Attorney Scott Greenfield aptly addresses the myth of immediate legal marketing success from blogging in a post this morning. Greenfield’s right in that many lawyers wrongly expect immediate business development success from blogging and that companies selling blogs and legal marketing solutions to such lawyers are wrongfully promising such success.

Greenfield, after presenting yesterday at a Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers conference with Attorney Mark Bennett, voices his frustration with what he saw from his lawyer audience.

There was a bottom line here, and one that disturbed me. If there was one question that permeated all others, it was clear and simple: How do I make this work to get business now?

There was a voice in their head that told them that the whole point of the internet was to make money. It was the voice of the marketers, whispering that the internet would fill the voids in the day with new clients, flush with enough cash to pay both fees and costs.

And the problem per Greenfield is that lawyers, and most legal marketers, can’t get beyond the idea that the Internet could be used for anything other than making a buck.

The marketers have done their job well. It’s not just that they believe, but that they can barely imagine any other purpose, any other benefit to be had. A conversation?  What a waste of time. All that effort to write a blog post just to have a conversation when you can chat with the guys at the bar, or the lawyer in the office next door if you feel the need. Oh no, this is about ROI. Put in the time to write, and there’s got to be a fee at the end of the rainbow.

Assuming blogging’s a way to get work fast, lawyers, assuming they did something wrong, get taken.

The problem was that many were trying, and paying some silly numbers to marketers who swore they would make them rich, and it wasn’t happening. The lawyers quietly licked their wounds, assuming it was their fault. They must be doing something wrong. If everybody else was online, making oodles of money, why were they the only one sucking wind?……But they weren’t failures, even though they thought they were. They were lied to and, like most victims of scams, didn’t want to admit they were foolish enough to be taken. And taken, they were.

Greenfield’s right.

  • Blogging doesn’t bring immediate marketing success.
  • Blogging is more than marketing. It’s a conversation where you listen first. A conversation, if done in a fashion where you give more than you expect in return, results in an enhanced reputation as a trusted professional.
  • Blogging for business development is all about networking through the Internet. Networking online, as is the case offline, takes time and effort. Though the extent of one’s reach and the fruits of one’s labor may be greater networking online than offline.
  • Successful blogging is also done for professional development. Good law bloggers are networking with their peers and other professionals in their town, and across the country, so as to grow professionally. Such lawyers know that the law is a skilled trade, and that getting better at one’s trade enhances one’s reputation.
  • Blogging is about establishing a word of mouth reputation, exactly the thing which good lawyers know leads to the best clients.
  • Many legal marketing companies are driven more by making a buck off lawyers than providing value so as to improve the lives of lawyers. The leaders of such companies, who don’t blog for professional development, know little about networking through the Internet for professional and business development. The companies aren’t led by lawyers who have practiced law for any length of time. They don’t know what it takes to be successful as a lawyer — and a professional.

Guys like Greenfield and Bennett have rightfully challenged me on the blogging front —and they continue to do so. As Father Ted Hesburgh says, “You don’t learn from people who tell you you’re a wonderful guy. You learn from people who say you know you have a long way to go…”

We do have a long way to go in getting lawyers to understand why other lawyers blog — and how those lawyers who feel successful from blogging define that success. It’ll be one day, and one lawyer, at a time.