You’ve Created an Innovative Product/Service – Now What? #ILTAG122 #ILTACON

Session Description: As more law firms experiment with innovation by delivering their services in new and interesting ways, many encounter logistical challenges. How do you price the products/services in a market bereft of competitors? How should you go about positioning and selling these innovations? How will you maintain and scale operations to keep the product/service updated? What’s the best way to deliver support for the new product or service? We will answer these questions and more as we present real-world examples of innovative products and services that have been attempted and actualized.

Speakers:

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Background.  The firms of these speakers are at different stages of innovative product development.
  • First Things First.
    • Making the Business Case
      • Define the value to the firm
        • how does this move the needle for the firm?
        • Will it be a value-add, a revenue-generator?
        • Does the value warrant the level of effort the project is likely to require?
        • How do you balance benefit to the firm and benefit to a smaller group within the firm (e.g., a partner’s vanity project)
      • Include the client point of view — this may be uncomfortable because it likely will require changes in the way your firm has always delivered legal services.
  • Governance.
    • Define governance and the decision-making process
    • Identify key stakeholders who should be involved — be prepared to include a wider group of stakeholders than you would normally involve.
      • it is better to have them in the tent early than have them torpedo the project later
    • Determine Go/No Go
      • a strong business case is critical for buy-in
      • be prepared for naysayers — sometimes they signal their lack of support early in the project so be alert and address their concerns early
      • collaborate early and often
      • be willing to experiment, which means being willing to fail
        • sometimes this means “going rogue,” operating under the radar until you have useful project data to share with the fim
        • this requires having some buy-in from firm leadership to provide the latitude for action and resources
  • Adoption/Change Management
    • any time you create a product or service that will disrupt current products and services, you should expect significant pushback
    • develop a change plan prior to launch
    • identify and secure commitments from internal champions
    • consider engaging a third party change management consultant — especially if the disruption you are planning will have a major impact internally
  • Create strong internal marketing and communications
    • be transparent from the beginning
    • be sure to explain “what’s in for me” — from the perspective of everyone who is likely to be affected by the change
      • this is especially important if the product/service is likely to reduce billable hours
        • in this case, focus on the longer term benefits to the firm
        • bring evidence to the audience — market research and peer evidence (from other partners or even other firms)
    • attorneys are on the front line — they need to have enough information to market it to each other and to their clients
    • keys to success
      • know your audience
      • have a strong messaging/communication plan
      • focus on education
      • use multiple resources — videos, case studies, talking points, pricing, contact info for the dedicated sales team, etc.
        • create an internal, central place where attorneys can find all the resources they need in single place
    • Don’t rely solely on email — in many firms people are already inundated with email. Therefore, travel to your offices and schedule in-person meetings.
  • External Marketing and Communications.
    • use experience data to drive strategy — this means that you REALLY have to get to know your buyer and their sales cycle, and then align your marketing/sales plan to that cycle
    • create a realistic action plan
      • test the waters before a major launch — even asking clients for their thoughts on the planned product/service
      • don’t forget to use indirect marketing as well — put clients in touch with other clients who have experienced success with this product/services
    • Keep it simple
      • be direct but impactful — attorneys, especially, may need coaching to stick to the key powerful facts
      • appeal to your audience
    • Adjust and try again
  • Pricing.
    • Don’t start by telling your client what they need and what you are going to charge them!
    • Rather, start by ASKING what your client what the need and what their comfort level is with respect to pricing. It isn’t just about cheap, it might be about increased predictability/reliability in pricing.
    • Understand the worth of your product/service
      • what is the true value add — TO THE CLIENT
      • is it a revenue generator
      • is it a brand builder
    • Understand your client
      • consider customized pricing
      • understand how they are using internal legal or consulting alternative resources
    • What will the market bear?
      • what is your firm’s experience data on this?
      • what are other firms charging?
        • this information doesn’t usually come via online research
        • you can ask clients — they are usually willing to tell you
        • you can ask colleagues in other firms
  • Ownership: How to keep it going.
    • These projects can require substantial investment by the firm — consider having a partner lead the effort (on the
    • You can be a victim of your own success — you now have a product/service you have to maintain for your clients
      • keep the produce up-to-date regarding design, technology, process
      • technology products often require external support
      • keep content fresh
      • monitor the market on an ongoing basis
  • Evolving the Product.
    • Keep track of client satisfaction
      • you can use surveys, face-to-face feedback, third-party consultants
      • gather input that drives change
    • plan for resources to maintain and improve the product/service in planned phases
    • usage data
      • you may need to refine your collection/analysis as your product matures
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