Monthly Archives: November 2005

Should You Give it Away?

Continuing with the pricing theme for today is this post from Presentation Zen that discusses the differences between giving away services and discounting them:

I may be na├»ve, but my philosophy concerning public speaking has long been to remain open to non-paid opportunities, outside the business world, if I can actually be of help. Doing “free gigs” does not lower the value of what I usually “sell.” In fact, doing the unpaid work outside of business probably adds value to my “brand” so to speak. My thinking is that discounting my services, say, to an investment firm, may indeed cheapen my brand. So I don’t do that. However, I do not think doing some (sometimes more) work 100% free of charge cheapens what you have to offer, depending on the circumstance. Discounts cheapen, but free is free — and some of the best things in life are free. (They don’t say, “Some of the best things in life are…discounted 50%”). Selling yourself (too) “cheap” is different from “giving it away.” For example, Starbucks is not going to discount their drinks, but maybe they’ll give free hot chocolates on Christmas Eve evening in certain stores for tired, procrastinating shoppers.

Set Your Billing Rate to $10,000 per Hour.

Steve Pavlina  has an interesting take on hourly billing:

The big problem is that when you tell yourself your time is worth $50/hour, you’re simultaneously telling yourself that it isn’t worth $75/hour or $200/hour or $10,000/hour. You’re programming your subconscious mind to limit the range of opportunities you will notice. Because you won’t be on the lookout for $10,000/hour ideas, you’ll overlook them completely. If you tell yourself you earn $50/hour, you’ll think in terms of $50/hour opportunities.

Thinking in terms of an hourly rate may help limit your downside, but it also severely limits your upside. And that’s a really bad trade-off, bad enough that it requires me to dismiss this whole paradigm as utterly stupid. There’s no way the upside of turning some $20 hours into $50 hours can compensate for missing those $10,000 hours. That’s penny-wise, pound-foolish.

One $10,000 hour is worth 200 $50 hours. That’s more than a month of full-time work! You don’t need too many of those huge payoff hours to pick up the slack of some of those less productive $0-20 hours, but if you miss out on even one of those $10,000 hours, it’s a crippling blow that overwhelms all other thoughts about financial productivity.

In the long run, your greatest financial risk isn’t whether you made the mistake of succumbing to doing $20/hour work when you could have done $50/hour work. Your greatest risk is missing those $10,000 hours. And most people miss out on them completely. It’s ironic that people think of being a salaried employee as being low-risk and being an entrepreneur as high-risk. The reality is just the opposite. One of the reasons I chose the entrepreneurial path is that it’s just way too damn risky to be an employee. I’m not kidding. It’s easy to hit a good number of those $10,000 hours as an entrepreneur, but it’s a lot harder to do so as an employee.

How many $10,000 hours did you enjoy this year?

Go ahead and read the whole post.  Really thought provoking.

Price like Wal-Mart?

Will Keller has a great post up on his Accounting Blog disecting WalMart’s pricing strategy:

WalMart goes to great lengths to have an alluring and unbeatable opening price point item in each category- from TV sets to cosmetics to bathing suits. These are the “unbelievable” prices that the company has become famous for (for example, a microwave oven for $14.67). The psychological impact of this opening price point is huge- consumers are led to believe that all of WalMart’s prices are this low. However, the reality is quite different. As confirmed in interviews with former store managers, WalMart does not have the lowest price on every item in every category. In fact, the company often has higher prices than other big retailers (i.e. you might get a better deal down the road at Target). However, in most cases the game is already over because consumers believe that WalMart’s prices are lower across the board. Furthermore, evidence shows that most shoppers don’t even buy the opening price point item. Instead, the low price lures them into the department, where they end up buying a brand name or higher quality item that they are more comfortable with. (emphasis added)

That’s pretty powerful stuff.  The price gets customers in the door, but they don’t even buy the products whose price brought them there.  Anyone out there using this strategy with success among professional service providers?

links for 2005-11-21

links for 2005-11-19

More Friday Fun

I think I’ll use some of these charts and graphs in my next presentation.  (Found via one of my new favorite blogs: Creative Generalist).

Is this the law firm of the future?

Decide for yourself.

Friday Time Waster

Who thought reading an encyclopedia could be fun?  Well, now with Wikipedia (and WikiQuote) on the scene, you can’t go wrong with a little bit of encyclopedic knowledge on a Friday afternoon.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you (see title of the post):

Simpsons Quotes, Simpsons Neologisms, and finally Bart’s Chalkboard Gags.

