Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, was not known for being a nice guy, or particularly easy to work with. He was, however, known for being tough as nails, fair, brilliant, and someone who got results. And he saw this whole COVID-19 thing coming.

More specifically, if you’re running a law firm, he knew something you probably are still figuring out. Grove called this kind of situation a strategic inflection point, and knew that depending on how you handle it, it can either be an enormous, game-changing opportunity or a cliff you just walked off.

A strategic inflection point is a moment when something essential about the environment in which you’re doing business changes. In our case, thanks to a nasty little virus, what’s changed is the ability to engage with clients face-to-face. If you adapt to the new reality in which you find yourself, you can reap huge competitive advantages. But if you don’t, you may be doomed.

Here’s what Grove had to say about it:

“[A] strategic inflection point is a time in the life of business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end”

That is exactly what is happening in the legal market right now, as I write this. Firms are furloughing staffers, delaying summer associate programs, requiring partners to take major cuts in their income. The upswing is coming – it has to – but nobody knows when, or how quickly, or any of those pesky details. But right now, the cold, hard truth is that all the game pieces have been tossed up in the air, and where they come down will have a huge impact on who ends up winning, and who ends up losing.

But where the real law firm inflection point is occurring is in an unusual place: marketing and business development. For decades, firms have relied on essentially the same approaches to business development they’ve always used, just with some decoration around the edges. Partners attend meetings, conferences, take prospective clients out to lunch, build relationships. Relationships lead to engagements, which lead to business.

But what happens when you can’t meet face-to-face? What do you have when conferences are cancelled, when you can’t take a client to lunch, when you’re not even sure you can call them on the phone because they’re suddenly working from home? Say it all together kids – you have a strategic inflection point. Something very fundamental has changed, Or, to quote another noted strategist, Warren Zevon, author of Lawyers, Guns & Money, “the shit that used to work don’t work now.” Your firm’s survival may depend on your response.

Warning: Incoming Sales Pitch

What do you do? As a legal marketer, what do you do when 75% of your legal marketing tactics are suddenly neutralized? Here’s what you do – you double down on what you have left. Which is content. Which, not coincidentally, is what I’m an expert at creating. (831) 400-7939.

More specifically, you do two things with respect to your content. First, you do more, and second, you do better. More is easy – just start sending out more stuff. But better is not easy, and again, that’s where I come in.

Better how?

·      Better-written. This is critical – badly-written content is ignored.

·      More targeted – tell people stuff that they really care about.

·      More relevant – tell them things that matter, and explain why they matter.

·      More actionable – less theorizing and chin-scratching, and more “here’s what you do”

·      More timely – return the “alert” part to “Client alert”

All of this adds up to reader engagement, as well as a demonstration of how your firm thinks and what it does. Great content tells the reader quite a bit about what kind of work your attorneys will deliver. So does mediocre content. All of which is compounded by the simple, stark fact that content is really the only channel you have left. It had better be good.

To return to Andy Grove for a minute, another one of his better-known quotes is this: “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis, good companies survive them, great companies are improved by them.” Substitute “firms” for “companies” and you’ve got what’s happening right now.

Which one are you?

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