The Physics of Digital Marketing

Did you do physics in highschool? I did.

And truthfully, I've forgotten the vast majority of it, so don't ask me to calculate angular velocity or explain liquid expansion. It's odd, but for some reason those things don't come up in day to day legal practice.

But what we can do is inaccurately apply the principles of motion to the concept of digital marketing.

Potential Energy

As you probably know, energy doesn't just appear out of nowhere (divine intervention excepted). Instead, energy changes forms.

So for many firms, their digital marketing strategy is, in fact, a bundle of potential energy.

It's there simmering, ready to go and capable to turning into something meaningful. There is certainly the capacity for it to become motion or heat or light – but for the moment it just hums along as potential. A thing that might happen, and could happen, but presently isn't.

For our purposes, consider your digital marketing efforts like a large rock perched on top of a mountain. It's presently at rest. Nothing appears to be happening, but with an initial shove it will quickly turn into something that people have to notice.


An object will tend to keep doing what it's already doing, unless a force acts upon it in some way.

If you have a firm of 30 lawyers, none of whom are presently active in social media, then getting 30 lawyers active in social media is going to require some force. Because their tendency is going to be to keep doing exactly what they already have – nothing.

The same goes for content – if your content marketing strategy involves the random and undisciplined production of bland case-note style articles, then that's probably going to keep happening without the application of some considerable effort to change it.

At this point I'd like to observe that planning to change isn't the same as making change. A strategy meeting is a discussion about maybe thinking about applying force in the future.

By itself, it has no real force behind it.

What will impact your digital marketing is execution – actually doing things which affect the present activities (or lack of them) in some way.

And, much like in life, making smaller changes along the way is going to be easier than trying to make massive ones. Perhaps you have enough force available for a small change but not enough to effect massive change? That might be enough to get things moving.


If you were playing snooker on a table the size of a football field, the angles would be an important thing to get right.

A tiny difference in the angle at the start of your strike would make a tangible difference to where the ball ended up.

So it is with marketing. Most people want to implement some kind of dramatic, fancy change and hope that will magically fix everything.

But in truth, sometimes it's just a matter of slightly adjusting the angle that you're travelling at – a tweak, a nudge, a pivot.

Over time, this will have a large difference on the outcome of your efforts.

Plus it has the benefit that it's easier to make small changes than big ones.


Once we understand both potential energy and intertia, we also have to appreciate and embrace the concept of momentum.

That is – it's easier to keep something moving once it's moving.*

*OK technically momentum is a quantity of motion measured with reference to mass and velocity, but let's allow some poetic licence here.

As a large mass – in this case, your firm – starts to move, it is easier to keep it moving at the desired pace, and to gradually adjust the angle it's going at to ensure it's going in the right direction.

Momentum is what allows your marketing efforts to continue when you get busy.

Momentum is what helps to create a culture of marketing – because it's simply what the entire body of people that make up your firm are doing on a regular basis. As you gather momentum it becomes harder and harder for people to do little, or do the wrong things, or avoid taking action in respect of their own marketing efforts.

Momentum, over time, is what's going to be the primary catalyst for results.

Over to You

Where are you stuck? Is it potential – you know you should be doing something but aren't sure what or how?

Is it inertia? You're a bit stuck in one place and need a shove?

Is it angle? You're doing stuff but not sure if it's the right thing.

Whatever the case, understanding the physics of digital marketing will take you a long way.