Taking Blogging Personally

One of the topics at BlawgThink was how much a person’s blog should say about them personally vs. professionally.  Fred Wilson’s post The Soul of A Blog answers the question for me:

… most people like getting a sense of who I am.  They can quickly scan past the posts they don’t want to read. But having those posts there gives them a sense of the other parts of me.

As I said to my friend when he told me about Dan’s comments, “a diversity of post topics is the soul of a blog”.  All head and no soul makes for a boring read.

Introduce your clients to blogs.

Not everyone “gets” blogging.  If you’d like to introduce your clients to blogs, why not give them a pre-populated list of blogs that are relevant to them and their business area — heck, include some blogs that reflect their personal interests, favorite hobbies, sports teams, etc.  Make sure it includes yours, of course.  Here, from Steve Dembo, is a quick way to do it:

If you go into Bloglines, click on My Feeds and scroll down to the bottom of the left hand frame, you’ll see a link called “Tell a friend”. Clicking on it allows you to enter in a list of email addresses and to pick among blogs you currently subscribe to. It will send out an email with a link to bloglines that will allow someone to register a new account at bloglines prepopulated with your chosen blogs!

Wow, I wish I’d known about this the last few times I got people started on bloglines. MUCH easier than having them jump from place to place to place subscribing to blogs without really understanding what it’s all about yet.

It’s kind of like a personal gift that keeps on giving.  It is like you are introducing your client to dozens of people that could directly help their businesses.  That’s pretty powerful relationship building. 

If you use this tip, though, at least promise me you’ll include the [non]billable hour in the list. ;-)

Who else thinks conferences can get better?

Seth Godin does, and so does Garr Reynolds.  If I quoted the best parts of each post, I’d just end up cutting and pasting the whole things, so go directly and read them instead.

Present in Your Audience, Not to Them.

One of the things I was most worried about before BlawgThink was how the presentations would go on Day One.  We had a phenomenal lineup of speakers, but they were presenting in a non-traditional setting (Catalyst Ranch).  A lot used MindManager, some PowerPoint (or Keynote), and some nothing at all. 

As I wandered from presentation to presentation, the thing I noticed was that it seemed our speakers were presenting in their audiences, instead of to them.  There was very little physical separation between speaker and audience, and I think the presentations were better as a result.

Speaking of presentations:  One of my new favorite blog reads is Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen.  For a great intro to Garr’s blog, check out his post comparing Bill Gates’ and Steve Jobs’ presentation styles.  I was particularly taken by the contrasting visuals used by each.  Just look at the slides and tell me which presentation you’d rather attend.

Value Does Not Equal Cost

Lawyers who struggle with pricing their services (and I think that includes all lawyers) should check out this post on the Loud Thinking blog:

The inability to price at value instead of cost is what separates nice (or niche) businesses from great businesses, what fizzles good ideas, and what turns would-be entrepreneurs into “starved artists”.

This is naturally what attracts me to simple problems. What’s the least amount of work I can do that ends up having big value? Before I’ve cleared all the simple problems of high value, it’s just not for me to engage in solving hard problems. Too much risk, not enough ratio.

And remember this: “value” is measured from the customer’s/client’s perspective, not yours.

What Clients Want …

from design firms (and law firms too?).  Absolutely great tips.  Here are the first three (out of ten):

1. Keep the Principal Involved.  “It feels like bait-and-switch when you start out dealing with the president of the company and end up working on a day-to-day basis with someone fresh out of college,” Grant says. Be up-front with clients about who will be responsible for the project, and bring that person to the new-business presentation. And no matter who’s in charge of the day-to-day work, make sure you, as principal, are meaningfully involved in the account at all times.

2. Communicate Effectively.  “A client should never, ever have to call your office to ask where you are on the project,” Grant says. Establish protocols for client communications; develop standardized tools such as memo formats, e-mail bulletins and status reports.

3. Be Easy to Work With.  The most lethal six words in a conversation with your client? “We don’t do it that way.” If your client wants invoices twice a month and your office manager usually generates them only once, change your system. If they want status reports in two copies, one in pink and one in goldenrod, get to Kinko’s for that colored paper.

Thanks to Signal vs. Noise for the tip.

So, When Are You Starting Your Blog?

Since I’ve been in a BlawgThink-induced cave for the last several weeks, this may be old news, but as I catch up on my blog reading, I ran across this study (thanks to the Trends I’m Watching blog):

The survey found that 55% of corporations have adopted blogs for both internal (91.4%) and external (96.6%) communications. More than half of these organizations launched their blogs within the last year, and most of these started within the past three months. That’s a hockey stick. And it suggests that corporate communicators will drive future growth of the social media market.

