Thursday, February 28, 2013

Legal Marketing in an Impersonal World

Over the weekend, I watched my teenage daughter vigorously texting away a she tried to make plans for an upcoming dance at school.  Fortunately, when I asked her what this “intense” conversation was about, she actually gave me a reasonable response – or at least as reasonable as one might expect from a seventeen-year-old.

She showed me the stream of messages which had begun with “Are you going to the dance next week?” and ended with “Great. I’m sure I’ll see you before then anyway.”

This is not exactly ground-breaking stuff, but what struck me was that it took twenty-one back and forth texts to reach the conclusion that yes, both girls were going, they would get there around 7:30, one of their friend’s mom was driving, they would probably be picked up around 11PM and that it would be best if they made sure they were not both wearing the same color dress.

I suggested that perhaps this discussion might have been better handled with a simple telephone call in which all logistical matters might have been addressed. She rolled her eyes and looked at me in the way only a teenager really can and said with a note of exasperation, “Dad, that’s just not the way it’s done any more.”

And she’s right. And that’s unfortunate. But when I stopped to think about it, are we as professionals in the world of business, marketing or lawyering or any other industry for that matter, really any different?

Every day I go to work and after wading through hundreds of emails, proceed to make scores of my own, often preferring the anonymity of my keyboard. Sometimes, there’s price to be paid for this, particularly when one engages in electronic exchanges in which one’s “tone” may not be coming through accurately. We wonder what did the client really mean, or is there “stuff” in this email which “they’re” not telling me about.  Why did he or she only give me a one-word reply when he or she usually is pretty verbose?  What does it all mean?

There’s something to be said for verbal cues and feedback. It’s amazing how much a raised eyebrow or a soothing voice can convey.   Sometimes even a smile.

I thought about all this as I started working on an attorney’s social media campaign. The campaign is working fine, thank you, but I can’t help but wonder if this client might be better served if his social media efforts were augmented with a more personal, interactive outreach initiative…. Actually getting out and seeing or meeting his prospects and clients, networking the old fashion way if you will.

I’m not suggesting that social media tools such as Linkedin or Facebook should be ignored. Hardly. They are extremely useful in reaching large blocks of people. Hey, I’m writing this blog, aren’t I?

But I am suggesting that the most effective marketing and business development programs are invariably those that integrate the best of all the things different business-building activities have to offer. Even those of yesteryear.

Anyway, I gotta go. My daughter just texted me.

And this could take awhile.

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