I’m currently reading a book on what could best be described as the “first humans.” The book explores the origin of consciousness and more specifically, the birth of language. In it, one scene describes early humans in a cave doing random activities. Picture a caveman chipping away at stones, and in an instant, he recognizes that a sharp stone is something he can use. The discovery turns a piece of meaningless rock into something that has utility and definition. From that point forward, sharpened rock is a necessity.
When I’m reading, I have to admit that I’m not consciously looking for parallels to legal marketing. Thank God. What a tortured existence that would be! But after processing the text, I started thinking about the “New Necessity” as something that, in our modern capitalist society, businesses and entrepreneurs are constantly striving to find.
An invention, a piece of software, a new gadget: all good enough. But if you really want to make a splash, you have to bring something to market that everyone “must have.” Now, I’m not going to debate the definition of “must have” here. Surely, as a species, we don’t need iPods. In fact, I don’t have one and I’m able to function just the same.
Getting out of the realm of physical products, there are several new necessities in legal marketing that have developed over the years.
1) The Logo- As competition among law firms increased, firms realized that a visual representation- something that triggered thoughts, feelings, and remembrance of a firm could be beneficial. Though the results and efficacy of law firm logos are often debated, that is beside the point. A logo is just something a firm has to have.
2) The Web Site- Like smashing at stones in a cave, the early WWW was seen as an academic exercise. But when the broader business community saw the web as an opportunity to promote products and services, competitors had to follow suit. If the firm down the block has a web site, you better have one too. The law firm web site became a new necessity.
One thing that can be said of the new necessity is that it is a game of innovation followed by assimilation. The new necessity has a life cycle.
1. Someone does something completely different and stands out.
2. People notice that the new thing has a potential to be beneficial.
3. Some jump on the bandwagon, others see this new thing as just a fad.
4. The people that resisted the new give in and join the rest.
5. The “new” isn’t new anymore. It’s a given. Now no one stands out.
So what will the next new necessity be? Will it be blogs? I don’t think it will be. Because right now, the quality and frequency of blog posts have a direct relationship with the blog’s success. In other words, it takes effort. So those people in law firms that say “Blogs aren’t worth our time” won’t be the people that finally give in and say “Fine, everyone has one. Guess we should too.”
With blogs, you can’t just phone it in. Just having one doesn’t put your firm on par with the early innovators.
So, what’s the new necessity in legal marketing going to look like?
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