As Dennis Kennedy might say, here’s the money stat:

Of those groups not blogging, the majority (70%) are positive about starting a blog, with 7% intending to start a blog immediately, 13% intending to start a blog within a year and with 50% studying the possibilities. Only 11%, or 1 in 9, of the total respondents are not blogging today and have no plans to do so.

WOW!  I wonder if (or when) we’ll see a similar response from lawyers and law firms?

A Deposition Trick from Police Officers?

This is one of those cool Tricks of the Trade I found and wanted to share:

If you want to know if someone is lying about his identity and using a fake name, ask him or her to spell it. People are much slower at spelling fake names than they are at spelling their own.

Women-owned Businesses as Clients

An interesting bit from Michele Miller’s Wonderbranding:

Article says women-owned construction companies grew 30 percent from 1998 to 2004, according to a study by the Center for Women’s Business Research.

I’d guess that stat is not that far off for other kinds of businesses in traditionally male-dominated industries.  What are you doing to capture that business?

As an aside, anyone know if there are many women-owned law firms?

What’s the Client Benefit You Promise?

I ran across this David Ogilvy quote in this post at AdPulp:

If you spend your advertising budget entertaining the consumer, you’re a bloody fool. Housewives don’t buy a new detergent because the manufacturer told a joke on television last night. They buy the new detergent because it promises a benefit. – David Ogilvy

What benefit does your business promise?

Don’t Knock it Until You Buy it.

The worst thing about reading all the blogs I do is that I have hundreds of people constantly telling me about the things they think are really cool.  As a result, I spend money buying things they recommend. ;-)

One of the things that just made it on to my list is the book Knock the Hustle.  According to my friend David Burn at AdPulp:

What’s really great is that Knock The Hustle isn’t just a rant about minorities in advertising or a personal memoir. It’s a transparent account of how the ad business operates—from creative concepting to client billing, new business presentations to office politics. And Hadji has plenty of concrete ideas on how the ad industry could change its practices, where most people in the business just give lip service to the notion of progress. Actually, there’s a good amount of wisdom that nearly any business in any industry can apply. If that weren’t enough, many parts of this book are funny as hell.

Sounds right up my alley. 

 

 

BlawgThink Backlash?

Monica Bay reprints an e-mail (originally sent to the 1000 lawyer-strong SoloSez) from someone who doesn’t seem to like blawggers, BlawgThink and/or Dennis and me (it’s not exactly clear from the e-mail).  Pretty harsh.

BlawgThink Reviews, Part Two.

I decided at the end of BlawgThink to take my own advice, so I asked our attendees for their thoughts on the event while still fresh in their minds..  I stuck up several huge easel-size post it notes and handed out markers.  Here they are:

“Thanks for a great, creative and open-minded event.  I especially liked how you left a lot of “white space” we could fill in as wanted/needed.  Lots of opportunity to meet, talk, conspire with each other.”

“Great Conference.  Dynamic and Stimulating.  Total Success.”

“Thanks for letting me come play @ the conference.  It was thought-inducing.”

“Great conference — highly interactive, tapping the collective experience and expertise of attendees and presenters.  Thanks.”

“Intellectual content of the highest order, future-minded participants and all the best aspects of pre-school in the Catalyst [Ranch] created the best group experience for me yet.”

“Marvelous forum.  Enjoyed both “think tank” aspect & networking.”

“Thanks!  I enjoyed it and actually learned something. :-)”

“Best melding of people + technology that I’ve seen at a conference.  The “open spaces” to the second day was brilliant too.”

“Thank you for the opportunity.  Learned a lot — can’t wait to start blogging & trying out all these fabulous products!”

“BT has got my brain firing on all cylinders!”

“Very content rich with a wide variety subjects and very engaging and interesting group of people.  The format worked very well and I’m taking a lot home with me that will be of use.”

“BT has fueled my passion to blog better.”

“Though here only 1 day, gained a week’s worth of great ideas.  Seriously —  found solutions to at least three different challenges, not just blog related.”

“Thanks to everyone for a great non-conference!”

“Yabba dabba doo!”

“Enthusiasm + Venue = Opportunity!”

“Open circle was terrific.  Definitely a unique 2 days!”

“I heard a lot of great ideas and have many more perspectives to consider and ponder.”

“Very cool location for the gathering.”

“Surpassed my high expectations.  Great mix of people (Day One Speakers and otherwise).  Day Two discussions were all fascinating and productive.  Looking forward to using the free software.”

“Thank you so much for allowing us to attend!  We had many of our questions answered and look forward to launching our blog very soon!  Carpe Noctem!”

