For some time, we’ve been experiencing a trend by legal vendors to market to everyone, in the hopes of landing a few solid leads.
Well I am here to say that it just isn’t working.
Journalists, bloggers, and even real prospects are getting tired of it, and they are making their feelings known. In just the past week, three prominent legal luminaries/bloggers have shared similar frustrations of their own.
Bob Ambrogi posted a suggestion that vendors think about when and how to demo their products to bloggers/reviewers. On the same day, Niki Black posted an ‘Open Letter to LegalTech Vendors’. And she didn’t hold anything back, outlining many of the problems associated with legal marketing today. While both Bob and Niki were speaking as journalists, the problem is even worse for legal professionals who are constantly bombarded with irrelevant messages.
As a registered attendee of LegalTech, I’ve received calls from at least a dozen vendor representatives trying to schedule demos/meetings. When I explain I’m really not a prospect, the caller seems both astonished and confused.
If those transgressions weren’t enough, yesterday Craig Ball issued a ‘rant’ on his blog regarding eDiscovery surveys and the lack of true measurable data. Craig opined that many recent ‘surveys’ were not in fact surveys at all and instead simply useless “studies of attitudes”. His commentary is yet another example of industry luminaries saying ‘enough is enough’. Content should be king, but only if the content is real.
It should be clear this kind of marketing just isn’t working! Legal vendors, it’s time to get your marketing house in order and make certain you’re doing your homework and not just throwing stuff at the wall and hoping it sticks. Not only does that never work, but in many, many cases, it only hurts your marketing efforts.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) penned an article regarding the relationships between marketing and sales entitled “The Buying Funnel”. Here is a quote from that article:
“Marketing blames the sales force for its poor execution of an otherwise brilliant rollout plan. The sales team, in turn, claims that Marketing sets prices too high and uses too much of the budget, which instead should go toward hiring more salespeople or paying the sales reps higher commissions.”
It’s the same old story, marketing complains that the sales team isn’t doing enough to close good leads, and the sales team(s) complains that marketing’s efforts result in poorly qualified leads or inadequate materials/support. Even in smaller companies where the organizational lines are blurred the tendency is for one group to lay blame on the other.
In the HBR article, it is suggested that “when Sales and Marketing are fully integrated, boundaries become blurred. Both groups redesign the relationship to share structures, systems, and rewards”. I couldn’t agree more…there’s nothing like live interaction to help define not only the prospect’s needs, but also clarify in the marketer’s mind the supporting information the salesperson needs.
It’s all about Leads? Are the leads produced by your marketing efforts the right ones? It’s not about the quantity, it’s about generating quality prospects for the sales team. It’s all about working backwards, starting with results:
- How many ‘qualified’ leads must you produce to generate the desired close-ratio?
- What is the unique persona of a qualified lead?
- Where can you find qualified leads?
Are the numbers realistic and achievable? If not, revise your projections…don’t pad the numbers with inappropriate leads just to make the first part of the equation work.
This is part 2 of a two-part series on Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law (CASL)
Implied vs. express consent
The law defines two types of consent: implied and express. Implied consent is a looser interpretation, whereas express consent requires action from both sender and recipient.
Implied consent includes when:
- A recipient has purchased a product, service or made another business deal, contract, or membership with your organization in the last 24 months;
- You are a registered charity or political organization, and the recipient has made a donation or gift, has volunteered, or attended a meeting organized by you; or
- A professional message is sent to someone whose email address was given to you, or is conspicuously published, and who hasn’t published or told you that they don’t want unsolicited messages.
If your recipients don’t meet any of the above criteria, then express consent is required before you can send campaigns to them.
Express consent means written or oral agreement to receive specific types of messages, for example “You want to receive monthly newsletters and weekly discount notifications from Company B.”
Express consent is only valid if the following information is included with your request for consent:
- A clear and concise description of your purpose in obtaining consent
- A description of messages you’ll be sending
- Requestor’s name and contact information (physical mailing address and telephone number, email address, or website URL)
- A statement that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time.
The requestor can be you or someone for whom you’re asking. If you’re requesting consent on behalf of a client, the client’s name and contact information must be included with the consent request.
