In this episode of the Legal Marketing 2.0 Podcast, Guy is joined by Paula Zirinsky, co-founder and Chief Strategist of Structura Strategy Group, a professional services marketing advisory. She is known for her expertise in branding, strategy, marketing, content, communications, and digital technology platforms. As a former global CMO, Paula has held leadership positions at professional services firms including K2 Integrity, a preeminent global risk advisory firm, and law firms including Morgan Lewis, Morvillo Abramowitz, Fried Frank, and Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft.
1. You recently wrote about change and becoming who you want to be … both personally and professionally … versus being too attached to who you’ve been. How did that come to be?
At the beginning of the year I thought about doing one of those LinkedIn posts about resolutions, but I didn’t want to just say, you know, let’s do this or do that. Then I found this visual of a standing stick figure pulling a rope, forging ahead, and the visual had the words, “You’ll never become who you want to be if you’re too attached to who you’ve been.” That really resonated with me because I thought beyond a resolution you really need to look back and come up with a plan. I started to write as I do when I hear little snippets of things that are of interest to me to achieve any type of significant change. You need to step back and look at that as a roadmap, but it really doesn’t matter whether it’s a personal change. You want to move. You want to change your job. You want to go on a diet. For professional change, a change related to the business operations of your company or your firm, you need to take a good look at where you were and where you really wanted to be, and then put that constructive change into practice. Unfortunately, sometimes that is hard for people because they don’t want to let go of task programs, perception, and even people. When you do this type of self-assessment and audit quite honestly from a legal marketing perspective. If you are spending money on marketing and it’s not making an impact, the money you’re spending is not realizing a return on your investment, and your structure is inhibiting your ability to try new things, then it might be time to make a change. Time, money, and resources are not reasons to just let things go, and each is not a reason to drag dead weight around, and that’s really where this whole idea came from.
2. For a law firm, is change possible in a down market?
That is a good question, Guy, and I actually think that that’s the exact time that you need to do the audit. And as you were commenting earlier, I was thinking about a public company and the need for an audit committee to do a financial audit each year. Why not the marketing audit each year, like you’re doing that already. You’re in sync with it. Think about it, and when times are good, and particularly when times are bad. You really have to look at yourself. When times are bad I identify the gaps and the opportunities and then take real chances. I recently was at Thompson Reuters marketing partner Forum discussing planning in a slow or down market. One of the things that I think beyond assessing who you are and what you’re doing is this: Think about what your firm does best. What are your firm’s core competencies? Most importantly what you’re known for when times are getting tough you really want to double down on most practice areas that probably are contributing to revenue and growth margin to your firm. And while it may be tempting to launch something new, those new things may train your team and the resources in money, time, and people who could otherwise be deployed against your core. You never want your core competencies to be vulnerable to somebody else stepping in because all of a sudden they’re taking that business from you. In a slow and sluggish market, pay attention to the data that you have, because there is an abundance of data.
3. Let’s talk a bit about AI and ChatGPT – love it or list it?
I spent almost 7 years in the corporate investigations industry. Rules, algorithms, machine learning and AI were all used in order to really handle huge, often disparate databases in order to find actionable intelligence and connection. Now, with ChatGPT, we’re seeing something a little bit different. We’re seeing something that real people can engage with and be a part of. Beyond the Google searches that you and I and everybody would do and play with and move on, ChatGPT, jumps, it’s fast, and it’s comprehensive. GPT is really based on the input that they put in the type of data that gets placed into it, and the comprehensiveness of it, you know. Limitations and inaccuracy aside, it can be enormously helpful. When you use chat GPT as a tool, not as the end product, I think it can be very valuable.
Effective marketing relies on organized, prioritized, and focused strategy. Real change comes when your self-awareness enables you to open yourself to the infinite possibilities ahead. After all, you’ll never become who you want to be if you are too attached to who you have been.
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