John McDougall: Hi, I am John McDougall. Welcome to Legal Marketing Review. Today, my guest is Jay Wager, Director of Business Development with Nutter McClennen & Fish, in Boston Massachusetts. Jay is also a past President in the Legal Marketing Association New England Chapter.
Jay Wager: John, thanks for having me.
John: Absolutely, good to have you back. Thanks for the last conversation, it was fantastic.
Jay: You’re welcome.
Trust & Influence in Social Media
John: Are you aware that Google and various social media sites, like Klout, have patented algorithms to determine if someone is a trusted author and influential person?
Jay: Yeah, I am very much aware of that. If Google can get people to drive cars without driving them, they could definitely figure out how to objectively determine what kind of content is genuine and real, what kind of content is being put out for, I would say, spin or manipulation or purely marketing reasons. So I’m definitely aware.
John: Do you feel like that’s fairly pervasive? People, legal marketers, are aware of that?
Jay: The marketers are, yeah. A lot of attorneys may be less aware how sophisticated technology has become maybe because we’re a less sophisticated industry in general. I don’t think that all the technology doesn’t apply to ours. I’m not sure why, but I believe those marketers are aware that you need to put out the quality content in a consistent manner where people are reading it.
They know exactly who’s reading it and they know if those people are quality people.
It really is a very highly objective process by which they’re ranking and they’re categorizing people, authors and thought leadership in what is truly valuable out there, and what’s being read. It’s a little brutal way, in terms of – it also takes that human factor out of some things, but there’s so much information being put out there.
It’s definitely a ranking or a helpful tool, I think, in our part to be able to tell our attorneys that there is an honesty out there that has to happen. The audience including the algorithm audience will not take you much farther than you think it can.
John: It’s good, I think, for the attorneys to be aware that if we’re asking them to blog or be interviewed doing a podcast like this, we’re doing it because you can’t just hire an agency to flip a switch anymore.
We used to. Back in the mid‑90’s, I was able to do SEO and a company would hire me. I almost didn’t even need to talk to them much. We can go do stuff and they go “wow”, like ranking overnight. Those days are so long gone.
Hopefully, there’s greater consciousness that the attorneys will catch up with the marketers and realize, “OK, there’s a really good reason they are asking us to put our faces out there.”
Jay: Frankly, I think consumers of legal services want that. There is a demand just how you want honest rankings of restaurants or of cars. People really want to be able to take that deluge of information that’s been set out there and say, “OK. Which of the sources really are providing valuable, thoughtful information that would be relevant to me?”
How important is social media for increasing trust for attorneys?
John: Absolutely. How important is social media for increasing trust for attorneys? Is it a negative when you click on social media icons on a website for a law firm and they reveal very few followers on Facebook and Twitter? Or just, it kind of makes you look bad if you put them up there and you’re really not even doing it?
Jay: To me, it depends on what the media is. There are some things that I do see as a real downside and some things I don’t. The social media in the business world to me is LinkedIn, and I care. When I see somebody’s LinkedIn’s profile, which is their name, no photo, and five people have linked to them, that really shows somebody who’s chosen not to engage with the business world. That’s not a good thing.
John: Not just with LinkedIn, but you’re saying if they’re not taking LinkedIn serious, they’re asleep at the wheel.
Jay: Definitely, on that particular one. Twitter, it depends. If somebody is using Twitter for their own personal use, that’s fine. I don’t care. You can usually tell pretty quickly what you’re using Twitter for. Obviously, if you’re using it for business reasons and it’s not being well‑used and maintained, it’s better they don’t have a Twitter handle than do.
The best world is having somebody who is using Twitter effectively for business. I wouldn’t recommend blending the two. That’s definitely something where you don’t want to. You’re talking about your playoff football team at the same you’re talking about environmental law.
John: It really depends on the platform a bit…
Jay: Right. My personal opinion on Facebook is that it’s a personal medium. You can do what you want with it. I don’t ever really evaluate somebody from a business perspective or even a personal perspective on what they do or don’t do on Facebook. That’s more of somebody’s personal preference on how much they want to share their life.
John: The gist of this one for you and I think going to the National LMA Conference is the LinkedIn sessions are packed. The last year’s LMA, I couldn’t believe the LinkedIn session was on fire. Absolutely.
Importance of Audio & Video on Law Firm Websites
If a picture is worth a thousand words and researchers indicate that over 70 percent of what we communicate is through our tone and body language not just through our words, doesn’t that make images, audio and video an incredibly important part of influencing website visitors?
Jay: It definitely makes the website viewing experience better. Any time you can make an experience better you should be considering it and doing it.
I’m not sure how much content or thought leadership people get from videos. I believe that they are important to have on there. People do learn and do take information in different ways.
If you’re just giving them straight text, that’s great for all people who take it in by reading. But there are a lot of people out there who do need the visual component to really get the full experience, sort of really understand what is it that you are trying to convey.
There are a lot of softer issues about people, about law firms and about culture that can be better displayed through video. I definitely think that you can learn a lot about people by how they present themselves on video and get a feel for the kind of person they are, at least get some direction.
I’d say video is always kind of a two dimensional version of a face to face meeting which is a three dimensional version. The personal interface is to me the most important. But if somebody, if you want to get more than just words on a Web page, video can give you a different perspective, give the reader a different perspective.
That’s really important. I would really keep it short. That’s something that I know a lot of video advisers are doing, keep it as a nice tight package. Making a 10‑minute dissertation about an area of law on video, I’m not sure will be as effective as actually putting it online as a reading document. Whereas a podcast where somebody could sit in a car and not have the visual component of it and they can listen.
