Social Touchpoints for Your 2010 Marketing Plans

Law firms may need to play catch up if they don’t start integrating social technologies into their marketing, client service and business development mix in 2010.

In the late 90’s, the word “touch-point” was frequently heard in legal marketing conversations. There was even a session on it at the LMA annual conference. No longer a trendy buzzword, touch-points are the essence of how lawyers develop relationships and new business. A lawyer should count on needing seven to nine touch points in order to win a relationship. To win business, it may take many more.

Traditional series of touch points.

  1. Meet at a social event- exchanging business cards
  2. Follow up with a personal phone call or email
  3. Extend an invitation to a business lunch or breakfast
  4. Pass along an article or send a relevant firm newsletter
  5. Follow up, again, with a personal phone call or email
  6. Place an advert or a press release in a mainstream publication that your contact is likely to see and raise your visibility.
  7. Send an invitation to a charity event, sporting event, or other party – whether or not they accept, the invitation is a touch point.
  8. Add the person to the firm mailing list for the annual report or new partner announcements. Send a holiday card.
  9. Learn something new about the person’s business interests and call them with a helpful tidbit of information.

Social Buzz

Today’s buzz word is “social.” Social technologies are replacing some of the ways lawyers make contact in building relationships and business. Social technology is changing our touch points. I think you’ll agree, chief marketers need to be on top of this shift.

Jeremiah Owyang in a recent post on says it best:

Social Technologies are a Horizontal –Not A Vertical Approach
It continues to amaze the market that such simple social technologies can impact the entire organization.  In fact, social technologies, at the core, allow people to connect to each other without a middle person in the way.  As a result, expect social technologies to impact every employee and customer touchpoint.   CMOs must prepare in their 2010 planning how to leverage social, not as a skunkworks but as a strategic shift in all communications.

What this means for law firms and their chief marketers.

I find Owyang’s Web Strategy Matrix (found on the post referenced above) to be an extremely valuable illustration of what’s happening now. [Thanks, Jeremiah, for sharing and allowing me to share via a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License]

I’ve taken the liberty to add a 5th column, for the purpose of this blog post, to expand the implications for law firms and lawyers.

