Are You Good Enough?

It use to be the case that just being good enough was good enough. If you were good enough than it followed that conversations about how good you actually were would occur over the back fence between neighbours, out front of the local diner among acquaintances, in the lunch room in the factory or in the subway between strangers. Being good enough was just enough to spark a remark or a conversation that paved a well worn path to the legal office of the good enough lawyer who reaped the rewards.

While marketing rhetoric will tell you that being good enough is no longer enough and will see you blind-sighted forever by the myopic lunacy to be number #1 in Google, to have the most followers, the most connections, the most retweets, I’d suggest that amid the spin and a few things on the horizon, nothing will matter more in the World than being just good enough and smart enough to know that context in the case of effective marketing will be key.

Unfortunately, the last 5 years for good law firms have been predicated on the assumption that being good enough was all about dominating a few trends. The first of course was to impregnate your website copy with as many keywords as possible and acquire thousands of back-links. The next was all about social media scalability, the acquisition of as many likes, followers and connections and currently, it’s primarily about manufacturing copious amounts of content and syndicating it as potently as possible through your networks and measuring penetration to determine its value and subsequently your own value.

The methodology of the last 5 or so years has done little in demarcating the good from the bad and in many respects, was weighted more towards the latter. There are plenty of great search results held by lawyers that simply put, aren’t good enough, but have a knack for hyperbole.

However, a succession of Google algorithm changes, in particular the latest are redefining the importance of the voice of the crowd. Google Pigeon reigned in its tapestry of Google Business Pages, Google Reviews, Google Maps and your law firm’s website, amplifying “local search” that of course gives the crowd a say about if in fact you are good enough. This update consequently has escalated the search results of referral platforms like Yelp who had long complained that Google had tweaked their algorithm to always show Google’s own listings over Yelps.

In addition to the Google Pigeon, if you’re a little like me than in the words of Mark Schaefer you may be experiencing the phenomenon of “content shock” where the “increasing volumes of content that we all syndicate to each other intersect our limited human capacity to consume it, which according to Schaefer creates ‘economic’ pressure on the system that will require adaptation and shifts from current marketing strategies.” In other words, we simply can no longer discern the mammoth amount of content we receive in the course of a day, let alone digest it, not to mention the difficulty of doing so on a smartphone (the other elephant in the room).

Coinciding with this, and specific to the legal industry, Avvo recently closed a funding round of which it received $37.5 million to accelerate its Attorney ranking platform and in a general sense, earlier this year Yelp reported exponential growth during the quarter of 72% and expects continued rapid growth.

If nothing else, collectively these events are indicators that there is a recalibration of both how people will find, engage and ultimately become clients of law firms.

To put it another way, the way I see it, being good enough will be based upon who says your good enough and your reach will be measured not by volume, but rather delivering the right message at the right time through the right medium, or in the words of Joe Chernov, breaking through a noisy landscape not with more noise, but by sounding different.

If it all rings true, than being good enough, coupled with a marketing strategy that isn’t about more, but potentially less and is informed by good data and includes diverse mediums like visual media, user-generated content and transmedia (on and off-line) and dare I say it, face to face marketing, may be the shift that good enough lawyers have been waiting for and so deserve.

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