John: Yeah, I know that. That’s exactly right.
Jay: Video gets you further than not having video. That is an important part in this day and age, culture and really getting behind the facade is important in making decisions about who they are going to use for legal counsel, and video helps.
John: Yeah, and YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. That’s not a small feat either. To capitalize on YouTube is pretty important.
Jay: Right. Video for video’s sake it can also do…we were talking earlier about having this genuine authenticity. Again, just putting videos up of a talking head isn’t…We want the authenticity of you really doing it in a smart and thoughtful way.
Thought leadership: more important for B2B or B2C attorneys?
John: Yeah, and does thought leadership or blogging matter more to B2B or B2C attorneys? Do you feel one is better than other with online thought leadership and blogging and all that?
Jay: I gave some thought to this. I believe that it’s more important to B2B than to consumer legal marketing. I think that’s because — B2B, there’s a lot of different people who are buying legal services, in-house general counsel, who are regularly exposed to having to need counsel all the time.
Consumers, individuals, usually have one-off needs and I feel that they may be, not less sophisticated, but just less experienced in the whole hiring of an attorney. It may be an area they’re not comfortable in understanding the nuances and differences in law firms.
The consumer, I feel, depends more on trusts and friendships through referrals. If they’ve had a friend with a similar problem and that friend said this lawyer has done a great job for me, why don’t you go talk to him?
I feel that would be a more logical path for a consumer to take than for them to go online and read about what an attorney has done and or following their blogs and those sorts of things. That’s my opinion, is that the trust, friendship, and respect plays a little higher role in the consumer. But for a B2B, trust always is important but you have the content and the thought leadership component that really adds on to the differentiators between one excellent attorney and another excellent attorney.
John: I’m always fascinated by the responses we get to this question. It’s partially because our initial work with law firms – way back we started doing more mass tort work and mesothelioma lawyers – campaigns with Google AdWords and personal injury, auto accidents, slip and fall, et cetera.
In that space, people are obsessing over Google ranking. The attorneys, of course, want to get in front of those people that are searching. So in a way we initially would think, “Jeez, blogging is more important for them because you’ve got to get SEO and you’ve got to be ranked because those consumers are going to search Google when they have that one-off need as you said.”
But the more we started working with B2B attorneys, we started to get a lot more of what you just said.
I actually had a meeting today with a commercial mortgage company and I explained to them because initially they were a little hesitant to do things like blogging and podcasting. I explained the whole, what we are doing with attorneys with thought leadership, and they really started to get it. A lot of the B2B people that we’re working with – the more you dig into it, the more critical thought leadership is when you are trying to reach other businesses.
Jay: I think so. I think that people – trust is always a factor when hiring attorney. The quality of work, the demonstration of specialty expertise, reputation, intellect presence, charisma, those sorts of other tangible areas build respect in who you are hiring and that can be both hiring of the firm and hiring of the individual.
I think that the content and the thinking behind legal issues are really areas that can breed a lot of respect for a particular attorney or for a firm.
John: For the last question. Just extending that for a little bit. How does that relate to business development? Can you send a blog post to someone, a prospect, a general counsel, or a business that you are working with. What are your feelings about that sharing a blog post or some content that you’ve created to extend or deepen the relationship or even as a quick follow‑up to keep in touch with them?
Jay: It’s something of value to them and if it’s obviously a topic that you’ve identified as being important to their lives and what they do in day to day and help them do their job and help them be informed on a particular issue that they deal with on a regular basis. That adds value to them and that translates to them…to you as an attorney adding value to them.
That you are on top of these issues on a regular basis and this changing world being able to follow the trends and then also being able to capitalize and take some of these changes to a client’s advantage. I completely agree that…in‑house counsel has been asking for this, going “send me information that has value to me.”
By having a regular stream of content even through blogging or other areas of thought leadership, it really does add value to that client and/or to that prospect and they will most likely put you on the shortlist for that.
John: It all comes down to relevance, if you are pumping out a lot of good, helpful content over time and then you have a topic come up with a general counsel. If you’ve got in your bag of tricks 50 or 100 or so blog posts, if you can find something really relevant…I think what I’m hearing you saying is, that’s going to go so much further than something moderately relevant. The closer you can get to their exact need, the better.
Jay: Right and it doesn’t need to be yours. That’s the other thing, is that there are lots of thought leaders out there in the world that are aggregators. They maybe are not coming up with the ideas themselves but they are taking all the different points of light and putting them together and synthesizing them, just saying “OK, this is what is happening out there and this is what it means to you.”
John: That’s another good point. Any other final thoughts on things you’re doing in marketing or any highlights of what you are up to lately?
Jay: Here at Nutter, we’re always looking at ways to enhance our brands and enhance the value that we deliver to our clients on a regular basis. It’s very hard to articulate the intangibles that you can give somebody in terms of service, in terms of relationship, in terms of…we are really helping them along.
We’re looking at some really softer issues in terms of how can we translate that and put that into the market place that doesn’t come across as a lot of other law firms. The constant struggle of saying that we are a quality value based law firm or not have it sound or like every other firm always at a struggle in differentiation.
John: Absolutely, they are very lucky to have you there. Your thoughts are much appreciated and how can people get in touch with you?
Jay: I’m at Nutter McClennen & Fish. My email address is the letter email@example.com.
John: That’s nutter.com and check out legalmarketingreview.com for more interviews and information on legal marketing. I’m John McDougall. See you next time on Legal Marketing Review.