A Purposeful Approach to Successful Law Firm Content Creation
In this episode of On Record PR, Jennifer Simpson Carr goes on record with James Barclay, CEO of Passle Inc., to discuss content marketing in the legal industry. Passle is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company focused on providing a content marketing platform specifically for law firms. James is leading their expansion in the US alongside the co-founders of Passle. This is the third technology firm he has grown over the past 25 years. In short, James is in charge of driving digital transformation in law firms. When he is not doing that, you can find him sailing. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: Welcome, James. I’m so glad to have you today.
James Barclay: I’ve been doing this 25 years. It does sound quite a long time, doesn’t it?
Jennifer Simpson Carr: It does sound like a long time. It also sounds like you know a lot.
James Barclay: Well, we’ll see. I’ve always been good at recruiting. Surround yourself with brilliant people and you look good. That’s number one.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: Actually, a brilliant person is how we met years ago. I think my stake and claim to fame with Passle is that I was one of your first demos ever in the US.
James Barclay: You absolutely were, in a pub, on an iPad from memory.
James Barclay: I was at university with her, and I was literally sitting next to you and her. I said, “I know you used to have a red BMW at Kent University.”
Jennifer Simpson Carr: And we knew no one else. If I remember correctly, the three of us knew each other and went to an Irish pub. I asked you what you did. You told me about Passle and I said I’d love to see a demo. I don’t know if I realized it or not, but out came an iPad and I got to see 1.0.
James Barclay: We definitely graphed.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: Well, it was awesome to meet you then, and it’s been great to be a colleague and a friend for so many years.
James Barclay: From my side, you were the first person who took me under their wing. I’m extremely grateful for that, because you introduced me to the LMA folk, and introduced me to Trish Lilley. You introduced me to a whole bunch of people, and that helped us set up here. Before we moved to the States, we were flying in and out and it was quite difficult. It’s just a bit awkward. No one knows who you are, no one knows what you do, and you are wandering around. We’ve established ourselves a bit now and moved over here in the last 18 months, which made a huge difference. Thank you very much for looking after me, and introducing me to your friends. It was helpful.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: LMA is a big part of who I am today as a person and as a professional. I always love when I can open that network up to other great, smart, fun people. We’re all looking for the same thing, which is to improve the industry and help each other out.
James Barclay: It’s an extremely helpful community to each other. It’s quite a weird one. As you said, this is the third technology firm we’ve had. Adam and Tom founded the firm and I came in to help and basically build them. We’d never worked in such a lovely community of people who actually support each other. It’s a real pleasure. It’s been grand.
In the 25 years you’ve been running and leading these tech firms, what have you seen is the biggest transition in websites, and in the digital world?
Digital, it’s quite a big one. I suppose there are a few things. Number one, and this is where we’ve got to with Passle, is we just focus on legal. We tried selling Passle to everybody and everyone in the world and worked out the best people to sell Passle to was legal back then. This was years ago now. We focus very much on that. I suppose the thing with legal is that they’re unique companies and that they’re partnerships; they’re owned by many people. We think about it as distributed leadership and aligns with what you do, which is this voice. However brilliant you are at marketing a law firm, you’re not the same as Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola, the sales and marketing department in Coca-Cola can define exactly the messaging of Coca-Cola, because it’s one simple message really.
Whereas a law firm, well a bankruptcy lawyer is extremely different to a real estate lawyer, is extremely different to an employment lawyer, and all that knowledge is essentially what they sell. To be able to display that knowledge effectively is impossible for one person in a firm, or even a team of 40 people in marketing, and BD, and a firm, they can’t showcase it. Well, our perspective is you have to empower, or enable those marketing and BD people to empower the lawyers themselves to, in some way, showcase their expertise. Of course lawyers are brilliant at doing that physically and have been forever. They’re very used to having very flash offices, for example, bringing their clients into those flash offices and paying for art.
