While content strategy currently ranks high on many legal marketers’ list of digital communications priorities, many still struggle with implementing a sustainable content program that supports the firm’s strategic business objectives. This webinar will provide valuable insights on the discipline’s key tenets and future direction, explore solutions for the most common pain points that legal marketers encounter with their content, and present practical tips on how to get started with – or further extend the adoption and implementation of – a content strategy program.
Content | User Experience | Program Development
President and Founder
Rubenstein Technology Group
Director of Business Development
Rubenstein Technology Group
Christopher Collette is an independent digital strategist specializing in content, user experience, and cross-channel program development. In a career spanning more than 20 years across both corporate and consulting roles, he’s led digital marketing and content strategy programs for leading corporations and organizations with a specific concentration in the B2B, professional and financial services, legal, technology, and non-profit sectors. He works closely with clients to help them integrate content strategy into business operations, increase the effectiveness of the content they publish, and ultimately unlock that content's value in connecting with customers, clients, and constituents.
George: Hello, everyone. Good afternoon. My name is George Sanchez. I'm thrilled to bring you the seventh installment of RubyLaw Thought Leadership Series, People, Process and Content, Developing a Content Strategy Platform. For those not familiar with RubyLaw, RubyLaw is an enterprise level web content management platform designed to meet the web, mobile marketing and proposal generating needs of leading law firms. RubyLaw is a tailored alternative, one that empowers the user experience for both internal content managers and external audiences alike. It currently powers the digital presence of leading law firms like Winston & Strawn, Akin Gump, Perkins Coie and Morrison & Foerster to name a few. The RubyLaw Thought Leadership Series is Rubenstein Technology Group's effort to support the big opportunity firms have to take advantage of the changing expectations of how law firms stakeholders content. As we see it, the digital marketing space landscape continues to be wide open for firms looking to create a competitive advantage through a best practices approach. One of the ways legal marketers can create a competitive advantage for their firms is to align the firm's business strategy with its content strategy. Today, Chris Collete and Jaron Rubenstein provide insight on their first hand experience building content strategy platforms inside large law firms. As part of the discussion, we also want to make sure that the webinar's interactive, so please send questions and comments via Twitter using the handle @RubensteinTech or #RubyLaw, or feel free to send them directly to me, George Sanchez via WebEx chat where I should show up as a panelist. Right now I'd like to introduce our friend, Chris Collette. Christopher Collette is an independent digital strategist specializing in content, user experience and cross-channel platform development. In a career spanning more than 20 years across multicorporate and consulting roles, he's led digital marketing and content strategy programs for leading corporations and organizations with a specific concentration in the B2B, professional and financial services, legal, technology, and non-profit sectors. He works closely with clients to help them integrate content strategy into business operations, increase the effectiveness of the content they publish, and ultimately unlock that content's value in connecting with customers, clients and constituents. Hey, Chris. How are you?
Chris: I'm good. Thanks, George for that introduction.
George: Yeah, it's great to have you here. One thing I didn't mention in introducing you is that in addition to this being a timely topic is the fact that you're bringing unique perspective because you work both in and out of legal most recently at Weil where you led digital efforts, digital marketing efforts there, is that correct?
Chris: That is correct, yeah.
George: Perfect. I will stop talking and let you take over here.
George: And just hand over the floor to you. Go right ahead.
Chris: Great. Thank you, George for that terrific introduction and I want to also just thank both George and Jaron and Rubenstein Technology for inviting me today to share some of my thoughts and experience in content strategy. I definitely appreciate the opportunity and looking forward to a lively hour here with everyone. We'll get started. Let's go ahead and start with now the state of the affairs and really kind of set the stage for why we're here today. What I'm gonna show you now are some, just some quick facts that came from a recent state of digital marketing content survey through Greentarget, ALM and the Zeughauser Group. Of the legal marketers that they hold, they said that 83% of those, it's about a hundred, that's the top 100, 250 law firms. 83% report that they will actually increase the amount of content they will publish year over year. Pretty big number. About 29% though of those firms though have a dedicated person overseeing content strategy. We're seeing about a 65% sort of gap there between the amount of content and then actually people, the firms that actually have someone dedicated to that. With that, only 25% of those firms actually have a dedicated content strategy. And then for those who do not, only 8% actually plan to hire somebody to oversee it. There's a lot of opportunity and a lot of areas for growth in this area, and so today, what we're gonna be doing is talking about some of the things, the key principles, but also to give you some practical tips that you can take back to your firm today to really help you start getting a content strategy program launched in your firm. We'll hit on four key segments today.
We'll start with some foundations, we won't spend too long there but really start to take a look in the second segment of our presentation today about where this is going. Content strategy in its rapid evolution sort of in the marketplace. Then we'll start to zero in particularly within law firms and really kind of talk a little bit about some of the key pain points that law firm marketers experience with their content, and certainly one that I have experienced first hand. And then we'll wrap up the conversation this afternoon with some key points and some just practical tips on how to get started. I mean, how to sort of apply, start to apply some of these things to your content to really allow it to do the work it should be doing to help you achieve your business goals. We'll start with foundations here. We have our huddle of friends of Stormtroopers there looking at the findings of Jetstar. We'll start with a brief definition and there are a lot of definitions for content strategy out there, but this is one that I've adapted over the years and it seems to really work well and capture sort of the essence of what I believe content strategy is. It really plans for the publication, creation, delivery and governance of relevant content that has a clear and measurable purpose towards two things. One, either supporting a business objective or fulfilling a user need or both. And this is really across channels, environments, programs and experiences. We'll talk a little bit about what I mean by that in just the next slide here.
