~ Archive for Books ~

Communication Tip: Fight Capitalization Creep

1

Do your firm’s communications suffer from capitalization creep? It’s an insidious virus that infects the writing of many a professional — lawyers chief among them — resulting in an over abundance of capitalized words on a page. Legal contract writing encourages this behavior of capitalizing words as a way to personify or make them formal subjects of a document. Writers will often capitalize a word to give it extra importance. But don’t allow that logic to creep into your marketing writing.

A handy weapon in the fight against capitalization creep in your firm’s public facing communications is a style guide. You can develop your own in-house style guide as a way to define a preferred usage for firm-authored articles, web bios and marketing materials. If you don’t have a style guide, the AP Stylebook is a great place to start. You can either use it verbatim, or you can use it as your base guide and make exceptions or additions to it over time. (The AP Stylebook is one of my favorite reference books of all time.)

A Style Guide To the Rescue

A style guide is helpful not only to keep everyone on the same page using consistent style, but it is also great support when you need to tell a specific attorney why you keep lower-casing his or her capitalized terms.

It can sometimes be difficult especially for a younger professional to tell a senior attorney that his “Fellow” should be a “fellow” or that her “Chair” should be a “chair.” However, a nicely worded e-mail stating that you’ve made the following edits to the article “to maintain consistency with the rest of the web site and to adhere to AP style” almost always gets your point across and accepted.

Another good reason to limit capitalization: It’s much easier to read a sentence or paragraph that isn’t fraught with capitalized words. Lots of capitalized words make a paragraph clunky and slow down reading.

One big trouble area especially when preparing attorney bios is titles. Formal titles are capitalized when used immediately before a name, not when they are used alone or separated from the name by commas.

Common Capitalization Creep Culprits

Here are a few examples of the most common types of phrases I find myself editing (de-capitating)…

  • He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Brown Company.
    He is chairman of the board of directors of Brown Company.
  • Mary is Editor in Chief of the Technology News Quarterly, and a Contributing Writer to several IP Newsletters.
    Mary is editor in chief of the Technology News Quarterly, and a contributing writer to several IP newsletters.
  • He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ceramics and a Master of Science degree in Chemistry.
    He has a B.A. in ceramics and an M.S. in chemistry.

Capitalization is just one battle you will win armed with the AP Stylebook. It’s a great reference for any communicator and solves any moments of indecision you may encounter on the job. The Associated Press also has an online version of the guide that you can use with a site license and customize to define your firm’s or organization’s specific style preferences.

Marketing Legal Services the Free Way

2

FreeThe ever-thoughtful and social-media-savvy Doug Cornelius has a great blog post, Free and Law Firms, commenting on the book Free: The Future of a Radical Price and how it applies to the marketing of legal services. The book is written by Chris Anderson, the same guy who brought us Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, a book that neatly describes new markets as shaped by the internet. Read Doug’s post, then order the book, and then start thinking about how it might impact the business of law firms.

Also, take a look at these links offered by Cornelius, and see how they might impact or shape how you approach, offer and sell your legal services.

Thanks for a great post Doug. Anderson’s last book did much to shape my thinking about marketing on the web, so I’ve ordered ‘Free’ for express delivery so I can read on my summer vacation.

UPDATE: Since posting the above I found another post by Jordan Furlong on the same subject: Free and the GP.

Martindale Hubbell Blown to Bits?

8

I can’t offer my own opinion on Martindale-Hubbell Connected — the Lexis Nexis venture into bringing its traditional directory product into the world of social networking and Web 2.0 and regain some relevance in the realm of lawyer shopping — because it is a closed system and I haven’t been able to see how it works. (Isn’t a non-open system breaking rule #1 of Web 2.0?) But Doug Cornelius and Kevin O’Keefe, two web savvy lawyers, bloggers, Linkedin guys, Tweeters (you get the idea) have a few things to say about their experiences with Martindale’s Connected product over on Kevin’s blog. Read:

Martindale – Hubbell Connected : Will it go anywhere?