I’ve been in some lobbies where you walk into the lobby and the law firm who I’m meeting says, “This costs 1.7 million for that lampshade.” And they’re very proud of that. And you’re like, “Okay, that’s a great lampshade.” They’re doing it for a reason. They’re doing it as an impact to their clients going to meeting rooms. And one of our law firms in the UK actually had an in-house pastry chef. They understand physical influence. They get that. Now our attitude is that that’s grand, that there’s absolutely a place for that. It’s worked for hundreds of years, but also this internet thing came along. And so you’re not just being experienced physically, you’re being experienced digitally by your clients, by your prospects, by your future colleagues.
That’s where you should start benchmarking that experience and probably that investment as well, because it’s like, “Okay, the artwork is worth $20,000 on a wall that somebody might walk past.” Well, let’s have a look at your website. Let’s have a look at your web presence. Let’s have a look at how you’re demonstrating that value. Let’s show how you’re showcasing the knowledge of your lawyers, digitally. This came to stark relief in COVID. No one went into an office, absolutely nobody for one or two years, in some states, and certainly in Europe. But everyone was checking you out digitally. There’s this move that shifted and accelerated. So that digital experience is key. How do you showcase that expertise online for law firms and how then does that move?
As for websites, I first built a website in 1996 and it was brochureware; the IT department did it. You had a brochure of what you sold, you sent it to IT and said, “Can you build one of those website things please? Put this up.” It was a brochure. And very quickly we were selling conferences, but very quickly we worked out that, it’s a pretty basic thing to do. We’re missing an opportunity here. What you should be doing is talking about what you do, and essentially publishing on a website. The power of the website moved from IT to marketing, and then it moved from marketing, because to the salespeople in any organization in law firms, it’s BD. They were like, “We think this is our space too. We should have a bit of influence here. We want to talk about the sectors we represent, the industries we represent. We want buyer pages showcasing how brilliant our lawyers are and how knowledgeable they are.”
Marketing and BD took over the website and now of course with this distributed leadership, if you’ve got 500 partners in a law firm, you’ve got 500 owners of that law firm who need to have ownership of that website too. We’re seeing Brenda Plowman, the CMO at Fasken talking about democratizing the website. “Here, have your voice.” How are you going to get the voice of everyone onto that website? And that’s the exciting changes that I’m seeing is this move from it being IT in the ’90s to being marketing and BD, to now being absolutely everyone should have a stake in it. And how do you then manage that and how do you do it without it just turning into a complete free for all?
Jennifer Simpson Carr: I love the analogy you used about the physical office space versus the digital presence, because for many years the focus was on in-person pitch meetings. I remember interviewing very early on in Manhattan and being floored by the beauty and the expense that was put into that first impression, walking into the building, onto the main floor, into the lobby. As quickly as COVID progressed that, it was already changing, and then COVID ramped it up. That same feeling in theory should really exist on your website. That first impression of, wow, this is somewhere I could work. This is someone I should be working with.
James Barclay: And of course, not just on your website but in any digital format. Websites are a great place to be, but also people are experiencing you through your emails that you send with useful content. They’re experiencing you through newsletters that your firm sends out, and they better be focused and useful. They’re experiencing you through the content that’s being distributed by people like Lexology, Mondaq, and JD Supra. There’s this digital network, and of course it leaves that useful content going out to represent you.
I was at a conference, I can’t remember which one in LMA, I think it was in Savannah last year, and Erin Corbin Meszaros, who’s chief business development and chief service officer at Eversheds Sutherland, was quoted. She said, “You need to meet your clients where they are.” She’s absolutely spot on. So, she was saying sometimes that’s the office, sometimes that’s in their home, sometimes that’s digitally. But you, as a law firm, need to go meet them where they are rather than expecting them to always come to you and find you. I think that’s true.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: It’s a great piece of advice and it’s a great way to think about content distribution. It’s what we talk about with our clients very often, which is the various types of content available, and what makes sense for the firm to leverage, based on where they’re trying to meet their clients. Just because a C-level executive or CEO in a certain industry prefers articles, there may be some industries where that same target audience prefers video, or podcasts.
