Most firms make thought leadership harder than it needs to be.
Before law firms had heard of a CRM, relationship management was partner-driven. It existed as a component of the role of each partner and was assisted by "little black books" and desktop Rolodexes.
Today, client relationships are still central to the role of individual partners, but relationships are so valuable to the firm that they are also tracked and considered at a firm level. Firms wanted to grow more deliberately, more securely and Marketing and Business Development have been central to driving that change.
Push - The current thought leadership landscape
Thought leadership is in a similar state today in professional services firms that CRMs were ten years ago. Law firms are generally more prolific than other professional services firms when it comes to thought leadership, but it is still, by and large, a sporadic, partner-driven exercise.
Our upcoming Digital Performance Index research showed that the average top 400 law firm in the US & UK published just a single piece of thought leadership per lawyer in 2021.
When you consider the importance of thought leadership, the number of industry developments that happen in a year, the sum of knowledge that professionals have and the need from clients for useful insights it becomes clear that one piece of thought leadership per year is not enough - and many firms aren't even able to publish one piece of thought leadership per lawyer per year.
Marketers and Business Development professionals do know the value of thought leadership. To make up for a lack of quality content, Marketing leaders try to "push" partners to produce more or will ghost-write content across the firm.
Trying to force content, to "push" it in this way takes a lot of effort, burns the social capital the marketing team has and isn't a scaleable operation that can be applied across the firm.
Pull - The more effective way to execute thought leadership programs
Marketers and business development professionals do not have the tools or the authority to push content, to force it out of lawyers.
Passle is built on the model that successful firms have adopted. Firms that do thought leadership really well encourage content, rather than mandate or badger their professionals for it. To achieve this, they do several things very well:
- Give professionals access to and ownership of the publishing mechanism
- Foster the understanding of the value of thought leadership with qualitative feedback
- Create simple, understandable publishing and approval workflows
- Widely leverage content once it has been published across the firm's entire digital presence
Moving from "push" to "pull"
The good news is that moving from the older, less deliberate way of running thought leadership programs to a more effective process can be an easy process.
It typically takes a pilot group of 30 or so professionals around 5 weeks to see results, form lasting habits and kick start a snowballing momentum for the firm.
The most difficult part for firms is to make that decision to transform their thought leadership. Marketing infrastructure and team compositions are often set up to support the older, ineffective model.
Once that decision to transition as been made, teams can be more effectively assigned, thought leadership flows more regularly and the value of marketing is made more clear.