RubensteinTech partners with leading creative firms to build high-end websites and software for web and mobile platforms across the legal, real estate, non-profit, technology, and financial services sectors.
In an overcrowded and noisy market, it's a challenge to get your firm's thought leadership noticed and read by its intended audience. To a large extent, the likelihood a piece will be noticed and read is determined by your choice of format, whether white paper, infographic, podcast, video, blog post or seminar, etc.
Join us as Ian Mason and Jaron Rubenstein discuss the key role that format choice plays in well-managed and on-budget thought leadership programs. Watch to discover how different formats can work well together, and how the right format can be the difference between an expensive, failed initiative and a successful, influential campaign.
Ian Mason is managing director of Hassard Fay. He helps law firms and other professional services firms develop thought leadership strategies and the creative content to execute them. His experience includes more than a decade in top-tier governance, strategy, and technology consulting, which brought home to him the benefits and challenges of using thought leadership to sell professional services to sophisticated clients. His experience spans working as an ideas-focused freelance journalist for publications like The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Globe and Mail, The Spectator, and The Times Literary Supplement; publishing, designing, and editing the general interest magazines SCOPE and GRAVITAS, and writing and directing videos for Accenture.
President and Founder
Rubenstein Technology Group
Director of Business Development
Rubenstein Technology Group
George: Good afternoon everyone, and thank you for joining us for the 12th entry of our Ruby Law Thought Leadership series: Packaging Ideas. RubyLaw itself is Rubenstein Technology Group product. It is a customizable enterprise level web content management platform that empowers user experience for both legal marketers and firm audiences alike. It is designed to meet the web mobile marketing proposal generation and experience management needs of big law firms. The RubyLaw Thought Leadership series is Rubenstein Technology Group's effort to support a big opportunity firms have to create a competitive advantage by adjusting to how and where law firms stake holders are excepted to consume content. For those interested, all other 11 entries of this series are up on the Rubenstein Tech site for viewing, with topics ranging from branding 101 to how to prepare your firm for a website redesign. Today we have the fortunate opportunity to listen in on a presentation that addresses how you can create a competitive advantage by being strategic about short and long form thought leadership formats. Taking us through today's talk is our guest star panelist, Ian Mason, managing director of Hassard Fay. Ian helps law firms and other professional service firms develop thought leadership strategies and the creative content to execute them. His experience includes more than a decade in top tier governance, strategies, and technology consulting which brought home to him the benefits and challenges of using thought leadership to sell professional services to sophisticated clients. At this time, I'd like to welcome Ian. Hey Ian.
Ian: Hey, thank you very much for that.
George: Yeah, we're really excited to have you with us today. You're gonna bring, I think a really interesting perspective on thought leadership. We had webinars on content strategy and thought leadership in the past, but I think this particular focus is interesting, especially for firms and marketers that are time strapped.
Ian: That's fantastic, I agree, yep.
George: I'm gonna make one more public service announcement. We wanna make sure that the webinar is interactive, so please send questions and comments via Twitter using the handle @RubensteinTech or #RubyLaw, or feel free to send them directly to Jaron Rubenstein. It will be a WebEx chat, and with that I will hand it over to you Ian.
Ian: Great, thank you very much George. Thanks everyone. It's great to be here. Why don't we just dive straight in? George mentioned obviously the topic of this is thought leadership. It's clearly becoming an overused term out there, but it's no less important because of that, and one thing we do like to point out before we start to talk to any of our clients about thought leadership is that when they're general marketers especially if they have a background in B to C for example. There's definitely an industry move toward what's called content marketing. That's a slightly different flavor, what we're talking about as I'm sure all of you know, because content marketing is really about B to C companies going at or replacing advertising which nobody wants to watch or see, and replacing that with content that people prefer to see and then getting a brand or getting a product next to that, it's adjacency in effect, and it's a lot like traditional advertising in that way that it's not central to the product.
Whereas thought leadership, especially thought leadership for professional services is central to the product because the product itself is thinking professional services. Its firm is the business of renting brains, and so the output of those brains, the thinking is the product itself, and so thought leadership is actually a demonstration of capabilities, and in another way it's the opening of a conversation. It's even more central to marketing for professional services than content marketing is for product firms. Now thought leadership, of course, been preferably, should be created as part of a program, as part of a disciplined program over time to showcase a firm's best thinking, and this schematic is just one way of organizing that. It's certainly a way that we do it with our clients, going from strategic goals and filtering and prioritizing those, and in this case we talk about growing a practice group's revenues by 10% and that should lead you into a set of goals for the thought leadership program itself, and from those goals, and in this case it might be being seen as the leading expert on a given highly timely issue, and that should lead you to a set of what we call desired mentalities. These are beliefs and attitudes that your audience should have about what you think, perhaps they should believe that you're highly credible on this. There might be a specific point of view that you need them to believe, and so these are the mentalities you need to define, and that leads you into what should we talk about and what particular pieces should we produce and so on. That's the very high level approach to thought leadership strategy. But we're not really here to talk about thought leadership strategy. This is just context setting.
