- Cool Web Stuff
- People Acting Badly
- User Interface
- Web News
The Case for Not Selling
Recently I was invited to participate as a member of a technology panel for the annual conference of the Illinois chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association. There were four panel members and a moderator. Each panel member did a 15 minute presentation and the audience had the opportunity to ask questions. The title of the session was "Technology and Law Firm Practice Management/Marketing". The purpose being to highlight how technology can help small practices better market their services and manage their offices.
The other panel members utilized PowerPoint and spoke eloquently about their products and services, why they are a vital part of doing business in the 21st century and, more specifically, the benefits that will befall the audience should they choose to engage with the speaker's company. Each one of the products looked well made and the services being offered were certainly of value but at the end of the day (or of the session) each was a thinly-veiled sales pitch. As a veteran of speaking at conferences, I suspected this would be the case. I elected to follow a different path.
I choose to speak not about Imaginary Landscape or our products and services directly, but rather to offer a glimpse into our knowledge and experience and demonstrate the benefits of a relationship with us. I chose to speak about a downside of technology. There is a seductiveness to technology that draws us all in and, if one is not ever vigilant, can be self-defeating and result in the unwitting construction of barriers to success.
For the focus of my talk I picked the ubiquitous Contact Us form. Most websites have some version of this form and many abuse it terribly. Over the past few years Imaginary Landscape has produced two studies on increasing the conversion rate of contact forms. Those papers became handouts at the conference, along with some background and contact information on Imaginary of course. If you haven't read the studies I highly recommend them:
I conducted an online search for small law offices in other states and visited their contact forms, if I could find them (another story for another day). It didn't take long to find sites that had made some pretty questionable decisions. One site required you to input a fax number to not raise an error. Another actually forced the prospect to battle CAPTCHA in order to contact them. I did some screen shots, redacted firm names and numbers, and included them in my handouts along with bullet points saying what was wrong and why.
I then spoke for 15 minutes extemporaneously. This will not surprise anyone who knows me. I was at a podium in an auditorium but I tried my best to make it feel like a fireside chat. Lunch immediately followed my panel's time slot and the other panelists packed up and left. I hung around. I was approached by a number of people who were willing to delay their lunch to ask a followup question or just say thank you for giving some sales-free advice. I also scored a lunch seat at a table where two of the other three people were the executive director and the president of the national organization.
Updated 02/21/13 @ 10:57AM CST by ric