5 Lessons for Law Firm Marketers from HubSpot's INBOUND 2017 Conference

JD Supra Perspectives

[Conference notes from Stefanie Knapp of law firm Allen Matkins. Stefanie recently attended HubSpot's INBOUND 2017 and offers thoughts about what such an event can teach legal marketers:]

"We have, mathematically, a better chance of dying in a plane crash than clicking on a banner ad..." - Jeff Rosenblum, Questus

I know some folks within law firms are wary of attending marketing conferences outside of legal but I've found that, with the right conference and an open mind, you will come away even more energized because not only can you see what's happening outside of our industry, you can also see how to actually implement fresh ideas at your own firm.

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend INBOUND 2017 in Boston, a huge event focused, of course, on inbound marketing. From the speakers to the session topics to the service partners and the amazing people I met, it was one of the most inspiring conferences I've attended. I came away excited and armed with new ideas to implement immediately.

As I look back on my many, many tweets (aka my notes) I found five big themes that were discussed at the conference:

1. Invest in video

Video is projected to be 82% of internet traffic by 2020.

Many firms are now producing videos, but many more are still struggling to get started. Here are a few tips: 

  • Decide if you'll outsource the video or shoot in-house. If you're going to shoot the video yourself, the "best" video gear is the gear you can afford, said George B Thomas, Inbound & Brand Strategist, The Sales Lion. There are great options at all price points. 
  • Struggling for video topics? Ask your lawyers about the top questions they get from clients. Turn a recent written article or alert into a short video highlighting the key points. Film at one of your events where you can interview speakers and attendees.
  • Get it out there. Publish your video on your site and YouTube and JD Supra. Create short snippets to post on your social media networks. Put thumbnails that link to the video in your emails.

2. Create an environment for courageous creativity

"Everyone has the potential to be creative. Remove the blocks. Make it okay to make mistakes," said Edwin Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. 

Unfortunately, in law firms a more common experience is illustrated in this cartoon shared at the conference by Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and Wharton professor. 

Find ways to cultivate creativity within your team and turn those ideas into real results:

  • Provide an open forum on a regular basis where anyone can share their ideas without having to take into account budget, personnel, or any other potential barriers.
  • Go to people outside of your department, but who know enough about the topic, and pitch them your idea. They'll be able to provide more objective feedback.
  • Take an unfamiliar idea and make it familiar. Grant said that no one understood the first Lion King movie pitch. It was explained as Bambi in Africa. Someone reframed the idea as Hamlet with lions. The movie was picked up and became the highest-grossing film of 1994 worldwide. 

3. Provide clients information when and how they want it

"Messaging is the biggest change in our industry since social media," said Kipp Bodner, Hubspot Chief Marketing Officer.

A number that was thrown out a lot over the four-day conference was 1.3 billion – the number of people using Facebook Messenger each month. And that's not all personal communication – two billion messages are sent between people and businesses each month, according to Facebook. Hubspot recently conducted a survey and found 71% of respondents were willing to use a messaging app to get assistance. We live in a culture of instant gratification and our clients are no different.

  • Provide clients and potential clients options for communicating with your firm in the way that they want to communicate with us – email, phone, and, yes, even chat. 
  • Offer a messaging option on your site, either live chat or bot. It not only provides the immediacy that your clients want, but would provide additional data that you could use to sell to these clients and potential clients. 

4. Take a look in the mirror

"You can't think in new ways if there isn't diversity of perspective and experience," said Elaine Welteroth, Editor-in-Chief, Teen Vogue.

Welteroth challenged the audience to look at the makeup of our own organizations. Does it reflect who we want to speak to? If not, that's where we need to start.

  • Evaluate who at your firm writes articles and speaks at events. Are there opportunities to get other voices involved?
  • Create cross-departmental teams to tackle issues within the firm. Include employees from all levels.

5. Test. Analyze. Optimize. Repeat

"We have, mathematically, a better chance of dying in a plane crash than clicking on a banner ad," said Jeff Rosenblum, Founding Partner, Questus. 

We have more data available to us then ever before, but we need to analyze that data, test new ideas and them optimize to achieve the best results. 

  • Look at the top 10 pages on your website and optimize them for conversion. 
  • Examine the best times to send your email. Currently, we have to this for our entire list, but soon using AI there will be ways to automate sending emails to the best times for each individual contact.
  • Experiment with paid distribution and advertising. Discover the channels that work for your firm and double down on them.


[Stefanie Knapp is the Online Marketing Manager at Allen Matkins.]


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