What we wanna talk about is formats, and the reason that formats are important in our mind, and by formats, by the way, we mean should we do a white paper? Should we do a podcast? Should we do an infographic and so on. Those kind of choices about how to package the ideas that we're creating. The reasons those matter is of course, things are pretty noisy and complicated out there, and if you pick the wrong format, and nobody wants to digest that idea in that format, it's pretty quickly, pretty easy to vanish without a trace, and you've just wasted your efforts, and on top of that, what you start to build, the more often you pick the wrong format and cause people to not want to digest those ideas is that you build a habit of indifference, and this happens even to me when I subscribe to top consulting firms subscription lists and they're sending me white papers every single week, and sometimes every single day if they're a big enough firm. If you don't feel like reading a white paper and it's too much time out of your day, then you're not going to. You're gonna let it scroll off your screen, and the more often you do that, the more that as soon as that email comes in, you're automatic reaction becomes I'm gonna let that scroll off my screen. It's another one from them. Even though you may respect their thinking, even though you think it's high quality, doesn't matter. You've built up a habit of indifference and it's very tough to break that once you've done that to your audience so it matters very much, picking the format that they wanna digest your thinking in so that they do digest it and they get the value out of it, and they do pay attention the next time you send them something else.
Of course, thinking back to classical thought leadership, and this is pioneered by consulting firms for example, like McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group back in the '60s. It was a very different world back then, and BCG used to have a great term for their perspective papers which are really briefing papers or sort of micro mini white papers about four day pages long. Bruce Henderson used to call them a punch between the eyes. They were written in such a way that they would cause a client or a prospect to sit up in their chair and say, "Oh, I've never thought about that issue "like that. "I may not agree with it, "but boy, that was really well argued, "and it got me to think about it differently. "It punched me between the eyes." That was their aim, and they were incredibly successful at doing that. They of course in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and 90s were always producing classic thought leadership so the formats were pretty straightforward. There were white papers. They were forwarded versions which we might call briefing papers, and of course in legal marketing those are the client updates that your lawyers are sending out all the time. Occasionally a firm would step up and actually create a documentary, and show it to their clients or they'd give speeches and so on, but that was classical thought leadership. That worked because they lived in a world of information scarcity, and from that point of view, if you were a client or a prospect, in your briefcase you might have a single newspaper or single magazine. When you went home to watch TV, you had three networks to choose from. You had a voice telephone, and when you went to an event you didn't check your smartphone because they didn't exist. You just listened to the speaker. That's why you went to the event.
There was a real monopoly on time and the scarcity of information that caused, if you sent somebody a white paper in the mail, that's one of the few thing they've got in their briefcase. They're probably gonna read it on the train, and they'll be glad they've got it. It's actually, oh look I've got something interesting in my briefcase. Obviously this world is completely gone. Now, how do we think about this new world? We like to think about things in terms of risk and return, and we'll explain what we mean by that. We are all very familiar with the business development funnel or the sales funnel, and that key question is always should I hire your firm? And it's a process of exploration and learning and engagement that should lead to hopefully a mandate at the end of that exercise, but starts with a lead at the beginning and starts with somebody just being aware of the firm in the first place, but before that in the world of thought leadership, there's another funnel, and the key question there is should I even read your stuff. What you're really asking me to do when you put a piece of thought leadership in front of me, is you're asking me to invest my time in it, and I'm getting insight for that. At least I'm hoping to, but I don't know because I haven't read it yet. There's not a certain return there, and that's why it's a lot like an investment or like a risk and return question for me because I'm taking a risk with my time and I'm hoping I get a return from it.
Those two funnels are important to think about because you've got two deals that you're trying to sell. The deal to get somebody to read your stuff and hopefully that leads them into the next deal which is the actual deal that you get paid money for, the actual mandate and right to work on their account. Before the journey to purchase, there's a journey to read or to watch your thought leadership. That risk and return question what's very interesting to us is that it afflicts everyone in the chain of thought leadership. Starting from the thought leaders themselves the lawyers in your case, they say to themselves I've been asked to work on a thought leadership case and I've got durable hours. I've got a hit. I've got some urgent client work and so on, but somewhere in the middle of that, I've gotta fit this white paper or this client briefing, and I'm gonna ask myself, am I actually gonna win a new client with this because these hours are incredibly expensive to me and to the firm. That's a big investment for me to help out with creating this piece.
The marketer themselves has a limited budget, has limited time to be spent on this, has a team of three or four, maybe 10 people or maybe no one. Maybe it's just them. And they have to budget for that and make their own investment decision about will we generate leads out of this? Does revenue come at the end of the day? And the prospect too, as we've been saying before, they too have a piece of thought leadership in front of them. They have to ask themselves, do I invest time reading this? Is it gonna give me useful insight? What this causes is resistance because uncertainly leads directly to if I don't have the answer to this, I'm not sure I should do it. That causes lawyers to not really want to work on the new piece of thought leadership if the previous ones didn't seem to create new deals. It leads prospects or clients to hesitate to read the next one that you put in front of them. What we wanna do is reduce the uncertainty as quickly as possible, and as effectively as possible and there's two basic ways of doing this.
