services to the cost of legal services. They want to connect counsel to regional lawyers, minority owned firms and boutiques. Did I mention that they want to CONNECT these people. Can’t wait to hear how they plan to do that.