Case Study: The Power of One FASB Lease Accounting Software Infographic

Microsoft Excel is a remarkably robust tool, but when it comes to implementing the new FASB lease accounting standard (ASC Topic 842), the workhouse spreadsheet software isn’t up to the task.

As of Dec. 15, 2018, all public companies will be required to account for virtually all leases on their balance sheet. While that date seems to be a long way off, companies already should be well under way with identifying, implementing and testing a technology solution that can handle the complexities of the new standard.

Since every corporation that leases space is affected by this rule, and all of those companies will need new software, you’d think savvy software marketers would be all over this. Well, think again.

FASB Lease Accounting Software Implementation Timeline

What Lucernex Got Right

Lucernex, a Dallas-based provider of integrated workplace management system (IWMS) software, consistently comes up as one of the top organic results for a “FASB lease accounting software” search with a simple but highly effective content marketing/SEO tool: an infographic. That’s no small feat.

The success of the Lucernex infographic can be attributed to several factors.

  • Timing – They posted it quickly and prominently in time to ride the first wave of search activity after the new standard was finalized/announced.
  • Keyword rich, SEO-optimized – They did their homework and stuffed the infographic with juicy FASB lease accounting software variants. They also refresh the content regularly to maintain their SEO mojo.
  • Lack of content competition – If their competitors have published comparable — or better — content, it’s not showing up in organic search — or paid, for that matter.
  • Ingenius and engaging – It might be too cartoony from some tastes, but you have to give them credit for focusing on a few critical points and literally animating an otherwise dry topic.

Here’s My Take on a FASB Lease Accounting Infographic

If there’s a FASB lease accounting software company out there — even Lucernex — that wants a fresh take on a FASB infographic, feel free to use the one I created (below). It lays out the key milestones for an achievable (read: non-rushed) FASB lease accounting software implementation timeline.

By now companies should have their system requirements defined and an RFP in the hands of their shortlist of potential technology and implementation partners. To stay on track, the final vendor pick(s) should be made by the end of June.

And then the real fun begins…

FASB lease accounting compliance infographic

Why Is This Post on a Legal Marketing Blog?

If you’ve read this far, you already have the answer. Infographics grab and keep reader attention, even if the reader has only a tangential interest in the topic. Upcoming posts will use this infographic to illustrate how infographics can be some of the most effective, easy-to-create and inexpensive tools in your marketing toolbox.

The ABA Doesn’t Understand Free Market Economics

Facing a severe decline in demand for legal services among moderate-income Americans who don’t believe they can afford legal representation, two years ago the American Bar Association convened the Commission on the Future of Legal Services. This august braintrust recently published the results of its deliberations. Its conclusion: Americans need to be educated that they need more legal services.

ABA-Greedy-DelusionalAs Christy Hoop of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP summarized in a recent JD Supra post:

The Commission suggests that all individuals should have legal checkups “on a periodic basis, especially when major life events occur” such as a marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or those individuals who may be in a situation which may require a medical health directive or a will.

The preamble to the proposed ABA Guidelines for Legal Checkups declares that “The purpose of legal checkups is to empower people by helping them identify their unmet legal needs and make informed decisions about how best to address them.” What the ABA refuses to recognize or admit is that the legal profession is subject to the the invisible hand of free market economics, and Americans already are making informed, rational decisions about their use of legal services. Namely, lawyers aren’t worth what they think they are.

Let us quickly review the basic laws of supply and demand. As described by Investopedia,

The law of demand states that, if all other factors remain equal, the higher the price of a good, the less people will demand that good. In other words, the higher the price, the lower the quantity demanded. The amount of a good that buyers purchase at a higher price is less because as the price of a good goes up, so does the opportunity cost of buying that good. As a result, people will naturally avoid buying a product that will force them to forgo the consumption of something else they value more. The chart below shows that the curve is a downward slope.

economics3.gif

A, B and C are points on the demand curve. Each point on the curve reflects a direct correlation between quantity demanded (Q) and price (P). So, at point A, the quantity demanded will be Q1 and the price will be P1, and so on. The demand relationship curve illustrates the negative relationship between price and quantity demanded. The higher the price of a good the lower the quantity demanded (A), and the lower the price, the more the good will be in demand (C). [Emphasis added]

The ABA Economy

The ABA is essentially a failed cartel or medieval-style guild. While the ABA and state bar associations once controlled prices by controlling the supply of legal services (i.e. licensed lawyers), they essentially undermined their own self-interests by allowing the proliferation of law schools, and by allowing the cost of legal education to skyrocket.

As a result, law schools have become massively expensive diploma mills, resulting in a glut of supply (lawyers) with a cost basis that requires high prices for legal services in order to service law school debt (at best) and the law firm partnership Ponzi scheme model (at worst), which in turn drives down overall demand. In high-end corporate circles, alternative billing arrangements that might lower legal costs (or at least improve the ROI of legal services) have been experimented with for years, but the model has yet to show traction. Meanwhile, the only recourse at the lower end of the economic ladder is the nearly dry well of government-financed legal aid.