Again, just thinking of it like an investment. Number one is to improve the anticipated pay off and this is a longer term thing because certainly the first time you send something to a prospect you can try very hard in the subject like, in the body of the email, or however you're presenting the piece of thought leadership to them, you can try and describe it and give them a sense of what the payoff is, but again, they won't know for sure that that payoff is really coming because they haven't read your stuff before. Over time, and this certainly a firm like McKinsey on the consulting side has achieved this. You know that if you get something from McKinsey, you may not have time to read it, but if you were to invest the time you would find it insightful and very well researched and probably worth your time. That anticipated payoff is something that you can build up over time as you produce high quality stuff that has strong insights and that has a nice balance of invested effort and payoff inside of it as a tradeoff for the client, or and this is much more immediate, you can reduce the required investment itself. Instead of making something difficult to digest or difficult to produce for the lawyer and the marketer, you make them easy to digest and easy to produce, and that reduces the head from the hesitation immediately because they know that the investment isn't as big as it could have been otherwise.
It's simply a question of reducing that size of investment means that the uncertainly you're not, if you're making a real life investment, obviously it's easier to invest 10 bucks in something that you're not really sure what the payoff is gonna be than it is to invest 10,000 dollars in it. It's the same principle here. Now we've walked through this is a draft infographic that we shop around to a lot of our clients to get their feedback on it. It's still sort of a work in progress that we're showing you here, but we've looked at, for example, to help you think this through, a white paper versus an infographic. Two ends of the effort spectrum, and we show how the effort changes depending on the step in the change. Defining which is really, how much effort is this gonna take to research and come up with our clear point of view on it? Developing it, which is writing it and reviewing it and designing it, and so on, getting the actual piece of thought leadership finished, distributing it, getting it out into the hands of prospects and clients, and then digesting it is the time that they have to invest in order to actually read it or watch it and think about it, and a white paper infographic start out fairly close to each other in terms of figuring out what do we believe about this topic? A white paper might be because you're more ambitious with white papers.
It might take a little more effort, but the development effort is very big. A white paper can take three months, six months, nine months in terms of a lapsed time. It can take several people being involved in the overall effort. A lot of reviews, a lot of back and forths and so on, whereas an infographic is much smaller, much more focused effort. It could happen within three days if the right people put their minds to it. Very big difference there. Distribution, roughly the same in both cases. You're attaching a PDF or JPEG to an email and sending it out, so really there's no big difference there, but there's again, a big difference on the digestion side because the ask is so different. You're asking with a white paper, would you please invest an hour in reading this? An hour is a very expensive thing to ask of people. Whereas an infographic, they pop up in their Linked In feed, and you're almost not even asking. They're digesting as it comes across their eyes, and they're starting to get the point. You're pulling them in immediately so there's very little ask there. It's just kind of happening. This big difference, you're putting in a lot of work on a white paper and not getting very many readers. You're putting in very little work on an infographic by contrast, and because there's very little asked of the readers of the other side, you're getting far more readers, far more reach and so on, much more digestion happening. This is just something that I think is intuitively true to most people, but it's useful to see it spelled out in this way.
We're gonna dive into different formats and how we might use them. This chart, or rather this table, is something that we developed in the last year or so for many of our clients because there were so many options on the table, and it was acutally getting a little bit difficult to keep track of which option made more sense and did we forget format in our conversation? This was a way of being rigorous about remember all the formats and remember what they're useful for, and so I won't take you through every single cell in this table, but I do wanna point out that what we have done is organize the formats in terms of their commonalities. Looking across the bottom we have a set of formats that are static and so that might be a white paper, might be a photograph. It might be an infographic or an article or a blog post. These things are static. You just present them in front of the reader, and they now have a chance on their own time to contemplate the facts and relationships and think about what they're reading and to go back and double check and things like that. You're giving them a sort of passive instrument that they are able to realy digest on their own time, then there's a set of formats that are a bit more responsive. There's layers and depth to them that a reader can actually dive into. This might be as simple as an interactive discussion with an expert. The expert may say their piece, and then you could have at the end of a webinar the discussion section and that part is the interactive bit where people can ask questions that weren't brougth up earier, or it might be an interactive tool on a website. It might be a map with data pop ups. It may have a chart beneath it which you can do pivot tables on and so on.
Again it's up to the reader to go as deep as they want, but you can build formats like that that allow that kind of interactivity. It's responsive, and then finally there's the time linear type of format which is really more or less a broadcasting concept. It might be a video. It might be a podcast. It might be live lecture or talk, and it's where the recipients will lean back in their chair and listent to what you have to tell them. You're gonna take them through an explanation for example, or a process that you're gonna walk them through, and time linear is very useful for that. It's not terribly useful for allowing people to zoom backwards and pick up something randomly by scanning it. They can certainly do it in a recorded video, but it's difficult to find what you were looking for, but this too is another way of thinking about what your goals are for this format. If that's the kind of functionality you want people to have, then these are the kinds of formats that go well with it. This gives you a sense of the range of formats that exist, and certainly new ones are tending to pop up all the time.
