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November 28, 2009

Got a Little Black Book for you right here. But are you ready to do some work?

Note: Below is review of a very fine new book by Miami's Paula Black we did in August 2009. This holiday season "Black's book" would make an enduring and appreciated gift to savvy clients, to their fancy corporate lawyers, to many other services professionals--and even to certain family dogs. It's quite a book, folks.
Most books on marketing professional services or client service--at WAC? we are asked to review quite a few of them and we usually get around to it--hit us the same way:

You just died and went to Hallmark.

For an instant, it's an immediate signal-sanction from the Cosmos of what kind of life you have led here on Earth--in case you did not understand before. It's physical.

You sag, visibly, like an animal taking a bullet. Your punishment. It came early.

And then you read on. These books tend to end the same way: "nurturing the relationship"--like that notion was revolutionary.

All of the books, to be fair, make sense. And they are all written by nice people. Especially the "marketing" books.

But rarely are any of them crafted to make things "stick." Or even make "sticking" a priority.

Then you wake up--and realize you have to write something nice. You put it off for a few more months, and go back to billing hours. There is simply nothing remarkable about that new nice book.

Well, not so for Paula Black's The Little Black Book: A Lawyer's Guide to Creating a Marketing Habit in 21 Days.

If you read this blog, you know that we think that for those with repeat corporate clients, or for those who would like such a happy component in their business model, you are always marketing when you are working. You work for a client; you are marketing right there. And woe to you and yours if you do not get that.

But we also think that very few of you have the discipline to make marketing, along with client service, a "frame of mind." In fact, we are sure of it. But the Little Black Book handles the discipline of habit-building admirably. And we like it for reasons which range from the critical and important to the purely whimsical and personal:

1. LBB is about getting quality habits--building them. The book takes you through a regimen of three weeks of getting your mind "right." There's an emphasis here on using three built-in sources of work: (a) current and former clients (everyone blows this), (b) marketing within your firm (no one can get this right, either--but Paula Black, again, does), and (c) joining organizations, which she does freshly. On (c), personally, I think of it differently--but mainly it's a matter of perspective and stress: my take is that you should focus your efforts on "influencers"--not so much organizations--who know, control or have the respect of hundreds of others.

2. The book is aesthetically pleasing. Graphically, it's a masterpiece. In fact, it's gorgeous. You might buy it just for its mode and technique of narrative. WAC? is famously shallow--it's no secret that a person who moves from D.C. to southern California just wants to get in touch with his inner cad--and just likes pretty things.

3. The book is literally indestructible. It's pretty heavy--at least a pound--and relatively flat at 155 glossy and quite durable pages. Distinctively and "horizontally" crafted (see above). On a recent trip to Alaska, I threw it four times to the three resident big goofy Labradors outside the lodge as far as I could throw it toward the boats and planes tied up on shore. They chased it, fought over it, and brought it back. All we had to do is hose LBB off. I could still pass it around at dinner. Even the ringed binding was intact. Perfect.

4. We just like the name of the book. There was once a book with a similar name I had written myself when I was in law school and working in D.C. before I was married that changed my life several times a week.

5. It contains actual advice from forty fancy lawyers who "get it"--including the IBLC's Paris member, a first rate management-side employment lawyer, who my law firm both respects and likes very much, and I will see again in October.

6. It is well thought out, easy to read, beautifully written, hard to forget--and worth every penny this blog did not have to pay.

Just buy it. But read it and do what it says. Okay? It can forge a hard-won good habit--if you work at it.

Posted by JD Hull at November 28, 2009 11:59 PM


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