LMA Annual Conference 2013

For anyone following any legal marketing stream on Twitter (#LMA13, for instance), you’ll know that we not only have our scoffers, but we have our haters.

And, honestly, looking at the spam in my filters, who can blame them.

There are a lot of bad promotional people out there targeting lawyers with their wares. But they are not necessarily “legal marketers.”

One thing I have learned from my nearly 15 years as a legal marketer is that not all legal marketers are created equally.

We all don’t do the same thing. We don’t all have the same skill set and experience. And we all don’t work for the same client base.

I work in-house for corporate lawyers. I am diligent that the marketing and business development we do complies with the legal ethics of the states in which we practice.

I know many legal marketing consultants who have worked in-house, and have struck out on their own. Once again, working with corporate lawyers, and well within the boundaries of the legal ethics in which the lawyers operate.

There are other legal marketers who work with consumer lawyers, which is a completely different beast than corporate law. B to C v. B to B.

And, like any industry, there are ne’er–do–wells who are trying to capitalize on an unsophisticated market. They see lawyers as a quick and easy target (Psst. Hey, buddy. Wanna buy a plaque?). Much like there are ne’er-do-well attorneys trying to capitalize on an unsophisticated consumer.

Those fly-by-night marketers do not represent what we do. They are not what I do. Just like ambulance-chasing lawyers are not who we represent.

My job is to help the lawyers in many areas of their business. The 5 Ps of marketing, for short.

LMA Annual Conference

Legal marketers, in general, are about business. The business of law. For some of us, that means businesses of $50 million in revenue and up. For others, at the top of the market, we’re looking at multi-billion dollar a year global operations.

It takes a sophisticated marketer to earn the respect of corporate law. To be given the keys to not only drive the strategic plan, but to create it. A seat at the table. And, better yet, a VOICE at the table.

Heaven knows it takes a thick skin and a strong personality to go toe-to-toe with many of our partners.

And while we have a few haters and scoffers, considering the booming of our profession, we have many more supporters and champions.

So, yeah, I’m Heather Morse. Legal Marketer.

Well, I am back in the office and digging through my e-mails, trying to figure out what I missed out on, and, yet, I am still going back and checking the Twitter stream because I am not yet ready to move on from what happened at the LMA Annual Conference. In fact, I get to run upstairs today and see Toby Brown and Aleisha Gravit give a presentation on Pricing, Profitability and the Role of Marketing. I’m making a list of all the blog posts I should write. Hopefully I’ll get to some of them. Already pow-wowing with LMA leaders in LA and San Francisco on what we can bring back from LMA’s annual conference for our local members. I would encourage ALL of us to do the same. Side note: And, if you are not an LMA “leader” yet, watch your in-boxes over the summer for “calls for nominations” to join your local chapter’s board of directors and committees. Already thinking about next year’s conference in Orlando and have blocked my calendar for April 2-4, 2014 (and we are NOT at a Disney property). As I will not be on the conference committee, or the board of directors, I am eligible to submit a program for consideration. Woo hoo!! And I’m loving my new mugs and t-shirts! If you didn’t get a chance to purchase one at LMA, contact Nathalie Daum and she’ll hook you up (no cost to ship!). LMA Mugs

$15 for t-shirts
$6 for mugs
$45 for polo shirts

Prof. David Wilkins, Director, Program on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School, is on stage right now. He just made a great analogy about the purchasing of legal services that just won’t fit in 140 characters on Twitter.

Folks of a certain age will remember running down to the local record store to buy a new record. It was pre-packaged by the record company. A certain sized and shape. It had a pretty cover. And we were expected to listen to the album in a certain order.

We would drop our money to buy a whole album to get just one song. And if the album wasn’t there, we couldn’t buy it.

(I have several of those albums in my collection, that are now in a box in storage)

And now look how music is purchased.

It’s been completed unbundled. We buy a single song. We download it. We build our own music lists. We share those lists. We are the decider of when and how we will purchase music. The record companies no longer dictate the rules we are living by.

And that is what is happening with legal services. The clients are demanding that the services be unbundled. They want to purchase service as they need them, how they need them.

