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The Friday Five

Five Legal Marketing Trends to Watch

By Susan Kostal

The Legal Marketing Technology Conference West in San Francisco, produced by the Legal Marketing Association and its Bay Area Chapter, is a forum for product debuts and first looks at new ways of doing business. This year’s conference (held Oct. 5-6) did not disappoint. Without ado, here are five marketing technology and social media trends to watch.

1. Design thinking generates solutions. Stanford University’s Institute of Design has developed an innovative way to approach problems, and it has taken the business world by storm. Think of innovation as a design process that relies on constant iteration. Throwing as many ideas as you can at a problem, even those that seem impossible, in a very short period of time (called scrum or agile thinking) provides solutions that otherwise would not be discovered. Some law firms use design thinking to help lawyers and staff share ideas up the ladder. Davis Wright Tremaine uses it with clients to solve legal and business problems with new processes or products. Mark Beese of Leadership for Lawyers, who uses it with his clients, led a fascinating session where participants used design thinking to revise a law firm onboarding program.

2. Emojis for business. Yes, you read that right. J Goldman Sachs and Seyfarth Shaw are using them on their Twitter accounts and some client alert emails, as well as making liberal use of hashtags, photos, graphics and video. Emojis don’t work for every post, tweet or email. But they can convey a warmth and playfulness that makes a large organization or law firm seem more accessible, friendly and consumer-oriented. Note, too, the average age of CEOs is skewing younger, thanks to the burgeoning tech industry, and these are the folks that brought us emojis.

3. Visual storytelling packs a punch. We are a visual society. The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. Good thing, because 500 million images are posted on social media each day. Silicon Valley firm Fenwick & West has “doubled down” on visuals and invested more time creating them. “You might as well not post anything if you don’t have a visual,” said presenter Stefanie Marrone of Bernero & Press. Data analytics bear this out.

4. Content drives the funnel. Quality content is what lures potential clients into your sales funnel. It’s worth investing to get the content you know your readers and followers want (again, data analytics). Even so-called “non-rainmakers” can generate rain with the right content. Develop a high-level detailed report and give it away in exchange for the reader’s contact information. “You need to create content that is so compelling that people will give up their email addresses for it,” said presenter Adrian Dayton of ClearView Social. Downloads — via website landing pages with contact forms — accomplish this.

5. Follow the accounting industry. The accounting industry is beating the legal one by nearly every metric: retaining women, new compensation and management structures, and content and social media strategies. An Infinite Global research paper comparing the “shares” of content from top 100 law firms to the top 100 accounting firms found that accounting outperformed legal by two- and threefold. One regional accounting firm, BeachFleischman PC, bought paid social advertising by sponsoring a hashtag during one of the 2011 presidential debates, offering an analysis of the candidates’ tax plans and the Affordable Care Act. It got 300 to 400 downloads a minute, and the next day was recognized as a verified account, gaining the firm several thousand followers almost immediately.

Some of these efforts require a budget, but many do not. Dip your toe in and see where your investment of time and resources takes you.

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Susan Kostal Susan Kostal

Trends at Work columnist Susan Kostal is a legal affairs PR, marketing and content strategy consultant. She is a former contributing editor for Attorney at Work and previously wrote a monthly column, Content Under Pressure. Susan has covered legal affairs as a journalist for nearly three decades. You can follow her on Twitter @skostal and view more of her content at

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