Here at nDash, we talk to marketing experts all the time about all sorts of interesting topics. It seemed like a crime to keep these conversations to ourselves, so as part of our new series, we’ll be publishing interviews with various thought-leaders from the industry.
Our first guest is Daniel Devoe, who knows a thing or two about crime (not a criminal, he has a law degree). He’s also the Director of Marketing for Legal Hero, an exciting startup right here in Boston, which just released a fantastic piece of content titled The 26 Legal Issues Every Entrepreneur Must Know.
In this interview, we get his thoughts on marketing to dual audiences, how marketers can shape the business strategy, how much is too much for Sharknado insurance, and much more. Enjoy!
Q: Legal Hero is unique in that you’re marketing to two very different groups: Lawyers and those seeking legal advice/services. How do you make sure both audiences receive the proper amount of attention and the right messaging? And what tips do you have for other marketers with a two-tiered audience?
A: We’re very young, so we are learning a lot about this issue as we grow, but from what we’ve experienced so far, I think that Legal Hero has it easier than a lot of two-sided services. All two-sided services struggle with aligning supply and demand in the most beneficial way for both sides. Some, like ours, can satisfy a lot of demand with a relatively small supply. On the supply side, we have solo practitioners and small firm attorneys with their own practices, and we are providing an additional source of work. One lawyer can service a large number of clients at a time, especially for certain types of projects. Scaling that side is easier for us.
Others have it much harder. Take Uber, for example, they need a huge number of drivers to satisfy a huge customer base. Only one driver can serve one customer at a time. If there aren’t enough drivers at the right time, the customer can have a bad experience and might use another alternative. Too many drivers and the drivers don’t make enough money and might stop driving for Uber. That balance is very hard.
Given that we have three attorneys that work at Legal Hero, tapping our professional and alumni networks allowed us to collect a critical mass of network attorneys with relative ease.
I’m not sure that our model is the best representative for other two-sided markets, but one way to work on striking the balance is to make the experience as close to risk-free as possible for the supply side. We don’t charge our lawyers to be on the network, and network lawyers can choose to be active whenever they want. They do not rely on projects through Legal Hero as their only source of income. That gives us sufficient supply for building up demand without alienating our attorneys.
We ask a lot more of our customers. We ask them to trust us with a very important and not insignificantly-priced decision, so basically, our entire marketing focus is on that side.
Q: At larger companies, marketers tend to have very little say with regard to overall business strategy. At Legal Hero, you seem to be taking an active role in this area. In your opinion, what role should marketing play in the direction of a company? Should they follow the lead or assume leadership?
A: Who wants to work at a company like that? I guess it might be my love for smaller, more nimble companies, but I think all parts of the company should be involved in the overall strategy. I have a really hard time breaking things into silos. At Legal Hero, there is a lot of overlap between product, sales, marketing, and customer service.
And really, is marketing THAT different from the product? If a customer is interacting with it, I think it’s all connected, and everyone on the team should have input. It’s not like it’s just the CEO who is working toward a goal – everyone on the team should be, and to do that, everyone should be valued and allowed to take leadership.
#3. In reviewing your background, it seems like you studied everything but marketing before starting your career. What attracted you to marketing initially? What’s kept you there since? And how have your areas of study (law, economics) helped in your success?
Hey! I took a few marketing courses in college! But yeah, I’ve done a few things. I don’t really trust people who had their careers chosen when they were 18 or 19. I think a diverse background and diverse set of skills make for the best teammates. If you can only bring one skill to a job, there is a problem, or you better be absolutely world-class at that skill.
I didn’t just decide one day, “I want to be a marketer.” I evolved into it, and I’m using a combination of all the skills developed in other work. I’ve worked in restaurants, as a quantitative analyst at a financial company, worked in government, and, of course, been a lawyer. I use all of those skills every day, and all have helped me understand the customer and understand analysis. Applying creativity on top of all that is where it gets fun.
Q: Buzzwords – Nobody dislikes them more than marketers, yet we’re responsible for creating almost all of them. What’s your most disliked marketing buzzword in the industry today, and why is it bad for the field?
A: ROI. That may sound crazy, but hear me out. Getting a return on investment is what it’s all about, but some have taken ROI to an extreme.
There is an obsession with measurement that I think has gone too far for many companies. If you aren’t collecting data and using that data to inform your decisions, you will always be guessing, and that is just dumb. But, if you are making decisions based solely on things that are easily, comprehensively, and quickly measurable, you are missing a lot. This is especially bad early on when data (and budget) can be incredibly limited.
Developing customer trust and brand takes time, and many actions you take, especially if you are focusing on inbound, might not come back to you in easily measurable ways. So while you need to measure and be smart with your resources, strict adherence to ROI might keep you from seeing the forest for the trees.
On this issue, I like when Gary Vaynerchuk asks, “what’s the ROI of your mother?” To him, the ROI of his mother is everything, but it’s impossible to show that measurement.;
Q: Fill in the blank: The best part about marketing for a startup is _______.
Which TV lawyer would you rather have represent you: Lionel Hutz or Saul Goodman?
Better Call Saul. Always go with the lawyer who gets a spinoff.
How much is too much for Sharknado insurance?
If I could put my lawyer hat on for a moment – I’d advise my clients to skip the insurance and just invest in a chainsaw.
Last show you marathon-watched:
It wasn’t much of a marathon, given that it’s only one full season so far, but Broad City. If you haven’t seen it, go do it now. Now. The second season just started.
What gadget would you sit in line overnight for?
None. I only wait in line for food.
Most achievable world record you could break:
No joke, it would be finding four-leaf clovers. I’m well into the tens of thousands, and that’s without even trying.