By Minoo Razavi
Three principles law firms should borrow from tech companies’ marketing playbooks
With the conservative backdrop of a law firms’ strategy function, where sometimes even the words “sale” or “pitch” are shunned, “product marketing” would be considered straight out of left field. My foray into a law firm after an established SaaS marketing tenure proved otherwise. In fact, there is great missed opportunity when law firms take an exclusionary approach to marketing practices for different verticals.
Three principles outlined below take a page–or three–out of what is standard practice in SaaS/ technology company marketing departments and apply them to law firms. In fact, productization and product marketing may be the key to scalable and sustainable growth for law firm strategy.
Legal Service as A Product
Yes, I said it. To utilize this framework, imagine your service as a product you pitch to sell to your clients. Marketing serves as the language you use to make the pitch, close the sale, request remittance of feedback, cross-sell, up-sell, and retain customers. There is no denying the differences between the law firm sale and a product one, but this framework draws on canny resemblances that are often overlooked.
Once you imagine the legal service as a product, you can also benefit from the tested and maturized growth playbooks this century’s storied technology companies utilize. There is a reason booming growth, billions of dollars in funding and accelerated market share capture happens in the tech world.
Product Marketing Messaging Playbooks
Once the law firm pitch is recognized as a product of sorts, albeit highly customized to each client, it changes form. No longer a nebulous existence, firms’ services become a tangible entity to be assessed, discussed, and presented. Productization primes the strategy team to identify “features”, “value propositions” and “specifications” of the practice areas.
Messaging playbooks are time-tested messaging frameworks that lawyers, the “sales team”, can digest easily and utilize in commercial conversations.
Product marketers know this well: message the product to the audience’s frame of reference. Do not speak about the product benefits; speak to the audience’s pain points which the product can resolve. Many a law firm invests in outside consultants or specialized teams trying to somehow coach lawyers to conduct business development more effectively. This aspect of professional development can be achieved much more effectively when the lawyer’s mindset is fixated on what they’re selling as a packaged product, rather than the often ephemeral “practice area”. A product is defined, has specifications, and most importantly, can be presented succinctly as a solution. Productization means messaging playbooks can be developed with standardized language and ultimately utilized like templates across the firm.
Driving Efficient Prospecting Conversations
Lawyers’ business development conversations are often rendered inefficient–and costly to the firm. True to their mastered habit, as so-called “problem-solvers”, these prospecting conversations find the lawyer getting knee deep into details of their prospect’s case straight from the get-go. It’s a lawyer’s strength to listen keenly, hear out the details of the client’s matter, digest, and try to resolve it.
While this is valuable information the lawyer will ultimately need, it will likely not move the commercial conversation of selling the law firm’s services forward. Thus, prospecting conversations and initial touch points become unnecessarily prolonged and costly.
Lawyers should be equipped with playbooks of market messaging for the firms (and their specialty) product. In a commercial conversation with a prospect, these playbooks guide lawyers to pitch their product and the firm with succinct language. They present their services as aligned to the prospect’s needs, using an outside-in framing which resonates with the buyer. There will be time to get sucked into the blackhole that is a client’s or case’s details later. The initial BD conversation and pitch discussion is not the one where all details need to be discussed. Focusing on the product messaging, rather than the case details, transforms these initial conversations with the prospect into ones that drive commercial engagement.
With more commercially productive conversations, less time is wasted on discussing the case and more time is spent on finding alignment between the firm and the prospect’s needs. When alignment is identified early on, the prospect will sign earlier, and then there is all the time in the world a lawyer can bill for solicited legal advice. On the flip side, when alignment can’t be identified early, lawyers will waste less valuable (and costly) time, pursuing a prospect that will not further the firm’s commercial goals.
Embrace the idea of pitching legal services as a product to make a sale. Once practice areas and services are reframed as products, firms can succinctly message each with an eye towards value propositions the audience is keen to hear. Additionally, message delivery is much more effective when lawyers are enabled to discuss their practice as a tangible, contained product, rather than a nebulous one. Firms often struggle to justify the high cost of lawyer’s business development efforts. Lawyer’s prospecting conversations become more commercially driven, efficient and succinct with messaging playbooks.
Today, the technology sector is the hallmark of accelerated growth. Law firms can effect a similar trajectory when commercial activities in the firm are organized like the sales and marketing functions in tech companies. Lean into the analogy by productizing your law firm services.
About the Author
Minoo Razavi is a serial founding digital marketer who thrives at the intersection of technology, communication, & culture. She has founded and led two marketing departments in high-growth B2B SaaS companies, most notably in the legal tech industry. Minoo drives aggressive go-to-market strategies and engineers the marketing function with an eye towards organizational maturity and sustained accelerated growth. In her current role, Minoo heads the digital marketing and communications department at ActiveNav, a leading data privacy and governance platform that enables organizations to discover and manage their unstructured data. Minoo is a native of the DC Metro area. In her free time, she volunteers for civic movements supporting refugee and immigrant resettlement in the USA, most recently at Team America Relief.