Reading: Threat Or Menace?

I loved this quote, which I found in an article in the August 6 edition of The Economist.

Images_8Scepticism of new media is a tradition with deep roots, going back at least as far as Socrates’ objections to written texts, outlined in Plato’s Phaedrus. Socrates worried that relying on written texts, rather than the oral tradition, would “create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.” (He also objected that a written version of a speech was no substitute for the ability to interrogate the speaker, since, when questioned, the text “always gives one unvarying answer”. His objection, in short, was that books were not interactive. Perhaps Socrates would have thought more highly of video games.)

Blogging About Being Blogged

Larry_bodine135formalI feel a bit silly, blogging about being blogged (where will it all end?), but Law Marketing guru Larry Bodine, whose blog has long been on my favorites list below, was nice enough to write some kind words. Larry had previously remarked about non-electronic means (i.e. paper) of promoting electronic media (i.e. websites and blogs). I sent him a package with a few examples of how Smart Marketing tries to use old media to promote new media.

You’re Fired! Or Guilty! Or In Contempt! Or Something!

Pic_recap_ep2_1_homeWell, ten years after O.J. it has finally happened. Our legal system is now officially a reality show. In a sort of weird combination of CourtTV and "The Apprentice", Bravo will air the eight-episode competition reality series "The Law Firm," beginning with back-to-back airings of the first two one-hour episodes Tuesday, August 30 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Bravo’s press release says that the series will follow "real lawyers as they compete against each other and try real court cases with real clients, in front of real judges and juries, resulting in outcomes that are final, legal and binding for the parties."

Law_firm_136x87Trial attorney and legal analyst Roy Black (remember William Kennedy Smith and the blue dot?) is the managing partner of "The Law Firm" and determines which of the twelve lawyers will be eliminated each week.

The series originally debuted on NBC on Thursday nights, but did not draw a big enough audience and has now been banished to Bravo.

Who knows? Lawyers will probably enjoy it more than Martha Stewart’s new show. I swear by the Dancing Itos.

You Don’t Have To Call Me Darlin’, Darlin’

About half the time when I am on the road, I never get out of the hotel, which is a shame since business takes me all over the country. The other half of the time, however, I try to take advantage of whatever spare time there might be and take in something special in the local scene.

Last week I was at the Tennessee State Bar’s session on Elder Law Basics in Nashville, at the Gaylord Opryland resort and convention center. Let me tell you, this was the hotel equivalent of Disney World with something close to 3,000 rooms under a biospheric glass roof. Until last week, I didn’t actually think there were that many American couples with matching NASCAR and Elvis shirts.

79009260_266901724_0But enough of my elitist east coast snobbery (as at least one of my clients has pointed out). On Saturday night I took a tip from Smart Marketing senior copywriter Michael Lasalandra and went to the Bluebird Café in Nashville. This very special place doesn’t look it. In fact, it looks like a small storefront in a strip mall. And not even a nice strip mall. Inside are about 20 tables and a small bar. In the middle are four chairs, and four microphones. It is here that aspiring country singer-songwriters come and perform before they get famous.

The alumni include big country music names like Garth Brooks. Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, Juice Newton, Mickey Newbury, Mose Allison, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Crystal Gale, Amy Grant,  Delbert McClinton— as well as legends like Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Earle, and Emmy Lou Harris. Even the waiters and waitresses have considerable songwriting success, placing their compositions on the albums of C&W stars.

Photo3Along with Smart Martketing staff member Nichole Vanas, and Smart Marketing client Meg Rudansky we took in a regular show (called In The Round) in which four up-and-coming talents play in a circle, sharing music and banter in an intimate relationship with the audience. We saw Jude Toy, John Stone, Christy Sutherland, and Marcel (he only goes by one name). My favorite was Christy Sutherland, whose website you can visit here. I was particulary struck by her cut, "Men In Cars." She was nice enough to autograph her CD for me.

