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Two Takeaways for Surveys as Content Marketing

photo-1422480415834-d7d30118ea06Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of serving as a judge for the Legal Marketing Association’s Your Honor Awards. These awards are the “longest-running annual international award program recognizing excellence in legal marketing,” and it’s the second time I’ve been able to serve as a judge. I enjoy it not only because of the camaraderie among my fellow judges, but because I get to see some of the smartest work in the industry, and get a sense of how firms and other professional services organizations in the legal industry are meeting the challenges that we face every day.

When we judge the selection of entries, we’re each given a few categories that we’re responsible for scoring, based on a list of criteria, and then we get together for a weekend in early January to review the entries with our fellow category judges, and then as a group. We then award first, second, third, and honorable mention as appropriate – and we have the option to award no prizes at all if we don’t think the entries are worthy, so when an entrant wins a prize, they really deserve it. 

One of the categories that I judged this year was Media Relations, and our first prize winner was Richards Kibbe & Orbe LLP, for their Marketplace Lending survey. We LOVED this piece, and there were two main reasons that it stood out from the crowd, apart from its obvious professionalism – so it makes a good Two for Tuesdays showcase! If you’re considering developing a survey and publishing the results, here are two takeaways from Richards Kibbe & Orbe (RKO) to consider as you’re getting started:

Takeaway One: Partner Up

We can all conduct our own research, and even get the assistance of qualified market research partners who understand how to ask the questions and analyze the results, but finding the right partner was key for RKO here. They partnered with the Wharton Fintech Club on this first ever Marketplace Lending Survey, a study of institutional investors and their interests. Partnering with Wharton gave them gravitas for both the survey itself, and the results, adding credibility to the firm’s practice in addition to the reputation that they’ve already built.

It’s similar to a word of mouth reputation, right? We can all say good things about ourselves, but when someone else says them about us, they become somehow more credible. RKO pulled that off with their survey as well – they already had the experience in their practice to conduct the survey and publish the results on their own, but partnering with Wharton’s Fintech Club added more credibility to the survey and its results.

So as you’re considering your own survey as a form of content marketing, media relations, or client development, consider looking for an organization that fits with your goals that you can partner with. It’s an opportunity to expand your network, lend credibility to the process, and extend the reach of your results.

Takeaway Two: Keep it Short

The ultimate results from RKO were four pages long. FOUR PAGES. When I saw that in the submission, I couldn’t believe it. They offered the key findings, a summary, highlights of the analysis, and a look at what’s next. And that was it. Talk about a targeted piece of work.

We’re all busy people, and that [especially] includes your clients and potential clients, and whomever else you’re targeting with your survey results. They don’t want to read pages of results, and they CERTAINLY don’t want to read raw data. They want to know what you found out, what it means for them, and what you think the future holds. And they want to know that quickly. So tell them, as briefly as possible – it’s a value-add, and they’ll remember not only that you provided them with something that they can use, but also were mindful of their time.

What other suggestions do you have for putting together a strong, professional survey to be used as a marketing piece?