September 19, 2008

If You Think The Economy is Troubled, What Are You Doing To Help Your Business?

http://resultsradioshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/recession-resize.jpgJohn Jantsch writes a terrific piece called "7 Time-Tested Ways to Dig Out From a Recession".  My position, however, is a little different.  You should be doing these things ALL THE TIME.

While you can read all seven ideas on John's great site, I'm going to highlight numbers three, six and seven because I know the first two are the hardest for me and the last should be done religiously:

3) Get out from behind the computer - Building personal relationships is always in style. It’s very tempting to sit and write blog posts and participate on social networking sites, and while these aren’t always bad things - sometimes you need to go out and shake some hands. Make it a point to go to several industry conferences every year. Join an industry or chamber type group and go to events where you can make connections with prospects and partners. Join a referral group such as (fill in the blank) and participate. Go visit your customers and ask for referrals.

It is very easy to get comfortable communicating solely on the internet.  It's fast, fun and you are not locked into a schedule. However, if you are reading my blog or any blog on a regular basis, subscribe to RSS, sync your e-mail with your IPhone, the fact is you are in the distinct minority of all your potential clients. Most people are simply not as up-to-speed technologically and by the time they figure out what you already do effectively, you will have moved on to something even more advanced. 

And while we socialize with like-minded professionals on the internet, the fact is there is a huge gap between us and the many potential clients and referrers of potential clients out there who could use your services. Get out, mingle, physically meet others, professionally socialize even if it is just a few select times a year.

6) Repackage your products and services with offers to act - This goes along with differentiating really, but sometimes you’ve got to give that tired old dog a new look. Find simple ways to relaunch yourself, your people, your products, your services, your packaging, to give yourself a new start in your market. You don’t need to start from scratch, look for innovative ways to repackage, reprice, redeliver, re-guarantee and re-communicate about what you do. Make them an offer they can’t refuse, make it so bold they must rehear you.

This is so true.  Give your blog a face lift, create some excitement about a change in your services or products.  Promote if you are switching over to a Virtual Law Office.  Try to attract your market in a novel and exciting way.  It will not only invigorate your potential client base, it will also invigorate you.  Practicing in the same rut only gets you deeper into the ground.  When you eventually try to step out you will feel like a neanderthal and overwhelmed at the changes you will now first have to make.

7) Fix the marketing gaps - In every way, shape, and form that your business comes into contact with your prospects and customers it is performing a marketing function - good or bad. You must look at all of your customer touchpoints and turn them into positive, brand-building opportunities. Tear down the lead generations touches, sales touches, service touches, delivery touches, follow-up touches, transaction touches, and billing touches and make sure that every single one of them is a performing a killer marketing function for your business.

Every word you write, every syllable you utter, every piece of paper with your name on it is a touch point with your brand and a business opportunity.  You just have to realize it.  Once you do you will see all the unconscious marketing opportunities you have available to you and will understand the phrase my clients have drilled into them, "you are on 24/7."

Time to take inventory of all your touchpoints.  You will be amazed how many marketing opportunities you may very well be missing which can help fill the client pipeline...especially when times are tough.

Related Links: From the Category "Economic and Demographic Trends"

$7.00 Gas and the Solo Practitioner

Put Yourself in Your Client's Shoes.  Is it a Good Financial Fit?

The REAL Economic and Wealth Trend Indicator - Walmart (8/07)

If Walmart is Cutting Back on New Store Openings, Isn't That More Telling Than a Dow.... (6/07)

September 15, 2008

7 Secrets to Successful Communication - A Guide For Solo Practitioners

Over a lifetime of sales, advocacy, advertising, promotion, teaching, consulting and more I've had the occasion to work with probably thousands of people.  As such, I've learned a few things about what makes someone effective at getting their ideas across. I've also realized even those who are very good can still learn a thing or two.

Getting your ideas across is key to successful marketing, marketing which can include speaking at seminars, keynote addresses, introduction of other guest speakers, self-publishing, being interviewed by reporters, blogging, commenting on blogs, Tweeting, and more.

So, knowing most of us would like to improve upon our communication skills, here are a few thoughts on the subject.

1. Charisma is no substitute for expertise.  Your inherent charms will only take you so far. Every once in a great while someone will hit the big time based upon their ability to weave a magic spell or are brilliant at self-promotion but really in the shallow end of the pool when it comes to actual expertise. For every one of those superstars their are hundreds, if not thousands, who are exposed for the frauds or featherweights they are.  Better to be king of a small island than a failed candidate for ruler of a continent. 

