Bad marketing part 2: Back to school

Based on comments to my post yesterday, Bad marketing 101: This is not a blog, at least one reader took it to be a criticism of the lawyer. That was not my intent. My criticism was directed at the Web design and marketing consultants who built this site for the lawyer and helped her promote it. More to the point, my critique was directed at the site’s blog, not its overall design, which is rather nice.

(Note also that since my post, the text I referenced has been taken down and replaced with different text.)

Let me try to be more specific about my comments yesterday. Given the attention paid to blogs these days, launching one should involve a degree of planning and forethought. If a lawyer hires a marketing consultant to help launch a blog, the consultant should take the responsibility for ensuring that the lawyer fully understands why s/he is going down this road and what it will entail.

Let me stop right there and be perfectly clear about something: You do not need to hire a consultant to get into blogging. Most bloggers do not. But if you do wish to hire a consultant, then, please, hire someone who will provide value in return for your investment in their services.

If you work with a consultant, and if the consultant knows what s/he is doing, then by the time you launch your blog to the public, you should have done the following:

  1. Read a number of blogs over a period of time.
  2. Used syndication and understood how it works.
  3. Decided on the theme of your blog and its intended audience.
  4. Decided on the design of your blog.
  5. Decided on the blogging software you will use and where you will host it.
  6. Given thought to the frequency with which you will update your blog and decided how you will make that part of your regular schedule.
  7. Given thought to where you will find material to write about.
  8. Given thought to why you want to launch a blog and what you hope to achieve from it.

Again, you don’t need a consultant to do any of this. But if you hire a consultant, let’s hope you get your money’s worth. My original critique was based on my impression that the consultant had not done a good job of educating the client (that is, the lawyer who hired the consultant) about blogs. The consultant helped the client build a Web site that included as a key element a page labeled a blog. That page contained static text — not the dynamic text of a blog — that in part promoted the services of the consultant. I cannot say for certain whether the consultant had a role in creating this text, but the consultant should have played a role, and that role should have been to help the client avoid such a fundamental mistake. It is possible that the blog simply wasn’t ready for prime time. In that case, however, someone should have held off on the decision to send out a press release announcing the site. If the site isn’t ready, don’t announce it. Again, this is something any consultant should know.

The reason anyone hires a consultant is for guidance. My critique was directed at the guidance, not the decision to seek it.