In the strategy in content strategy really is about understanding how content aligns with business goals and connects the organization to its customers and clients across the channel. This is really the strategy part of content strategy and I really continue to reinforce throughout this presentation and just in my work really focusing on those business goal and making sure that the content aligns with that. We'll revisit that topic throughout today's discussion. Content strategy grew out of user experience, digital user experience and web design but we're seeing really in the last couple of years it's rapidly expanding beyond digital and it's really influencing ways that organizations create and deliver their content to deliver on business goals. While we're gonna be focusing mostly in sort of that digital experience today, really content strategy now is becoming a much wider and broader discipline within legal, but also just across the other sectors in verticals. What's really prompting this expansion? Well there are really five things and this is from my perspective. One is it really is a fundamental shift to more of a digital-first paradigm. I know with my own experience at Weil and with some other law firms, doing print brochures is really on the wane. There is very few print pieces that are being produced. We're able to really measure the metrics and the analytical tools. Even something like a Google Analytics can give great metrics about how we can measure how content engagement. Really content is the leading strategic asset. It's a slick brand with experience but it really is the thing that delivers on all of those goals.
Brands are now publishers. The law firms are absolutely publishers as well. This is a very, very key point and so adopting publishing practices and best practices has really create, is critical and key for success. And finally, something we'll see throughout this presentation, it's really the rise of mobile as a primary digital platform for engagement with content. This is something that we're going to explore throughout our conversation today. I'll continue on to second part. Where is all these heading? We said it started in sort of digital user experience. We're gonna support six key themes in development that are rapidly changing content strategy as as discipline. We're just gonna take a look here kind of a little road map. The first concept I want to talk about is forgetting the web page and I'll explore and say what I mean by that in the next slide here. What we really mean is that the web isn't print. That sounds very basic but so many organizations continue to use it as if it were. The page and sort of a concept and the paradigm is rapidly disappearing and we'll unpack this a little bit throughout the next couple of sections. Really PDFs are kind of the enemy of this. They really entrench context in a fixed and inflexible format, not adaptable or scalable across platforms and devices. And really, we really want to start publishing content in a digital-first format, and I'll talk about that in the next couple of slides. These next three slides are from my friend Brad Frost who is sort of a leading expert in mobile and adaptive technology. And he has these three slides which I think always capture this very well This is not the web. Yeah, we think of the computer as the web but it really isn't. The second slide, this is the web currently and certainly these devices are very familiar with us. Kindles and desktops and iPads and other kind of tablet devices and mobile. And then the last one, this will be the web. We've really seen over the last several years a proliferation of different kinds of devices. We don't know where this is heading so we always want to be future-friendly with our content.
We can't be future-proof but we can be future-friendly. The second concept here, it's a little scary. This is really helping to reshape content strategy and the way we think about how we structure our content. We've got this, the blob here but then we have sort of a Chunky bar. What do I mean by this? Well, we want to structure our content in chunks, not blobs and also I'll explain what I mean by that in the next couple of slides here. The content chunk is sort of a key tenet in this new world order. And really, we want to structure it. We want to ready it for the increasingly mobile-centric world that's really rapidly emerging as a primary digital engagement platform. And really sort of you know, so here we see a content blob. This is really an unstructured page and very print-specific, inflexible, hard-coded and historically entrenhced, and very action-averse. This is really an old school kind of digital publishing. What we see here on the right, this is actually an example of a content chunk, and this is taking a look at sort of maybe the more sort of content management system. But you can see it, it's highly componentized, very agnostic, very nimble, very option-optimized and very action-oriented. It's not just filling up a page but really having a clear purpose for each piece of content and each section of content there. Really one of my, another friend of mine in the content strategy community, she talks about that the more structure you put in the content, the freer it will become, and we'll see that in action here in a few minutes. The third concept is sort of nimble so content, structured content is nimble and what do I mean by that? Well, it's really divided into components and chunks. As you can see we're building on the concepts and dimensions that we were discussing previously. It's really structured rigorously through mark up and so this is a little bit more on the technical side by giving it the right sort of metadata, the right tag so that it can be searched and found appropriately. And it's really separated from a fixed presentation or container and we're gonna unpack that, the concept here in these next, the fourth concept.
We have our little Stormtrooper guy there who are in the noodle torture chamber. This is really separating content from its containers or form. Really we want to take a look at this, this is built on the concept of if we're getting the page or the container. And really with this mobile, digital-centric and multi-platform world, we really no longer have control over layout. We really can't fix content in a fixed place on a page. That's another of the key component there. It's really separating from its form and no longer entrenched in pages and it really is becoming more like this which is your desk, your site doesn't sit on a desk anymore. And as we saw with the Brad Frost example, this is really where we're moving. And in this next slide, this is The Boston Globe example. They were one of the first to actually embrace this concept probably about six or seven years ago, and really were one of the first major brands and publishers to adopt a very nimble and mobile-first strategy. Which takes me to my nextarea which is really employing a mobile-first responsive design. I had sort of talked about this earlier that this will be a key theme throughout our discussion today so I want to give you a little bit of perspective on this. This is probably one of the most important dimensions impacting content strategy today, this whole mobile and multi-device consideration. Really, more people will start to access the web via a device other than a desktop or laptop computer. You can see that form is really influencing how we think about content, how we publish it, how we structure it. All of the contents we discussed so far really support that mobile-centric view. We want to go to, really content consumers are in the driver's seat. They decide how they will engage with your content, not you. We don't want to stand in the way of actually getting them to the right content.
