Marketing by engaging with the community
The latest from around the legal ecosystem, plus an update on a new project
Hope you all are having a wonderful week! Today I’m going to be sharing two broad themes I’ve seen in the news lately, which are both related to sales and marketing. Before I get into it, I wanted to give you all a preview of a major project I’m working on.
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going to write an article about how to generate more conversations with buyers. The idea came from the popularity of my article Growing Your Book Of Business. As I’ve been working through it, I realized it’s going to be a bit more extensive and detailed than what I had expected. The content is based on conversations I’ve had with startup founders, sales veterans, and successful rainmakers, and notes from my previous roles in sales/marketing.
So instead of putting out a simple article, I plan to break it out into various parts with deep dives into specific “methods” to generate conversations. For example, there will be standalone deep dives on conferences, webinars, targeted emails and DMs, and social media. The tactical content will be placed behind a paywall, and offered only to paying subscribers of this Substack. Pricing will be designed to make it easy to reimburse with your organization.
Anyways, I’ll be updating you soon on when that’s up and available. In the meantime, here are the two big themes I’ve been thinking about this week:
Community To Accelerate Marketing
Congrats to my friend Mike Whelan for his new role as Chief Community Officer at Law Insider! I wonder if his announcement is a reflection of the general trend of more startups adding “community” to their sales and marketing efforts. Most of these roles appeared a year or two ago at technology companies—after all that’s when I was hired at Ironclad, too—but lately this trend has seemed to slow down. Is Mike’s hiring a one-off or signs of a broader trend that companies recognize the marketing power of content, social media, and community engagement? Time will tell.
Something I’ve been wondering about lately is if and when law firms will start to embrace social media. I don’t mean individual lawyers—after all, there are plenty of examples of specific lawyers leveraging the Internet to do business development, including a few from the American Lawyer this week. I’m wondering if firms, as an organization, will recognize the power of social. Venture capital firms already have (check out this job posting from NFX) and some have launched entire media arms to help build brand and find new deals.
My sense is that with the growth of scalable marketing channels, it’s suddenly important again to connect with people. It’s how marketing was done for decades. You know, like the classic business owner with lots of relationships and community ties. My hypothesis is that social media (and the Internet generally) has enabled us to reach massive audiences quickly—but the true impact comes only if you build actual relationships. You can’t just pour a bunch of money into ads—even if it’s a sponsored post from a social media account with lots of followers—and expect it to just work. People still matter.
Sales Continues To Be A Premium Skill
Check out this Bloomberg Law article (and my reaction) about the favored treatment of rainmakers at major law firms. This time, it’s framed as “performers vs. underperformers” but what the article seems to be really getting at is this: When times are tough, rainmakers do well, but “grinders” who just churn out billable hour after billable hour, are expendable. Your “performance” is less about work product and more about the revenue you bring to the firm.
One of the big focuses of this newsletter is on the importance of being a rainmaker at your organization. It was a lesson I learned early on in my startup career. If you can drive revenue to your organization, you become massively valuable. I think most legal professionals recognize this in the abstract, but lately it’s become even more apparent. For example, this commentator pointed out on Twitter that rainmakers are being recruited to competitor firms with compensation packages that are 75% to 100% higher than what they currently have.
Relatedly, I think too many of us focus on clever tactics and tricks to generate more income. Maybe if we find the right role, recruiter, or employer, we can make more money. I’m not saying this is wrong—if your job is paying you too little, you should move on. But you’re unlikely to get a big step up in income. If you really want to make more, you have to create more value. Which often means learning how to sell more effectively for your organization. In fact, the opportunity is even greater in law (than in other industries) precisely because most legal professionals either don’t believe in sales, or think it’s gross.
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Excellent analysis as always, Alex Su.