Can you tell me more about what has changed from your perspective of that handoff from IT owning the websites, the content, and the presence, to now marketing and BD from your perspective?
I think it’s also moved from BD and marketing to the lawyers themselves. It’s about enabling; the marketing and BD now need to enable and empower the lawyers and the other stakeholders, and they’ve got all these stakeholders who can represent them and represent them the whole time, enabling all of them to have an online presence. If I’m a lawyer, I care about my bio page, I don’t really care about anything else, and they’re the most visited part of the website, but that’s my space, that’s my real estate. As a lawyer, I should be in charge of it. I should be able to say what goes up there. Now, it obviously has to have a governance process, but my belief is that the lawyers should be able to put up a video, put up a podcast, put up a long form article, a short form article, or whatever they want to put up.
They should be able to put up whenever, however, and wherever they want with strict guidelines. We don’t want to want them to go rogue. There need to be material guidelines and a governance process, but that’s nothing new. Content on law firm websites isn’t new; they’ve had processes to governance. It’s just they’ve been doing this with Word documents, red lines, and emails, and just crazy antiquated systems, which are also deeply flawed. There’s risk there. That can be made more efficient. When you enable those lawyers to do it, they then own their space, and they’re interested. So for example, we talk to lots of BD folk and they say, “Oh God, we’ve been trying to get our lawyers to do LinkedIn for 5, 10 years,” whatever it is, and they fail.
As soon as they create something themselves, the creation process itself means that they own it. They’re much more likely to go, “Oh, now I get LinkedIn. It’s how I talk to the 15 people who give me all my money every year.” Now 80% of billable hours comes from 15 to 20 people, for most lawyers. This isn’t rocket science. You just have to connect to those 15 people. They’re the most likely to buy more stuff from you. I know I’m simplifying it, but lawyers do sell stuff. I know, because we’ve got three law firms that look after us. I pay the bills, let’s not dress it up too much. You know what I mean? I am a client.
They sell their knowledge, they sell what they know, and I really value it. What I don’t value is when they go out to their clients and say, “Hey, what do you like about us?” They say, “We think you’re brilliant lawyers. You’re dead clever. You get us all out of trouble and you’re brilliant.” “What don’t you like about us?” “Well, you cost a lot, but we get it. And you only talk to us when there’s a bill attached.” And so often, and I’m generalizing, but often a law firm will say, “Hey, we’re your trusted advisors. Bring us into your team. We are there for you.” And so they talk about being trusted advisors, but their action is transactional, because if the only time they talk to their clients is when the bill’s attached, you feel like you are in a transaction as a client.
However, if they send me a note out of the blue with something useful, then I’m like, “Oh my God, my lawyer’s written.” Number one, I always open the emails from my lawyers. I ignore most of my emails, but my lawyers’ emails are open. That’s why it’s so good being in BD in the law firm, because your emails get opened. It’s like being back in the ’90s. And so it’s how you got this opportunity, but you’ve got to send something in between bills. That online presence is key.
What do you, generally, see firms doing really well to empower their lawyers to own that online presence?
I think the ones who are best at it are the ones who really have a few things. Number one, they have buy-in at a senior level on the legal side. So it’s CMOs, and directors of marketing, and BD, who have really done the groundwork to gain the trust of the sector heads, or the industry heads, or the CEO of the firm, or the managing partner. That’s the number one key, that they see them internally as trusted and experts. If they do that, then they have the opportunity then to try to start. They build up capital within law firms. By their nature, the power in law firms is unequal. The only industry in the world where they say lawyers and non-lawyers, which just absolutely horrific. And I talk about fee earners and fee enablers.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: It is important and I will interject here… we work very hard in this industry to change that narrative. And I’d love the analogy, you don’t say doctor or non-doctor.