During the transition period, July 1, 2014-July 1, 2017, you may continue to send messages to recipients from whom you have implied consent, unless they unsubscribe. After the 2017 cut-off date, you may only send to recipients with express consent or whose implied consent is currently valid under CASL—that is, 24 months after a purchase or six months after an inquiry.
In addition to understanding what qualifies as CASL-regulated message, and what type of consent is needed, there are a few other details to keep in mind.
- You must retain a record of consent confirmations.
- When requesting consent, checkboxes cannot be pre-filled to suggest consent. Each subscriber must check the box themselves for consent to be valid.
- All messages sent must include your name, the person on whose behalf you are sending (if any), your physical mailing address and your telephone number, email address, or website URL.
- All messages sent after consent must also include an unsubscribe mechanism, and unsubscribe requests must be processed within 10 days.
Stiff Penalties for Non-Compliance
There are new consequences for spammers, including fines of $1M for individuals and $10M for corporations per violation. It’s important to note that individuals and companies, including directors, officers and other agents, are responsible and liable for the messages they send.
In addition to the traditional SPAM referenced above, the new CASL rules will impose a consent requirement for installation of a computer program on any other person’s PC, smart phone or other computer-based device. Whether the program is installed for a malicious or to commit fraud is not relevant. Technically this means that virtually every business that operates a website, sells or provides mobile applications, or incorporates any kind of software into their products or otherwise make software available to customers will need to review and likely modify their current practices for installing software, and implement and track proof of compliance. For example, using a virtual meeting program to conduct a demonstration or review a proposal, where the user is required to download a piece of software onto their PCs or other device, will constitute a circumstance where proof of audit and compliance is necessary.
Note: LVS provides this article as a resource, based on currently available and published information on this topic, but it should not nor does it constitute legal advice. If you have more questions about CASL, we encourage you to contact an attorney in your area who is familiar with this issue.
This is part 1 of two-part series on Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law (CASL).
On July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (aka CASL) came into effect. Law firms and other companies that do business with Canadian companies need to understand the impact of these new regulations, or face big fines for non-compliance. LVS offers the following insights for our clients’ consideration:
What is CASL? CASL (pronounced “Castle”) is the implementation of a new set of regulations, and subsequent penalties for non-compliance, by the Canadian Government. There is a transition phase which began on July 1, 2014, and continues until July 1, 2017.During the transitional period, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, may investigate and litigate against entities that don’t adhere to CASL. After July 1, 2017, any individual will also be able to sue any entity they believe is sending spam messages. On face value, one might think that only predatory “spammers” need to be concerned about the implications of Canada’s latest anti-spam legislation. However, it is much further reaching than its friendly-sounding name would imply. In fact, it goes much further than just regulating bulk, unsolicited email communications most of us consider as “spam”. Instead, it creates an express (opt-in) consent-based set of rules that will apply to almost all electronic messages sent for a commercial purpose.
What kinds of messages fall under the CASL regulation? The regulations apply to any “Commercial Electronic Message” (CEM) sent from or to Canadian computers and devices in Canada. Messages routed through Canadian computer systems are not subject to this law. A CEM is any message that:
- Is in an electronic format, including emails, instant messages, text messages, and some social media communications;
- Is sent to an electronic address, including email addresses, instant message accounts, phone accounts, and social media accounts; and
- Contains a message encouraging recipients to take part in some type of commercial activity, including the promotion of products, services, people/personas, companies, or organizations.
These types of electronic messages are exempt from CASL for various reasons.
- Messages to family or a person with established personal relationship.
- Messages to an employee, consultant, or person associated with your business.
- Responses to a current customer, or someone who has inquired in the last six months.
- Messages that will be opened or accessed in a foreign country, including the U.S., China, and most of Europe.
- Messages sent on behalf of a charity or political organization for the purposes of raising funds or soliciting contributions.
- Messages attempting to enforce a legal right or court order.
- Messages that provide warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service purchased by the recipient.
- Messages that provide information about a purchase, subscription, membership, account, loan, or other ongoing relationship, including delivery of product updates or upgrades.
