With a few notable exceptions, lawyers are reluctant to implement new technology to deliver legal services. According to a 2012 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report of firms with over 500 lawyers, just 15 percent had tried cloud computing, 41 percent did not back up their computer files, and only 4 percent acquired new business through blogging or social media. For technology vendors, this reluctance is often reflected in frustrating, slow-moving sales cycles.
To win over the ultimate decision makers in the legal tech community CIOs at law firms as well as senior partners marketers must think like lawyers. Lawyers are verbal, text-oriented, analytical and trained to identify legal issues and possible resolutions. These are welcome attributes for those of us tasked with selling to the legal market. Introducing innovative software, hardware, and consulting services to practicing attorneys can most effectively be accomplished by making a strong case for why and how the product or service can increase the firm's bottom line: its ability to serve the firm's clients, generate billable hours, and improve the way information is generated, processed, and disseminated.
MARKETING BEST PRACTICES
Not long ago, marketing dollars were primarily used to buy advertising. To be even modestly effective, advertising must be repetitive and pervasive, making it the most expensive marketing tactic. Aside from sky-high costs, tough, skeptical, and conservative legal professionals do not often take advertisements seriously. That said, there is a place for advertising it's just more effective after a product or service has an established market foothold.
According to marketing guru Al Ries, co-author of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, when it comes to introducing new products and services, advertising doesn't perform as well as factual content appearing in the editorial pages of technology publications, blogs, and websites. With lawyers and CIOs, marketers can best make inroads by establishing precedent, demonstrating for example, how other successful firms are using a particular service to increase profits and obtain better results. The most expedient way to present evidence of successful past performance is to let your customers and your content do the talking. But this is not as easy as it sounds.
CUSTOMER REFERENCE PROGRAMS
Thirty years of experience has taught us that few technology customers are willing or permitted to participate in media interviews, case studies, or similar activities. The reality is that less than 15 percent of a typical client base will actively participate in marketing or public relations initiatives. This is why we recommend establishing a Customer Reference Program (CRP) to formalize what most vendors now relegate to an ineffective ad-hoc process. To successfully sell legal technology products and services, customers and content can serve as a foundation for marketing and PR efforts.
How do you get started? Here are some guidelines to facilitate the creation of a CRP and involve more customers in marketing efforts.
1. Relationships with key executives pave the way to customer participation in media or analyst interviews.
a. Caution: don't rely on last-minute requests for customer interview participation this virtually guarantees fumbling media or analyst requests for interviews.
b. Inform customers well in advance of your plans and line up a sufficient group to support your product launch or case study efforts.
2. Start slowly by asking customers for: