The advent of the internet in the mid-1990’s has transformed how lawyers attract and retain new clients. And these changes have had massive implications for how lawyers must conduct business development and marketing activities.
As Mike O’Horo details – lawyers used to get new business from being in close physical proximity to one another. Law partners worked and socialized together — living most of their lives in relative proximity. This proximity made it natural to do business with friends and acquaintances.
As the internet advanced through the 90’s into the 2000’s – businesses were able to move to communicating and learning about one another online. This led to a situation where a local circle of friends and acquaintances were no longer able to refer legal work to one another. Increasingly, as O’Horo detailed “these decisions were made by strangers in distant cities, with whom there was little or no opportunity for social interaction.” In this new reality, O’Horo asks: “How were potential clients to learn about you?”
Lawyers needed to become interested in what the client needs
As O’Horo explains – in answer to his own question – lawyers in the mid-200’s needed to become interested in what clients were seeking help with when thinking about whether to retain an attorney. For example, learning about client industries, and the issues they face. Hence, the relationship-model of business development and marketing for lawyers in the pre-internet era — was replaced with a need for lawyers to focus on establishing and reinforcing their relevance by publishing deeply and widely about the problems prospective client’s face.
Time-constrained buyers of legal services look online for information
Notably, too, the buyers of legal services no longer have, as O’Horo explains, “dozens of hours to meet with the number of sellers they used to have to consult with to get, and remain, informed about whatever they’re considering buying, or to define their solution options.” Now, instead, “they search online to find the information they need, and they subscribe to receive continuous information in small bites from sources they’ve found to be relevant and informative.”
Busy buyers, he explains, can learn most of what they want to know online – and you and your law firm need to be a part of it. O’Horo cites the writings of Joel York, who explains what is necessary to attract the new B2B buyer: “You must establish and reinforce your relevance by publishing deep and wide about the problems your prospect faces. Your content must be available whenever and wherever your prospect goes online. That means creating every form of content from short tweets, comments to others’ content, to detailed white papers and videos, and then redistributing that content across a wide array of online channels: websites, social networks, blogs, opt-in forums such as JD Supra and LinkedIn groups, websites, media sharing sites, etc.”
Strive to produce sophisticated content
O’Horo concludes by advising lawyers and law firms to “strive consistently to produce content that earns you idea relationships with strangers whose circumstances obligate them to care about the problems your ideas address, thus positioning yourself for direct contact at the inflection point in their journey when they’re receptive to it.” [emphasis added]
I agree wholeheartedly with what Mike has outlined here. I’ve worked with numerous law firms and lawyers from throughout the world to help them establish and maintain client-focused blogs and social media channels – and create and publish consistently sophisticated client-focused content on these platforms. If you would like to discuss how I might help you establish and maintain the sort of publishing efforts that place your law firm in an ideal position in the eyes of the buyers of legal services, please complete the form below to arrange for a discussion.