We'll take a few quick facts here. Currently, 91% of American adults own a mobile phone. That's pretty staggering number. Of that, 56% of those are now smartphone owners, so even more than half of those people who own phones. About 63% of those people say they use the phone to access the internet. And then another 34% say they go online mostly using their mobile phone. These numbers are the most recent statistics from the Pew Internet Organization. These are much likely to rise over and it would exponentially, so we're going to see this continue to evolve. What does this all mean? Adaptive responsive, mobile-first. All these terms gets tossed around and used interchangeably but in fact they are notto each other. This slide I think is a terrific illustration of that where on the top we see responsive web design and we're going from a desktop to a tablet to the mobile phone. That's good, that actually starts to work. And even better way though is starting with the smallest form factor which is really the mobile-first which as you see on the bottom where we go from there to there to there. We're not trying squeeze something into a container that it can't fit. And the next slide actually illustrates this, we're gonna go back to our friend Brad Frost. And so, he shows here how he started with the mobile last. Here actually your water glass isn't gonna fit on that phone. If you start you can scale appropriately and it's progressively enhanced. This is a key concept that we are exploring now in the community and really focusing on that. And the last--
George: Hey Chris, can I ask a question?
George: Going back to this concept of content as chunks, content can be more than just text, right? The idea that you can, these principles still apply when you're talking about video, photography or things like info graphics, right?
Chris: Absolutely. That's a very key, a key observation there and we will be looking at some examples here in a few moments about that. But that is actually very key. When we talk about content it's not just text on a page. In fact, some of those other examples in media that you actually mentioned there, George, are really influencing the way we're presenting our brands in a digital space.
George: Perfect. Thanks.
Chris: Yeah. You bet. This last concept here in this exploration of what's really influencing is this idea of coping. We see one of our Stormtrooper fellows there who is a little worse for wear with his M&Ms. What do we mean by COPE? This is really the concept of creating once, publishing everywhere. This is sort of an overarching approach that wraps up all the principles that we've just discussed. Now we can best illustrate this through taking a quick look at NPR and they were one of the first to actually coin this phrase and actually, and apply it. There's a quick case study here. We start with, yes it is on a desktop but we take a look at this example there. This little teacher article. Because this is structured in a way that it's allowed to published everywhere, it can easily show up on their app on their tablet. It can show up in the format under their mobile app. It also can be tweeted very easily and also can be sort of posted to Facebook. What is it about this? This is one piece of content that is highly structured in those chunks in that sort of example where we have the blob versus the chunk. It's really highly structured there but it's free from the webpage, it's nimble, it's not fixed to a container or form. It really has sort of a mobile-first approach to it. Very key example there of what, of how that is actually done in action. I'm gonna pause just to see if there are any questions from the floor before we move into our next segment. No? Okay, great. I will go ahead.
Now, we're gonna continue to take a look at some key pain points that the law firms experience with their content. In my work, I've encountered many challenges in content and while there are some universal ones, I've only identified four key areas where I've seen that law firms experience the most pain, and we'll return to explore each one of those in turn. The first overarching one is around strategy and brand. We'll take a look at this. Here, we have really a metaphor for what I think a lot of law firm websites and certainly ones that I've actually worked on and explored suffer from. It's really this practice versus firm-driven approach. Really content systems uneven representation of the firm's full breadth of capability. And many law firm experiences, web experiences resemble this kind of futile manner. You can see the firm at the center but you have all these different content operations out there. This is one thing I think that a decentralization is really kind of plaguing law firms and the content they produce today. The second one under that umbrella is also sort of a quantity versus quality. I've seen just marketers and some really pumping out content in a very unprioritized way. It just produces volumes of content, it's not really tied to the strategic objectives. Sometimes the loudest voice gets the top, on top of the heap. That may not necessarily be the best approach. And the net effect is one of delusion. The good stuff really gets lost in a sea of content. As much as is possible, less is more is really the approach to take. The third area under this strategy and brand is brand voice and tone. Law is fairly dense as we all know, a fairly dense discipline, but this academic legal focus of firm-centric tone really kind of yields unapproachable as an unintelligible content to a much wider audience. and even for those in the category. And increasingly we're seeing in the way that legal services approaches the audience for legal content isn't necessarily other lawyers, really rather the broader business community like the C-suite, the directors, the COOs.
Structuring content and creating content that speaks to their needs and their voice, what they're looking for is really critical. It kind of goes to the next one here is mirror-gazing. This is a common theme I see across in the legal landscape is really prioritizing the firm that encompasses the awards, the writings, the chambers over topics that are important to clients. Really trying to solve their needs. And while profile raising is important we don't want to diminish that but it really shouldn't be the lead, the top priority for the homepage. I will pause and say, originally I called this nave paging but I couldn't find a picture of a Stormtrooper looking in a navel so we changed it to mirror-gazing which is kind of the same principle. That's kind of content strategy in practice there even in presentations today. The second key area where I see a lot of challenges are really around creation and operations. We'll take a look at a few aspects of this area as well. The first is really sort of the siloed creation. If we take or think back to our futile manner where there are a lot of people usually and a lot of different groups are doing sort of contents, but this really produces multiple variations of the same type that have to be managed across different channels. The bio, the one that's on the web versus the pitch versus the collateral version. Having all these and losing track of which one is the de facto one of the most current. This really goes against that whole COPE concept that we talked about a few minutes ago which is really trying to create it once and then publish it everywhere. Really structuring your content in a way that can be adapted there is really one of the key things that I've noticed.