Is the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services Delusional?

Compounding the legal profession’s supply-and-demand problems is a collective belief that their services are intrinsically worth more than those of other professions. In legal profession navel-gazing blogs — and there are A LOT of them — there is a constant litany of laments about how lawyers can’t live in the style they deserve because non-lawyers don’t understand how much law school debt they have to pay off.

If that’s truly how one feels, be prepared to answer why someone so highly trained still doesn’t understand a basic principle of family budgeting: Don’t incur debt that you know you might not be able to repay (or not be able to live well while repaying it).

The executive summary of the Commission’s findings makes numerous obvious and naive observations, like:

“Many lawyers, especially recent law graduates, are unemployed or underemployed despite the significant unmet need for legal services;”

“The traditional law practice business model constrains innovations that would provide greater access to, and enhance the delivery of, legal services;” and

“The legal profession’s resistance to change hinders additional innovations.”

Yet while full-throatedly recommending impotent measures like the establishment of an ABA Center for Innovation, not one of the Commission’s 12 recommendations even contemplates measures directed specifically at lowering the cost of legal services to average Americans.

Update: More on the Need for Clarity in Law Firm Advertising

Last July I posted an item about the Law Office of Janet McCullar, P.C. website, entitled “Is It an Ethics Violation for a Law Firm to Exaggerate Its Size? Today a PR agency representative of the law firm’s successor, McCullar Gilbreath, contacted me concerning the post.

The post raised the question of whether the context of the uncaptioned photo of five people featured on the homepage promoted the perception that all the individuals depicted were attorneys. Based on the image’s context, my hypothesis was that some of the individuals pictured might be administrative staff and/or paraprofessionals. In the course of my correspondence with the McCullar Gilbreath PR agency rep, she confirmed that two of the individuals pictured were paralegals and one was the office manager.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uber Sued for TCPA Violations Related to Austin Political Campaign

Uber Austin TCPA lawsuit textFor the past several weeks, ride sharing services Uber and Lyft have been waging an all-out communications offensive in support of a ballot proposition that would preserve their status quo driver background check procedures. On May 4 during a press event given by proposition opponents, activists announced they’d filed a complaint against Uber alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, aka the TCPA.

Local CBS TV affiliate KEYE contacted me for comment in their story on the lawsuit, my main contribution being the observations that 1) informational and political messages are not subject to TCPA requirements when direct dialed and 2) Uber’s service agreement includes prior express written consent language for informational messaging.

TCPA and Me

Not earth-shattering news, but who am I to pass up an opportunity to promote my own thought leadership profile?

 

 

 

 

4 Personal Injury Lawyer Personas: Which One Are You?

Plaintiff attorneys are a colorful tribe, especially personal injury lawyers. That vibrancy is partly a function of their marketing genius, particularly TV advertising. Late night reruns and daytime talk/courtroom shows are flooded with ads selling the same personal injury plaintiff services, but the value propositions and brands are differentiated in very clear ways:

  • Ads feature a single spokesperson who performs the role of a very specific character — or caricature —  intended to personify the brand (no one actually talks or acts like that in real life, let alone in a courtroom).
  • Exaggerated intensity, ranging from kinetic aggression to intimidating seriousness.
  • A clear, concise slogan and/or positioning statement.
  • SEO-optimized keywords sprinkled throughout.

4 Injury Lawyer Personas in Austin, Texas

This market doesn’t lack for personal injury lawyer ads on local TV programming, but the following seem to claim the largest share of voice. They also represent some distinct archetypes intended to appeal to distinct types of potential clients:

  • The Appeal to Reason — I start with Funk & Associates because principal Yanni Funk’s approach is so starkly different from his competitors in pace and message. Where his competitors are fast-talking, bordering on frenetic, Funk’s tone is slow, calm and a tad condescending — like a teacher or clergyman at great pains to make and reinforce a simple truth. His current catch phrase is “Do the research.” In a couple of current spots he clearly takes a swipe at his competitors by promising “no gimmicks.”

  • The Texan — Injury lawyer Wayne Wright goes full cliche with his spots: Serious sounding voiceovers, suspenseful music, follow shot through luxury office space, book-lined conference room and impressive conference table, assistants handing over files, American flag, a panning shot of a gavel — the usual lawyer tropes. The video below ends with a low camera angle — to make the lawyers look taller. A phalanx of lawyers led by Wright strides purposefully through parting doors toward the camera, as they all place white cowboy hats on their heads. Favorite phrases: “You deserve respect and justice, so we demand it,” says Wright as he leans and punches toward the camera with white hat in hand to emphasize the key words, then grabbing his suitcase and rushing out of frame, as though we’d caught him as he rushes to another courtroom.