The analogies are continuing. If you think about legal services being a new suit. Off the rack is just fine for most legal services. You don’t need to purchase a Seville Row suit every time.

Yeah, there will always be the bet the farm cases, the white collar perp walks. But these cases are fewer and farther between every year.

Heather Morse LMAWell, they listened. Last week I encouraged LMA members to not leave their passion behind, and so far, they haven’t disappointed. To quote Danny Zuko: “It’s electrifyin’!” The conference is packed. We’re at about 1200 registrants. The venue is beautiful, and the layout is conducive to getting to the sessions, networking. We even have some fresh daylight. The coffee sucks, but a Starbucks is about to open any moment. From the Twitter feed, the pre-conference sessions went well. The First Timers reception was packed. They turned the lights off to get us to leave the opening reception. I’m seeing sweaty people from Darryl Cross‘ workout walking around. People can’t wait to hear Prof. David Wilkins, Director, Program on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School. I am so torn between the four sessions at the first break out. Great topics and great friends speaking. It really is electrifyin’! and the conference officially hasn’t even begun. Lucky for us, what happens in Vegas won’t be staying in Vegas. If you’re not here, follow along on Twitter. Oh, and registration is already open for the 2014 conference. I’ll be there!

I know. I haven’t been blogging. I’ve been really busy and I am trying to clear my plate at work, at home, with the Girl Scout troop so I can really enjoy my time at the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference, in Las Vegas!!

I’m starting to go over the conference schedule, and one thing that is jumping out at me is that our personal passions are coming out, and we’re sharing them with our fellow LMA members:

Side note: The Mob Museum in downtown is AWESOME. Give yourself several hours in there. Catch up with me at LMA and I’ll even tell you about my family’s Vegas mob connections.

  • The Sports Dude is tagging along, and you’ll be able to find him at any given poker tournament.
  • There will be a Tweet-Up to meet your favorite LMA Tweeters (and lurkers): You can join in on the fun Monday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Gold Lounge at the Aria.
  • Oh, if you get in on Saturday, they’ll be a bunch of us hanging out by the pool. Tweet a message to #LMA13. We’ll save you a lounge chair.

(FYI – I do have a few extra boxes of Girl Scout cookies. I’ll bring some with me … Tweet a message to @heather_morse. No Thin Mints. Sorry.)

Looking forward to seeing everyone next week.

Kevin O'Keefe & Me at the Clipper's Game.
Kevin O’Keefe & Me at the Clipper’s Game.
I’m lucky to know some really cool and smart people out “there.” These really cool and smart people have individual thoughts and opinions, sometimes contrary to what the other really smart and cool people think, believe, and hold dear. I like hanging out and around people who get social marketing. They don’t all agree what that means, how to do it, and what the best practices are, but we have really great conversations. Some will say that social marketing is about the content. Others will say that it’s about the promotion. And others about the opportunity for engagement. I say that it’s a cycle: Content > Promotion > Engagement > Content > Promotion > Engagement. And not necessarily in that order. I got to spend some time with Kevin O’Keefe last week and we talked about using social tools for engagement. And how you identify and build relationships. Yesterday I got to spend time with Adrian Lurssen in my office and we discussed creating content. He wrote a blog piece, What Does Marketing Mean Anyway (Maybe the Opposite of What You First Think …), that was inspired by our meeting, which had great bullet point actions for lawyers to take:

  • Look at your analytics. They’ll take the guesswork out of what interests your market. Technology can tell you exactly what interests these people.
  • Once a month, look closely at which of your articles did well, and which did not. Look for patterns and trends. Try to figure out why (lots of shares? Means it struck a common chord. Pick-up by another blog or press outlet? etc.)
  • Escalate the content that does well. Write another post on the topic. Turn it into a series, a webinar, a video, a stand-alone blog of its own. (All of these are options, depending on how big the reception, and how much you want to be known for this topic.)
  • Look at the searches that drove people to your content. Why are you being found? These keywords are, among other things, a pretty clear expression of what interests your readers right now.
  • Look at who is coming to your work – which companies? which subscribers? which networks? All of it valuable insight into the current interests swirling through your marketplace.
  • Ask your clients what they want to know about. Think how pleased they’ll be to a) see you care, and b) read your thoughtful response.
  • Read industry periodicals with an eye to how editors frame the issues.
  • Rely on your own insights. You know your clients and what makes them tick. Don’t go looking for something else to write about; write what you know.
  • Join active LinkedIn groups populated by professionals in the industries you serve. Listen to their conversations in those groups.
  • Once a month, measure who socially shares your written work. What are they saying? If a share leads to conversation, be pleased with the compliments. Use the negative comments as fodder for your next writing assignment – you know what your audience cares about…