The second piece here is over-tagging. This is kind of taking a spray and pray approach towards taxonomy metadata. In my experience at Weil and other law firms, you produce a piece of content and because you don't want it to be missed, you tag it to every practice, every office, every sort of concept and that's actually sort of working against the goal which is to have it be found if someone's looking for a very particular kind of thing. Really being very judicious about the kinds of metadata that you assign your content is key for it to be successful and to connect with those constituents. The third area here is one, is on presentation and format and this just goes a little bit to the point that George, when he asked the question before. The first one is really this dense presentation. Law is inherently a text-based profession but that doesn't mean that we have to present all of our content in long stroking webpages with use of scannable subheads or other huge, just having that content blob or a content wall. Here we see Chewbacca trying to break that down and our valiant Stormtroopers there trying to create their content wall. This is really as an example of that. And then we move on certainly content blob continue to plague, goes hand in hand with the content wall, and this is content that's not optimized for that multi-platform publishing. Really building on those concepts that we talked about before. The next piece here is PDF farms. We mentioned this earlier in the discussion. More and more are seeing that you produce content that's published in sort of a PDF that really is this going ahead and it's replicating that print model. It's fixing it, it's entrenching it. PDFs aren't searchable. You have to create abstracts, we have to create other digital content around it. Really using that as the primary mode in the way that's going against a lot of these, a lot of these principles that we're talking about.
I just noticed in my time that legal marketing teams and even the ones that I oversaw in design and operations spend an odd amount of time cracking these PDFs when just publishing in a digital-first format would have been much more efficient and much more quicker to market. Really, let the CMS and let your technology help you in that regard. The next thing I see is really in this area is very text-centric and going on George's question there. They really ignore, largely ignore all sort of narrative formats to tell the story. Video information graphics, data digital innovations and we'll see some examples. I have best practices and some examples coming up in the next section that will actually show this. Some folks are doing it very well. The last, the fourth and last area, major area where I see some challenges with legal content is within governance. We have Lord Vader here doing that and the first one is really a lack of centralized governance. We reflect back on our futile manner, if your content is being created in a unified strategy or with that, you can bet it's not being managed or governed with one. Really decentralization and lack of unified strategy really can create a fractured user experience and one that really is very challenging to overcome. The second aspect of governance is using date as a de facto prioritizing factor for content. The most recent thing goes to the top, all the other thing sort of shift down, and this really can't supply higher profile or more strategic content. This is when that is not managed or there's not an eye on that, you can lose really good content because it goes, it just goes away, it just rolls off the page. We want to have a key eye on that in our governance plan.
This last piece here is really one of curation and maintenance and I've seen over and over again. And certainly with my experience at Weil is using the website as a firm archive for absolutely every last matter, every last press release. There are some websites that I've worked on where there is content that actually goes to things that there are no longer links. They go back to dead links back to 2005, 1999. We really need to have a curation policy to weed through that content because the more you have, the more you have to manage and the more that the important things that you really want to market are gonna get lost. And in my experience, for a digital experience, anything older than about three years is probably not worth keeping on the life side. There are some exceptions of course to landmark cases that happened 10, 15 years ago but it really takes a very strong, curatorial eye to understand what is important, and what can be lopped off. The press release, talking about the Detroit office that opened 15 years ago probably could be archived off the site. Don't really need to really have it up there. Who is doing this well? These are all the challenges. In sort of looking at the landscape both in legal and professional services there are about five or six examples here I just want to key up to kind of show how some of these principles can be actually put to action. The first is really the gold standard in my opinion which is McKinsey. Someone akin to law firms and that the people and the thought leadership is really kind of the leading asset there. They do a terrific job I think of really structuring their content, making it lively and engaging, very easy to navigate then using things like maps and even some call outs, like these information, semi information graphics here on this page. Really allow for deeper engagement and quick engagement and we'll see a little bit this on the second. This is a great example of great chunking. There's not a concept wall here, an easily scannable page. Takes advantage of editorials, more publishing queues, subheads, call out, side bars. And that middle panel and one sort of content, one sort of expression here you actually see probably a very, very complicated concept just still down into something the people can actually engage and get the key points there.
It's really kind of a great example of use of information graphics and again George for that, Paul Weiss in the legal firm in a legal area I think does a fantastic job of using video and leading with video as a way of exploring some different concepts. On the left here, it's very, very prominent on the homepage that these are the videos. And then we see an example there. This just really brings personality to the brand and to the forefront both for the firm and for the individual lawyers, and I think it really personalizes that. Really terrific job I think that they do with their content in this regard, and using a non-text-based format for delivering that. Boston Consulting Group, back to the consulting professional services. This one really has a strong editorial hand. It had the highly curated and targeted segment and sections here. I get this on a by weekly basis. I always go in and can always find content, it's always tied back from their outbound back to their digital property. Great chunking, great digital bytes. Very, very, very accessible. DLA Piper. Looking here now, they do an excellent, have an excellent editorial approach. Taking very clever ways of telling a story. Here on the top 10 checklist, on the cyber security there. Using some fun sort of chunky graphics but also something that in sort of, at 30 seconds you can actually get the gist of it. And on the right, we see a quiz about important mandates in just a way and then the diagnosis. A really clever editorial hand and use of metaphor to present complex ideas. The next to last moving over to finance.