Becoming an expert doesn't necessarily require putting in thirty years on a given subject (there are way to many old-timers who are just putting in time without improving their skill sets or knowledge base and just skating by).  It is becoming knowledgeable through everyday learning, a deeper more thoughtful investigation, attention to nuance and singular focus which can set you apart.

2. Trustworthiness is paramount.  A recent Gallup poll indicates the least trustworthy occupations/professions are politics, journalism, business and (surprise) law.  So, you are already beginning below the curb in the trustworthiness arena as most people view your ability to be honest and straightforward with healthy dose of skepticism.  The most powerful thing you can do to counter this is make statements that are not in your self-interest.

Examples:

  • While working at a law school, I knocked the hell out of the traditional law school agenda.  It didn't matter that my law school was doing the right thing by offering a course to help solos.  The vast majority were not.

  • Experts can come across as impervious to the everyday concerns facing most of us other mortals, not prone to struggling with the professional issues your audience may be dealing with. Don't be afraid to discuss issues you may be challenged by and sharing what has helped you and what hasn't. Just relating rehearsed success stories doesn't make for a bonding experience with your potential client or reader.  Be truthful, be honest and connect. That helps to establish trustworthiness.

  • With proper discretion and without undermining yourself, discuss a personal problem you may be facing.  It could be a universal one like an aging parent, health, a child going off to college.  This relatable slice of your life connects you and encourages trust.

3. Avoid obvious cliche rhetoric. The more obvious, cliche topics you discuss or write about, the more they blend in with the wall paper. How often can a reader or potential client hear the same thing but from a different talking head?  It's vanilla.  Your reader or audience wants to experience blackberry, fudge swirl or, as my son like's to create flavors, mango, banana, strawberry, chocolate chip. That creates interest, enthusiasm for what you have to say. Avoid the obvious.

4. Be a contrarian.  So many speakers and blog authors state the obvious as if they alone have discovered the holy grail. For example, if one more person espouses the virtue of 'networking' without adding a new twist, we're going to have the world's largest chorus.  Amen. You want to be the 'soloist' in that choir.  Don't put your audience or reader to sleep or disrespect their time. Discuss things that are fresh and important and relevant. Presenting a well-founded contrarian position does much more for your readership or audience.

It is risky to go against the mainstream but you have to determine if it is a risk worth taking.  If you can back up your proposition, go for it. I know I feel better about my life for having interjected a different perspective, being that 'soloist' instead of just another choir member.  But, then, I was a born contrary.

5. Be a musician. In every sentence you write, every word you speak you have the ability to modulate, vary your tone, pace your words (staccato, allegro, presto), create dramatic pauses. Be musical. Be entertaining. Be engaging and memorable.

6. Go naked. If you are doing speaking engagements or interviews do not script your words.  Use cue words to trigger what you know you want to say.  Other than professionals, few people can read cue cards or memorize a script without it sounding like you are reading or regurgitating memorized script. Know your talking points and let it flow even if you wander down tributaries unexpectedly.

7. Engage in conversation.  Speaking engagements, interviews, blogging, Tweeting...it's all about engaging your audience in discussion.  Do not be afraid to ask questions of your audience or readers.  Let there be loose threads in the blog post to encourage readers to respond, point out, correct.  If you are interviewing someone on a podcast for your blog, provide a hypothetical to help them engage in a narrative...and also to get your audience thinking about how they would answer the hypothetical.

  • Be an expert.
  • Be different.
  • Be engaging.
  • Be unscripted.
  • Be professional.
  • Be personal.
  • Be yourself.

What have you done which sets you apart?

August 19, 2008

Social Media Is Your Business Future

Borrowed liberally (OK...a full hijack)  from John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing:

An example of a social network diagram.Gone are the days when all you needed to be on the web was a website. Today you need to think and act in terms of a total web presence. And that means if you’re not participating in social media, you’re not really online.

Consider these highlights from a wonderfully comprehensive research project developed by Universal McCann.