The cool thing is, I don’t have to agree with all or any of these bullet points, or any of his article, really (although I do). I just get to be inspired by his inspiration that was inspired by an engagement which was inspired by some content. And Adrian’s blog post inspired me to write this, which makes him a valuable asset in my arsenal of doing a good job. And Kevin reminds me again and again about engagement. What I have found, over these years, is that content, promotion and engagement are one activity. Rinsed and repeated over and over again. I cannot promote what’s in someone’s head (mine or anyone else), so I need that content (a blog post, an article, a tweet). My formula for successful content marketing and business development:

  • Create content of value (determined through trial and error, measured by analytics).
  • Promote content via social media tools (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube).
  • Engage with other people out there (retweet, @, hyperlinks, LinkedIn connections).
  • Build network of value (Twitter Lists, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, etc).
  • Engage some more.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Over time, and not a long amount of time, you will attract and meet people you didn’t otherwise know. Your social marketing will convert these strangers into people you do know. (I picked that up from a nifty slide Adrian had yesterday). And it is with these people that you now know, with whom you will develop relationships, where you will find new business opportunities (direct or referred). Increasing that pipeline, baby.

Some more really cool and smart people
It’s a symbiotic relationship: content + promotion + engagement. As are our personal relationships. Alone, none of them mean a thing, or can be successful. Together, they can be magical. Adrian was worried that my big leave behind from yesterday’s meeting was that Google Reader is being retired (don’t get me started again). But it wasn’t. The leave behind for me was this: To get a lawyer to open up his or her mind and to pour their thoughts out so that I can turn that intellectual capital into content, that can then be promoted, and eventually used to engage new people and build trusting relationships, that will lead to new business opportunities, they have to be inspired. And for the lawyers in my firm to be inspired, I have to be inspired. And I get inspired by really smart and cool people. Thank you Kevin and Adrian. You inspire me. You really do. (as do Gail, Gina, Laura, Tim, Laura, Lindsay, Rebecca and Nancy, and so many, many others). Viva Las Vegas!

As a member of the Legal Marketing Association‘s (LMA) Board of Directors I get the inside scoop to what’s going on in our association. But sometimes I am under the “cone of silence” and can’t say a thing.

I am so excited to officially get to spill the beans on some exciting news: LMA has launched a Client Value Shared Interest Group (SIG) focused on Pricing, Project Management and Process Improvement. From our board president Aleisha Gravit‘s message to today:

The SIG is being formed under the leadership of Toby Brown, Director of Pricing and Strategic Analytics at Akin Gump, along with some of the industry’s top leaders in legal pricing, project management and process improvement, many of who will be joining the LMA community as new members. These leaders bring with them a group of nearly 150 pricing and process improvement experts from the legal and business community and we are excited about the amount of experience and perspective they will bring to our pricing discussions and other LMA topic areas.

This SIG’s focus furthers LMA’s position as a thought leader for the legal marketplace as it relates to the 5 P’s of marketing: Promotion, Placement, Pricing, Product and People. Members will share best practices and create an informed dialogue about pricing structures, project management and process improvement trends in the legal profession. LMA already provides content related to pricing considerations in the legal market; the new SIG not only extends but elevates our programs in this topic area.

I for one am so excited to welcome Toby and company to LMA. I plan to sit front and center, live-Tweeting his session at the LMA Annual Conference (April 10-12 | Las Vegas). I’ve even officially joined the SIG. Can’t wait for the first in-person meeting at LMA, and all the webinars to come in the near future.

This is an exciting new venture and direction for our professional association. Pricing, project management and process improvement are a PERFECT fit to where are are evolving as a group, and as an industry. We’ve come a long way since Bates v. State Bar of Arizona.