Ben & Jerrys renamed their Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough to “I Dough, I Dough” in their Scoop Shops.
Starting with the tragic attack by a white supremacist at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, the last two weeks have been an historic and hyper-speed ride through some of our country’s most controversial issues, from race relations to gun control to same-sex marriage to Mexican immigration.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the confluence of events and discussions surrounding these issues has been the quick and decisive responses from corporate America. In years past, any responses would have been muted and delayed. However, the nearly immediate, high-level calls to take the Confederate battle flag down from the South Carolina capitol grounds following the shootings quickly led to Amazon, eBay, Sears and Walmart pulling all Confederate merchandise from their shelves. A few days later, the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage throughout the U.S. was quickly followed by universal acclaim from dozens of corporate brands ranging from Absolut, American Airlines and AT&T to The Weather Channel, Visa and Walgreens.
And the decisions by NBCUniversal and Univision to sever ties with Donald Trump over his derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants were strong statements that likely would not have been made just a few years ago. All together, recent events have sent the undeniable message that social change is happening very quickly these days. In fact, I would suggest that it’s happening faster now than at any time since the 1960s.
But how do these social changes affect you – the lawyer, the accountant or other professional – and what relevance could the rate of social change in this country have to your firm’s branding and marketing?
I was at a networking event recently where the organizers drew a business card from a fishbowl to select one lucky attendee. They then provided that individual with a full two minutes to sell the crowd on their company, their services or themselves.
It turned out that the individual whose name was drawn was unemployed. What an opportunity, right? Here was the chance to sell himself before a room full of well-educated, well-connected people from a diversity of professions and industries. But how did this individual use this opportunity?
Well, basically, he squandered it. He talked about what he did at his old job in mind-numbing detail, and then he talked some more about what he did at his old job, and then he finished up by – you guessed it – talking about what he did at his old job.
And the worst thing was that he did such a deep dive into what he did at his old job – without ever explaining what he did at a sufficiently high level for this intelligent, but diverse audience from many different fields – that many of us were left speechless.
You see, ironically enough, when this guy had finished talking for two minutes about what he did at his old job, none of us could even tell you what he had done at his old job. Nor could we tell you what he wanted to do in his next job, or what he felt he was unusually qualified to do, or what he was passionate about or with what particular companies or organizations he was hoping to do this activity at some point in the future.
Okay, all that is not entirely true; I did glean some idea of what he does. As my mother says about any guy who labors in the technology sector, “He works with computers.”
“Begin with the end in mind.”
– Steven Covey
In my previous post, Your 2011 Marketing Plan, Part 1: The Value of Setting Goals and Planning, I addressed the importance of setting goals. At this time, I’d like to take it a step further by discussing how to set meaningful and measurable goals that become a critical part of a successful marketing plan.
But first, I’d like to step back and take note of what I believe are the two most compelling takeaways of that previous post. First, as personal development guru Brian Tracy tells us, people who set down written goals are significantly more successful than those who do not. And second, despite this evidence, just 3% of us actually go through the process of setting down written goals and tracking our progress toward them in a methodical manner.
Why is this? Perhaps setting goals seems pointless; perhaps tracking them seems difficult. Whatever the reasons behind this anomaly, it’s undeniable that for lawyers and other businesspeople the stakes involved are much higher than whether they lose that last ten pounds or run a 10K at a particular pace. In fact, the high failure rate of new ventures is testament to the inability of many entrepreneurs to effectively set marketing goals and track their progress in achieving them.
By now, it’s fairly well understood that we are living through a period of great change and uncertainty. As Peter Winick proclaims in a recent post, uncertainty is now permanent. While I tend to be somewhat hesitant about calling anything permanent, it appears that for most people in the workforce today – and for almost anyone in the legal profession – uncertainty driven by growing competition will be an increasingly large part of our reality going forward. In fact, Winick notes that business guru Jim Collins – not someone prone to exaggerate – recently stated that “uncertainty is now the rule and not the exception.”
Fair enough, but what does this mean to you? What does it have to do with the challenges you’re facing in running a law firm? And what does any of this have to do with marketing?
First, this means you need to assume that change and uncertainty will be with us for a long time to come. Second, much of that change is going to involve increased competition, which will come from across town, from across the world and from technology – as well as from various combinations of these sources. Third, an environment of continually increasing competition should be sufficient incentive for every lawyer and law firm to focus on figuring out how they’re going to stand out and succeed.