It Goes to Eleven: Self Fulfilling Prophecies Promulgated by Marketing Gurus

Today Brian Tannebaum wrote an article about the “Masters of Marketing”, who claim to offer “real-time tools, techniques and strategies to build an extraordinary law firm. The content ranges from how to build a winning culture, right through to how to integrate a successful online marketing campaign, through the smart use of blogs and social media tools. Learn what the leading rainmakers are doing today to drive exponential growth in difficult times. The Law Firm Marketing Masters series gives you over 7 hours of audio content, as well as the book with loads of other exclusive information and offers. This is Exceptional Real-Time Content.”

However, according to Brian, Adrian’s credentials are, to put it mildly, non-existant:

You remember Adrian? He was fired after 8 months as a lawyer, wrote a book on how lawyers can type on twitter, then admitted to me that he puffed his resume to sell himself, and now has convinced several, as he calls them “large law firms” to hire him to teach them how to blog and tweet, and game Google.

I recently spoke with a lawyer marketer about how the scum of the industry get in the door of respected law firms and lawyers and was told “you have no idea – lawyers don’t ask questions.”

The takes me back to Civil Procedure class at Widener Law, taught by professor Patrick Johnston. In his class, Professor Johnston said several things that only made sense a few years down the road. For instance, I attribute Professor Johnston with the quip: “In commercial litigation, there are no such things as plaintiffs and defendants. Just plaintiff-ish type entities and defendnant-ish type entities.” On another occasion, a student brought him cookies during the year. A known Type I Diabetic, Professor Johnston accused her of trying to kill him. Civil Procedure under Professor Johnston was a rare mix of philosophy, humor, and law — he ended up being the best professor I’ve ever had.

Brian’s article reminds me of a class where we were discussing International Shoe, and how one must show “minimum contacts” with the forum state in order to obtain jurisdiction. One student asked Professor Johnston the obvious but stupid question: “Just how many contacts is enough for ‘minimum contacts’?”

Professor Johnston replied “Eleven” with a straight face. His answer caught everyone a little off guard; first year law students frantically began going through their textbooks and notes. “Eleven? Was that in one of the cases? Was it Circuit or Supreme Court? State or federal? Was it in a footnote? Is this gonna be on the exam?”

Professor Johnston then said: “Actually I just made it up. It’s the Patrick Johnston Rule, my own contribution to Civil Procedure.” He went on to explain: “See, lawyers don’t ask a lot of questions. If one lawyer says ‘Eleven’ is the requisite number of minimum contacts, other lawyers will repeat that. Eventually it will become the law. So from here on out, I want you to keep saying the amount of minimum contacts necessary for jurisdiction is ‘Eleven’, because that’s what Professor Patrick Johnston told you. In five years, I bet the law will be Eleven.”  (I wouldn’t be surprised if “Eleven” is the state of the law in Pennsylvania right now.)

Which brings me to my point: apparently all one has to do to become a “marketing guru” is keep repeating that they’re a marketing guru. Write a book, use Twitter, start a website, and declare yourself a marketing guru. The more you say you’re a “guru”, the more speaking events you’ll secure, which you can add your qualifications, thereby creating a self perpetuated system without ever having to have any actual experience or qualifications.

Quantifiable results don’t matter. Hell, it doesn’t even matter if you have never actually generated a client.

Just keep repeating something and eventually it will become real. Well, perceived as real.

One Response to It Goes to Eleven: Self Fulfilling Prophecies Promulgated by Marketing Gurus

  1. Mary says:

    so…fake it ’till you make it?

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