What Steve Jobs Can Teach Law Firms About Marketing

Originally published in Thew National Law Journal on December 7, 2011

Most of you will have seen the famous Apple commercial, “Think Different” — if not, you can see it here. The ad featured clips of the “crazy ones” — Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lennon, Charlie Chaplin, Richard Branson, to name a few.

Originally, Steve Jobs cut a track with his own voice narrating, but in the end he used the voice of Richard Dreyfuss. He explained to biographer Wal­ter Isaacson that he didn’t want the commercial to be about him. He wanted it to be about Apple.

The commercial isn’t really about Apple either, though; it is about a concept. The concept that even though you are mocked, fired, kicked out of your own company or worse, you still can change the world. The commercial was effective because ideas are so much more powerful than advertisements. Most commercials leave us entertained at best; the Apple spot actually is inspiring.

So what is the trick? What can law firms learn from the way that Jobs marketed? Jobs was passionate about great design and creating truly great products. His gift to the world was turning his ideas and leadership into something tangible. His commercial was great because it captured the idea and the value of Apple, and shared that concept as a gift through a short video. Firms need to be willing to share what inspires them.

I often hear this complaint from firms resistant to share online: “We don’t want to give anything away.” They are so worried about giving away the firm secrets that they are afraid to share the most valuable gift they have to give, their insights. How can your firm turn what it is about into a message that resonates? The answer will be different for every firm. One things is certain, though: It is worth figuring out.

Fortunately, Apple didn’t erase the version in which Steve Jobs narrates; you can take a look at it here. I don’t think the Jobs narration makes it any less powerful. That’s the great thing about the best ideas — they don’t really belong to anyone. At the end of the day, whether the voice came from Steve Jobs or Richard Dreyfuss, the message resonates.



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