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You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going

April 12, 2012

Meeting with a number law firms in New York City the last couple days I saw a great disconnect with how I would view business development success and how some law firm marketing departments and lawyers were measuring such success.

Rather than looking at how much high quality work lawyers in the firm were generating (or not generating) from networking through the Internet, marketing professionals at some of the firms were looking at traffic to blogs and websites, bounce rates from sites, traffic trends – growing or flat lining, new subscribers, the number comments on the blogs, and the like.

In the case of LexBlog clients, I couldn’t help but think that we were failing these law firms. How could we not have made clear from the start that success must be measured by revenue, growth in areas targeted for strategic growth, and the firm’s lawyers learning how to harness the Internet to accelerate relationships and their word of mouth reputation?

If we had made this clear at the start, how could we have let a large law firm client add a number of blogs without finding out from the firm’s marketing professionals and lawyers if they were getting not just clients, but high quality clients, from their blogs? Or for that matter, to find out if the law firm was making clear to their lawyers and marketing professionals that the bar for success was more work, not analytics and subscribers.

Sure, it’s only natural to try and measure what you believe is measurable. Everyone looks at stats. But business development traction from blogging is much more important than stats.

Some LexBlog clients generate a couple thousand unique visitors a month to their blogs and realize seven figures a year in new revenue from relationships developed through blogging. Other LexBlog clients generate 15 to 20,000 unique visitors a month to their blog and generate substantially less in new revenue from blogging.

The lawyer with the lower unique visitors does not care if her traffic grows, is flatlined, or whether she is getting new subscribers. She is focused on whether her network of relationships is growing, whether she is being viewed as a subject matter expert in her area, and whether she is generating new high quality work.

This lawyer, whether there was the Internet or not, would focus on networking to build relationships and her word of mouth reputation.

Yogi Berra is pegged as saying, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might just get there.”

This is so true for law firms using the Internet for marketing and business development (which all firms are). You need to know where you are going. And you need to be smart and get back to the basics for why you do marketing and business development in the first place.

I don’t want to beat up my team at LexBlog by implying we have clients jousting at windmills on the Internet. My teammates do a heck of job educating and supporting our clients, many, if not most, of whom are experiencing tremendous business development success.

With over 7,000 lawyers and other professionals on our network, there will always be opportunities where we can do more to serve our clients.