Word of Forrester’s Charlene Li’s report on the ROI of business blogging is making it’s way its way around the blogosphere today. It’s cursory discussion in that the 15 page report costs $379 and no one who I have seen blog about the report has read it.

There’s really no question that business blogging works for marketing a law firm or individual lawyers. Reports on the ROI of blogging are for the many Chief Marketing Officers or Administrative Partners who are unlikely to understand blogs or to participate in blogging any time soon. Individual lawyers and practice groups in the law firms see the benefit of enhancing one’s reputation as an authority and the networking with your target audience that comes with blogging.

I talk about blogs with law firms everyday so I do get the question on the ROI of blogs. The answer is not so much for the lawyer or marketing director I’m talking with but for the person or committee whose blessing they need to proceed with a blog.

My answer, trying not to be crass:

  • How do you measure the ROI of taking selected clients or prospective clients to a ball game or out to lunch?
  • How do you measure the ROI of having your lawyers being regularly quoted as authorities in the main stream and trade media?
  • How do you measure the ROI of having your lawyers speak at leading industry and legal conferences?
  • How do you measure the ROI of having your lawyers publish articles?
  • How do you measure the ROI of having your lawyers network at business and social functions with prospective clients and those people who influence them?
  • How do you measure the ROI of letters and alerts to clients and prospects keeping them abreast of legal developments?

You measure it by the fact that those lawyers who do these things tend to be recognized as leaders and get more work. Over the years, we’ve come to accept this type of reputation building, networking, and relationship building as something that is key to the marketing of a professional services firm.

Blogs are new. Give it time. As Web Strategist Jeremiah Owyang said in his post regarding Charlene’s report, “Blogging has yet to normalize, …give it a few years.”

  • I have a copy of the report. I was accredited as contributing to Charlene’s thinking on the topic. I’m a retired partner of a British firm of Chartered Accountants (CPAs).
    You’re presenting non-arguments by pushing the question back to the questioner. Charlene’s report provides a sensible (if under-developed) framework for assessing ROI. She says average setup is $25>50K but doesn’t specify the environment so it is a little difficult to get aty a per capita cost. I will say her calculations are broadly in line with my experience, but…it does not stop there and it depends on what you’re seeking to achieve.
    I will say that while I am very much in favour of bottom up adoption as Charlene confirms, there comes a point where it has to be a managed environment. That’s the point where the real spending starts. And where the large returns are earned.

  • You make a good point that it’s often not the bloggers themselves who are concerned with the ROI of blogging — it’s their management. If the value of blogging is that obvious, then we wouldn’t have needed to write the report.
    As you point out, the hard part is trying to quantify intangibles that aid visibility and build reputation. The exercise of even broadly equating blogging activities to more traditional outreach and influence activities is helpful in bridging managers and executives to this new space. I agree with Jeremiah, that this will take a few years, but hopefully a framework to look at the benefits of blogging (as well as the risks) will push it along.