While jiving with the other musicians, Christy told of her current day job at the makeup counter in Dillards, and the (humorously told) humiliation of applying makeup to Reba McIntire’s legs, one week after she (Christy) had performed at the Grand Old Opry. She told of receiving a royalty check for $26, which was topped by John Stone, who said he got one for $13, which was topped by Jude Toy, who said she had received one for 10 cents. We were also treated to a guest appearance by John Ims, who performed his song "She’s In Love With The Boy" — a big hit for Trisha Yearwood.

In short, if you are in Nashville, don’t miss a visit to the Bluebird Café.

Smart Solutions Episode 2 – First Impressions

Mark Merenda, SmartMarketing CEO, discusses the power of image and first impressions. ( Podcast.

New York In Boston?

I am just back from the New York State Bar Elder Law Section’s summer meeting in Boston. There, with Harry Margolis of ElderLawAnswers, I presented on "Using the Internet To Market Your Elder Law Practice." Although our remarks were tailored to our audience in focusing on Elder Law, the presentation applies equally to almost any practice area. We are in the process of turning the presentation into a white paper, which will be available soon through both ElderLawAnswers and Smart Marketing.

Dscn0412In the photo:  That’s me, sandwiched between Mark Miller (left) and Harry Margolis (seated) of ElderLawAnswers. We were in the Boston office of Harry’s law firm, Margolis & Associates, which is the only law office I have ever visited that features a ping-pong table. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Next stop: Tennessee, later this week, for a session presented by the Tennessee State Bar and NAELA  on Elder Law Basics.

Search Engines: The New Yellow Pages

Sometimes a larger truth becomes obvious in the most mundane way. Here’s how it became clear to me that Google (and the other search engines) are the new Yellow Pages.

Images_7One evening, not long ago, my son said to me, “Hey Dad, can we have a pizza tonight?” Stifling my instinct to deliver a lecture on the differences between “can” and “may” as well as the advantages of proper nutrition, I sighed, walked over to the always-on computer and typed “pizza naples florida” into the Google space on my browser’s toolbar. In a nanosecond, the computer screen was filled with the listing for every pizza shop in town. (And by the way, just how much pizza can one town eat? There must have been 30 pizza shops.)

The point, of course, is this: I never thought to look for the phone book.

When it comes to looking for a lawyer, more Americans are turning to the search engines than the yellow pages. So says a June 21 study from Harris Interactive on the behavior and preferences of Americans when searching the web. Fifty-four percent (54%) search online rather than use a phone book. Though 63% are looking for the addresses or phone numbers of people, almost as many (58%) are looking up information on local businesses.

Two other key findings:
• Google is the most popular search engine, followed by Yahoo, MSN, AOL and Ask Jeeves.
• More than half of those surveyed (56%) do not understand the difference between the paid and organic types of listings. Among those that do know the difference, only about half (51%) prefer organic listings.

(I am indebted to Larry Bodine and Kevin O’Keefe for bringing this study to my attention.)

What does this mean? It means that you need a search engine strategy, one that is aimed at getting the highest possible “organic” ranking, as well as getting the most out of a “pay-per-click” sponsored link campaign.

Think about the following advantages of paid search engine listings (sponsored links) vs. Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages have a printing cost, while search engines do not. Ditto mailing costs. With the Yellow Pages, you pay to reach everyone who receives the phone book. With a paid search engine listing, you pay only for those who actually click through to your site. With the Yellow Pages, you make a one-year financial commitment to an unchanging ad. With a sponsored link, you make no time commitment and can instantly change your ad any time you feel like it.

Should you abandon your Yellow Pages advertising? That would depend on what kind of return you got on it last year. If it provides a steady flow of clients (or even enough to make the ad profitable), by all means keep it. If not, however, I would recommend cutting the size of your Yellow Pages commitment (perhaps even to a simple listing) and putting those marketing dollars into a pay-per-click strategy.

Why We Do What We Do: A Guest Post By Elder Law Attorney Rick Law

By Rick Law of Law Elder Law

Rick_1Our actual client is not usually the person who first calls us. More often, we hear first from a family member who is overwhelmed by the burden of caring for a loved one who is mentally or physically declining. The cause of that diminished capacity varies widely—from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s to an unending list of physical concerns such as arthritis and osteoporosis. Many of the calls concern a loved one who is already deep into crisis and at the end of their options.

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