For decades seminars have provided barristers the perfect way to showcase their technical expertise whilst injecting a bit of personality and afterwards, over a few drinks, begin to form the personal connections with their instructing solicitors required to establish a long-term working relationship.
Over the last few years however solicitors have come to expect more. They wanted the traditional seminar format to be refreshed so they could derive the maximum benefit from the time they’d taken out to attend. These formats included Q&As, in-house sessions and interactive discussions based around case studies. If you’d like to find out more, I covered this very topic in October 2017’s issue of The Barrister.
However, as solicitors’ time becomes ever more stretched it’s now time to be even more creative in terms of how you present your legal specialisms. While solicitors still want to access your brains, they want that access at the time that’s most convenient to them rather than having to commit to a specific slot which could very well be overtaken by client demands at the last minute.
This is where technology can help.
Over the last few years we have seen a number of Chambers making better use of the technology available to them. And before you start to worry that the very mention of technology has to either mean ‘far too complicated’ or ‘far too expensive’ (or both), let me assure you the most advanced tech we’ve needed to deliver the projects we’ve worked has been a smart phone or a tablet.
Rather than just list out the different options available (or at least the ones we’re aware of) I thought it may be better to look at it from your instructing solicitors’ perspective and illustrate how certain initiatives have met their demands.
“We don’t have the time to attend seminars”
Video content and webinars are both effective ways to provide the content you’d ordinarily deliver at a seminar but allow the audience to open, watch and listen when it suits them. It also provides you with links you can circulate via your social media channels and because Google loves video content, it’ll also give your search engine rankings a welcome shot in the arm.
When it comes to video content all you need is an iPad (and we’d suggest a tripod to hold it steady) and someone to switch it on and off. You can pick a question you’ve been asked by a few different solicitors or a particular point of law or recent legislative change and talk around it. Then, using a free app like iMovie, you can brand it, give it a title slide and add a call-to-action at the end.
Webinars are even easier. You can organise an international audience for a live webinar using a platform like GoToMeeting. They will send your invites and manage your attendees and all you need to do is turn up and speak over your slides. If you record the live session you will then have a file you can circulate to those who couldn’t attend and keep on Chambers’ website for posterity (and for the SEO value). Alternatively free platforms like Screencast-O-Matic allow you to talk over slides and record the session so you can again add it to your website, circulate it to your marketing database and promote the links via social media.
“I need to know I can get what I want, when I want”
This is really an extension of the previous point and by adding video/webinar content to your site your clients and targets will be able to access exactly what they want when they want.
If you can, I’d always suggest putting some kind of tracker or data collection mechanism in front of video content. It may be that you ask for an email address to unlock the content or for users to set up a username and password to access your list of content. Again this shouldn’t’ be expensive and your website people should be able to provide you with an affordable list of options to consider.
However, there are two key things to bear in mind if you are going to go down this route:
- Be prepared to push it hard
You could have the best content in the world waiting for your audience but if you’re not promoting it using all means at your disposal, you’ll never achieve the audience you want. If you do post video content, make sure you are supporting it with e-marketing, social media and your clerking team who could introduce it to the main law firms you work with and even offer to let them host it internally for even easier access.
- Always add a call-to-action
At the end of your video, tell the audience what they need to do next to keep the conversation going. Do they need to sign up for future updates? Do you have a supporting white paper or course notes they could ask you to send? Do they want you to run the same session in their offices for the wider team? To you all of this may be implicit but to the audience it really does need to be spelt out.
“I need a quick fix, not chapter and verse”
Short-form content (i.e. FAQS, 350 word blogs on single subjects, top tips on ‘what to do when’ and keeping pieces down to what an editor at The Lawyer eloquently outlined to me as “one page on a smart phone”) has rightfully become content marketing best practice. People rarely have neither the time to wade through 1200-1500 word articles nor the inclination to given the majority of what we read for work purposes is now read from a screen rather than a page.
Technology can now help you take that one stage further. If you take the key points from a blog or a presentation and animate them as short videos those are perfect for pushing out via your social media channels. They are quick to watch, easy to understand and every marketing statistic underlines the fact people are much more likely to watch a short video than read an article today – regardless of which industry they work in.
If video isn’t the right medium for knottier subjects, have you considered launching a podcast? This allows a few members to sit around a table to discuss a burning issue and put forward their points of view on how to read/interpret/take advantage of a particular point of law in 10 or 15 minutes.
Sometimes when we suggest podcasting we’re greeted with a look of horror. “Surely that requires a studio and all manner of complicated post-production effort?” Not at all; our own CoffeeCasts are recorded on an iPhone then enhanced (and given some intro and outro music) using a free piece of software called Audacity. Then having signed up for a Soundcloud account, we’re automatically added to iTunes and Spotify.
“I need regular updates”
As you’re in control of what you want to cover and how you want to cover it, you can set your own production schedule and fit it in around your members’ current caseload. Spreading the topics (and presenting duties) across the different practice areas in Chambers will allow you to produce a regular flow of new content without impinging your barristers’ fee earning during their busiest times.
“I need to be told what I don’t know”
This is where social media can help. You can alert people to what you have just added to your website (because it’s obviously all things they should know about/be thinking about), invite them to suggest other areas they’d like you to cover in upcoming podcasts, blogs, top tips or webinars and remind them about what you’ve already created.
This is admittedly a fairly repetitive task and I’m guessing one that your busy workload will preclude you from managing tackling consistently and systematically at all times. But again technology can play a massive part here. Apps like Hootsuite allow you to schedule LinkedIn updates and tweets weeks in advance and while you should of course be commenting on relevant cases and developments as they happen, your internal or external marketing people or even clerks can schedule regular reminders and invitations to drive traffic and new ideas without you having to do anything.
In addition most case management and CRM systems now include a marketing module so you can send out a monthly or quarterly summary of what’s gone up and where to find it.
If you don’t have that mailing component within your systems there are plenty of very low cost – if not free – platforms to choose from online. And better still, those can be used from your phone or tablet and will measure who’s read what, what they’ve opened and what they’ve clicked through so you know who to follow up with and the types of topics and formats that are generating most interest to help you make better marketing decisions going forward.
And the next step? Just do it! If you think that any of the ideas I’ve covered hear could help you build a closer working relationships with your instructing solicitors and introduce you to a brand new audience who may want to use you in the future (not to mention reduce your marketing costs and the time and effort required to organise and deliver seminars), give it a go. And of course – and this is my call-to-action! – if you want any further tips to help get you started, please ask.
By Douglas McPherson, Director, Size 10½ Boots and author of The Visible Lawyer
Director, Size 10½ Boots
t: 077865 40191