James Barclay: We’re entirely aligned on this one. But the ones that work, the marketing and BD, essentially, have worked hard to get the trusted advisor role with their lawyers. The next one is, if you’re going to try something, try it small first. Go in quick. For example, with Passle, we always do a two-month proof of value with 20 lawyers. We don’t tell the lawyers who are on it that they’re on a proof of value. We tell them that they’re the lucky ones who’ve got to go first. And then you build a bit of FOMO, you build a fear of missing out, and then you celebrate crazy the success of the lawyers, especially if they’re associates rather than partners. But there’s nuance there. You have to work in the environment and the power environment within law firms to build in new culture and change culture.
I think the other thing is you chase your winners. Adam who’s founded Passle said to me, “The thing about our job is quite often we’re walking into a room full of millionaires saying, ‘What you need to do is change everything.'” They would say, “Well, we’re kind of millionaires. We’re doing all right, thanks.” You do need to be careful, but you can chase the winners, the ones who really want to change, and for us, that’s often digital natives. People who are on the upward track. Sometimes though it’s massively surprising, sometimes it’s the oldest equity partner in the place just going, “Yes, this is exactly what we need.” But it’s also aligning anything you’re doing with the strategic goals of the firm, the strategic goals of the team, and the strategic goals of the individual. It’s got to make sense personally to the lawyer. Not because the BD person told them to, or a sale, or a marketing person, or certainly not if I told them to, but because they fundamentally understand that this will buy them a new Porsche, or another house, whatever they need. More influence and power, and most importantly, we always talk about this. We say, “Look, you can either be present online, you can activate your voice, and you can shape the conversation, or you can let someone else do it.” They’re going to be as good as you, but they’re going to do it. There’s a space there, your clients are listening. But you need to be out there having a conversation; otherwise somebody else is going to rule it.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: One of the things you and I talk about pretty often is that they’re the expert, and the information that we need in order to support them is in their head. Nobody else can duplicate that or replicate it.
James Barclay: It’s hard bloody earned knowledge. They’ve been through the ringer to get that knowledge and that experience.
What trends are you seeing in the industry right now and how are they impacting your business at Passle and the advice that you’re giving to clients?
Coming back to what works, we’re seeing over the last eight years, I’ve been doing this in legal, I’m seeing a greater power allocated to marketing and BD. Seeing CMOs being taken far more seriously at the top table and properly driving businesses within law firms. Seeing people now, CMOs, COOs and chief growth officers are taking over, seeing much more understanding that law firms are businesses. We’re seeing this digital transformation. If you are 35 and younger, you’ve always had the internet. So, certainly somebody now who’s a trainee, or an associate, they’re total digital natives. If you are not providing them with an online safe space for them to operate within your tent, they will be operating digitally.
They just won’t be doing it in your tent, they’ll be doing it somewhere else. We’re seeing for many of our clients, the expectation on BD and marketing teams is enormous. I don’t know if that’s changed, but it just seems like there is so much pressure on the people we work with in the BD and marketing. And some of their teams are not very big. One of the things that we identified very early was you can’t just deliver technology, you have to deliver people with it. You can’t just say, “Oh, here’s a magic bullet that’ll work,” because it doesn’t. And technology rarely works like that. Sometimes it does. But with us it’s all about the client success team. For us, probably the thing I’m most proud of at Passle is the value of what we sell is the technology’s awesome.
We just developed some AI stuff. It’s phenomenal. We’ve got some ridiculous clever people. Brilliant. Without the client success team coming in, having weekly meetings, and Reed Smith is a client of ours, I had a weekly meeting with them for three years and then it moved to monthly and I still meet them. And it means that we know what they’re doing well, they know what we are doing. But that’s crucial. And I think from a vendor side, there’s more of an understanding of that. You can’t just go to an already overstretched marketing and BD team and say, “Hey, here’s another thing.” You got to go in with, “Here’s a thing that’s going to help make your life easier, more efficient. And by the way, we’re bringing in people who could share best practice and expertise.”