Goldman Sachs. Again, another fantastic use of video. Another fantastic way of chunking and structuring the page and structuring their content into byte. And then really highlight that intellectual capital of the people of Golden Sachs in a short way. Two or three minute video, terrific way. Just like with text, you don't want to go on and on and have a feature-length film. Get to the point and so deliver it. And finally, we'll take a look at Weil. This is a site that's a great mobile-first responsive design that recently launched. This was not the first but it's one of the landmark ones given the largest attachment that Weil sort of employs. Very highly structured content, it's nimble. You can see it scale beautifully across devices and George and I want full disclosure. I was the person who led this initiative at Weil and I think we really did try to do a lot of the principles that we have been discussing. A lot of that work that we're exploring today has come out of that experience, so that'sthen. I'm gonna pause here until we move to the next section to see if there are any questions. This will be the last section where we will take a look and see some practical tips on how to get started. But before we launch into there I do want to see are there any questions at this point?
George: Chris, there is one question.
George: You talk a lot about the pain points and sort of tactics involved in content strategy. Sort of put you on the spot in terms of getting, maybe you're gonna get into this a bit more but at Weil we sort of see the finished product there very polish. What was your biggest heavy lifting that you had to do to get this sort of sold through internally in terms of building consensus? Was the end product like a document? Now that you're not there anymore, how do they keep that maintained?
Chris: Sure. I think there are two questions there. I'll answer the first and then the second. The first goes to there, it's actually two parts. One was getting everyone and we had a small team, sort of a SWOT team if you will. This wasn't something that we, in the initial days we had to go out to the entire organization. We really were very strategic. We made sure that as we were developing that mobile-first experiences, we developed it in a digital format first. We didn't go to paper wire frames. We started with code in the browser and really built it from there. That took some time to get people used to it, that they were seeing gray boxes and stuff. Like well, why isn't it green or why is it purple when I click on this? But once we and then why is this moving around and can you take that piece here and move it down there? It's like no, that module is going to move and then we would resize it and they would see that sort of mobile-first responsive. That was sort of I think wave one. I think the second largest challenge for us was actually the content, believe or not no surprise there. We experienced a lot of those absolute pain points.
This firm as an archive, sort of content blobs, just outdated stuff. We took really from the ground up and just sort of blew up all the content and then re-wrote it and restructured it for that experience. That took heavy lifting. That took, it did and I'm gonna get to this in a second but it does, I'm peeking a little bit, it does take a village to do that. That relied on just experts and digital experts in content strategy, experts in digital content, but also subject matter expertise. Our practice develop managers, business develop managers who sit with the practices, they know that best and so we really, it was a great partnership to make sure that we were doing this and optimizing the experience in the best way. In terms of selling it in, once we got to the more visual layer then people got very excited. We were able to take it to keys, leadership meetings, show it on the iPad, show it on the mobile phone, pass that around. Have people kind of play around with that. And then people were just like, "Oh, I get it." They lit up and so that's really kind of got them excited about that and it was something that was so radically different from the experience that we had before. It took time. We had to build trust, we had to build consensus over time but it really was something that in the end was once the final piece came out was great. In terms of its maintenance, there are a lot of things we wanted to do in terms of extending that experience. We found that getting the site out was a big enough of a challenge and sort of an accomplishment. My hope and goal is that the team who is now running that will actually continue to iterate on that and use that foundation to really scale it.
George: Got it, that's great. Two takeaways there. It sounds like prototyping is a big benefit.
George: Just to get feedback. And number two is making sure that the business side gets involved and make sure that they understand the benefits of partnering with the marketing team and the content generators to align themselves with the business strategy of the firm.
Chris: Absolutely and you're keying beautifully some of the things we're gonna talk about this next section so thank you for that. We're gonna talk by getting started now. How can we take all of these concepts, these pain points, these best practices and really apply it there? How do we bring it down from the ivory tower down here on the ground? Before we do that, let's revisit the opening slide when we talked a little bit about that, just to remind ourselves that again 83% of the firms report that content will increase, there's no doubt about that. Only 29% say that they actually have someone overseeing that. Only 25% have a documented content strategy. But only 8% want to hire a director. Big skew there. Let's take a quick look, I had mentioned this throughout this region but here's some of the top reasons that we should invest in it. This is why legal marketing, someone who's using content, some of the goals they have. 91% of those folks from the, who were surveyed in that Greentarget and Zeughauser Group study say they use it for thought leadership. No surprise there, it's a great goal. I mean, that really makes a lot of sense. The second, 84% say it's for brand awareness. Also a great call. Third is attorney awareness and profile raising. Again, we don't want to take away all the mirror-gazing sometimes but we want to make sure that we put that appropriately and that is an important aspect in that. The 77 expand client relationships. This is really great. We're really thinking about clients and what their needs are and how content can connect the firm back to their needs and their pain point. And 75% of it is for additional exposure opportunities. Speaking engagements, publishing and things like that. Some great goals and there are many more but these were the top ones that kind of came through that report. The Greentarget also has this 80/20 rule for content which I think is a great way of thinking about it. I mean, there's about 80% is really produced sort of in a decentralized way. That doesn't mean that it has to be that futile manner that we talked about, right? If there are sort of solid content strategy can help to put standards in place, guidelines to make sure that you don't want to tap down efforts that people want to produce content and good content that's great. Let's make sure it's strategic, let's make sure it is really hitting the goals of the firm. Many talks about, they talk about on the 20% which is a greater purpose and energy. This is maybe some of those little bit different things. The DLA Piper example is more of that 20%. We can't turn every client alert into its navi infographic it doesn't want. But the ones that do, let's take a look at that. Let's maybe invest in that and we'll talk about piloting some things here in a moment but that's really I think a nice way of thinking about it.
