Here is a quick wrap up of some things I took away from the first day of Avvo‘s 2012 Avvocating Conference. First and foremost, Seattle is rainy. Second, there are a lot of people here who are a lot smarter than me. Here is a quick run down (and yes, for those of you who listened to my panel, I am using my jottings in Evernote to flesh this out):
Rich Barton (@Rich_Barton) is somewhat visionary. Consumers are empowered these days. They are also impatient and demanding. “42% of consumers surveyed indicated they would contact another service provider if they have not heard back within one hour.” Not only are consumers empowered, they are using that power to review and rate nearly everything, including you, your abilities, your service, and your law firm. “If it can be reviewed, it will be reviewed.” Rich’s vision is obvious from has past and current endeavors: Expedia, Zillow, Glassdoor.com, Trover, Netflix, Nextdoor, Avvo, etc.
Mark Britton (@mark_britton) is extremely (extremely) impressive. Founder, CEO, and President of Avvo. Here are some highlights. Target three things: (1) your audience; (2) your time; and (3) and your spend. Having a strong Core Web Presence (“CWP”) is essential. It doesn’t have to be a $10,000 website–it can be a strong Avvo profile or a solid blog (like this one haha). But your CWP is imperative to your marketing efforts and ultimately your success. Everything should link back to your CWP. Looking forward, three things that are changing: (1) the social media opportunity; (2) the video opportunity; and (3) the mobile opportunity. “Video is changing everything” and, if you are forward thinking, you should be optimizing your web platforms for mobile devices. My favorite tidbits: (1) don’t get wrapped around the “risk axle” and avoid potential opportunities. Write down all of the opportunities before you start looking for the risks and/or negatives; and (2) be proactive on Twitter–don’t wait for consumers to come to you, go out and find there groups and become a part of their community.
Carolyn Elefant (@carolynelefant), author of MyShingle.com. Carolyn really hammered home the point of hyper-local practices and marketing. She is an expert (through experience) on developing a niche practice (and even a niche within that niche). When it comes to social media, offer things of value–things that other people value to the extent that they want to pass them along to their friends. She also suggests making basic legal forms free to your clients as a business development tool. The information is out there. Consumers will find it. They might as well get it from you so that you can offer up some value-added services to these same consumers.
Matt Homann (@MattHomann), founder of LexThink and the NonBillableHour.com blog spoke on retaining existing clients. Advice: just because you write it, tweet it, blog it, or post it, it doesn’t mean that it matters or your clients care. Lawyers need to spend more time on improving their clients’ service experience. Think about the stages of the “service experience.” (What does the client see? What does the client hear? What does the client wonder? What will the client tell others?) Breed client loyalty by making your client smarter, more successful, and sexier. In my mind, the most valuable point he made is that you need to focus on your clients’ “influencers.” In other words, who (or what) influences your clients and their actions? Hone in on them and utilize them. Maybe this is where to target some of your marketing dollars. After all, these are the people that are really driving your clients’ decisions.
Panel Discussion Moderated by Matt Homann: Mischelle Davis (@MischelleDavis), Kelly Phillips Erb (@taxgirl), Tyson B. Snow (yours truly, @tysonESQ), and Tim Flynn (@clarkstonlegal). Candidly, I was having too much fun participating in the panel presentation to provide much insight here. All of the panelists were great. Mischelle has me more interested in Facebook as a marketing platform. Kelly is simply brilliant, both in her approach to blogging and social media, as well as in life in general. Tim is a real world guy who is implementing all of these techniques and doing it successfully. His advice to “always remember you are a lawyer first” should not be ignored. I learned a lot from all of them. And Matt did a great job of moderating. For whoever was watching, feel free to give a panel summary in the comments.
Mike Blumenthal (@mblumenthal) is a Google / search engine guru. Mike is simply brilliant. I consider (or like to consider) myself a tech nerd. After all, I did pay my way through law school by running PPC search engines (back in the day of ah-ha! and Overture–even before Google Ads had hit the scene). But Mike blew me away with his presentation. I feel like I need copies of his slides so that I can study them for hours (in order to properly understand them). This guy knows search. His understanding is so deep that it can be difficult to comprehend. Google’s search algorithm is extremely complex–Mike seems to know all about it. Follow this guy and you will learn a lot. A lot.
Now, two general observations. I am really, really impressed with Mark Britton. Whatever he is selling, I am buying. He is innovative, thoughtful, and quite charismatic. He cares about his product (Avvo) but he cares more about the users of Avvo and whether the product is resulting in success stories. Meeting and speaking at length with Mark will definitely be one of the highlights of this trip. He is one good guy.
Matt Homann is one of the best presenters I have ever seen. That guy is nails on stage. The combination of humor, entertainment, and quality content mixed with his presentation style and skills went unmatched. I would recommend him to any firm or organization looking for a consultant or a speaker for any event. This guy is legit. I can’t wait to see him present again.
Finally, let me add that it was awesome to be associated with a group of so prominent, so successful people. I look up to and admire all of these people and it was a pleasure to share the stage with each of them. It was also fun to talk with Kevin O’Keefe off-stage (at length). Kevin and I have been Twitter friends for a long, long time.
Great first day. My apologies if I missed anything important. Feel free to contact me with any additions you think are warranted. Having written this up, I’m even more excited for Day 2!
Thanks Avvo for the opportunity and for putting on such a great presentation. As I come across other summaries, I will add links so you can get perspectives from others in attendance.