By Haley Altman, Strategic Advisor, Litera
Part of a series of articles from Litera leaders on themes related to the ILTACON 2022 event.
Businesses love to use data, charts, and facts to sell themselves to investors and customers. As a former entrepreneur who successfully built a product and company, I have learned that good storytelling effectively complements all that data if you want to engage your audience more thoroughly.
While pitching my company Doxly, which Litera acquired in 2019, I found that I could capture my audiences' interest with narratives that created an emotional bond with them.
As the legal tech world looks forward to gathering at the upcoming ILTACON 2022 conference, it occurs to me that storytelling techniques are at least as useful for legal technologists and innovation leaders pushing technology adoption within their organizations as they are for entrepreneurs launching their shiny new startups.
Like the heads of startups, legal tech professionals are often required to convince an audience of some ideal future state and a path to get there. The audience for that message can be very diverse. It can consist of partners and associates who must see how tech adoption will impact their day-to-day work, CIOs trying to balance a firm's strategy with its technology resources, and firm leaders trying to articulate a strategy for growth.
So, from the perspective of someone who has successfully leveraged storytelling in my business journey, here are some tips on leveraging each element of what I call the "Arc of the Story" to reach those audiences and successfully implement legal tech solutions.
Know the Audience
Tailoring your message to each audience is critically important. Understanding the specific needs of each group through research and needs assessment helps you craft a message that resonates. For example, when discussing technology adoption, the value propositions for partners will be different from associates. The reasons a firm leadership chooses to invest in new technology might differ from the drivers that resonate with end users.
As a legal technology and innovation leader, it's your job to understand those different perspectives and tailor each message.
A hook is an opening statement designed to get your audience's attention and create questions that beg to be resolved. The hook should create some drama and an incentive for the audience to pay attention as it tries to understand how the issue posed in the hook will be addressed or resolved by the proposed solution.
A hook can come in the form of some surprising statistic, an anecdote that tells something about the audience's situation, or a quotation that sets up a paradox or dilemma.
As I was starting to pitch the idea of Doxly, my hook was that, while I didn't have a product yet, I could show that we had an incredible knowledge of the space and the problems we were trying to solve.
In your legal tech role, you might be trying to win over a group of potential product champions with a hook that places them in the center of the process you are pitching. Make them a part of defining the problems that the firm can solve with this new tool and piloting their solutions. The hook is the prospect of helping to a path to success.
For the broader audience of end users, the hook for the very same initiative might be much different. Here the story might focus on the fact that the technology actually works; the proven successes and benefits provided by the pilot group become the hook to draw end users into the story.
A Problem Statement
Every story needs to include a statement of the problem you are trying to solve. The focus should be on the pain a target group is experiencing and why the solution is essential and not just a "nice to have."
In my experience, this is an area where many storytellers get tripped up. They focus on the features and benefits, not the high-level issues that will be solved if you get people to change how they work.
For example, when I started to demo an automated signatures feature within Doxly, I was excited to show how the signature block is created and added to a page. I should have focused on the pain point of how many times the user would otherwise have to manually create a block for one signer when a typical deal might require at least ten signature blocks per person or more. Because I focused on the feature and how it looked and operated, the problem statement got lost. This potential customer focused on the appearance of the signature block and its typeface, which he didn't like!
Keep the narrative focused on those pain points and build an emotional connection to the solution you are proposing, rather than dangling features and functionality at an early stage. Concentrate on the "why" and the intended outcome, and not so much on the "how."
Why is this product uniquely positioned to solve the problem? Focus on the problem statements you've already set up in the narrative and show how the proposed solution addresses them.
Highlight what will change. Does the process now have fewer steps? Will it generate data that will allow you to measure things you couldn't see before? Will it reduce known risks to the client or the firm?
Here again, the solution is not just a list of features and benefits. It's a proposition that directly ties back to the needs and problem statements the story has already identified. It should be the equivalent of a literary denouement, a resolution of the plot line that ties up all the drama set up at the tale's beginning.
Solutions should be tied to ROI and specific results people can see. People are willing to endure the pain of changing if a significant value can be assigned to that effort.
As you pilot and educate your audiences about your solution, the more you can let them leverage data to confirm the value for themselves, the better.
You'll want to leave your audiences excited and engaged. If possible, circle back to your hook and show them how the solution you are proposing closes the loop on the engaging premise you generated at the beginning of your story.
Every implementation of legal tech or new legal processes leads to a story that gets told afterward. We've all heard those stories, and the success stories get repeated. Storytelling at the early stage of any adoption process allows you to seize the narrative from the start and create an emotional connection with people you'll need on your side.
Posted in ILTACON