  • 73% of online users read a blog
  • 57% join social networks
  • 45% have started a blog
  • 83% have viewed a video online
  • 39% subscribe to RSS feeds
  • 36% think more positively about companies that have blogs

Source: Universal McCann Wave3 research into social media

 
Universal Mccann International Social Media Research Wave 3                      
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: socialmedia research)

(Did you think we were offering free blogs at Solo Practice University because we just had them laying around :-)

August 11, 2008

Networking for Shy Lawyers

http://a.abcnews.com/images/Health/is_shy_070824_ms.jpgYou've been told over and over again the way to get connections in the profession, drum up business, is network, network, network.  You know I'm right. And you know for some people it is just so easy.   They jump out there, do it as naturally as breathing. Yet you are more introverted, less comfortable in group situations, don't know how to break the ice or get with the 'in crowd.'  Honestly, don't worry. But the question remains: how do you work with what you are to be successful as a solo practitioner?

First, before you go labeling yourself introvert and extravert (yes, that is the correct spelling), understand the difference and then realize you are what you are and you're not going to change:

I’m going by the definitions used by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to the MBTI, introverts get their energy from the internal world of ideas and images, and they feel drained if they spend too much time with people. On the other hand, extraverts (and yes, that IS the correct spelling as used in the MBTI) get their energy from the external world of people and things, and they go crazy if they spend too much time alone. It really has nothing to do with social skills, as evidenced by introverts like Jerry Seinfeld.

Whether you prefer the internal world or the external world, that preference is fixed. You can force yourself to act outside of your element, but an introvert can’t become an extravert and vice versa. (Pick the Brain)

So, how does one network if they are not an extravert?  Are introverts disadvantaged as entrepreneurs in a profession which requires almost full throttle engagement? 

If you feel you fall into the introverted category (and even if you don't) here is a list of 25 great posts on networking for the shy which you need to take the time to read.  It was compiled by The M.A.P. Maker:


How to network: For introverts

Personal marketing for the shy

Learn to love networking

How to network if you’re shy

Networking for introverts

Networking for the shy

Power networking for introverts: Tips & techniques

Networking for shy people

How to network if you’re shy

Tips for shy people who want to meet clients at networking events

Networking for the shy

Networking for shy people (pdf)

The shy guy’s guide to networking

10 networking tips for shy entrepreneurs

Networking for the terminally shy

Networking tips for shy people

Business networking strategies for the shy

Networking Tips For Shy Job Seekers

Job search techniques for shy executives

Skip Haley's Networking Tips For Introverts

Don't be shy: Networking tips for the timid

Networking Strategies For Shy Professionals

Advice for Reluctant Networkers

Beating Shyness In The Business World

How Do I Overcome Shyness in Marketing My Home Business?

In addition, I would recommend you absolutely read Endless Referrals by Bob Burg.  It is a brilliant book which lays to rest once and for all that networking, building a sphere of influence and creating relationships (both professional and personal) are not just the province of extraverts.  Whatever you choose to label yourself, you need to read this book.

So, if you consider yourself more introverted, how have you been networking to bring in clients?  Please share.

 


August 06, 2008

Twitter for Small Business - The Solo Practitioner

Over at DuctTape Marketing, John Jantsch has created a very nice Guide to Using Twitter.  While not for lawyers specifically, and definitely not all things Twitter,  it is very worthwhile to read for those who have been toying with the idea of getting on Twitter.  I've written about it before and Grant Griffiths has written a great piece called, "Twitter - the Rules of Engagement".

What's nice about John Jantsch's guide is he addresses a very common statement, 'it's just another time-waster. How is it going to get me business?"

Twitter is a tool.  It doesn't owe you anything. Just like a telephone, it won't get you business but it is a conduit for business if you market correctly.  Understand, media is only social if you engage in it.  Therefore, 'social media' only provides results if you understand its purpose and commit time to 'socializing'  and using it correctly.  Just like any other networking/marketing vehicle, you get back what you put in.

The results I have achieved are measurable.  Traffic, connections I never would have made, faculty for Solo Practice University, quick conversation that doesn't rely upon e-mail or instant messaging.  I'm not sure I use it as well as others but it is helping me achieve certain goals.  If I invest more time.....greater return.

So, check out the Guide; at the very least register on Twitter and protect your name...and if you have noone to follow...follow me and I'll follow you back to get you started. Certainly look at those I'm following to get an idea of some quality connections.

You can find me at:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/scartierliebel

Friendfeed  http://friendfeed.com/scartierliebel

July 28, 2008

Why Every Solo Practitioner Should Have a Great Social Media Plan - Shama Hyder

From Brian Solis of PR 2.0

Question: If a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it actually happen?

Indeed. Conversations are taking place with or without you.

If you’re not part of the conversation, then you’re leaving it to others to answer questions and provide information, whether it’s accurate or incorrect. Or, even worse, you may be leaving it up to your competition to jump in to become the resource for the community.

