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The Case for Persuading the Lawyers

June 8, 2009  

"Many marketers like to blame their lack of innovation on their lawyers," says Rohit Bhargava in a post at the Influential Marketing Blog. They're an easy target, he notes, because the more groundbreaking a marketing concept, the more likely it is that a lawyer will tell you why it can't be done.

"[B]ut remember," he adds, "their job isn't to help you sell more stuff or engage your customers. Their job is to minimize risk." In other words, they're not trying to sabotage your creativity—they're trying to anticipate and prevent unintended negative consequences.

So stop thinking of lawyers as an obstacle; instead, make them your partners by showing them why they should say yes. "There is one thing that every lawyer needs in order to make any kind of argument," he says: "[A] precedent."

Bhargava points to a user-generated PSA contest run by the Environmental Protection Agency. When it ran into potential legal issues over public funding of a $2,500 grand prize, its promoters cited the precedent of a 1927 contest in which the winning design, for the Memorial Bridge in Washington DC, received prize money from the public coffers. Problem solved.

The Marketing Inspiration is simple. If you want your lawyer's buy-in, give her the precedent she needs to make your case for you.

More Inspiration:
Mark Ivey: The Seven Habits of the 'Just Good Enough' Marketer
Steve Woodruff: More is Better. Or Not.
Paul Barsch: Perishing for Lack of Vision

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