Related to that, and again a way of thinking about formats is that whatever format you choose, you do wanna think about where the value to the recipient appears in their process of both receiving the piece of thought leadership and opening it up and digesting it. It's important to realize that the value, much of the value actually appears in this smaller components of that package. If you email a white paper ad to somebody, frequently your subject line is reasonably informative about what the topic of the white paper is, and so I'm aware that your firm has a point of view on this topic. That's actually reasonably valuable to people. You may not know what the point of view is yet, but you just know that, okay, this law firm has an opinion on it, so I might remember that and go back to that later. If I have time and I open up the email and I read the body, the summary of the email that's next to the PDF, you may hopefully explain what the unique point of view is and I now get even more value, because if that unique point of view is actually useful in and of itself, you've given me a lot of the value of the white paper right there. You've essentially given me the answer, and so that really transmits a lot of value, and I haven't even opened up the white paper yet. Then I may go ahead, we might be getting into the 1% of recipients that open up the PDF, and I may scan it very quickly because I only have five minutes, but I scan the title. I look at the headings. I glance at all the pictures and read the captions. I may look at the graphics that you put in there which may include really useful charts and so on, and by skimming the headings, I'm looking at the graphics and maybe glancing at the summary. I now understand what your argument is, and perhaps if I wasn't persuaded before, you've persuaded me more now, and perhaps persuaded me completely, and I may remember some insights too that came up if you had some infographics embedded in there that were really well designed. I might remember those insights and be able to convey them to somebody else. Again, I haven't read the actual text yet, I've just looked at the highlights, and then finally whoever does read through the entire email, or rather the entire PDF now can I say I fully understand the argument and certainly that's useful. If I wasn't convinced at all, perhaps you convinced me now, but that's almost a residual value on all the other values that got transmitted in the other components, those much higher level summary components and so on.
It's important to remember that because many of the formats that you may choose, especially the shorter ones, are essentially doing that with very complicated arguments. Rather than fully expressing the arguments, they're summarizing them and boiling them down and conveying them very quickly, but they're capturing 75% or 80% of the value of the argument even though they're only 10% the size of the long form version. Which raises the question, why would you ever do something in long format? There are good reasons. You may need to provide your readers with some in depth explanations of a very difficult topic. There may be background that you need to get across. There may be data that you need to present that cannot be presented rapidly in other formats, and even more importantly, if your point of view is controversial or not shared by many of your prospects and clients, you may need to talk at length about why it's the case that you're right and their former belief is not right or they should rethink what they've believed before, and you might need length to do that, because a simple infographic doesn't always persuade everyone if they're already prone to not believe what you're saying. Length has it's benefits. Obviously shortness has it's benefits as well. You may wanna get people to quickly understand the importance of an issue. You want that understanding to be easily sharable. It's much easier for people to share a quick infographic than it is to share a full white paper. Obviously I don't mean technically, I mean in terms of again, the digestion ask at the end of the day. You may want to prompt further action, so short often leads to long because you are enticing people in with here's our point of view, now you get it, but there's more to it so please download this white paper to fully understand this. Really you're pulling people down that funnel into deeper engagement with your firm and into the way you think, and into this issue as well, by starting with short and leading to long.
As we get at the bottom, short often flies farther, and attracts people to the longer format versions of that same argument. Because there are many formats and many channels and so on, that those formats can go out across, in a fully full blown program, this can get fairly complicated and take some mangement to think about which channels we're pushing things over, and which formats we're using, but the key thing to remember here, and this is what we want to get at is that most of these formats can be redeployed in different ways. A large format, whether it's an ebook or a full scale white paper and so on, should be built in such a way that you can break it down into smaller formats. You can extract the pictures and send them out on social media with the interesting caption that has a message in it. You can extract the infographics. You can extract, you can break it up into chapters and issue it over the course of a year instead of once at the end of the year. All things, all large formats, should ideally be modular and should be able to be broken up into smaller formats. At the same time, if you produced a lot of small format pieces of thought leadership over the course of the year, you should think about how can these be consolidated into larger formats? Can we aggregate our best blogs onto a newsletter? Certainly there are many programs that do that for you automatically, or semi-automatically, you clearly wanna have some kind of human judging what the best examples of your blogs were, but that's one example of that, or can you consolidate your visuals into some sort of end of year review? Can you consolidate many different viewpoints on a single topic or many different slices of that issue into a single final piece of thought leadership that you issue at the end of the year or at the end of a quarter.
