The "last mile" is a
supply chain management term (and a single released by hard rock/glam band,
Cinderella, in 1989, and also a play and movie from the 1930s) that refers to a
product's last mile before it gets to market and on store
shelves. Apparently, it's the hardest and most expensive leg of the process.
According to Wikipedia, "This last leg of the supply chain is often less
efficient, comprising up to 28% of the total cost to move goods. This has
become known as the "last mile problem."
Fishburne, a self described "Marketoonist," created this
cartoon that reminded me of lawyer website biographies. (You can
subscribe for free to his weekly marketoon at www.marketoonist.com.)
His cartoons reach more than 100,000 marketers each week and have been featured
in The New York Times, Fast Company and Wall Street Journal.
Law firm marketing and business
development professionals struggle to inspire their lawyers to regularly update
their website bios. While this cartoon is applicable to a branding
campaign or website as a whole, I want to narrow the focus and ask you to
consider how buyers of legal services are evaluating their short list of
Here is how the lawyer selection
supply chain works:
- Buyers seek a referral from trusted colleagues or
- They make a short list of three to six lawyers to
- They Google the lawyers' names to see what surfaces on
page one or two of results.
- Then, these buyers visit the lawyers' websites and
- These buyers frequently print the bios and lay them
side by side on a conference table and continue their evaluation,
filtering out those lawyers who aren't meeting their criteria.
- The buyers may call one, or perhaps two or
three of the short list lawyers to interview.
- They choose one lawyer over the others because the
references were strong, the experience that the biography presented was
current and relevant to the buyer's need, and the telephone or in person
connection and communication between the lawyer and the client was warm,
engaging and on-point.
- The right lawyer gets hired.
Here is how the lawyer biography
supply chain works on the law firm side:
- The firm begins a website redesign or refresh.
- Marketers contact the lawyers about updating their bios
for the new website. Perhaps there is a new bio format, so the old
bio material must be (and it should be!) reorganized to better fit with
today's scanning readers with short attention spans and viewing on mobile devices.
Lawyers are given a deadline of two months before launch.
- One month before launch, only one-quarter of the bios
have been updated, another quarter were sent back with "no
changes" written at the top, and the final half of the lawyers have
been radio silent.
- Two weeks before launch, in the middle of beta testing,
marketers continue to hound the firm's top professionals.
- The site is launched with less than half of the bios
- And they stay that way for weeks, months or years.
- The buyer of legal services views the bio of the
lawyer referred to him and dismisses the candidate as "not the right
fit." The bio is dated, the photo is ten-years old and the
lawyer insisted on being referred to as "Ms. So-and-so"
throughout the bio instead of using the more accessible and familiar
For the lawyers who refuse to update
their bios, you aren't hurting your marketing team (although their frustration
is mounting), you are hurting your chances of competing and getting
hired. If your bio is dated, bland or sounds like 1,000
other litigators, employment lawyers or corporate/securities/M&A
lawyers, you will quickly be dismissed by buyers of legal services as
For those lawyers who do update your
bios, but don't focus on what truly differentiates and distinguishes you, you
may or may not get the chance for an interview. Why take that risk?
For the small handful of you
who write an overview that is compelling, up-to-the-minute with regard to the
work you are doing today, and include representative experience that answers
the questions: what have you done, for whom have you done it, and what
can you do for me -- you have the greatest chance of rising to the top of the
thousands of lawyer website biographies.
And, bonus, your Google search
results will be more relevant, too. Google typically pulls the first 150
characters in a lawyer's bio for the search results. "Marty" Truss
(James M. Truss) is a litigation partner at Cox Smith in San Antonio. Here is the
overview for his bio.
here is the top Google result when searching for "marty truss."
This is how Marty is known, and wants to be known.
update your bios every quarter - refreshing them with new,
more current keywords (think of the search terms your target buyers would use
to search), recent publications, speeches, board appointments, and most importantly,
More than 50% of your website
visitors view the lawyer biographies. And typically, these pages are
viewed more frequently and longer than other pages on your website.
Website biographies are consistently the most important business development
tools that lawyers have today.
more insight at the Law Firm 4.0 Blog.
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