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Cathy Kenton By Cathy Kenton • June 29, 2020

Is it Time to Drop ‘Efficiency’ from our Vocabularies?

Not too many years ago, Monica Bay was the Editor-in-Chief of Law Technology News (LTN). She had a hardcore rule: she would reject story submissions using the word ’solution’. While I agreed with her that solution was a buzz word, both over-used and lacking clarity, I also debated with her, always unsuccessfully, that solution had value when speaking to legal professionals about tech.

Now comes ‘efficiency’. As reported by Frank Ready in LegalTechNews, the online successor to LTN, in his story Successful Innovation May Hinge on Properly Explaining Efficiency Rather than Tech, the general and overused term efficiency does not help lawyers and legal professionals understand the true value a tech delivers.

Mr. Ready interviewed both Tomu Johnson, CEO of Parsons Behle Lab and Brett Burney of Burney Consultants. They agreed, attorneys really don’t care about how the technology operates, they want to know how it will make their lives better and they just want it to work. And let’s face it folks, most attorneys, law firms, and legal departments have been burned by tech products making promises that for one reason or another were not realized. A good reason to be wary buyers.

Some of those failures lie with customers failing to understand or commit to using the technology properly, some to poor service, implementation, or poor product fit, and some fall on our marketing/messaging for lack of clarity and overpromising.


It All Starts with Marketing

Marketing creates the messages and tone the customer ultimately receives. Marketing provides the materials the sales team shares with their prospects. And for the most part, marketing owns the website…your company’s public face.

Thus, it is incumbent upon marketers to create messaging and materials that clearly explain to a prospect how the product/service will help them practice better, deliver more value to their clients, and reduce the costs of producing outstanding work product.

There is No Substitute for Buyer Personas

We speak with dozens of legal tech providers each year. Most of them admit they do not have formalized Buyer Personas. They claim they know their buyers and can bypass the process, yet when probed further they admit to having a very generalized vision of who their buyers and influencers really are.

Untitled design-33Why are Buyer Personas important for eliminating efficiency?

Buyer Personas are one of the first critical steps in every marketing or sales effort. If you don’t know who you are trying to reach, how can you develop meaningful and understandable messages, materials, and marketing plans? Skipping this step can be devastating to successful marketing plans, resulting in increased acquisition costs and longer sales cycles.

Finally, I Respectfully Disagree

In the concluding paragraphs of the article, Mr. Johnson states that a younger generation of more tech savvy attorneys will bring the biggest change to the profession. When I joined a legal software developer back in 1992, we said the same thing. For nearly thirty years we’ve been making that prediction, while realizing excruciatingly slow progress. While I believe young attorneys do have a tech advantage early on, they get swept up in the day-to-day processes of lawyering and lose that advantage…and the cycle continues.

No doubt we have made significant progress and it improves daily. It is up to marketers, and their executive teams, to make the commitment to improve messaging and explain their product/services benefits in a manner that resonates with legal professionals in every segment of the vertical