the "Long Tail,"
Your Legal "Tribe"
Christine Kane, Gold Mastermind, and Up Level Your Business
If we offer it again this spring, I could provide even more valuable advice for 3Ls because of the path I've been on this past year as a member of the Gold Mastermind training offered by Christine Kane through her Up Level Your Business coaching programs.
One thing I said last year, that I would repeat this year is this. We now have cheap ways to find our "tribe" and then provide members of that tribe with high quality content that does several things:
- Positions you as an expert in an area of law;
- Let's you tell your story in a meaningful way;
- Builds trust; and then,
- Encourages clients to come to you for paid legal services.
So, let me share the non-legal example I shared last year. Then let me explain why this approach holds so much potential.
Content Marketing and an Extreme Body Modifier
On March, 15, 2013, Shannon Larrett died. A Wikipedia page describes him as:
the creator, former editor and publisher of BMEzine, an online magazine noted for coverage of extreme body modifications. He published several books, including ModCon: The Secret World Of Extreme Body Modification. He was also an artist, computer programmer, film producer, and business owner.
This was his tribe -- extreme body modifiers. If you watched the episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit called Strange Beauty, you will know exactly what I am talking about.
In any event, this guy found a niche, created a business, and found success simply by appealing to a tiny number of the 2 billion people that live on this planet and have internet access.
For the First Time Ever
For the first time ever, each one of us has the tools available to reach our tribes through low-cost, content-rich means: blogs, websites, Facebook postings, tweets, Pinterest boards, Instagram portfolios, iTunes inventories, Etsy offerings, Youtube videos, Vine clips, Snapchat ephemera, and Google +, LinkedIn and Tumbler accounts. All these web-based platforms give us the opportunity to reach people who follow very narrow topics of interest -- but they are passionate and engaged when it comes to those topics.
In a December 2, 2013 issue of The New Yorker magazine, Kelefa Sanneh reviews the book Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment. In it she describes the shift that record company executives did not foresee and then, when it was upon them, dismissed. It was the move from big hits to obscure downloads from iTunes.
The Long Tail
Chris Anderson, who was then the editor of Wired . . . published The Long Tail, which celebrated the coming demise of "the hit-driven mindset" and the growing importance of online distribution [of music]. Using Netflix, Amazon, or iTunes, you could browse what Anderson called "the infinite aisle," where vast inventories and smart suggestions software made it easy to shun blockbusters and follow your own passions, no matter how obscure. He argued that retailers, too had been freed from the tyranny of the hit. Technology made it possible for businesses to profit by "selling less of more," catering to an explosion of niche markets that, taken together, rivalled the size of the mainstream. Consumers were traveling down the demand curve, away from the head, where the most popular products lived, and out onto the tail, home of the miscellany, which was growing longer (as variety increased) and fatter (as sales of non-hits increased). The new popular culture would be more interesting and more efficient, catering to the ever more diverse tastes of a general public . . . .K.T. Vandyke and Driftin' Westward
Driftin' Westward, whose lead singer is K.T. Vandyke. Besides being charming, talented, award-winning, and a Jude Law doppleganger, he is building a devoted following of musical fans and an inventory of original songs.
He could, if he applies the long tail theory, build a successful musical career simply by creating, recording, and posting songs that his fans can download for a small price. No big dollar split with the recording company or with a middle man.
If he sells 100,000 downloads for $.99 each, he could make an attractive living. He might only need 1,000 dedicated fans who download ten songs each, every year, for the next 40 years -- the equivalent of one CD per year for life.
In contrast, the recording industry would ignore him. 100,000 downloads a year simply did not (and does not) support the economic model that the industry created based on a few megastars who could sell millions of albums.
But that model discouraged talented musicians to keep producing wonderful music, and it denied fans a chance to explore music that fell on the long tail and outside the big-hit pop, rock, or rap mainstream musical offerings.
Lawyers can use the same tools to create engagement with potential clients. Yes, lawyers tend to be cautious adopters of new marketing tools, and the bar association regulators are still trying to figure out how rules governing traditional advertising apply to these new web-based options. But, those lawyers who do adopt these tools -- not at the exclusion of traditional approaches, but as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy -- will do well in an increasingly competitive legal market.
I have seen several of our alumni, including Jeremy Burnside and David Johnson, using Facebook effectively to market themselves. They could be doing so much more with additional web-based platforms.
January 21, 2014 Update: Nice discussion of niche marketing and whether we have content "overload" or an enthusiastic ability to find what we need in the sea of ever-increasing information.