In November we shared a guest post from Filevine’s Ryan Anderson on what he thinks are the 5 Legal Marketing Trends for 2019.
For my first article of 2019, I thought I would share some of my own thoughts about running a law practice in the coming year.
First of all, I think that Millennials are going to be more important than ever. What I mean is that what marketers believe Millennials really want will be taken more seriously, both in terms of how a business operates and how it markets itself.
Millennials have been a focus in some of my articles, as well as a big focus of our Internet Domination Bootcamp:
Millennials might be big users of mobile technology and apps, but they still care about real world relationships. And to a certain extent, the rest of world is waking up to the need to look up from our screens and appreciate what’s around us. See The Latest Technology vs The Real World.
Millennials don’t want to be sold to. But really, who does? Millennials may be more sophisticated users of Social Media in some cases, but the content that appeals to them also appeals to other generations. Still, many law firms are getting Social Media totally wrong. See The 2018 Guide to Your Personal Injury Law Firm’s Social Media Marketing.
If you really want to dive into Internet marketing for lawyers, you should get access to the complete video library of the Internet Domination Bootcamp.
So what’s new for 2019?
What I think isn’t so much that there will be anything new; I think we’re going to take more seriously what we already understand about Millennials and what we do to market to them.
The top three things for me in this regard are Social Media, videos and education-based marketing.
What 2019 will bring is doing each of these three better.
Like I said, some law firms are getting Social Media just wrong. The ones that get it, they’re not just trying to sign up clients on Facebook. They understand it’s about getting their name out there and cultivating relationships.
In some ways, Social Media is no different from the mass media of days past. Instead of switching the radio or TV on, and leaving it running all day in the background – today people are turning to Social Media throughout the day.
What Social Media offers, which mass media does not, is the ability to really focus in on who you’re targeting. Unless you’ve got amazing content on Social Media, you have to pay to reach an audience, just like you did with TV, radio and newspapers.
2019 will bring a more sophisticated understanding of what works on Social Media to grow an audience, and then convert some of that audience into clients. That’s easy if you’re in the business of producing cat videos and selling apparel for cats. It’s never been so straightforward for law firms.
That’s why I’m glad to see when law firm owners understand that perhaps the best content for Social Media has nothing to do with the law. For example one of our members, Dianne Sawaya in Denver, CO, decided to jump onto the Lip-Sync Challenge.
They’ve never had so many shares of a single post on Facebook. The entire firm had fun doing it. The employees shared it. They raised the profile of the practice with everybody they know, and beyond, to their extended network of “friends of friends”.
Did it immediately generate new clients? Perhaps not.
But did it help them make a lasting first impression as a law firm with a soul? Absolutely.
See Dianne’s video, and read about other videos you ought to have: 5 Videos Your Law Firm’s Website is Probably Missing
Videos can educate. Videos can entertain. They can also do both.
The Lip-Sync challenge video I mentioned above is one example where online video can be very entertaining, and draw a wide audience.
The trick with producing entertaining videos will be to ensure you still promote your law firm in some way. After all, what’s the point if there’s no return on investment (ROI), right?
Then, when it comes to educational video content, you’ll need to be in the business of producing those videos on a regular basis.
Don’t stop using written content. Some people, young and old, still prefer to read something first. Not everybody wants to watch a video first. The two should supplement each other.
But video is what so many people are looking for to answer their questions, whether it’s a quick answer or one that’s longer and more in-depth.
Production Quality and Watchability
What I expect to see from some more forward-thinking firms in 2019 is a greater investment in production quality and watchability.
What do I mean?
One of the free reports I used to have at my law firm was “16 Questions You Must Ask Your Insurance Adjuster”.
Today, I would make a video with that same content.
But there are at least two different ways of going about it.
Option #1: I could sit in front of the camera and talk through those 16 questions. We could put each one up on the screen when I talk about it.
Option #2: I put together a 3-5 minute video package that explains the same material, but it’s entertaining. Like a mini-TV show. It might have a couple of short interview segments in there with other experts – like a former insurance adjuster, or a medical insurance expert. It might also have animations to help make the case, but in a more entertaining manner. The video might also include short testimonial interviews with clients talking about how much they benefitted from knowing about these 16 questions.
Key word: Entertaining.
If you had the choice of watching either Option #1 or Option #2, wouldn’t you choose #2, just because it’s more interesting?