Jennifer Simpson Carr: As somebody who sat in that seat for a decade, I always appreciated when service partners were very engaged in the process and really understood the challenges we were facing. And now on this side, I’m very sensitive to it. We don’t want to be adding to their plate. We want to be supporting them, making them shine, and helping them succeed in their roles with their attorneys.
James Barclay: I was just thinking it’s also ridiculously important for us as digital service providers, that we all work together, that we all integrate, and that we link our efforts together, and we talk away from our clients so that when we go to them, it’s all aligned. So, for example, with you guys, it’s like, “Okay, these are our campaigns. We’re trying to make ESG a big deal within a law firm,” or “DEI is really important, but they’re not getting the message across.” Well, then we have a chat behind the scenes so that we can go in with your plan, but also with our tech and our client success all aligned so that for the law firm, they’re not having to join the dots.
Grant Butler from K&L Gates said to me, “The trouble with vendors is we’ve got this bloody great house, and you are all chucking the furniture in, but it’s not organized. So, I’m walking in and it’s chaos and I need to work out where all the furniture sits and it’s like, ‘Can you just sort the furniture out for me?'”
We can all sit there online, we’ve integrated with Mondaq, with Lexology, with JD Supra, we’re working with the CRMs, we work with other PR firms, so that we are all sitting there together. And jumping back to the LMA, that’s where that’s extraordinarily useful, where we all have those links.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: That’s something I learned very quickly from Gina: the value of collaborating with other service providers and with the service partners of our clients. Just as you said, and that’s a great analogy, we’re all there to make the client look good and help lift the marketing and BD team. And so that collaboration is critically important.
James Barclay: I think particularly for technology providers, we’re sitting there with our view of the world, but unless we can see where we fit with everybody else, how can somebody in marketing who’s already got a billion and other things to do, sit there and go, “Okay, now I’ve got to build a stack and build this jigsaw.” It’s like we should at least go in with the jigsaw ready.
What trends are you seeing specific to websites and how law firms are approaching website development?
The way websites are being built. And it’s a bit techy, but I think it’s important that traditionally we’ve seen law firms build a website and then burn it down after seven years, and then build another one, and then burn it down, and so you build this thing that deteriorates over seven years. You go, “Oh look, it’s rubbish. I hate my website.” You burn it down, you build it. And these are for CMOs and marketing, they are career defining moments. We know people who have been fired for screwing up the website. So, it’s stressful. And what we are seeing is a shift in the way that happens and you can look at how other industries have attacked this.
And obviously we look at e-commerce, we look at how people like Amazon did it and e-commerce sites and shops. And the lesson we’ve learned from them is actually you can build websites, they call them composable, but essentially you put the foundation blocks in place and then you build a thin website on top, and all those foundations can talk to each other. And the thin website on top can be changed at any moment. And for using Passle as an example, we open up content creation, and distribution, and feedback, to absolutely every stakeholder in the law firm.
We can sit alongside, for example, a WordPress, or a Sitecore, or an Umbraco, or whatever you use. And if we’ve got APIs that sit with that site, it means that rather than four people having access to Sitecore, you’ve got some person in the law firm who is able to create content wherever they like in a safe environment, because you’ve got governance with the distribution, because we’ve linked in with Mondaq, and JD Supra, and Lexology, and on CRMs and everything else, but it all goes through what they’ve already got, which is their Sitecore, or their WordPress. What that means is that rather than burning down the website every seven years, you’ve already got all those building blocks in place. You just have to change it from blue to black to pink. So you build a thin website on top, and of course, that just makes everything far more flexible, and far more manageable. And you don’t ever burn it down, you just change bits, and you add bits, and it becomes a work in progress the whole time.