Social Media is where it's happening.  To quote Christopher S. Penn:

The time for talk only is over. New media, social media, whatever you want to call it, is an incredible power, the likes of which we as humans have never had before. We can affect events at great distances, see beyond walls, know the thoughts of others, influence millions without getting out of our chairs. I hope you take a step back, realize the power you have, and make something of it.

David Meerman Scott of WebInkNow challenges those very effectively when they say, 'no, I don't need or want social media.  We don't use it."

So, it is why I invited Shama Hyder, social media and on line marketing expert, to discuss why you need to have a social media marketing plan.

Guest Blogger - Shama Hyder

Social Media-Why You Should Care and Where to Begin

Once upon a time, the media was made up of a select group of people. They talked and people listened. You better have cared about the media because theirs was the gospel truth. Today the word “media” is all encompassing. You don’t need a newspaper or magazine to share your views. More importantly, your clients don’t need a newspaper or magazine to tell them what to think. They can think for themselves (thank you very much!) and while they are at it, they will go ahead and tell whoever they wish.

Your clients, prospects, colleagues, neighbors are now the media, and just as you cared what the old media thought-you should care EVEN MORE about what the new media thinks. Why? Well, let’s say that 10 years ago the NY Times published a not so glowing review about your company. The effect may linger for a month (if that), but then they would move on to bigger and better things.  Let’s face it -  time and space were limited (only so many reporters, and only so much paper!).  Now, compare that to a blogger giving you a bad review. One year later, it would still be popping up as a search result when someone types in your company name. Even worse, it will have spawned multiple blog posts, forum discussions, and chats. If your immediate impulse is to control this phenomenon, stop right now. It will backfire. You can’t control a groundswell. The term groundswell was coined by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff who describe it as “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.”

But if you can’t control it, what can you do? <insert minor freak-out here>. You can nurture it. You can build a community of raving fans. You can give them platforms to voice their opinion. You can leverage it for the positive. The same groundswell that can devour you can also nourish you if you direct its power.

Okay, Shama- so should our company start writing blogs, open forums, and chat with everyone we meet? Not so quick Jack. The answer to this is IT DEPENDS. Although EVERYONE is part of this social media movement (like it or not), they all have different roles they prefer to play. Your first job is to figure out where your prospects fall in the Social Technographics ladder. Yes, another super useful creation by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.  (image below found at: http://niallfiles.com/public/images/forrester/ladder.png )

http://niallfiles.com/public/images/forrester/ladder.png

Are your prospects creators who blog on a regular basis, upload videos, and publish websites? Or are your prospects simply spectators who like to read blogs but don’t necessarily comment? Answer this question, and you are half way finished with your spectacular social media plan.

Shama Hyder is an online marketing expert. She publishes the praise winning 'Online Marketing Tips' weekly e-zine with subscribers from around the world. If you're ready to get more clients, make more money, and have more fun in your small business, get your F'REE tips now at www.AfterTheLaunch.com

July 23, 2008

How Solo Practitioners Can Awaken Their SuperHero

It took this post by Christopher S. Penn to make me realize that with the technology we have at our disposal today to educate our prospects, we can all be superheros.  With technology today can't we literally 'fly' around the globe, see through walls, hear conversations across the planet and deliver help?

http://www.blogcadre.com/files/images/superheroes.jpgThink about all of the power technology gives you. Google Maps lets you walk around at ground level or from 30,000 feet over a huge chunk of the inhabited planet. Google itself gives you incredible reach, access to more knowledge in the palm of your hand or in your lap than any human being has ever had. A simple cell phone lets you talk to someone in real time on the other side of the planet.

We forget we have these “powers” because we take them for granted. We grow up with them, and once the novelty of a new device, technology, or service wears off, we forget to explore what we can actually DO with them.

Take a step back. Look at the technology that surrounds you as traits of a comic book superhero. If a superhero had the powers you did, what stories would be written about them? What crimes would they solve, what lives would they save with your powers?

What if podcasting, instead of being a discussion about MP3 vs. M4A, RSS vs. Web, audio vs. video, was a discussion about how to get the best teachers in the world to every student who wanted to learn? What if social networks, instead of debating the merits and features of X platform, was a community trained in early awareness and intervention for things like teenage suicide? What parent wouldn’t encourage their kids to be a part of a social network if they knew that others were ready to lend a helping hand in troubled times?