  • The Kitchen SinkTony Nguyen manages to cram everything into his adds. Back ramrod straight and arms gesturing forcefully, he promises:
    • We’ll always fight for the big money
    • Interest-free loans (forgiven if he doesn’t “win”)
    • Free consultations
    • We will come to you
    • Biggest settlement possible

And he brings it all home with a memorable toll-free number — 1-800-35 [like the interstate through the heart of Austin]-Texas.

  • No-Nonsense — Austin attorney Ted Lorenz hit the SEO jackpot when he grabbed the URL www.austinaccidentattorney.com. He has numerous TV spots in rotation, but they all contain some variation on a description of a client’s accident followed by the judgment sum his firm obtained at trial. Keywords include “no runaround,” “no nonsense,” and “it’s just that easy,” and “it’s just that fast.”

 

What are some of your favorite personal injury lawyer ads, wherever they are? Add your links in thoughts in the comments section.

How to Choose a Law Firm Website Design Firm

law firm website design

Law firm website design cliches

To a greater or lesser extent, all law firm website design firms are Template Jockeys. By that I mean they spin out variations on basic page layouts, site structure and imagery favored by law firms.

Think about it for a minute. Nine out of 10 law firm website home pages have a strong banner across the top featuring:

  • A cityscape
  • Lady Justice
  • The scales of justice
  • Lawyers with their arms crossed and/or leaning against a table
  • A gavel
  • Shelves of “law books”
  • An upset person  next to a car wreck (personal injury law)
  • The American flag
  • Any combination of the above

Why Are All Law Firm Website Designs Basically the Same?

Because 1) that’s what law firms expect and request and 2) budgets for law firm website design aren’t sufficient to support bespoke, coded-from-the-ground-up development. Therefore, adapting standard frameworks and templates is the only way they can make money with law firm clients.

Take for example the homepage boast of web design agency The Modern Firm:

We have worked with over 700 small law firm website design clients since 2000. Most of our clients choose us because we know what to do without being told.

I don’t know about you, but predictability and sameness aren’t qualities that I look for when I’m trying to differentiate my brand.

Spoiler Alert: It’s All WordPress

No matter how much law firm website design firms extol their ability to deliver “customized designmobile-friendly responsive coding, easy editing controls, comprehensive content review and on-page search engine optimization,” the fact is those capabilities are all built into WordPressWordPress is web software that can be used to build fully featured, attractive sites websites, blogs and apps. And there’s no learning curve. It’s as easy as following the recipe on a box of cake mix. Anyone can do it.

6 Most Important Factors When Choosing a Law Firm Website Design Firm

As we’ve discussed, the number of law firms sites that they’ve built has very little bearing on the abilities of a law firm website design firm — the bar is set very low. So what are the best selection criteria?

  • They return your calls
  • They are candid
  • They challenge and surprise you, and make you think about your assumptions
  • They don’t specialize in law firm websites; they have a breadth of experience across industries
  • They delve deeply into your content and SEO strategies as much as the design

The Takeaway

The best law firm website design firms are not the ones that have designed the most law firm websites. Look for a design firm that knows how to build your business, not just web pages.

 

 

 

 

How to Break Through the Clutter of Personal Injury Law Firm Commercials

One of my guilty pleasures is periodically recording/watching courtroom series like The People’s Court and Judy Judge to check out the current state of personal injury law firm commercials. For the most part this ad genre is formulaic — Standard intros/outros of an attorney looking and sounding tough, combined with scripted, woodenly delivered client testimonials.

Law firm client service

Returning calls from potential clients is no laughing matter

But recently I came across two ads from Funk & Associates in Austin that broke through the clutter. The first caught my attention because it breaks the mold of standard  value propositions of personal injury law firm commercials. Most firms cite large settlements/awards or the attorneys’ tenacity. What got my attention in the Funk ad was a simple promise  — they return your calls.

Genius!

No matter the type of case, every client — I mean EVERY client — places a premium on responsiveness. Why not lead with that? It’s such a great spot; I wish I could find a link to an online version. I’ll keep looking and will post an update if/when I find one.

Another Funk ad commands attention for another reason: There’s no talking. It’s comprised of a series of strong still images with text, set to dramatic instrumental music. The messages themselves are standard personal injury law firm commercial fare, but the ad’s form factor demands your attention. The typical viewer listens to ads on commercial TV but doesn’t pay close attention — everything blends together. But because we’ve been conditioned to expect narration during commercials, the lack of a voiceover actually draws attention and focus, and you can’t help but read along to the end.

Check it out. The video is on their website home page, entitled “The Tough Lawyer.”

 

 

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 12.16.11

A digest of social media advice and tips for legal marketing.

An Open Letter to WordPress Experts About Client Service

Please check out my latest post for the Spin Sucks blog, which discusses how “good enough” client service is not good enough for firms that rely on referrals, online reviews and third-party recommendations.

Endeavor to Be Useful: Legal Marketing Tips 12.07.11

A digest of social media advice and tips for legal marketing.