With e-commerce sites, they did that originally, and this was back in I guess the early 2000s. Everyone who thought they would build a shop online would build the entire database. They’d put the cart in there, put the payment system, they build a whole thing, and as soon as they wanted to change something, they had to talk to an agency, they’d change it. And, of course, Shopify came along and they went, “You build the thing that looks pretty at the front and we’ll do all that work behind. No one will notice we’re there, but we’ll do all the work.” So, Shopify did fantastically because of that. And that’s composable. We’re seeing that shift.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: It sounds like it’s not only the things you mentioned but more efficient and more cost-effective.
James Barclay: Far more efficient, far lower risk. And, of course, taking Passle as a block, if you don’t like Passle, you get rid of it and bring in another block, the replacement to the Passle block, but it doesn’t mean your website falls over, or you need to rebuild it, or you need to change your agency. So, all these different parts are interchangeable.
Tell me about the governance process.
You have to have it. You do not want the angry attorney at 9:00 on a Friday night. So obviously this, as I said before, this is not new. And you have to have approval processes in. Now traditionally that’s been done with Word documents, and red lines, and lots of things, emails being sent around and it can be chaotic, frankly. You can replicate that within Passle. But we just try to streamline it so that, for different types of content, there can be different types of governance. So if it needs four people looking at it, then they have four people. If it needs one person looking at, it would be one person. If the first person who looks at it goes, “Oh, this might mention a client. So conflicts might come in,” then that can get escalated over there.
But it all sits on one set of railings with one audit process and of course complete control, because at any moment those people can go in and edit it. They can take it down, they can change it. And so you can also react. So, it’s not a Word document created by 15 people you didn’t know and turned up on a website three weeks later that you have no idea how to control. You’re able, by that process, to see the entire audit trail. You see any changes to be able to go backward and forward to create exactly what is appropriate. But importantly, this is where you and I work together. The very start of it is to make sure the lawyers know what to say and what not to say. Nice thing about lawyers is they like rails. You can give them the rails, but you just need to be clear on that. And of course that fits with the advice that you can provide.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: That’s an area that we get a lot of questions about and we always advise our clients to have some type of content governance guidelines, and to educate. Not only just put them on an internet where you hope people read them, but educate your attorneys and staff, train them on what that means. And then it sounds like with your technology, you can actually implement that in a process.
James Barclay: It makes it far safer. And, of course, they’ve got to think of the alternative. We’ve got an entire bunch of people who are just used to being digitally active and present. Now, if you do not offer them the opportunity to be digitally active and present at work, some of them (not all, but some of them), will just go and be digitally active outside your tent. Just go and do it wherever they want. You’ve got no control, you’ve got no influence.
So this is about control. It’s not about just doing a free-for-all, this is about offering a safe space to be able to create exactly the content that the lawyer wants to create, which is in line with exactly the brand that the law firm wants. That’s just really important. So yeah, it’s a hugely important pillar. We’re going and got those four pillars. We’ve got:
- Self-serve, frictionless creation of content
- Create once publish everywhere (COPE)
You get those four pillars in place, it doesn’t matter if you use Passle or not, you get those four pillars in place, you’re able to create very effective thought leadership programs.
Tell me more about those four pillars.
Okay, so the first one, from a marketers and a BD perspective, is self-service, effortless publication. Lawyers are so busy; there’s so much pressure on them that to do anything, you have to get rid of every single hurdle, any little bump, because otherwise they will fall over and they’ll do something else. So, the technology, what we built makes it really, really easy for them to do it. So just make it dead easy and make it so that you can say yes all the time. “I want to create a podcast.” “Yes.” “I want to do a video.” “Yes.” “I want to link to a YouTube video.” “Yes.” All these things you can just do. Make it excellent. Not yes to everything, but they feel empowered. Power is important for them. Ownership’s important.
Number two, governance. Make sure it’s in place, make sure it’s robust, make sure it’s auditable, make sure it’s very simple to do and that you can set in whatever governance you need you can achieve.