You're agglomerating smaller formats into larger, and you're getting more bang for your buck for that reason. You can also think about formats and their different sizes in terms of constellations. Pick a single theme that you're trying to become a clear thought leader in, and you can center it, for example, if you wish, on a white paper, but then surround that white paper with a whole bunch of smaller versions of the same topic or of the same point of view. Surrounded with an infographic, obviously an event that you're gonna present your thinking at. You may interview the author of the white paper. You may do a short video on the same topic and so on, and these constellations you can either launch at the same time as the main piece, the 10 pole piece, or you can drip them out over time to either prepare the market for what you're gonna send out or to keep the conversation going after you sent out the main piece at the beginning. You don't even need a main piece in the middle. This is another important thing to realize. We've seen firms who do constellations around a topic without actually writing the big thick white paper in the middle. They just do a constellation of different ways of digesting and accessing that same topic. They've done enough research on the topic to actually write a white paper if they wanted to, but they don't actually issue the white paper. They just issue the constellation and then have all of those different ways of accessing it on a landing page, and obviously they're sending out of social media at different times. Constellations are a pretty powerful way of thinking about how do we articulate our thinking about a given topic across different formats? As we say here, a key thing is that it achieves repetition without boredom. Anything, as you know in advertising, repetition is part of the game, but being repetitious about a topic to a sophisticated audience can bore them and turn them off. This is kind of a cunning way of talking about the same topic without boring them.
George: Hey Ian, I have a question.
George: Something like this, a constellation, what would you put on it in terms of a time frame if you were to put together a really strong theme or topic, and then all the way through to having all these assets built.
Ian: Yeah, sure. That's a great question.
George: And then considerate maybe one or two considerations because it seems like a pretty big investment.
Ian: It can be and I would say the biggest, if you were to build these all linearly on a project management table, you would just see that the largest piece that you're working on of course determines the final date of the launch. If you really did want to do a 20 page white papers, part of the constellations, and that's gonna be your tenfold piece, then clearly that's gonna be the longest and most difficult effort that you have. Whereas you could, and everything else could be nested within that effort, so you could do an infographic within three days you could do a short video depending on how you did it and if you need a talking head and so on, and how easy that is to schedule, that might be a couple of days as well. The difficultly is really in the largest piece, and everything else falls under that frankly. If you don't have a 20 page white paper, you're really doing a constellation smaller assets, then it's really just a scheduling challenge of lining up who's gonna do what and are they all available at the same time. Obviously we need to figure out the point of view at the beginning and one reason why these shorter formats are so useful as well, we'll talk about this later too is that getting the thought leader themselves into the room in the first place to actually articulate the point of view or to figure out what the point of view should be can take a month or two or three months if they're on a case, if they're in another city and so on. If they're incredibly busy, then getting them into the room in the first place can be the most difficult thing, and that can cause what should be an easy project to be, and that could hypothetically take less than a week. It actually ends up taking three months plus a week because it just took so long to get them into the room in the first place after green lighting.
George: Thank you.
Ian: Good, thanks. Good question. Here we have a slide that talks about influencers and audiences, and on the far left we've flagged in red the general council of any given prospect firm, so clearly the person that any law firm wants most to think well of them and to understand their thought leadership. They're the prospect let's say, but it's important to think about all the other influencers on that prospect, and so a GC may be heavily influenced by other lawyers. They may be influenced by the board members of their own firm, by the C suite executives in their own firm, and then more broadly by the legal media that they read, by accountants and consultants, or other professionals that they deal with on a day to day basis. The business media and finally the general public including their own families, and all those influencers on them are also influenced by different kinds of thought leaderships, so different levels of formality for example. To the GC, you may obviously need to send the formal client briefing, but they may be influenced by someone in the business media who picks up the infographic that you produced on that same topic, and that journalist quickly looks at the infographic, understands the essential point of it, writes a story about it, mentions your point of view on it, and the GC reads that and remembers it's your point of view. It's important always to have this mix or to bear in mind that it's not just formal legal jargon, that the GC themselves needs to be receiving from you. You're sending your thinking out into a much more complicated eco system of influence, and so that's why, another good reason why shorter formats or less formal formats are very useful because they see the marketplace in terms of your thoughts, those means if you wanna use that term float around and are coming back to your prospects or various different channels, and they're not gonna float around if all you're producing is the legal jargon, the actual client briefing itself, because certainly the business media themselves are not gonna wanna read that, and the C suite executives won't read it either.
The more informal and shorter formats you have out there that get your thinking across, the more likely it is that your thinking comes back to your prospects and reinforces what they're reading anyway from you. Another thought is about size and tempo. You may have, depending on your business development strategy for a given sector let's say, you may go with a tent pole strategy which says we need to reach a broad audience. We need to establish one very big and important point of view. Let's do, let's say invest a lot in a big white paper for example, and then surround it with these modular assets. This is the classic constellation approach, or we may say, we've already established ourselves in the sector, but we're trying to constantly reach further and further into it, and increase our marketshare in this sector. We need to go beyond just a tent pole. We need to actually do something that we call a solvent so we're just referring to water being the universal solvent, can break down any bond. If you drip water on something long enough, and so here too, this is one reason that law firms have blogs now a days is that it allows them to write in shorter form, more frequently, but consistently over time, every week or every two weeks or every month, in such a way that it kind of drips into the minds of their prospects that here's a firm who's constantly thinking about this issue.