And here’s the direct link to Cornelius’ thoughtful post:

Martindale-Hubbell Connected – My Thoughts

In fairness to Martindale Hubbell, the system is still in Beta. But it has been making very slow progress. It reminds me of the saga of the Encyclopedia Britannica ($2,200, 20-volume set) and how it was paradigm shafted by Microsoft’s Encarta CD-ROM (ultimately a free bundled product) as told by Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster in Blown to Bits: How the New Economy of Information Transforms Strategy.

Free Chapter on Business Development for Lawyers

ø

A free chapter from the book, Legal Business Development – A Step by Step Guide by Jim Hassett, Ph.D., is now available on Legal Marketing Reader. The chapter is Six Facts About New Business and it boils down some fundamentals about selling and relationships that they didn’t teach you in law school. I could list the 6 facts here as a shortcut to your learning… but I’m afraid that would instead be a short sell.

I encourage any attorney or law marketing professional to give it a read as it is a great example of the simple and practical advice that is evident throughout Jim’s book. The chapter comes with lots of examples and a couple of exercises to boot.

Check it out at Six Facts About New Business — What Every Lawyer Needs To Know.

Related post: Business Development Pipeline Is “The Missing Link” of Law Firm Marketing

Buy the book here.

Attorney Business Plan Worksheet

2

Two legal services business development pros, Beth Cuzzone and Catherine MacDonagh, authors of the book, The Law Firm Associate’s Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills, offer up a free chapter and this valuable PDF planning tool: Individual Lawyer’s Business Plan Worksheet.

You can access both over at Legal Marketing Reader. The permalink for the article and download is: Attention Associates: How To Create Your Personal Sales and Marketing Plan. For more on Cuzzone and MacDonagh, see the Legal Sales and Service Organization web site.

Law Firm Marketers’ Favorite Business Books

2

I recently conducted a quick-and-dirty e-mail survey* of a select group of law firm marketers and consultants to get a read on what they read. More specifically, I asked these thought leaders to name their favorite marketing/sales/strategy books that I could recommend to readers of this blog. What I got back was a long list as many different favorites emerged. Two author names, however, came up again and again.

Leading the list: Malcolm Gladwell for his popular business books The Tipping Point and Blink; and David Maister for The Trusted Advisor (co-authored with Charles Green and Robert Galford) and Managing The Professional Service Firm. (Both author’s also have their own blogs — check out what they’re up to next at Gladwell.com and at Maister’s Passion, People and Principals.)

At first I was surprised that Gladwell was appearing on the favorites list of so many legal marketers, but his books, after all, are best-selling business books and written in an entertaining story telling style. That legal marketers, who are often out in front at their firms in terms of business thinking, would enjoy and look to apply Gladwell’s observations to their own situations then is not so surprising after all. In fact, I found Blink, subtitled “The Power of Thinking without Thinking,” to have a huge impact on my own approach to marketing, when learning how quickly and subconsciously we all make split-second decisions based on the tiniest of cues.

Maister may be less known in the pop business press, but has attained guru status as author, speaker, blogger, consultant on the topic of professional services management. The Trusted Advisor is viewed as the bible for any professional services provider. A good habit for law firms would be to give every new hire a copy to be used as a handbook for his/her client service career. That law firm marketers are reading both these authors is good news for their firms and the clients they serve.

Below is the summary of the survey results.

The Top Ten (multiple nominations)

1. The Tipping Point and Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
2. The Trusted Advisor and Managing The Professional Service Firm – David H. Maister
3. The Woman Lawyer’s Rainmaking Game: How to Build a Successful Law Practice – Silvia L. Coulter
4. Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing – Harry Beckwith
5. How to Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
6. Legal Business Development: A Step by Step Guide – Jim Hassett
7. SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham
8. Client at the Core: Marketing and Managing Today’s Professional Services Firm – August Aquila and Bruce W. Marcus
9. Move the Sale Forward: Increase Your Sales Through Human Connections – John Klymshyn
10. Law Firm Associate Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills – Beth Cuzzone and Catherine MacDonagh**

Also Recommended (single nominations)

