While In San Francisco to speak at the monthly San Francisco LMA luncheon on Website trends (with Barbara Abulafia, Keker & Van Nest, Jeff Yerkey, Right Hat and Per Casey, Tenrec), my colleague Keith Wewe, another couple and I were hosted by Elizabeth Lampert for dinner at Twenty-Five Lusk.
This modern and tony restaurant, located in the burgeoning China Basin neighborhood in San Francisco's SOMA (South of Market) district, is led by Executive Chef Matthew Dolan. Its website says this: "...featuring seasonally driven New American cuisine, a dynamic wine program, and expertly crafted cocktails. The design weaves a modern aesthetic through a historic brick and timber warehouse originally built in 1917 as a meat packing and smokehouse facility."
Bottom line, it's completely worth trying - the food was quite delicious. However, they had one mis-step that reminded me of the danger law firms can face when they don't have highly focused marketing and business development programs led by serious professionals.
Twenty-Five Lusk features a dessert called "Textures and Chaos" that lists only four ingredients on the menu, but clearly had several more (as you can see by the photo below). This photo can't begin to communicate the plated disaster that was proudly delivered to our table.
Perhaps, in a desire to elevate the participation among his team (and create a sense of inclusion), the chef tried crowd-sourcing to create this dessert - where each member of the kitchen staff added a favorite ingredient - and, voila! - Textures and Chaos was born. The result was so poorly conceived and executed that I was inspired to write about it. It's not only seriously ugly, but the tastes were as cacophonous as 5 p.m. rush hour in New York.
What can lawyers learn from this? With the proliferation of new Internet-based marketing and business development channels, particularly social media outlets, individual lawyers, practice groups and firms have an unprecedented opportunity to jump into the fray. And indeed they are jumping! More than ever before, these lawyers, groups and firms need guidance and direction from experienced marketers who can help them define strategy and keep their focus. Having an Internet presence that isn't well delineated, refined and targeted does the lawyer and firm no good - in fact, it can dilute any reputation you might have that's been developed in more traditional offline media.
Firm strategy should start back in the kitchen-equivalent (not at the dinner table) and be a thoughtful consideration of audiences, markets, geographic reach, competition, threats and opportunities that are just cresting over the horizon. This positioning stake in the ground informs what practice and industry teams could do, and what individual lawyers on those teams can do. When well-intentioned, but overly independent lawyers go off and create their own Internet presence with no regard for their law firm, they miss the most important advantage available to them - leveraging the investments (strategy, time, reputation and money) made by the mother ship.
When many lawyers in a firm do their own thing without regard for the firm and practice group strategies, the result won't be far away from "Textures and Chaos."