That's the solvent approach, and then there's the more targeted approach which is we're going after one really big prospect and we need to get this right. Let's produce some thought leadership that's actually relatively customized for them. They can do it in such a way that you can reuse most of that thought leadership for the rest of the sector. You don't wanna produce things that are surely for a single client and could not be reused anywhere, but you can be customized enough so that the thought leadership you're producing is provoking them to take the next meeting when you then follow up with a call because you're showing that you are really thinking hard about the issues that are mattering to them, and not just broadly about the sector in general. You can be quite targeted about this, and kind of use this stuff to lead to the next meeting and so on. This kind of ability to be more granular and to set different tempos and different levels of effort of each beat in the tempo is really quite powerful. Another thought and this has been incredibly useful for many of our clients, especially the law firms we work with, is this notion of re-articulation because as I said earlier, one of the biggest problems is getting the thought leaders in the room in the first place, and so in the law firm context, the great thing about regulation is changing and the supreme court coming out with a new ruling and so on is that when those things happen, lawyers are forced to drop almost everything that they're doing and stay up all night and write the client briefing and everyone has to scramble to get it out the door within two or three days or even four depending on the issue, in order to show that they are responding rapidly and getting what matters to their clients, getting that in front of their clients as quickly as possible and to the broader market as well.
That means that the lawyers have now articulated their thinking, so this actually a golden opportunity to take a look at these client briefings that are coming out and to say, why don't we make more marketing assets out of these? And not every client briefing is gonna be perfect for that but many of them will. Maybe a third of the briefings that get produced have greater legs to them. Other people beyond DC should be understanding and knowing this stuff. The example we show here, this is something we did for a client a few months ago. We've just taken a branding off, but it's a good example of something with legs because it's about health information and wearable technology and so on, and so this is something that a CEO of a client should probably know, and certainly the CIO as well, and probably the chief operating officer as well as the GC. This is the kind of thing that you send to this to them along with the briefing or soon after the briefing and it's something that they can flip to the C suite very quickly just by forwarding the email and saying look at the infographic. Don't worry about the briefing that got sent to me, I'm not gonna share that, but just look at the infographic, and now the C suite is saying oh we get it now. We understand why you were saying this is so important. Okay, yeah, let's invest in resources we need to make this happen, and you might wanna call that law firm that sent it to you. This is a great way, this re-articulation is something that if the lawyers are articulating their thoughts in some way already, think about what other ways can we re-articulate it into different formats so that we can double and triple and multiply by 10 the audience that we would of had for the briefing itself.
George: I'm gonna put you on the spot.
George: How would you rearticulate the webinar we're doing right now?
Ian: That does put me on the spot quite nicely. Well done. Yeah, cause now I have to think about this.
George: Just maybe one, two, or three examples.
Ian: Yeah, no. I'm just kind of pondering because we have a central theme to the webinar itself, the nice that is that, and actually because we've got to the effort of kind of creating a number of slides that are already quite graphic, it does lend itself towards some sort of infographic treatment for sure. Although you might be able to get three or four different infographics out of this same webinar, and you'd wanna choose, if you didn't wanna invest in doing four of them, then choose which is the most important one that really gets across this central thinking of the webinar itself? And in a way we'll be doing this anyway. Having the webinar hosted is almost turning it into a podcast so you could take purely the audio format and you could splice that up into something I could listen to in three minutes for example. We could certainly turn this into a physical seminar and then video that and again share that video or share an edited set of excerpts from it which get it down to two or three minutes. Yeah, there a lot of ways to slice and dice this sort of thing, and yeah, so I guess that's where you're going with that.
George: Yeah, that's a great example. Thank you very much.
Ian: Okay good. Yeah, no problem. We're going to examples here. Sorry, I've got a bunch of dialog boxes suddenly popping up on me there. I wanted to show you, I think there are four examples to quickly walk you through. None of them are intensely state of the art or anything like that. That's not the point of showing these examples, but it is to show you some creative ways that some law firms and some other firms beyond law firms have thought about formats and how to use them. The one we're looking at right here is from Ocers, a firm in Canada, and they've done a couple of different videos. First of all, they did a white paper on governance and it's a fairly big white paper, and in order to generate interest in that they interviewed three of the people that served on the panel that drove the development of the white paper on governance, and this is a 30 second preview video, so it's very easy to watch and it's quite well produced which is nice and the three panelists are all quite interesting people, and eminent in their fields, but it also drives interest in a full video which is five minutes long, and that's available on the landing page. What's interesting here is actually they've developed a five minute teaser video for the white paper, and a 30 second teaser video for the five minute video. It's a three stand funnel effectively to get you to the white paper at the end of the day, and they know that frankly even if you never read the white paper, if all you do is watch the 30 second preview video, you now understand that Ocler is prominent in governance and then they have these panelists who are eminent in their fields, and that can be a powerful thing. You've again accomplished most of the value that you were trying to get from that, with the knowledge that behind all of this there is a thick authoritative white paper that you could read if you wanted to. That's an interesting approach having multiple levels of video, and obviously the 30 second one is just edits from the five minute one. It's not terribly difficult to develop the 30 second one once you have the five minute one developed.
