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09/12/22-The stories behind the legal sector news

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Does a five-minute meeting always trump a thousand words?

Here at TBD, we got to thinking about different forms of content delivery within the dynamic of the client-provider relationship and wondering which is people’s preferred medium for delivering and receiving information. We decided to delve deeper and, to this end, conducted two LinkedIn polls to ask members of the TBD network the following:

Poll 1: If you could have a target client read 1,000 words you’ve written or get to spend five minutes with them, which would you choose – 1,000 words or 5 minutes?

Results (41 votes):

They read my 1,000-word blog – 12%

They spend 5 minutes with me – 88%

Poll 2: As a client/customer, would you prefer a 1,000-word blog to read or five minutes with an expert talking to you? Assuming both things take the same amount of time.

Results (30 votes):

Prefer to read expert’s blog – 43%

Prefer 5 minutes’ expert chat – 57%

The results are quite striking. As you can see, there is an overwhelming preference (88% vs 12%) for personal interaction on the part of those trying to win over prospective clients, while clients/customers seeking information have a much less strongly-pronounced preference (57% vs 42%) to be face to face with an expert rather than reading their words.

So what is at the root of this contrast between the preferences of marketers and clients/customers? Why do those pitching their ideas believe so strongly that they will be more persuasive in person, while those on the receiving end are less convinced of this? We don’t have any definitive answers, though the comments that respondents left to expound on their preferences do provide some clues.

Copywriter, trainer and speaker Jo Watson (CMgr MCMI) explains her response to Poll 2 (the client/customer perspective) as follows:

 “I could genuinely change my mind back and forth about this. On the one hand, I love a blog, as I can dip in and out of the information and refer back to it when needed. But on the other hand, having 5 minutes with an expert can be invaluable in making the knowledge quest specific to your needs, rather than generic to a set audience (as with the blog).”

BD coach, consultant and trainer Ben Paul states he has no preference:

“Both. If I need expert advice I tend to read something to get some of the basics covered and then I would have a chat with an expert.”

As I said to Ben in my response to his comment, this is the essence of funnel marketing, more on which below.

Content strategy expert Heather Murray initially expressed a preference for blogs,

“as I can read it in my own time, whereas a chat with an expert has to be scheduled”.

But when I pressed her on which would be more likely to make her buy, she responded:

“Hmm, maybe the chat actually. Although if the chat was salesy it would put me right off!”

I think these three responses get to the heart of the contrasting results. Marketers may feel they can deliver their content better and bring their powers of persuasion to bear more effectively in person, but clients/customers are potentially put off by this if they feel they are being strong-armed by their interlocutor. As Jo and Ben highlight in their responses, both formats have their merits and drawbacks, and these are perhaps more obvious when you’re the recipient rather than the provider of the respective content. Here, as with virtually everything in life, balance is probably key: having the best of both worlds, as it were, by using the benefits of the respective delivery format to supplement the weaknesses of the other.

As Jo points out above, blogs have the advantage of being available for reference 24/7, whereas we rarely have the luxury of instant access to in-person expert advice. However, it’s worth noting that videos can provide a great halfway house between a blog and a five-minute session with an expert. Yet neither the written nor the video-based format offers that unique benefit of fully personalised content (although videos can be created for an audience of 1) and the ability to ask questions of the expert in real time.

When we think of these different formats in the context of funnel marketing, it’s safe to say that blogs and videos are useful tools further up the funnel when a client doesn’t know you or know anything about a topic. Face-to-face meetings are more relevant when we want to ask questions, see if there’s chemistry or find out if we can work together with the person doing the pitching. The proper combination of both sets of tools it what ultimately leads to a mutually successful and beneficial outcome.

Ultimately, Simon Hayhurst – Director of Hayhurst Consultancy – hits the nail on the head with his comment below Poll 1: “How about…I offer the target client 5 mins with me OR a 1,000-word blog, and the target client does what *they* prefer?” There you have it, folks – the customer is king, and should always be given the choice of how they prefer to catch that metaphorical marketing ball you’re pitching at them.

