Thinking outside the Box

Article excerpt

He Said

Not long ago, I pitched a story to a reporter by dangling an email subject line something like, "Written about lawyers and elephants lately?"

The reporter opened the message, noted--accurately--that there was more lawyer than elephant involved, then set up an interview. The story ran in a regional legal paper.

But I digress. The question here is this: Is it possible that legal marketing, healthcare law and Justin Bieber's hair all share a common thread? Marketing risk, perhaps?

I often advocate for the risk side of marketing risk-reward. Take chances, develop rewards. Dangle offbeat subjects. Consider emergency room signage, as contributors to LMA Connect recently did. Design a high-profile ad around a butterfly instead of a lawyer.

But, is it too risky to make Justin Bieber's hair the lead paragraph of a healthcare legal analysis? Only if you believe a "straight lead" at the top of yet another legal review of a dry, complicated topic like healthcare reform is likely to draw more readers, including lawyers, than Bieber's hairstyle.

A late-April Google search suggests more risk with "lex" than locks. The query yielded 48.2 million results for "Justin Bieber hair" and a combined 19.5 million for "health-care reform" and "healthcare reform."

Is mine a scientific analysis? No. Legal analysis? No. Valuable marketing analysis? You decide.

I think clients and prospects are more likely teased into reading "Justin Bieber and Hair Denial" than "Health-care Styles in the U.S., Canada and The Netherlands," a straightforward, faux title I crafted after reading a synopsis from The Daily Journal, where the "hair" piece from two Snell & Wilmer L.L.P. attorneys first appeared.

Sure, some may see the piece, which I found on the firm's website, as folly. But I wager the unusual title attracted readers, rewarding the writers' risk. More importantly, I bet readers strike up conversations with the authors or others at the firm about their "Bieber" piece or an earlier one that mentioned Lady Gaga.

And those conversations, give lawyers and their clients the chance to talk about any and all elephants in the room.

She Said

One of the key components of marketing any business is differentiation. What is unique about the company? Why should customers pick this product or service provider over that one? …