Online influencers are a big deal these days. I hope you’ve noticed. They have large online audiences, they make a lot of money. And they generate huge sales when they feature and promote a product they like. A new lipstick or a new dress can sell out in a single day because of all the eyeballs watching these “influencers”.
But nobody would be watching them if they were boring.
Remember how Jim Cramer lit up TV financial analysis by having a meltdown on air? It was entertaining.
These days, law firm video doesn’t just mean publishing to YouTube and embedding the player on a page on your website. Video that is shared natively in Social Media platforms has certain advantages, like playing instantly. You should look at uploading directly to Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, LinkedIn and so on, to weigh the pros and cons versus just using a YouTube video.
I also think that as law firm owners get savvier about Social Media, they will start to target their videos and messaging much more according to the channel or the audience. What might play well on Instagram might not be a good fit for LinkedIn.
As with everything, we only learn by creating more, by trying more. You’ll have a much better idea of what kind of video plays well with Millennials if you have 500 different videos out there, instead of just five.
Also, consider that there really is no hard and fast rule that a video should be under two minutes in length, or whatever the “experts” are telling you.
People sit and binge-watch Netflix for DAYS. It’s about entertainment, interest and relevancy. You need to decide whether the subject calls for a short, quick-hit video, or whether you can go into more detail and go beyond some arbitrary time limit. You could also experiment with using short videos to drive audiences to longer, more in-depth content.
This brings me to education-based marketing, which is the third element I think is going to be even more important.
I’ve already covered some aspects of that above. You’ve got to be more entertaining somehow, while still balancing it with the right amount of information.
You’ll also need to look at more different ways to offer the information you have to offer.
We’re a multi-channel society. We’re multi-modal.
Some people like reading paperback books. Some prefer hard covers. Some prefer reading on their Kindle. And some prefer the audio-book version.
Some people like apps. Some prefer the plain old Internet.
Some people like Whatsapp. Others prefer good old SMS text messaging.
What this means is you need a wider spectrum of content, both in terms of how you deliver it and what the content looks like.
For example, if your potential client doesn’t like to use email, that doesn’t mean they don’t want your free report. They might just prefer that you text them the link to download it instead.
But it might also mean having a fresh look to see if you have content that is quick and easy to digest, and also other content that takes the time to go into more detail.
So just like I suggested above about your law firm’s videos, you might use short content to grow the audience for the more in-depth stuff you create.
And remember, although I might be saying, “This is what we understand Millennials want,” it’s also good for the wider market out there.
What Do Millennials Want?
Millennials need to feel a part of something bigger than themselves. That’s true whether they’re employees in your law practice, or potential clients.
They want to feel like they have a purpose, and they want to choose to do business with companies that feel like they serve a purpose. It’s not just about the money, it’s also about making the world a happier, better place. They want to know that they’re contributing to the greater good of the world.
But adopting that more sophisticated messaging won’t just put you in good stead with Millennials. The younger generation don’t have a monopoly on caring about others. Mostly, everybody cares about the world to some extent.
We’re not heartless, uncaring people. It’s just that it’s taken the generation of Millennials for us to pay greater attention to these kind of values. They resonate with everybody.
Having Millennials employed in your law practice can be a big benefit – and a kick up the butt. Sure, you’ve heard the complaints that they’re lazy and feel entitled, but really they just have a clearer sense of what they want to achieve in life. They’ll force you to think about – and then communicate a policy on – these other issues they feel are important.
So what do they want?
They want to feel like there’s opportunity for advancement within your business.
They want to feel like their opinions have been heard and evaluated honestly.
They want instant feedback.
They want to be praised when they’ve done a good job.
They want constructive feedback if they need to improve.
But really, today, that’s what most people want. Millennials are just more vocal about it.
New 2019 Management Strategy
I’m testing out a new strategy for 2019, one that is entirely in keeping with getting a kick up the butt from Millennials:
The 12 Week Year
Why take 12 months to plan and implement new priorities for your law firm, when you could achieve the same result in just 90 days?
Here’s how Amazon describes the book:
Most organizations and individuals work in the context of annual goals and plans; a twelve-month execution cycle. Instead, The 12 Week Year avoids the pitfalls and low productivity of annualized thinking. This book redefines your “year” to be 12 weeks long. In 12 weeks, there just isn’t enough time to get complacent, and urgency increases and intensifies. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now. In the end more of the important stuff gets done and the impact on results is profound.
I’m taking this strategy very seriously in PILMMA this year, and we’ve already started the full implementation of “The 12 Week Year”.
So I’ll report back with a progress update in March.
Happy New Year folks!