I guess my point would be not to just keep doing something without, at least every now and then, asking “is this what I’d want if I were on the receiving end?”

News stories to read

The Lawyer’s Independents UK200 ranking – trouble in the offing?

The Lawyer’s ranking by revenue of the UK’s second hundred-largest firms, known as the Independents, has just gone live – and, on the face of it at least, things seem to be going well in this segment of the market: the Independents have managed to rack up a total fee income of £2bn in 2021/22, a healthy 5% increase on the previous year’s £1.9bn. So what’s the rub, I hear you ask? Well, the rankings also reveal that there has been a significant slowdown in the rate of growth from 6.1% in 2020/21. And a total of 22 firms recorded a fall in turnover last year, more than three times as many as amongst those firms in the top 100. Does this spell trouble in the offing for this market segment in the coming year, given the amount of economic uncertainty we are all currently living through? Time will tell, though we are all familiar with the remarkable resilience of the legal sector in the face of unprecedented challenges.

For more on this story, see here:

The wild west crypto sector: a new marshall in town?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to be given greater powers to intervene in the still largely unregulated cryptoasset sector. The announcement comes in the wake of the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange platform, merely the latest in a series of crises to rock the crypto industry. This beefing-up of the FCAs regulatory remit is perhaps a sign that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants to deliver on his claims made in April, when he was still Chancellor, that Britain could become a global hub for cryptoasset technology if “effective regulation” is put in place. Lord knows that the government could do with a post-Brexit good-news story when it comes to the country’s fortunes as a financial-services and trading centre.

For more on this story, see here:

Two times a winner: Orrick takes home two FT Innovative Lawyers North America awards for 2022

An old sparring partner of mine has been recognised not once but twice in this year’s FT North America Innovative Lawyers Awards. I was on the other side of merger talks with Orrick back in 2008, and even then had to admire that they got shit done. And Orrick still very much seems to be in the business of impressing: the firm not only won in the Innovation in Enabling Business Resilience category with a huge 26 out of 30 possible points – the highest total score amongst the 22 awards winners – but also lifted the title for Innovation in Reinventing Legal Practice with a score of 25 out of 30. Not a bad night for Orrick at the awards ceremony this past Monday (5 December) – we warmly congratulate the firm.

For a comprehensive list of the winners, please see here:

Will Clifford Chance come to regret ousting Senior Partner Jeroen Ouwehand?

My gut says yes. Ouwehand is, to my mind, a man ahead of his time. We’re all late to the net zero party and time is, frankly, quickly running out. But Clifford Chance’s now jilted Senior Partner had his finger on the pulse and has been busy making real progress on ESG (both internally on the firm’s own commitments and externally advising clients) when others are still busy making plans. This is, in effect, a holding piece from The Lawyer – not taking sides or calling the market like they used to – but rather a piece to refer back to later if/when things don’t go as planned under the firm’s new leadership.

Single-term leaders are rare – as I have said to several clients/leadership candidates, even George W Bush got reelected – but what’s going to be interesting is what Ouwehand does next. I’d be darned surprised if he didn’t show up at COP28/COP29 in a leadership role.

After all, you can’t stop an idea whose time has come.

Dates for your diary

  • 12 December – Employment Law and Relations Half Day Event – Join CIPD East London and Docklands branch for a half-day event used to prepare you for the 2023 employment law changes. To be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London
  • 12-14 December – Managing & Leading In-house Legal Teams – Attend this intensive, practical and highly interactive three-day training course and learn personal and professional skills for managing and leading a successful legal department. To be held in London.
  • 14 December – Centenary of Admission of Women to the Legal Profession – An event to celebrate 100 years of women in the legal profession with Lubna Shuja, President of The Law Society of England & Wales. To be held at Macfarlanes LLP, London

As ever, I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s edition.


Si Marshall

Legal marketing expert – I love lawyers, their stories and how they help clients | Marketing | PR | Digital Marketing | Business

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