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 7 Powerful Tools for Life and Work – Marilee G. Adams
In Search of Excellence – Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
The rainmaking machine: Marketing, planning, strategies, and management for law firms – Phyllis Weiss Haserot
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! – Al Ries and Jack Trout
Influence Without Authority – Allan R. Cohen and David L. Bradford
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In – Roger Fisher, Bruce M. Patton, and William L. Ury
Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators: From Idea to Execution – Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
The End of Advertising as We Know It – Sergio Zyman
Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands – Marty Neumeier
Rainmaking Made Simple: What Every Professional Must Know – Mark M. Maraia
The Brand You 50 : Or : Fifty Ways to Transform Yourself from an ‘Employee’ into a Brand That Shouts Distinction, Commitment, and Passion! – Tom Peters
Marketing the Law Firm: Business Development Techniques – Sally J. Schmidt
Influence: Science and Practice (4th Edition) – Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.
Even Eagles Need a Push: Learning to Soar in a Changing World – David Mcnally
Hope Is Not a Strategy: The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale – Rick Page
Trust-Based Selling: Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long-Term Relationships – Charles H. Green

Do you have a favorite book to add to this list? Click on “comments” and let me know.

*Twenty out of 40 persons responded to this survey

** Available in June from ABA Books.

Business Development Pipeline Is “The Missing Link” of Law Firm Marketing

1

I come to law firm business development from the marketing and communications side of things — branding, graphics, web sites, brochures, newsletters, writing, informational content, etc. (the awareness and positioning piece). When I landed my first law firm client, I immediately joined the Legal Marketing Association as I realized I needed to learn about the legal industry and how to better market legal services. I continue to learn and observe, and I try to share much of it here on this blog. Here’s my latest observation:

The business development pipeline is the missing link of law firm marketing.

What is a business development pipeline?

It is the keystone in the whole process of marketing the law firm, where the rubber hits the road. It is simply a list that assigns and under which individual attorneys assume responsibility to contact and pursue new business/expanded business relationships. But to be effective, it must be used as part of a deliberate process of identifying new business prospects, making contacts, scheduling actions to be taken, following up on actions, reporting on actions, measuring results and reporting and recognition of efforts/outcomes. Firms that adopt a pipeline system will succeed at increasing business. The problem is that most law firms feel they can skip over this because they are “kind of” doing it already. And they don’t have time. So, it never gets done.

Sales pipeline basics

guide_cover_web_4.jpgThere are many ways to create a pipeline, also called a sales funnel, and they are all pretty similar. They always start with current clients, a review of revenues and a SWOT analysis (of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Here’s how Jim Hassett describes it in his book Legal Business Development, A Step by Step Guide. (What I like about his book is that it is written with the busy attorney in mind. You can pick up the book and approach any chapter in any order, and get valuable tips to put into action right away.) In Chapter 5: Your Practice Group Marketing Plan, Hassett writes, “A marketing plan for a practice group or an entire firm provides a big picture framework for deciding which business is worth going after, and which isn’t.” “Once goals are defined, the next step is to identify your target audience. Just write down the names of people who have potential for new business that will help you meet your goal. If you don’t know their names, start with job titles, or organization names.” His book provides many tips on understanding the sales cycle and on using sales pipelines and CRM software, but a tool as simple to use and manage as an Excel spreadsheet will do.

According to Hassett, “I am a big believer in using group reports to motivate lawyers. When I coach groups of lawyers, I use weekly reports to help create a culture that encourages business development and celebrates success.” He recommends measuring client advances, defined to mean any step that brings a client closer to a new engagement. Action is the operative word here. Writes Hassett, “However carefully you develop your marketing plan, it will be wrong. The only question is: will it be wrong sooner, or wrong later?” The plan, then, “should be made just good enough to direct action, and then tested in the real world.”

Putting it all together

Firms have become more marketing savvy and are busy developing and refining their brands, logos, web sites and marketing collateral. That’s part of it. And lawyers are out there selling — whether they know it or not, or whether they use that word or not. But what many firms are missing is the commitment to a strategic and concerted effort to shake the tree to get more of the business that they most desire. When it all comes together, you will have a brand and a marketing strategy that differentiates, marketing and sales collateral that support all of the key areas of business and client types that you are a pursuing in order to achieve your business development goals. Integrated and ongoing. Think about it. Or go back to your cave.

Log in