Charles Christian’s legalit & new media blog

One of the issues that increasingly arises in the legalit space is how vendors, consultants and other service providers communicate their messages to their respective audiences over and above the usual suspects offerings of conference platforms, exhibitions and advertising (both online and offline/print).

“No problem,” they tell you, “we’ve got a website” – we hear the same thing from law firms. Yes, but what is on that website? Is it proactive or is it a cobweb site – to use an old (very old) joke? The answer in most cases is the latter – in fact in many instances they are cobweb brochureware sites that should have been put out of their misery sometime before the end of the last century.

This is not merely a case of updating for the sake of it. What vendors, law firms and many other commercial organisations (we’re focussing her on B2B rather than the consumer sector) fail to realise is that in the digital age, their websites are their shop windows onto the virtual world. And, just as you would be singularly unimpressed by a bricks and mortar shop window in your local bricks and mortar High Street that was still displaying chocolate eggs leftover from Easter, so the digital shopper is unlikely to be impressed by a stale website.

In fact the latest social media research suggests that when it comes to new business, the online shopper for commercial and professional services is already 53% (I know, who calculated this 53% figure?) down the purchase and decision making process before they even contact any prospective suppliers. For software vendors offering try-before-you-buy evaluation downloads, the problem is even more acute. Not that long ago, the first time a prospect could have seen their software would have been at a trade show or product briefing. Today, they will have already evaluated the software before they make the first approach.

In otherwords forget inviting new prospects to a golf day or a seminar in the hope of creating a relationship because by then it may be too late. The key is to engage with prospects – and to engage with them at a far earlier stage. And as initial relationships are formulated online, that means engaging with them online at an early stage.

In part 2 we’ll be looking at ways to banish those online cobweb sites.