“It was awesome — I learned an incredible amount. Thanks.”

“Blawgthink answered a few of my questions, but more importantly, it raised innumerable new questions.  Primary among them, it made me question how I as using this network I have created through my blog and podcast.  Thanks for bringing this creative, diverse and innovative group together.”

“A wonderful two days.  It will take at least a week for all the ideas to percolate on through, but I know my blog will be better ASAP.”

“Thanks for a great non-conference!  Learned a lot.  Thanks again.”

“Picked up ideas that more than paid for event!”

“Very cool — totally my style + everyone else here.  Heard nothing but good as I buzzed around.” 

 

 

BlawgThink Reviews, Part One.

BlawgThink attendees have been saying great things about the event.  I know there is a bit of navel-gazing going on here, but I wanted to collect these somewhere I could link to easily, and share them with family and friends who wonder what I’ve been doing for the last 90 days.

Kyle McFarlin:

“…a milestone event.”

“I think it’s a more accurate reflection of our psychology that we swarm around topics that interest our minds most at any given moment as opposed to the stale one-size-fits-all mega-loaf of typical events, ensuring that the minds present in a conference are as close to perfectly allocated as possible.”

“I look forward to a rich future of non-traditional conferences from LexThink!”

Doug Sorocco:

I will say this: there are some tremendous thinkers in the small corner of the blog-o-sphere where us lawyers hang out.  If I could find a way to corral all of these folks into one innovative and forward thinking organization, the world would never be the same from a client service point of view.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more collaboration and innovation occurring sooner rather than later —  the legal services industry is about to be shaken up.  And it goes without saying, Matt Homann and Dennis Kennedy are two of the most genuine and innovative folks out there – if you ever get the chance to spend some time with either of them, do not hesitate to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Dave Gulbransen:

 “When you have a two day conference and you can only generate three minor criticisms, that’s a damn good conference!”

Jeffrey Phillips:

“The BlawgThink conference struck me as a great example of a critical mass.  What happens when you identify and bring together a lot of people who have the same vision and commitment to that vision?  For a positive vision, you can create such a groundswell of emotion that those people and others become infected by your vision and drive, and they jump on the bandwagon as well.  It was clear to me that most people leaving the BlawgThink conference were trying to consider how to take blogging even further in their organization.”

“I learned a lot about blogging at BlawgThink, but I think I learned a lot about driving change in an organization as well.”

Jack Vinson:

BlawgThink 2005 was a great event.”

Tom Kane:

“Joining the chorus of other attendees at this past weekend’s BlawgThink (a gathering of current and prospective legal bloggers) in Chicago, I want to especially thank Matt Homann and Dennis Kennedy for their hard work in pulling off this event.

Blogging is a terrific legal marketing tool, albeit only one factor in the overall mix of activities that should be included in a law firm’s marketing arsenal. But I truly believe, especially after BlawgThink that blogging will experience tremendous growth over the next few years.”

Fred Faulkner:

“So after two days of interacting with some of the best minds in legal blogging and meeting those excited on the topic here are some quick reactions:

* Awesome energy
* Great sessions
* Mind Manager Rules!
* Fabulous networking (wish I could have met more)
* Father + son with the same name attending same conference = topic of conversation
* Relaxing, yet energizing environment (Catalyst Ranch)
* Passionate people

…a great conference.”

Brandy Karl:

“I loved BlawgThink, and the unconference format was really just perfect. It allowed for a lot of interaction and sharing of insight that just wouldn’t have occurred in a typical conference setting.

Passion + Purpose. It’s one of those things I think about a lot, but like anyone else, you get busy, and sometimes these things take a seat on the back burner. Some events are so full of buzz and energy that they really make you think about what’s important to you, what your next step is, and how you can get from where you are today to where you’re going.”

Kevin O’Keefe:

“I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to organizers Dennis Kennedy and Matt Homann as well as numerous other lawyers, marketing professionals and professional services business people who got together at BlawgThink on Friday and Saturday.

Dennis and Matt pulled off an excellent and rewarding event. To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the value of attending the event. I am busy as all get out with LexBlog’s growth, working with new employees that entails, traveling to our new offices in Bozeman, Montana and being a responsible spouse and parent. It sounds really selfish but I’ve been limiting traveling to events that combine lawyer blog education and the marketing of LexBlog.

But at BlawgThink, I spent time with LexBlog clients, pioneers in lawyer blogging such as Ernest Svenson (Ernie the Attorney), and many others who taught me so much. Even when not listening to presentations, my discussions with folks and the questions they asked was a real education. Plus these were some of the finest folks you would care to meet.