Number three is create once, publish everywhere. We don’t talk to lawyers about this, but essentially that’s what the lawyer’s done when they’ve created a piece of content. And quite often the content that’s created on Passle is 300-400 words. They’ve got so much, if they can get that out of their heads digitally, quickly and easily, you’ve got a digital asset. It can be something that can be used, and you can obviously get the lawyer to share that on their own LinkedIn via email, but also the firm can then use that as well.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: You’re referencing COPE. We actually advise clients on C.O.P.E.S. which is create once publish enthusiastically and strategically. A little bit of a spin, but it’s really how you distribute the content, going back to the quote you mentioned from Erin, where your target audience is.
James Barclay: Exactly, so COPE, that’s exactly it. So, once you’ve done that, and of course that’s where also you make the technology link together. So that’s where Lexology, Mondaq, JD Supra, and this comes into the last bit, because those newsletters, we know where that content went and where it was read. And so what we’ve done is then link with those distributors, the newsletters, the content distributors, and we’ve taken their data back into Passle and deliver it back to the lawyer.
We also deliver it aggregated to the marketing and everyone else. But getting it to the lawyer themselves is key, because they’ve created something within a couple of hours. Usually it’s been approved, that’s important, speed. Couple of hours and it’s up online. So they’re like, “Wow, I did that two hours ago and it’s up there. Brilliant.” It then gets distributed by these things they don’t really know about, they don’t care, but what they really care about is one of those 15 people that give them 80% of their billable hours a year, read it. So Bob from Facebook, or Sharon from Shell, or whoever, they get then told that they interacted with that content. They’ve read it and they’re like, “Oh wow, that’s great. I’ll do that again.” So that feedback is the last pillar is that you tell the lawyer who read it and saw it.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: It’s such an important step. And I think all four of those are brilliant. And obviously the governance is critically important for so many reasons, but that feedback, or that analytics process, it is so difficult in PR and in content oftentimes to put a dollar value on the return. And so demonstrating the success in ways like, “Here’s your target audience and here’s the specific people that read it,” really does go a long way in ensuring that the lawyers come back to participate.
James Barclay: And the other way, of course, the killer app of the internet is still the email. Everyone forgets it, but the email’s incredibly useful. And so we have a tool called ISTATOY, which is, I saw this and thought of you. It’s an email with a link in it, but we’ve just dressed it up. So lawyers don’t think they’re selling something, they just think they’re being helpful, which is what selling is of course. So they send a client, they wrote a post, or they’ve got a post by one of their colleagues and they send it to a client saying, “I saw this post and I thought of you.”
Now the number of times we have had feedback from lawyers going, “I use ISTATOY and I got a piece of business,” as if it’s magic. It’s like, “Yeah, you were contacting your client between bills, between invoices, they open the email because you’re their lawyer and you sent something useful that they didn’t ask for. It’s going to put you in a pretty good step.” Those people, those 15 to 20 people who already are responsible for 80% of your billable hours, they’re the most likely people to buy more from you and they’re the most likely people to refer and recommend you.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: It’s really funny that you say that, because I worked very closely with a practice group years ago and they were very hesitant to using LinkedIn. And I remember we had a very low risk campaign and the first time we distributed it, we got a piece of new business, and my phone was ringing off the hook and I was getting emails, “How do I use this LinkedIn?” And so it’s so nice when that happens and it’s a testament to the training that we give and the work that we do. And so it was just funny to hear that success story.
James Barclay: The last thing I think is really important and fortunately a greater trend within law firms is about empowering voice, and empowering voice across your organization. And I think you can also use this very much in line with your DE&I initiatives, and that you should. You need to showcase the firm you want to be.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: Actions speak louder than words. You’re right. Show me, don’t tell me. What I will leave our listeners with is that compared to traditional marketing efforts, content marketing costs 62% less and generates three times as many leads. And so if you need evidence as to why content creation, content distribution, and the time around marketing is so valuable, that data point is it.
James Barclay: And your general counselors, your clients, they want this information from you and they’ll judge you on it.
Jennifer Simpson Carr