But then content strategy as a wrapper around all of these is one way where you can have good content operation but still have that standards of approach. Getting started. I really think that there are five key areas and we'll discuss and this is the very last segment before we open up to a broader question and answer. The first is really understanding what content you and your firm or practice group, if you happen to start there, is already creating and publishing. I'm gonna break each one of these down in the subsequent sections. I just want to get through the list here first. Content and content strategy is much broader than marketing and communication. It really does take a village. The third as we said from the very first parts of this presentation, you're really getting a handle on the firm or practice group's strategic business objectives. Some really, really critical aspects there. Don't try to boil the ocean or scale the mountain in one step. I think starting small, staying focused and scaling appropriately is really the best way to get started. And the fifth is a primer, and George again, you set it up beautifully for me. Really sort of pilot, launch, measure, learn and repeat. Let's take a look at each one of these for a few minutes before we wrap up. The first is really current content programs and operations. We see our Stormtroopers there the droids they're looking for. Well, one thing we're looking for content here so really it's understanding about what you're really doing. Exploring types beyond just a pure marketing and promotional content. There could be something that's done for CLE that could be sort of a nugget that could be turned into something, integrates piece for a content strategy. It could be a speaking engagement, it could be I don't know, maybe a thought leadership series to help the firm. All sorts of ways of taking a look beyond just that purely sort of like the brochures and the alerts and things like that. I think documenting key content type. This doesn't have to be a comprehensive that takes months and months. Really take the top three or five. Alerts, brochures, the web content, webinars and maybe presentations. And we need to understand what's business purpose behind each of those? What is it really trying to do? What is really trying to achieve and doesn't?
I think looking for opportunities to repurpose or repackage that is a great way. You don't have to start from scratch every time as we saw with the DLA Piper for example. I mean, I believe that those actually originated as alerts and then some of them blend themselves to that. I think they make a great way of doing that. And then most likely, your firm or practice group is probably already producing quality content that can be leveraged. I know from my experience of working with Weil so intimately on that experience, we didn't have to create one new content product or type. We already have so much great content, it just needed to be repackaged, reformatted and repurposed for us to really allow it to shine. We're really working on both the setting but also it's reformatting. And something to keep in mind is this doesn't have to be from scratch. Content is really everyone's responsibility as we see here, we're all holding hands. It's really the second thing which really it does take a village. Successful contents, the partnerships with key constituents, stakeholders, cross-discipline professionals on the business side, on the communication side, on the digital side as we see here. Really, these all contribute to the program, visual design and brand. We don't want to leave anybody out. Really gain buy-in and leadership from, support from leadership for content is really critical as much as that can be achieved. I was using example that with the brand, sort of a logo or a color palette, no one would have said that they would turn the Weil green logo. It's like well, we want to make it fuchsia today. That would not be acceptable. Same kind of rigor needs to be applied to content. That does take time but I think it's an important thing. It really has to be managed as tightly as sort of a visual identity. And I think really establishing working groups with cross-functional team leads. You are not having it all be led by marketing I think is a great way to have it kind of work into the fabric of the firm. Focus on business strategy and goals I think one of the most important things here. This is the third area. I think getting a handle on what the business objectives are is really probably, probably the single most important and challenging foundation for a content strategy program. Otherwise, we're just creating stuff and putting it out there in the marketplace. It's that spray and pray kind of approach really sort of lessens more. I think it would be better to do three to five strategic pieces that really hit it than doing a hundred that don't. Really diluting those efforts there. I think focusing on two to three concrete challenges that face in the marketplace. This could be awareness, it could be introduction to a new market, establish a new practice group or a deepening. Like take a couple that are really sort of the pain points and focus on those first. Every piece of content that influence that strategic way doesn't have to hit 20 objectives. How about I hit two or three, I think a better way of really focusing the effort. And finally, I think partnering with practice leaders and management help understand and articulate those business goals. I think the more that that can be concrete and sort of out there, the more that that the content can support that.
The fourth area here is really taking one step at a time. Small steps, we see our little guy here. You can really yield big results over time. Let's take a look at that really quickly. I think when I worked at IBM, we always use the phrase boil the ocean which was something I think is an important phrase there. Content really is difficult, time-consuming and sometimes messy is my experience at Weil. It's not necessarily this clean thing now that you see that delivers the final experience, but it doesn't have to be scary. That's I think the thing you want to keep in mind. Excuse me, one second. Content strategy programs take time to establish and to hold an organization. I think patience is key. I think really starting small, getting some traction is really a sure fire way to begin integrating this. It doesn't have to be at the enterprise level or at the firm level and start smaller. Really grab the low-hanging fruit first. I think the fifth and final area is really starting somewhere and don't be afraid. We see our fellows here doing a prototype there on their light ray. I think pilots that focus on one or two content types. Could be the alerts that you're producing and the blog posts or maybe that's just within one practice area. The mergers and acquisition or employment group. That can really yield quick wins and demonstrate value that can then be scaled to other groups. I think we're gonna break this down. The pilot and start somewhere. Pick a friendly group that's willing to experiment with new ideas. I know my time at Weil, the private equity group was really on board with focusing on this that we were able to do some really innovative things around some lecture series, some new educational series. They really focus on their list management to really clean it up to make sure that, that with a clean list and at the right level, the right content was going to the right level in the sort of a private equity firm. They also, the firm leader of that group also put his foot down and this was terrific and said, "I do not want another alert "being sort of tagged to my group unless I have approval. "If we produced it yes but." He was really walling off that spray and pray. A great way. That was a great group, a friendly group that we started with. Launch. I think get them out in the marketplace. Yes, they have to be correct in the conflict and had to be spelled correctly, we don't want any of that, but perfection is the enemy of good enough in this thing. You want to really get things out there so you can test them. Before you do that, establish a small set of aspects you want to track.
