For happy days, you need the Fons

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17 March 2014

Posted by Joe Reevy, managing director of Legal Futures Associate Best Practice Online

You need to nominate somebody to sort the wheat from the chaff

I was much concerned by a recent exchange on the Gazette LinkedIn group. It started with a question by HighStreetLawyer’s Gary Yantin about law firms without websites and it drifted (as these things often do) to a discussion about how people block other people (described as “people who just want to sell me something”, which I thought rather pejorative) from communicating with them.

Towards the end, there seemed to be something of a competition developing between people about how they managed to avoid ‘wasting’ their time talking to people. It is quite clear that this is something of a fetish for some people.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of inbound marketing/sales communications ARE a waste of time. The majority will not lead to you doing anything different and therefore the time is simply wasted. I get that.

The problem is that there are good people, good products and so on out there. Despite the self-assured comment by one commentator that, if he needed something, he’d do his research and find it (he clearly doesn’t know how useless Google is these days at finding what you really want as opposed to what they want you to see), I was left with these questions:

  • How do people find the things they need to retain competitiveness if they cut off incoming communications?
  • How can these people make you aware of the benefits they and their products/services might bring you if you won’t listen?
  • If you don’t have a policy of openness, aren’t you likely to make decisions based on less, and possibly inadequate knowledge?

We take a different approach. We like having new things brought to our attention and probably spend two to three hours a week looking at this type of material – and longer if something looks like it can deliver real advantage. We have bought several offered products and services over the years and we are glad indeed we did. We also look assiduously for new, useful products and services.

Change is ever more rapid. The need to change procedures and techniques to stay competitive is increasingly important. Cutting off the flow of worthwhile information and rejecting inbound information willy-nilly is likely to be a very long suicide note for firms.

How then, to make sure Happy Days stay happy? You need ‘The Fons’ (sic). The Finder of New Stuff. Someone in your firm – preferably someone with a really good knowledge of how to do effective research over the Internet, who understands the firm’s ‘soft spots’ where improvements should be sought and who can quickly weigh up the potential value of an inbound marketing message – should have responsibility for finding and reporting to management on their findings.

If you don’t open up, you are likely to miss out… so get yourself a Fons.

Two things you should tell them to do early on are to bookmark Legal Futures, and to subscribe to the (free) law management and marketing newsletter (e-mail This has NO paid-for editorial and just seeks to find ‘good things for lawyers’ and distribute them. It is funded in its entirely by the sponsors who take banners. You’ll find recent issues here.

There is a much a larger issue that flows from this about how law firms make decisions, about which I hope to write soon.

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