Medium Description and Examples Market Maturity Impacts To Brands Law Firm Application-My Views
Digital Advertising Facebook launched “Social Ads” that allow advertisements to appear based on your profile information and friends. Infantile As profiles become portable (like Facebook or Google connect) people can share their personal info for contextual experiences, expect advertising to improve CTRs as social data is added.  See how an interactive ad benefitted from my Facebook data. More content is being streamed through Facebook friends; law firm social ads present an interesting opportunity. Facebook users need lawyers too! Not just for personal injury, traffic DUIs or estate planning matters. Corporate executives have facebook accounts! What are you waiting for?
Search Marketing (Paid and SEO) For years, bloggers heavy linking and frequent content have scored high on SERP pages. Recently, Google and Microsoft partnered with Twitter, to offer “Social Search” which means users could receive customized SERP based on their friends behaviors and preferences. Pre-Teen Social search will impact a prospects search results are impacted by their friends, this complicates the traditional search marketing strategy of simple keyword placement. Conversational marketing becomes a key factor in search strategy. Learn more about Social Search. Lawyers have an online footprint whether or not they are paying attention to it. With social search, the opportunities increase so start contributing to conversations on the social web and grab exposure. Google search results are a lawyer’s new bio. Be savvy and smart, as well as cautious about what you share and write, but don’t be afraid.
Email Marketing Many email vendors like Responsys, ExactTarget, Constant Contact and Zeta Interactive provide simple ways to “share this” email with their friends on social networks. More advanced vendors are offering advanced monitoring, and innovative companies like Flowtown are using email addresses to identify a prospects social networks Infantile Email marketers can no longer be in broadcast mode, but must be prepared for emails to be shared with each other. Furthermore, they should seek how to influence content on the newsfeed in social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn.  Learn how email and social networks are interlaced. Update your email campaigns. Make them sociable and shareable. It’s great to lead readers back to your law firm website, but why stop there. Learn how people are sharing your content and make sure you’re participating in those conversations.
Web Campaigns/Microsites Traditional microsites now have social components from simple “Share this” features to viral videos and community dialog. On the extreme side, Skittles allowed the whole site to be taken over by consumers. Adult A marketing campaign today without social elements is asking to be ignored. To benefit from word of mouth, marketers know spurring a conversation will cause the campaign to spread. Law firms that have or want to launch niche/mircrosites should incorporate social and benefit from the buzz. Don’t stop at the features; build valuable content to get clients and referral sources engaged. Be different.  Law doesn’t have to be boring, in fact, dozens of conundrums exist and lawyers aren’t the only ones with good ideas.
Corporate Site Corporate sites are integrating social features, From Community Platforms like Mzinga, Awareness, Pluck, Kickapps, Liveworld (client) they encourage customers to talk back. Young Adult Even if companies don’t want their website to be social, they can’t stop it. Google’s “SideWiki” product allows any webpage to be social using a browser plugin. It’s hard to imagine a law firm website successfully incorporating social technologies beyond perhaps adding a blog. Still, the type of content on your site says a lot about you as a law firm. If you can create truly interesting and shareable information and present it stylishly, your profile should become buzz-worthy.
Mobile, Location Based Location based social networks are quickly emerging among early adopters. Foursquare, Gowalla, and even Twitter are allowing people to share their location, time, and social context. Infantile Advertising and special offers becomes more targeted as brands can triangulate contextual information for consumers –but only if they desire to see it. Not to be overlooked, every law firms should now be developing at least one firm branded mobile application. The one with the most imagination wins! Enough said.
Sales Efforts Ok, this isn’t a medium, nor the two listed below, but it impacts the scope of the CMO. Most marketers provide sales enablement resources; now these sales folks are armed with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. In fact, many sales folks have had their digital rolodex in LinkedIn for years. Young Adult For savvy marketers, providing social marketing skill training to sales folks will provide them with best practices, and teach them to do more quicker. Those that do nothing run the risk of PR nightmares and even legal problems for the untrained department. Learn about social media policies. All lawyers and staff should be armed with best practices and guidelines. This is not an option for a firm that wants to avoid problems. Training for lawyers will only be taken seriously if there is a direct connection to social technologies and business development results. I recommend that every training include use cases, success stories and basic sales training. Your clients and prospects will appreciate it!
Support Efforts What happens in customer support now echos on the social web, from Dooce’s flare up with Maytag to Domino’s Employees snotting on Youtube.  Furthermore, customers self-support each other in forums, Facebook, and GetSatisfaction. Adult Marketers must provide a holistic experience to customers, as they don’t care what department you’re in.  Read more about Social Support. Legal matters are very private, sensitive and often extremely confidential. Handling client service in a public forum is not desireable for law firms. However, positive mentions on service and results posted on social sites can be like lightening. Of course it can strike both ways. So be prepared. Have a plan.
Product Development A handful of savvy companies like Dell, Starbucks, and Nokia are using social tools to improve the innovation process using tools from Salesforce ideas, Uservoice, or Getsatisfaction Infantile Customers want to innovate with brand, use these free resources to improve brand messaging, test new features, and to develop an army of advocates.  Learn how some companies have benefitted from co-innovation. Law firms must innovate. Clients want them to innovate and clients have ideas about what would make working with the legal system more bearable. Is your law firm there? How are you using social technologies to make service easier for your clients?
Real World and Events Physical events are now impacted by social technologies, and even virtual events.  Attendees will connect to each other, comment about the event, and discuss if even after the event has concluded. Adult Event marketers must develop a strategy to encompass both pre, during, and post event to be successful.  Here’s a playbook to integrate social and events. We’re seeing more associations and groups in the legal industry integrate their conferences and events into social channels. As business leaders populate social sites, law firms should leverage time and other resources to be there too when hosting events.

(This matrix, created by Jeremiah Owyang, first published on is being shared here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.)

What have I missed here? Are you willing to share any of your social initiatives for 2010? What challenges or obstacles are you facing that we might be able to help you think through here in the comments section?

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