- A single message to a recipient without an existing relationship on the basis of a referral. The full name of the referring person must be disclosed in the message. The referrer may be family or have another relationship with the person to whom you’re sending.
If your message does not meet one of these criteria, consent is required under CASL.
In the previous posts, I focused on how being too close to the business and how time/priority limitations both pose serious challenges for many legal service providers. In this final post, I’ll concentrate on the infrastructure necessary for measuring results.
Marketing is more science than art. In the legal vertical, it’s not about winning awards for the best (read pretty) artwork, nor the company that throws the biggest party at a conference, it’s about strategy, executing the strategy, and the end-of-the-day results. Knowing what’s working (and doing more of it) and what’s not (and doing less of it) is the key to marketing success.
Why is it so difficult for DIY marketing to succeed?
7. Failing to build a proper foundation
Creating an integrated marketing strategy that is appropriate for your market segment is commonly overlooked by DIY marketers. Looking down the road to an exit strategy makes sense even for the earliest of start-ups. After all, how many races are won by runners who haven’t studied the course? Whether it’s a sprint or a marathon, you have to have a clear vision of where you’re going in order to get there in the shortest possible time.
Identifying the mid-points helps you keep a check on the results and adjust both your goals and strategies. Knowing what you want to achieve and when gives you the tools to analyze and improve your results.
8. Lacking the time and/or proper tools to measure results
One of my smartest mentors taught me to measure, measure, and measure. It was invaluable advice then, and it’s even more valuable now. Most DIY marketers I speak with have little or no knowledge of or access to the metrics they need to make sound marketing decisions. Without them, how do you determine what is a cost-effective investment, and what’s not. Understanding customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime values, and how those costs impact your marketing efforts is critical to reaching your goals.
You don’t necessarily need expensive or sophisticated tools, but you do need a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. How many leads do you need to get one sale? What are the best tactics to achieve your goals? How does branding fit in to the equation? All are important questions to ask and answer before you spend another marketing dollar.
The science of marketing doesn’t have to be a full time job, but it does require the focus and market knowledge of an experienced marketing professional. If you don’t have the qualifications, it may be time to find one. Your company’s success depends on it
This is the second post in this series. The previous post can be found here.
If you’ve got plenty of time on your hands to develop and implement your marketing strategy, this information doesn’t apply to you. But, in my experience most company executives and entrepreneurs suffer from a common malady…there’s only 24 hours in a day.
How does this limitation negatively impact your DIY marketing?
4. You’re not leveraging your resources
Building and managing a successful business is about leveraging resources. Many executives make the mistake of thinking that their college Marketing 101 course qualifies them to do the strategic analysis necessary to properly position their offerings. Or worse, they hire a low-cost recent graduate with no real-world or legal specific experience.
Marketing can become a revolving door. Executives hire a marketing person, expecting them to know their product and service offerings and ‘hit the ground running’. Most often the honeymoon period ends early and the company is back to square one. Marketing to the legal vertical is different from most other industries. It is imperative to use a legal marketing specialist to validate strategies and positioning and to help create a logical plan. It is the single best investment in your business.
5. You can only handle so many #1 priorities
Most executives I meet are challenged with multiple priorities. They’re wearing lots of hats, filling several roles, and let’s face it; they haven’t got the time to dedicate to developing, implementing, and analyzing a successful marketing strategy and plan.
Marketing planning is an intensive discipline. I personally recommend to my clients that they ‘start at the end’. By determining upfront what they want to accomplish over a given period, we are able to develop strategies and plans to reach their goals. Having specific goals allows us and them to monitor progress.
6. Your marketing becomes reactive rather than strategic
It’s easy to get sidetracked with marketing:
- Sales are off and you need to do something to fix it now • A offer comes in to sponsor a new event • Your competitor is speaking on a panel or exhibiting at a conference and you need to be there too
Now you’re reacting. Instead of developing a strategy, creating a plan, implementing the plan, and measuring the results, you’re all over the place. You need help filtering the noise and figuring out what actually fits into your overall strategy.