Sure, I got the opportunity to do a presentation on marketing blogs, something I really enjoy, but BlawgThink was something more. For that, thanks to all.”

Bonnie Shucha:

“If I actually use one-tenth of the stuff I came away with at BlawgThink, I’ll consider it a smashing success. This gathering of legal bloggers was, by far, the most invigorating conference I’ve ever attended. The sessions were informative and the guest list impressive.

But the best part was the networking with other blawggers. Yeah – you say that about every conference you go to – but this was some supercharged networking. In fact, it was built right into the the structure of day two which was based on the Open Space model. Imagine identifying everyone in the room who wants to talk about the same thing you do – then having a designated time to meet.”

George Lenard:

“Spending a weekend together with so many bloggers at BlawgThink chewing over so many issues with which we all struggle was a true blessing to me. I gained innumerable tips and ideas that will guide my future blogging activities. I solidified my thinking about my blogging goals and methods. Most of all, I broke out of the isolation and came face to face with this online community.

It was a bit like an immigrant who never speaks his native language, but only reads it, getting invited to a party at which everyone converses in the mother tongue.”

Russ Krajec:

“The best part of the conference, and one that was particularly emphasized, was the personal contact with other bloggers.”

“I got a good deal of tips, tricks, and technical advice from the conference, but the most important, most lasting, and most valuable portion of the event was to make deeper and more meaningful relationships with other bloggers. That was priceless.”

Diane Murley:

It was an amazing experience!”

Peter Flaschner:

“I just returned from the Blawgthink conference in Chicago. As the name suggests, this was a group interested in law blogging and law bloggers. You know, you’d think a room full of lawyers would be boring. You’d be wrong actually. This group was a blast.”

Michelle Golden:

“… an amazing and overwhelming day.”

Marianne Richmond:

BlawgThink 2005 was truly awesome! Matt Homann and Dennis Kennedy did an incredible job pulling everything together with an incredible group of attendees and speakers.  I will be posting further details and perspectives later in the week…suffice it to say I learned a lot and came away with some really valuable insights and ideas.”

BlawgThink Decompression

I’m still a day or so away from corralling my thoughts from BlawgThink together into an even semi-coherent post, but I’d be terribly negligent (if not down right rude) if I didn’t say this soon to our attendees, speakers and sponsors:  Thank You!

Dennis Kennedy and I feel like the hosts of a party where everyone had a tremendous time.  We are gratified and humbled by all of the amazing things you’ve said about the event, and we are working hard over the next few weeks to get our minds around what we’ve created and to figure out ways to keep the energy and excitement generatedat BlawgThink going.

Over the next few days, we’ll be putting all of the presentations, notes, and MindManager maps created at BlawgThink online (it may not be 6GB worth, but it’s a start).  We’ll post the photos to Flickr and create a BlawgThink blog roll to introduce you to some of the really cool people who were at the event.  We’ll also spend quite a bit of time following up with all of our attendees personally to find out ways we could improve our next LexThink event..

All in all, we are not quite sure what BlawgThink will become, but we know what it was:  fun, cool, interesting, informative, inclusive, and unique.  Thank you to everyone who made it what it was, and to all of you who will help to make it what it will be.

BlawgThink Last Call

If you live less than 5 hours from Chicago, read this post.  Then let me know if you want to come to BlawgThink Friday and Saturday.  Call me at 618–407–3241 or e-mail me (though I’m flying in to Chicago tomorrow morning from L.A.).  Both days:  $595.  Saturday only:  $300.  We have 12 spots left.

BlawgThink Agenda in MindManager!

We’re really excited about our partnership with MindJet.  We have posted a Mind Map of the conference schedule on the LexThink website here.  MindJet’s map viewer is still in beta, and you’ll need to view it in Explorer (and download an Active X control), but once you do, it is very cool to be able to move around a Mind Map live on the web.

Alternatively, if you’d like to download the Mind Map, you can do so here (761 KB).  If you don’t have MindManager, you can download a viewer here.

Five by Five Live!

On this blog, I used to do a pretty cool series called Five by Five.  I don’t know why I actually stopped doing it, but I’ve always liked the format and have been trying to start it up again. 

At BlawgThink, we are bringing back the Five by Five, Live!  Dennis and I will moderate a group of five bloggers who will share their insights into the future of blogging, technology, and legal practice.  Here’s our panel:

Sabrina Pacifici

Tom Mighell

Carolyn Elefant

Marty Schwimmer

Ernie Svenson

Of all the sessions at BlawgThink, this is the one I’m most excited about.  See you in Chicago!