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Last century’s marketing: Companies at ABA TechShow 

March 16, 2016

It’s surprising that companies bringing us the latest in legal technology do such a poor job of using technology to market themselves.

Look at this year’s ABA TechShow.

Exhibition hall booths, cheap conference swag, program ads, name badge sponsors, lunch sponors, and who knows, maybe someone will buy the restroom doors on which to post their signs.

All of this could have been done 20 years ago. Heck, all of it could have been done when the Hilton Hotel, the site of the show, opened in 1927 as the Stevens Hotel.

We’ve got hundreds of technology companies employing thousands of people who have hardly a clue how to use today’s technology to build a brand and grow revenues. They ought not be laughing at law firms for lagging on technology.

Sure, companies have a digital presence, though in most cases you’d have to call it a digital ad.  Websites singing their product’s praises, Twitter accounts, when used, drawing attention to themselves and Facebook pages, often with less likes than the number of employees and family members.

Content is produced and called content marketing, much the same way content could have been produced 80 years ago.

You can count on one hand (okay, maybe two), the company founders and leaders who do a nice job with Twitter and Facebook engaging attendees, partners and influencers. You can find many such leaders laughing off their not using Facebook and Twitter feeling secure in not needing to mingle where people mingle today.

We’re down to one hand as far as these entrepreneurs engaging these folks via blogging so as to demonstrate their thought leadership. Sad as it is, these thought leaders have others blogging (if you want to call it that) for them on their company website. This in a day when law firms and other legal technologists are starved for good information delivered in an engaging and authentic way.

We’re in the day where marketers need to use social media to build a brand and grow their revenues. It’s an imperative.

Per Douglas Holt, president of the Cultural Strategy Group and former professor at Harvard and Oxford, in an article in this month’s Harvard Business Review: 

Digital crowds now serve as very effective and prolific innovators of culture—a phenomenon I call crowdculture. Crowdculture changes the rules of branding—which techniques work and which do not. If we understand crowdculture, then, we can figure out why branded-content strategies have fallen flat—and what alternative branding methods are empowered by social media.

The problem, per Holt, is that companies are stuck on branded content which they publish on websites and distribute across the net.

While promoters insist that branded content is a hot new thing, it’s actually a relic of the mass media age that has been repackaged as a digital concept.

Social media is social. Inventors and company leaders need to be sharing what they are seeing and offering their take (blogging). They need to use their personal brand to give shoutouts to others (Twitter). They need to engage people professionally and socially through sharing and commenting in a way that enables people to really know them (Facebook).

Social media is closer to Usenet groups and AOL, which many of us old timers at TechShow are familiar with, than the type of digital and social media noise exhibited by many companies today.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the companies at TechShow offer good ideas and solutions. TechShow runs a good show and conference that should generate sponsorship and exhibit revenues. I am merely suggesting we up our game when it comes to leveraging technology.

Company owner, leader, salesperson or employee? It’s 2016, make it a goal by TechShow 2017 to have an understanding of what social media to build a brand and revenues is all about.

You’ll not learn it in a book, on a website or in a class. You learn through trial and error. Learn well and your company, your fellow employees, your prospective customers, you and your family will all benefit.

Know too that your competition is weak. Most are scared to get on social media in a real way. Others are lazy. Others will throw money at marketing that’s not as effective today.

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