Information vs. Intelligence

There is no shortage of information available to lawyers.

  • LexisNexis
  • Plc
  • And countless websites and blogs

But what are they doing with it?

  • Ignoring it unless they need to look it at for a client
  • Waiting for someone else to put it into a digestible format
  • And possibly repackaging it to send out in the latest ‘me too’ Bulletin

Frankly, it is a disgrace the amount of information that gets wasted. And we all know why that is the case: Billing takes priority.

Some firms have the benefit of wonderful libraries, librarians, KM teams and PSLs but there are still a lot of firms that rely on one or two people to distribute and repackage information that they think will have some use to their legal cohort or their clients.

But the process is so time-consuming and ill-thought that in the end it becomes randomised and clients must wonder what on earth is going on. Stop start… and it has very little focus to solving a problem or identifying an opportunity.

If firms really want to retain their existing clients, grow their business and succeed in winning new clients, then the process has to be radically overhauled.

Stage 1

Don’t refer to any of your previous material and start afresh.

It is unlikely, unless you have done some careful research, that any of your previous material will be fit for purpose.

Just because you haven’t had anyone complain doesn’t mean to say that you should continue with it.

Stage 2

Go and speak to your clients and ask them what would be intelligent copy. Copy that they would happily pay for. There are other providers who provide subscription services. Ask your clients what you would have to do for them to pay for it.

This step is crucial.

There is no point telling you to think like a buyer if you don’t know how a buyer thinks.

Stage 3

Don’t write like a lawyer. Think like a journalist or one of your favourite writers. If you like a magazine then break it down as to why you like it and apply it to your material.

Stage 4

Think about what issue you are trying to address.

If you have gone down the sector or specialism route then are you merely commentating along with the rest of your competitor law firms, or are you trend setting, or are you trying to identify issues that the client should watch out for that will make them money or militate risk?

You have to some hook.

I love the title of the book The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. Why don’t you think of a newsletter with a title that elevates it from something as dull as the name of your practice area.

Stage 5

Keep everything to bite size chunks of information. Clients can always be directed to a website or whitepaper. You are not writing a legal essay.

Stage 6

Make sure  you are consistent. If you can tell your readers what you will be dealing with as next month’s feature article, then it will force you to write something rather than having to dream something up every month. Better still if you can put together an editorial calendar to take you to the end of the year then so much the better.

Stage 7

Look for feedback. Encourage comments. Don’t react defensively. At the end of the day unless you invite this you will have no way of telling if what you are saying is hitting the client’s sweet spot.

Firms who grasp this essential business development tool will soon find that they create a buzz for the mere fact that they have provided something of use and better still really does add value to the relationship.

But don’t delay. If you are not careful someone is going to come along with a specific service targeted direct at your clients (in some areas I am sure it already exists) and this will render otiose a critical part of the client development process.

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