Ironically, we are somewhat egocentric in that we look to see how technology is helping ease our own lives personally and professionally.  Have you ever considered how you can improve the lives of others through the use of your legal skills combined with the technology currently available?

Since marketing today is about education you are able to kill two birds with one stone.  How are you using technology today to help educate your potential clients?  How are you becoming their superhero...their only choice for a lawyer?  How are you using technology to improve the human condition?  As Chris says, "with great power comes great responsibility." It's pretty heady stuff.

July 21, 2008

How To Create a Total Client Experience...Which Will Generate More Business

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that I do not differentiate legal services (the marketing, the business, the way to treat clients) from selling products.  If you are to run a successful solo practice (or any size law firm) you can't.  It is a business and must be run based upon sound business principles.

One of the most important successful business principles is the 'total client experience'.  How the client experiences your services from marketing through to resolution of his legal matter is the single most powerful differentiation you can create between you and every other lawyer.  And it is what will encourage the satisfied client to return AND to refer business over and over, again.

In the blockbuster book, Tuned In, the authors describe how to create 'breakthrough experiences.' ( I will  paraphrase and gear it towards the client/attorney interaction.)

Breakthrough experiences incorporate each experience - from;

  • the first interaction (marketing);
  • evaluation (initial consultation);
  • purchase (signed retainer agreement);
  • product use (legal services to resolve their problem);
  • after-sale service (client follow-up).

The Discovery Experience:

Potential clients need information in order to make a rational and informed decision about how to solve their problems.  Law firms which understand this create a marketing program that potential clients actually want  to consume.  The law firm which doesn't understand this will simply generate hype and spin in an expensive and misguided effort to manipulate their ideal client.  They will 'scream' at them through their marketing rather than drawing them in in a non-threatening manner with tools to help them solve their problems.

The Buying Experience:

The law firm who is more interested in making things easier for themselves rather than creating a process which is easier on the client does not get it.  Clients want to feel important and they want their needs to be met throughout the entire time they are being represented.  It doesn't matter the size of the retainer or contingency fee or if they are pro bono.  Making the experience as simple and as easy as possible where the client feels respected and engaged will lead to more referrals.

The Packaging Experience:

They say position is everything in life?  Well, presentation is everything in business.  How you package your services will influence the value the client places on them (and your bottom line) and is part of the entire buying experience.

The Using Experience:

Breakthrough experiences are by definition simple to understand and easy to implement.  They are intuitive and natural and help people to engage with the service. They don't have to be major in expense or scope, just major in impact on the client.

The Service Experience:

Many lawyers need to come up with some form of post-retention client care.  Those who don't get it will either hire someone to handle it or, more often, simply not do anything once the legal matter is resolved.  But law firms who understand the value of client care know that happy (and unhappy) clients will talk with family, friends, blog, post in forums and quite possibly retain your services in the future.

  • What is your clients' experience when they are retained by you?
  • Are you more focused on your own internal comforts or the requirements of your client?
  • Can you identify areas that could use attention?
  • Is what you promise in your marketing message what the client actually receives?
  • Do you have a program for post-retention client care?

I know this is a lot to throw at you. But it's time to really take a good hard look at what you are delivering to your client and how you can improve upon it.

And, solos, this isn't about throwing money you don't have at the 'problem'.  It's not about money.  It is about understanding the concepts and then creating a marketing message which helps fashion your relationships with your clients going forward so they have a positive and memorable experience.

July 02, 2008

Are You A 'Tuned In' Solo Practitioner?

I've recently completed the pre-released version of "Tuned-In" written by Craig Stull, Phil Myers and David Meerman Scott and I can only say if you have any desire to understand how to tap into opportunities that present themselves in your legal practices, then BUY THIS BOOK.  (Disclosure - the only benefit I get from discussing this book is helping you!)

I'll take the blurb right off the back because I can't say it any better:

Tuned In argues that the key to business success lies in understanding and connecting with what consumers and markets want most.  Being tuned in to the needs of buyers, whether those needs are expressed outwardly or not, is the ultimate secret to creating and marketing products and services that people want to buy.  For anyone who markets a product, service, or ideas in any business, industry, or organization. Tuned In delivers a simple six-step process for discovering real and deep insights into any market: finding unsolved problemsFront Cover, understanding buyer personals, quantifying impact, creating breakthrough experiences, articulating powerful ideas, and establishing sustainable connections.

Tuned In shows readers how to stop guessing what consumers need and stop wasting time and money building, marketing, and selling solutions that the market doesn't value.  This insightful book shows readers how to connect with their market in order to create products and services that truly resonate with people.

How does this relate to you, the solo practitioner?  In every way imaginable.  Your services are a product and you are creating a brand in how you deliver your product to the client via your marketing message and client interaction.  Your core competencies are your legal skills.  Your distinctive competencies are your brand, what differentiates you from your colleagues with the same core competencies.  These distinctive competencies are a blending of your ability to listen to what the client really needs, who you are and what you ultimately choose to deliver and this is impacted by your own wants, needs and desires.

The most important differentiation you can make is in creating a total client experience that resonates with the client.

Here's the chapter list:

1. Why Didn't We Think of That?
2. Tuned Out... and Just Guessing
3. Get Tuned In
4. Step 1: Find Unresolved Problems
5. Step 2: Understand Buyer Personas
6. Step 3: Quantify the Impact
7. Step 4: Create Breakthrough Experiences
8. Step 5: Articulate Powerful Ideas
9. Step 6: Establish Authentic Connections
10. Cultivate a Tuned In Culture
11. Unleash Your Resonator       

This book is filled with real life examples of why some businesses succeed and others do not based upon the principles discussed in the book and the way the book is written brings the theories to life and makes them eminently relatable.  And Tuned In has now become a  'must read' for my clients.

I discuss these concepts in further detail in issue #14 in the Solo Practice University E-zine.  If you haven't signed up already you can do so in the widget to the right. ---------------->

Oh, and one of my favorite principles of Tuned In thinking.....when your're thinking about products or services to market to your clients, always remember, "you're opinion may be great, but it's completely irrelevant."  What matters is what the client thinks and what the client wants.

(And, by the way, the book mentions Grant Griffiths as a Tuned In Lawyer.  Congratulations, Grant!)

June 16, 2008

If Your Are Serious About Marketing Through Blogging - Please Don't Use Blogger or Blog Spot or Adwords

(UPDATE 6/18):  Jay Fleischman continues the conversation with some important points here.)

Maybe I've become a blogging snob. Or maybe it's my marketing background.  But when I'm led to a purported expert in some area with services to offer and I find them on Blogger or Blogspot I'm immediately turned off.  Why?  If they can't spend $4.95 to get on Typepad or use Wordpress (which is free) and hire a reputable host it just doesn't sit well with me.  In my opinion, it comes off as a serious business faux pas and is professionally diminishing. Bottom line: if they can't invest in themselves...why should I invest in their services?

I wouldn't recommend you use Blogger or Blospot if you are a professional service provider looking to attract clients.  I can, however, see Blogger or Blogspot for individuals not engaged in business or students who are watching their pennies (but not even necessarily then because we are just talking about $5.00 per month.)  But for me, Blogger or Blogspot just knocks the individual down a few pegs in credibility. They seem like novices or temporary or too new to know better so this diminishes their expert status to me regardless their own or others' claims of expert status. (Basically, And if you are still unsure about what I am saying about these particular platforms and the impression they make, check out a timely post by Kevin O'Keefe of Lexblog as to why he thinks Blogger or Blogspot just doesn't cut it as a business marketing tool. Granted, he has created a business selling legal blogs to primarily large law firms, but the sentiment is a universal one.  It's not unreasonable that solos may be initially inclined to save a few dollars by blogging on a free platform.  But realize 'free' doesn't mean there isn't a cost down the road.

Another issue I have, which you have probably heard or read before, is whether or not to advertise on your business blog. I have actually seen lawyers using adwords on their blogs.  Imagine a divorce lawyer in Tulsa using adwords and some of the click through ads next to your educational posts meant to encourage prospective clients to contact you include your competition?  Does this really make sense on any level? (I am not talking about your recreational blogs, though.  If you want to monetize your site to pay for your personal blogging passion like jogging or knitting, that's different.)

Your blog is to attract prospective clients to you, an educational tool to target your ideal client.  It is very unwise to divert them to the competition or have them click through for a vacuum cleaner.  Yet, I see it over and over, again. Anything on your site which encourages your reader to leave your site (other than a responsible link to another blog author or article which you believe your reader should read) is not a wise move.

While blogging is extremely cost-effective and the most viral marketing tool you can have in your arsenal of marketing vehicles, if you go 'free' or look to monetize the site for a few dollars, think about the long-range impact and cost of this decision on your professional stature...and pocketbook.

I'd like to know what you think when you see your colleagues on Blogger or Blogspot and/or monetizing their site with adsense or other types of advertising?