To be successful at DIY marketing you need to make it a priority, finding the right amount of time to dedicate to marketing, and have the expertise and discipline to create and follow a strategic plan. If you can’t make these commitments, you’ll be hard-pressed to succeed in fulfilling your goals.
This post is the first in a series.
For over nearly 15 years I’ve worked with companies that sell products and services to law firms and corporate legal departments. In that time, I’ve spoken with many executives that decided they either couldn’t afford outside marketing/business development assistance or they knew enough to continue tackling their marketing challenges internally.
Early in our conversations, when discussing their goals, they most often cited a desire to build their revenues to a size that would allow them to attract acquisition partners, or they wanted to increase profitability. And yet today, most of those DIY companies continue to struggle to grow or survive. They do so without a plan, and often market by the ‘seat of their pants’.
So, here are the first 3 reasons why DIY doesn’t work in the legal industry:
1. You lack objectivity
Let’s face it. For many legal vendors , your product(s) and/or service(s) isn’t just your business – It’s your baby! You’ve developed it because of a void you identified in the market…and if it works for you, it must be good for others. But successfully marketing and building a business takes more than good ideas and passion. It requires the ability to evaluate market forces with neutrality
2. You’ve become your own focus group
You’re the expert; nobody knows your product/service as well as you. Time and again, I’ve encountered companies that are so convinced of the benefits of their product/service that they fail to listen to their market. Add in an ever-changing communications landscape, and you may not be connecting with your prospects using the channels they prefer. Successful companies find a way to involve their customers and their prospects in both their product development and their communications.
3. Your personal preferences
An early mentor taught me that the only personal preferences that ever matter are those of your customers and prospects, not your personal preferences. Everything from messaging, to marketing channels, to imagery, to the use of color and type style must be geared to your buyer persona(s). Take yourself out of the equation and put yourself into the shoes of your prospects. Will your marketing appeal to them? If not, what are your odds of success? (Answer: Pretty small.)
To summarize, DIY marketing won’t work if you’re too close to your business. You’re the expert at what you do, but can you honestly stay abreast of all the changes to the marketing mix? And can you afford to take your own advice?
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about how few organizations really commit to or trust their marketing efforts. Regardless of the size of the organization, marketing typically comprises a significant portion of the budget, but it is not well understood or respected by other members of the organization.
If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard a sales executive lament that marketing “isn’t particularly helpful’, or a financial manager complaining about marketing expenses, I’d have retired to a sandy beach (with a case of Zinfandel) a long time ago. At the same time, marketers complain that we’re misunderstood and nobody appreciates what we’re doing.
Marketing departments and budgets are usually the first areas cut during difficult economies or sales slowdowns, and they often take the blame when revenue expectations fall short. In order to succeed in the long term, marketing needs to be unified with every other department within the organization.
So how do we align marketing with sales, business development, finance, and even customer support? We find out what they need and support them. It couldn’t be easier! Treat the departments within the company as valued clients and partners and before you know it, they’ll be your allies and advocates.
One of my first challenges after being hired at Law.com, was to identify and then support the best revenue opportunities. After evaluating several products, I determined that Online CLE offered significant short and long term revenue potential. The problem was, Online CLE wasn’t selling and in an effort to reduce expenses, the product was on the chopping block. Not to be deterred, I worked with the manager of the department, corporate executives, and the financial managers and convinced them to test a different approach to how we packaged our CLE products. With everyone’s buy-in and a small test budget we set out to repackage CLE and market the new offering. Our first test returned such a positive result that everyone quickly got onboard and we were able to efficiently scale-up the offering.
Every day, we marketers write content for our organizations preaching how the company listens to its customers, it’s time we take that message to heart and take our own advice.
In 1992 after a seven-year career as a litigation paralegal, I decided to move into the world of marketing and selling to lawyers. I knew instinctively that my time “in the trenches” would serve me well as I went to work developing messaging and selling technology software to lawyers.
Having spent three months on a law school campus earning my paralegal certificate, I saw first-hand how law students were converted into lawyers. What I didn’t realize until I entered my new career was how many of the same factors that go into legal training influences the way lawyers buy legal products and services.
Why is the legal vertical so challenging?