McInnes Cooper did a kind of, and this is just again to show you some sort of creativity and thinking about what formats could be like. Here it's almost formatted like a traditional client briefing except instead of a 2,000 word stream of thinking about a topic, this is actually a FAQ which is very common of course in every other walk of life including technology and things like that, but it's relatively rare in the legal world to actually have a very easy to digest and easy to walk through FAQ where a prospect or a client can come to this briefing and instead of having to read their way through the whole thing to figure out what matters to me, and I have some questions but I don't know where in the briefing I can find it. It just starts with what the most obvious questions are gonna be for the client and then answers each of those questions. It's an incredibly quick and high value way to for a client to see what's most important to them and get the answer to that. Quite a creative approach. Good old McKinsey here we're using because they do a very good job on their website of creating constellations that are all located in the same spot, around a same theme. The theme here is on debt and delivering in terms of government and financial corporate debt, over time a post credit bubble. They've created multiple access points for readers. They have the landing page, the main article, and that has an in line chart. They've got an executive summary PDF that you can download. They've got the full report in PDF that you can download as well, and they've done a podcast which again is embedded in the landing page right next to the article. You can see it there in the top left which is a hosted interview style podcast. It's a little bit stiff, but it's not too bad. This is obviously a danger in all professional services.
It's often tough to make things sounds consumery and fun, given the topics and so on, but it's fairly well done and it's much easier to listen to than a single talking head pouring forth on what the topic, what they believe about the topic is. The host is fairly engaging, almost like a FAQ. They're asking questions of the partners, and so it's a nice way to quickly, I think the podcast is maybe four minutes long. A good quick way of digesting the key talking points out of the report itself. A nice example of constellation and all embedded on the website itself in a very clean and engaging way. This PWC example is another good example of a constellation at work. PWC was focusing on a new federal budget and the tax implications of that. They do this every single year, and they create a landing page which assembles tax guides and has an overview video with a few of the partners talking about the key issues. It has tools that you can download, and it also has a nicely designed, not terribly easy to digest timeline, but it's an interesting attempt at it for a year end review for key things that have happned with the federal budget and when different tax changes are coming into force and so on. It's another good example of the set of different formats being collected together as a constellation on a single landing page in a firm's site. We'll conclude with some thoughts about how this format flexibility can benefit the thought leadership program at a law firm. One of the biggest things it does is of course gives you better control over your budget because, as we all know, saying no to an owner of the firm is hard, and if one must say yes frequently to many partners who have different BD priorities that they need to accomplish, saying yes is a lot easier if yes is a relatively inexpensive infographic or a blog post or something short rather than saying yes all the time to a 20 page white paper. Obviously you simply run out of budget fairly quickly saying yes to those kinds of asks, and most of the time a lawyer doesn't bring you a specific format in mind. Normally it's a general ask of we need to do something in this area. What can we do? It's hopefully within your power to say, 'ah this would be perfect for this kind of a format', and depending on the topic, you can choose the format that's right, and you can stay within budget much more easily because you're being more granular with this stuff. You can say yes more often, and then when you really need that white paper, then of course you can afford it. You've got the budget for it. You've got a lot more control because of that granularity. It also means that you can go after smaller BD opportunities with smaller investment formats.
Because you don't always, you're not always bringing a cannon to the battle, you're able to target what you're doing with the right kind of investment. You have a much broader range of options, and then if you are going after a really big opportunity then again you can put more effort into that and more resources behind it. You can either elect to do a bigger format piece of thought leadership or a more sophisticated constellation of smaller ones, but again that's at your election because of this new level of granularity and flexibility that this range of formats gives you. It also aligns what we call marketing economics with BD economics. The idea of this is that high investment thought leaderships, those big thick white papers, because they're so expensive and difficult to do and took so much time, it sort of forced them to be pretty broad. You really need to advertise that investment over many potential readers, and you're taking advantage or broadcasting economics. It's one to many. You're producing it once, pushing it to as many people as possible. Again, it forces you to be broader in terms of the topics, and it also forces you to be the less timely in order to be longer lasting. You tend to abstract topics a little bit more than you would otherwise need to. Whereas BD, as you know, it's a one to one game where actually you still have to walk in and meet in person with a general council, and this means that as you're getting print of that BD funnel and you need to start giving, ideally, more customized advice and then sparking more customized conversations to that client's particular needs.
