Last week, marketers, BD professionals, tech providers, and agencies assembled in London at CMO Series live to delve into best practices in professional services marketing.
I was lucky enough to tag along to present our 2023 General Counsel research.
The results of the survey were sometimes surprising and definitely eye-opening, but they will not be new or revolutionary to marketers. Rather, the survey findings are designed to help marketers advocate for the best practices that they already know.
About the General Counsel Survey
Earlier this year, Passle and our research partner Hayhurst Consultancy canvassed 100 General Counsel in the US&UK to better understand best practices and how law firms should be approaching their clients and prospects with content.
About the respondents:
- 50 US and 50 UK General Counsel
- 50% of the respondents were from firms of $500m+, the rest were of $10m - $500m
- Respondents were senior General Counsel involved in buying legal services
How General Counsel Consume Content
The first big surprise our survey demonstrated was just how much time general counsel were spending to stay up to date. Most general counsel were spending 8+ hours per week on content - a full work day. 14% of GCs were spending 16h or more on content, a staggering 2 business days per week.
This led us into one of two big misconceptions around content that were broken down by the survey. Professional services marketers (and Passle ourselves as a content marketing software) like to think that content is consumed in a focused, office environment with dedication and attention.
Yet when we asked General Counsel, we got a very different answer. Content is far more often consumed in the margins of that person's time, on the weekend, before work, and between meetings. The least common time for content to be consumed was at the office.
Content best practices for law firms
The second big misconception we had was that written content was king. Passle is a content platform for blogs, videos, podcasts, and all sorts of professional services content, but we still (until this research was released) considered written content king. The reality is very different.
When we asked General Counsel what their most commonly consumed form of content was we were given a huge spectrum of answers. What that means for firms is that no single type of content is king. ANY single form content risks missing 80% of the market.
In addition to being multi-format, General Counsel want insight and opinion from their advisors. In the curation vs opinion argument, it's not surprising that the vast majority of GCs are more interested in the insight of your experts than a simple summary of industry happenings.
How General Counsel interact with law firm websites
While law firms appreciate the value of their website, few probably realise how central it is to their interactions with clients and prospective clients.
Nearly all General Counsel will assess a potential supplier's website as part of their selection process.
That engagement with the website isn't limited to new suppliers. Most General Counsel will review existing suppier websites monthly or weekly. With 12% even reviewing those sites daily, it's important that law firms show a set of fresh content to their market.
The role of thought leadership in supplier relationships
Thought leadership is both a preference and a requirement for legal service providers. 80% of our respondents were involved in appointing external legal service providers.
Respondents showed a strong tendency to hire lawyers that demonstrated subject matter expertise. In nearly half the responses this preference was a fully-fledged requirement.
Firms see thought leadership as their supplier's responsibility. This was the only unanimous answer in our survey. 100% of GCs surveyed saw thought leadership as a responsibility of their suppliers.
The opportunity is there then, for knowledge rich firms to capture a disproportionate share of market by establishing themselves as the market leaders. Only 1 in 12 GCs surveyed thought law firms worked hard enough to keep the market informed with relevant, timely, website content.
Those other 11 out of 12 represent the opportunity for those firms with the ambition and knowledge to take advantage of it.