This could be hard metrics like some numbers, number of opens, number of things that could be maybe trying two different headlines. On NAD testing what the piece of content to see if one performs better, and to be clear and realistic with the criteria that you set. Even when that comes back in then evaluate those results. You said you wanted to do this, did it happen? Maybe yes or no. You have to take a look at that and then I think iterating and repeating that, applying those learnings to there I think is the key way of making sure that you have, you can apply that and adjust accordingly. I believe that that is what I will leave you with today. I want to thank you for your time and I want to say I really appreciate this opportunity from Rubenstein Technology to share some thoughts with you. A little corny here but may the force be with you. That's it.
Jaron: All right. Thank you Chris, thank you. This is Jaron Rubenstein.
Chris: You're welcome.
Jaron: I really appreciate you sharing your expertise and your experience here. I've got a few questions for you and we're gonna be taking some questions from the audience as well.
Chris: Sure. Sure.
Jaron: We have a couple but if you, for the audience listening if you want to put in a question, you can address it to George Sanchez via chat or you can post it to Twitter with the hashtag RubyLaw and we'd be happy to chime in and address those as well. My first question Chris is, were any Stormtrooper figurines harmed in the production of this presentation?
Chris: They were not. No. Though it may look like that. Just a quick footnote on that. There are some wonderful galleries in Flickr and I do, I won't show it to you but I do have image credits for all of these. Being a good content strategist I never do anything that's not credited but there are some really clever ways and so it was a nice narrative line for me, but no Stormtroopers were harmed in the creation of this.
Jaron: Terrific. That was my most serious question. I think that just a lot of information. I mean, I'm sure the folks on the webinar today are gonna need some time to digest all of these and the video will be available afterwards. But a question for you about this sort of, the few themes you were talking about earlier and the idea of practices and practice-driven content versus firm-driven content. I think it's something that I know a lot of our clients and prospects are struggling with is often the firm's objectives, marketing objectives and goals for what they want their brand to be and how they want to be perceived in the marketplace, and how they want to evolve their perception of marketplace is sometimes at odds with what individual practices are looking for. And I'm curious if you have any strategies or tactics for managing that internally.
Chris: Yeah, that's a great question. I think that's one that I certainly saw at Weil and see with the other law firms that I work with and just other colleagues. They don't have to be at odds. I think just in that futile manner and if we take a look at that, coupled with that 80/20 rule piece that we looked at. We don't want to tap down groups if they really want to produce good content and their goals are to do that. But it really does come from leadership to understand what are we trying to do. Is the go-to market strategy being a bunch of that could be one strategy and that could be a very valid one. But I think when you're trying to create a standard across all of these different areas, having some kind of wrapper in a way that presents a unified front there I think is really important. I think gaining leadership from and we had this at Weil which was terrific. We had the executive director, the CEO basically on the business side in from the very beginning. Understanding that, making sure things were aligned, really trying to negotiate the waters not just within practice but also geographies. Going off the reservation trying to do things. I think really coming up with a couple of very broad-based but concrete ways that people can, they can't argue with I think are ways of getting some of that consistency there. And then really the business strategy for what the firm is trying to do. Is it trying to go to market as sort of a one firm or is it more of a generated kind of approach? I would think this comes to light especially when you're doing these becoming kind of the firm or record across multiple practice groups. I know when we are putting together a large RFP for a large client and it required us to collect content from seven, 10 to 15 different practice groups. Well, you can imagine that it was all over the map. Things were written in different style just completely. That's where I think that that can really kind of come home roost and really kind of bite in a way. Getting a holder on your content especially at the various, I'm sure real examples that most if not everyone on the call has experienced. I mean that to me is very painful and have a lot of late nights trying to get content to be very unified for one of those RFPs.
Jaron: Yeah. Yeah, I know that sure. I mean, actually I have a follow on question related to the website for that too. In terms of taking, having a consistent voice for the website content, and that's something you talked about having I guess, I don't know if you use the word style guide. That's what I was thinking but sort of a content style guide.
Jaron: Are you of the belief that a marketing team should have a selected number of individuals that are sort of the editors and curators of all content on the site, or do you feel like it should be a larger team that agrees and fully understands those content style guides and guidelines?