Because you now have small invest format choices, that become an option that in fact maybe you can produce an infographic to take into that next meeting which focuses very much on that client's needs and concerns and the things that are keeping them up at night, whereas before if you only had a white paper as your option, you would never do that. You would just have to go into the meeting and take your pitch deck and that's all you'd have. This means that you can produce things faster. It doesn't require long shelf life, and that means it can be up to the minute relevant. You can refer to all sorts of stuff that happened just last week or just yesterday and fit that in, and if it goes stale three weeks later, that's okay because it was really meant to get you to that next meeting or to get you that deal. It doesn't have to be something that lasts for three years, unlike a big white paper. Finally there's better support for all the idiosyncrasies of lawyers in terms of how they go to market. Every lawyer has different comfort levels with using email, with using social media, with going in person and giving seminars and events or just having coffee conversations with their contacts and this range of formats allows you to support obviously social media efforts. Anything will fit in an email so that goes without saying, but events and suddenly hand outs become easier to create if you're doing infographic versions of what the presentation is going to be, and conversations too. A lawyer can actually bring something to a coffee meeting that both the lawyer and the prospect can scribble on, or they can bring it as a draft and say, "Yeah, I just want your thoughts on this. "This is our early thinking. "It's an infographic about your situation and "your sector, but let's talk about it, "and then we can do a final version later, "and we really appreciate your insight on it." It gives you that kind of an excuse to engage over a meaty topic, and because you're boiling things down instead of leaving them at the 10,000 word level, where the lawyer now has to go into that coffee meeting, they have to review a 10,000 word document or 2,000 word briefing and try and remember. What are the key take aways from this? There's 2,000 words of content in here. You've already boiled it down. It's already a three bullet point summary in one form or another. It's easier for them to now remember the key insights when they go into a in person meeting. It gives you again this much greater flexibility to support lawyers in literally their day to day business development activities.
A few principles that we like to convey to our clients when we're working with them on this stuff. Number one influence, which is one of the things that all our clients want. It comes from things like originality and importance in clarity. It doesn't necessarily come from length and complexity unless, as we said before, unless you're trying to convince them of something they don't believe already, but the core things are if you're being original and if it's important that they know this and they know it's important and you're being clear about what you think you're becoming influential immediately. Those are the most important things rathe than length and complexity. Likewise, being beautiful is not as important as being elegant, and by elegant here we're kind of going after intellectual or mathematical elegance in the same way that E equal MC squared is an elegant form of what Einstein scribbled all over his blackboards. He could of used up three blackboards getting to E equal M C squared, but that elegance of the final formula is what we have in mind here. Prospects, wanna get great insights for minimal time invested, and if you can be elegant in getting those insights to them, by being simple and clear and very logical in such a way that they look at they read or watch or look at the infographic and can say yes, I full agree with this, and you got that point across really easily and I only spent 30 seconds on it or a minute or two. Wow, that was elegant. Beautiful is more a consumer thing. Beautiful is an expectation set up by ad agencies that everything produced by a firm has to be gorgeous and rich and with many decorations and so on. No executive has time for that so what they want is elegance, and finally be remarkable.
Obviously if you create a machine that can produce a lot of thought leadership and firms do this, and consulting firms especially create very big machines that can produce this stuff. There's a tendency for the machine to start producing run of the mill and kind of forgettable pieces, and there is no point in doing it. It kind of invalidates the whole point of the machine if that's what you're doing, because now everyone's forgetting and they're not reading it. It's boring stuff. If you have a given set of resources, use them on creating original, compelling thinking, and getting across in an elegant fashion. Being remarkable, saying something that somebody is gonna remember rather than being run of the mill just for the sake of volume and for the sake of we feel we need to create something every single week. It tends towards mediocracy. Be remarkable above all. Our final thought. It's not good because it's long. It's not good because it's full of data. It's not good because it's complicated. It's only good because it punched someone between the eyes, and that just goes back to Bruce Henderson's thinking, and that's having an impact. That's the last thought we want to leave you with. We're open to questions now I think.
George: Ian, I think you've been so clear that there are no questions.
Ian: I will take that as a positive development.
George: Yeah, so clear and so remarkable. We really appreciate you coming on today and a ton of good insight here, and just to let folks know that we're gonna make this available for public consumption in about a week, so it can be re-articulated. Is that how we say it?
Ian: That's right, yeah.
George: Rearticulate it down the line. Again, Ian, thank you very much, and we'll be in touch soon.
Ian: Thank you. It's been a real pleasure. Thank you everyone.
George: Take care.
Learn how to use competitive intelligence to drive business development with Chris Fritsch & CLIENTSFirst Consulting.
Having a consistent voice and message across all of your customer touch points is crucial. Scott Milano of Tanj Branding provides a guide.
Linkedin can be a powerful tool. Josh Johnson of Influence&Co. shows you how to get the most out of it.
In-depth look, with case studies, pros and cons, of engineering custom native apps, web-based apps, ebooks, microsites, etc.
The 'Mobile 101' webinar raised many questions on marketing technology - We dutifully answer them for you here.
Practical tips on how to get started with - or further extend the adoption and implementation of - a content strategy program.
Step 1: Understand your Audience, and understand what it takes to provide a great user experience for multiple audiences.
What does the competitive landscape in legal look like across social media? Guy Alvarez from Good2bSocial gives his report.
Rachel Guy and Jaron Rubenstein provide a comprehensive guide for planning and presenting your firm's content.