1. Law School Creates Lawyers – Like medical school, the competitiveness and demand on law students fundamentally changes their personalities. From LSATs to applications, the competition starts before the first day of class. Drop-out/failing rates and class ranking struggles pervade the psyches of students forcing them to focus inward and manage their time selfishly. The better the school, the higher the class ranking, the better the job at graduation (especially in a tough job market). That competitiveness continues into the firm environment.
2. Law Firms have a Different Business Model – A carry-over from the law school mentality, law firms are a bastion of individuality and competitiveness. Rather than pulling together, law firms are made up of pockets (practice groups) that invariably distrust each other. David Maister’s article Are Law Firms Manageable? first published in The American Lawyer, addresses the issues of distrust and competitiveness, and how they impact firm values.
3. Competition is the Name of the Game – The law school process encourages critical thinking and teaches students to advocate every side of an argument. There is no right or wrong, only winning and losing arguments. Three years of arguing in law school, and it’s no wonder lawyers challenge every claim a vendor makes. As consumers, they question ‘the biggest’ and ‘the best’ and they are risk adverse. Few lawyers want to risk trying something new for fear of making a mistake and suffering the scorn of their peers…in short, they’re not early adopters by nature.
My first position after leaving the law firm was as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a legal technology company that developed and marketed case/practice management software. From the onset, we knew we had to overcome aging Luddite managing attorneys, and reasoned that within a few short years, younger more technologically inclined lawyers would move into decision-making positions and advocate for more technology. Along with our competition, we truly believed that as younger, more tech-savvy attorneys worked their way up the ranks, they would embrace productivity enhancing technology, and by the new millennium, every attorney would use practice management software.
And yet even today, only 33% of attorneys use case/practice management (according to the 2010 “Perfect Practice® – Legal Technology Institute Case, Matter, and Practice Management System Software Study” conducted by The University of Florida Law’s Legal Technology Institute, link unavailable at this writing).
What we failed to understand at the time was that the demands placed on young attorneys to perform require them to narrowly focus on the issues at hand. Most young attorneys enter the practice of law in subservient roles and are required to use whatever technology their firms use. Their goals are limited to getting the job done, and as they mature and move through the ranks, they remain focused on getting the job done, and not on how to do the job better.
This is not to say that lawyers will never embrace technology fully. It is to say that there are factors unique to the legal industry that impact buyer behavior. As sellers of legal products and services, we need to hone-in on the specific buying characteristics of this unique market of buyers and craft messages to address their needs and the drivers that most influence them.
In all of the years that I’ve worked in the legal industry, I’ve repeatedly heard how slow business is in December. While nobody likes a party or down-time more than me, I’ve found December presents a few unique opportunities:
1. Take Advantage of the Impulse Buy – If your product or service is appropriate for impulse buyers, develop an offer that takes advantage of end of year-end tax spending. Small firms often look to increase deductions at this time of the year. Create a special offer that expires before December 31st and send it to all of your unconverted leads. You just might be surprised at the uptick in sales.
2. Its Not Too Late to Plan – If you’ve been too busy to worry about a ‘plan’ for next year, now’s the perfect time. With the activity slowdown, this is an excellent opportunity to get some quiet, thinking time. Start big, with your overall goals, and ask yourself this question “what does success in 2014 look like?” Once you’ve got that answer, start breaking it down into the pieces and the timing. Whether you’re starting with revenue, users, clients, or income per customer/client, identify the goal and then work backwards to incorporate milestones and build your plan. Write it down…if the plan exists only in your head, the chances of success are significantly reduced.
3. Learn Something New/Do Something New – Social marketing is more than just buzz. Failure to incorporate a social strategy into your marketing program is certain to result in a negative impact on your business in 2014. But where to start? A website update, a blog, SEO, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all viable options. Pick one…they each have their own strengths…and commit to it. Incorporate it into your plan and set aside some time to learn the benefits and figure out how to make it work for you. There’s a wealth of information (much of it free) online to help you get started.
At this point it isn’t what you do that’s important…it’s doing something! Use your ‘down-time’ wisely and when next December comes around, you’ll appreciate the results. That’s how I’m planning to spend my December slow-down.