Chris: Yeah, that's a great question. This is not a cop-out. I think it does depend, it depends on the firm and the firm culture. Ideally, as much centralization as you can have is ideal but we see within smaller firms that might be able to ease the two to 300 lawyers. As you start to scale these 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 that may not be possible. That's where I think that idea of coming up with sort of those, an editorial board if you will that maybe meets once a month, and we understand, the London office or the media team might have very different things that they want to do and that's fine but let me know about it. And let's sort of like be cooperative and have an influence on that. So that when it comes to something like a website where it's basically one door into the mall where you have all these different areas, you don't know where people are looking around if not these very siloed things, we might have break that down. I think you're coming up with some broad standards but still allowing people to, it's decentralized and larger organizations that can be away. But I think getting that buy-in at that executive or leadership level can be really key to making sure that the content is, I mean it's just like that brand. You wouldn't think of turning link letters from fuchsia to brown one day. You want to have those same kind of broad-based rules in place.
Jaron: Yeah, yeah, I mean voice is an aspect of brand and voice is conveyed through the content.
Jaron: Yeah, yeah. For sure.
George: I actually have a question for, a follow on for Jaron. Talking about governance, talking about editorial rights, how can you, is that something that technology, marketing technology can help you with in the back end, manage especially for a firm that is global?
Jaron: Yeah, on our side the content management system we can definitely shift forth those kinds of work flows. RubyLaw has capabiltiies for not only distributing content, editing and very fine grain privileges and control but there's also a content approvals workflow that allows for an editorial staff to review and approve that. And I think, I'm glad you said what you said, Chris, about it depends because it does seem that different firms have different levels of hierarchy there. And sometimes a firm is very willing and interested in having a wide variety of content contributors that have full control over maybe it's a section of the site. Maybe the marketing team in the Germany, the German office has contact, has control of everything in that office. But your point is no matter, I guess this spans languages and translations too but the voice needs to be consistent across the language, right?
Chris: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'm glad you mentioned workflow. From my experience at Weil, we at the initial instance of the site did not enable that though it was a feature that we could do. Just because there was such a seismic shift from going from a completely old site, ripping and replacing to a new but that is a great way of having a, you can have contributors but then have the approvals come to a much smaller group. I think another great example of some section of the site is recruiting. That's one that we worked on very heavily at Weil where the way that recruiting happens in different markets and different geographies is very different, it's on different cycles. There are different requirements, there are different kinds of go-to market strategies. That's a great place I think where that could be a decentralized type of management that could actually work very well.
Jaron: Right right. But you still have that editorial aspect of this experience.
Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, they're still the final arbiter if you will sort of at the top of the editorial and content chain, yeah.
Jaron: Yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay, makes sense. I have another question. Towards the end of your talk, you're talking a little bit about AB testing and I think that that's really valuable. I think that that's something that firms are not doing enough of and it's a great way to find out what content or what strategies are more effective or less effective. Could you talk a little bit more about that and specific to content. I don't know if everyone in the call knows the details of what AB testing is and what it actually can tell you.
Chris: Sure, yeah. This is something, it's a... Kind of an approach to a content effectiveness and a content engagement. When we say AB testing it basically means taking a piece of content and then creating two versions where there's a slight difference. And it could be the way that the headline is boarded or it could be the way that the order of some presentation. And then you basically, if you're sending it out to say this is for purposes of our, a thousand people, you divide that list. You send one, the A version to 500 people and then you send the B version to the second 500 people. And then you kind of see, is there something that is different? Did one perform better or the other? Another way of doing this and that can be with an alert or something. This could also be done more digitally on your site. In the homepage for example you could serve up either on a prescriptive way or a random way different modules. One person when they log on at 9 am could get a module in the lower left hand corner that talks about an M&A deal. The second time they log on later in the afternoon maybe they would get something about TV or it could be geographically-based. Someone in Asia who clicks on, they might get an Asia-focused story rather than some of this more US-centric. It could also be something that's done by IP address if you really are very sophisticated about this. Someone coming in because we know and we can track this. Someone coming in from a financial services area we know that broadly that's where they're coming from like a Bank of America or maybe a Merrill Lynch. We might want to be able to serve up in that sort of marquee area. Something that's maybe more about the financial capabilities rather than something maybe more about employment. Now, the under thing to all of these is you have to have the content to support these things. They're great ideas. That's by starting small and really sort of testing one or two things is very important. It's very, very challenging to come up with content that will support multiple dimensions at multiple time. That's sort of like that's the end game. That's over on the other side of the mountain. Doing one or two is I think a great way of testing out some content efficacy.
Jaron: Yeah. Yeah, it seems like a lot of firms struggle just with implementing this content strategy and not being able to publish one version of something, right? Much
Chris: Exactly. Exactly.
Jaron: Yeah, that makes sense.
Chris: But it can be done.
Jaron: No, of course. Of course. And so I guess the idea is though if you do the AB testing, you need to determine some patterns. You're able to feed that back into your strategy and determine what, going forward what makes sense to publish either on the homepage or in certain days or certain times, et cetera.
Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, that's really the whole point of doing that. It's not just metrics for metrics sake, it really is to help. Content strategy programs and platforms are and should be by design living, breathing entities that are formed by metrics by changes in the business, changes in the marketplace. They need to be nimble. Just as we need our content to be nimble, we need our content strategies to be somewhat nimble with some fixed truths to be able to respond to that.
Jaron: Sure, sure. Terrific. Thank you.
George: Thank you so much. I'm not showing any, currently any questions right now.
George: Again, wanted to thank you on behalf of Rubenstein Tech and thank everybody for attending today. Hopefully that was helpful for the community.
Chris: Wonderful. Thank you both again for the opportunity and thank all of you on the webinar today. I appreciate your time.
George: Thanks, Chris.
Jaron: Have a great day.
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