By Kevin O'Keefe

Markets are conversations, the end of LexBlog’s marketing website

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Swing on over to the LexBlog website and you’ll see that our marketing website has been replaced by the contributions from law bloggers from around the world.

Gone are highly profiled slogans, packages of services, testimonials, profiles of team members, our values and the history of the company. All of things we’ve come to expect of corporate websites.

In their place, insight and contributions from legal professionals. Blog posts representing a conversation – what legal professionals have read, oberserved or heard and their accompanying engagement.

As my COO, Garry Vander Voort says, we’re not so much about what we say we are, we are about our bloggers. Legal professionals who are blogging tell our story.

Almost twenty years ago the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto wrote that markets are conversations.

A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter, …and getting smarter faster than most companies.

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can’t be faked.

LexBlog has always been about conversations. Rather than advertisements, email marketing, brochures and conference booths,  we’ve, or perhaps I should say I have blogged to grow our company,

There’s nothing wrong with traditional marketing, it just wasn’t LexBlog.

Truth be told, when sitting in my garage starting LexBlog, I asked myself how the heck was anyone going to hear about my company. The minute I thought about buying an ad in a publication such as the ABA Journal, I said “What I am thinking, I need to put my money where my mouth is, I need to blog to grow my business.”

I read about blogging, digital media (as we called it then), the Internet and legal marketing. I blogged what I read, offering my take. What it meant, how I disagreed and how I agreed.

I met people along the way. I came to realize that Winer, Searls, Weinberger and the other signatories to the Cluetrain, were right. Markets are conversations — or as I described it, marketing is a conversation. By engaging others in a real and authentic fashion you built a name and a business.

I came to strongly agree with Cluetrain.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.

We’ve had a website for almost fourteen years. But from now on we’ll be known by legal bloggers. Bloggers publishing on LexBlog’s managed WordPress platform and now, bloggers publishing on their own platforms.

We’ll focus on curating the best in legal blogging from around the world. Where there are gaps in the network, we’ll recruit bloggers.

The current LexBlog site is just a start, admittedly a rough start. Our editor-in-chief and publisher, Bob Ambrogi just joined LexBlog this last week. He is already working with the team on improvements to the site. Our tech and products team will be developing a new solution for the curation of legal blogs that we’ll use for the site later this year.

What we do know is that The New York Times wouldn’t have a front page marketing packages for advertsing and subscribing. The Times leads with stories by talented reporters. Like the Times and other news and information sites, LexBlog will lead with stories from talented legal bloggers.

We’ll of course communicate with the outside world, sometimes using the mediums used by other companies. But we’ll not forget the theses of the Cluetrain, the first ten of which are below.

  1. Markets are conversations.
  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.
  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.
  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.
  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.
  6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.
  7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.
  8. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.
  9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.
  10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

To the conversation — and legal bloggers.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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