April 9, 2014
Last week, I attended the Legal Marketing Association annual meeting in Orlando. As always, there were numerous worthwhile programs on the agenda. My favorite is usually the general counsel panel where in-house attorneys tell us what is important to them and what law firm attorneys need to do to get their business. I get so many great “nuggets” and quotes that I find myself scribbling like mad. This year, I found a new favorite when I attended a law firm partner panel entitled, “Ten Things We Love About Our Marketers.”
I’ve been working with law firm marketing and business development departments for the last eight years. Day in and day out, I witness firsthand the importance of marketers. They promote firm growth, help align firm strategy with client needs and help firms be positioned for success. Even so, I don’t always feel like marketers get the love they deserve.
Well, that was not the case at this session. If you were a marketer attending this session, you felt the love.
The panel included two partners, one from a 600-attorney firm with a team of marketers and the other from a 30-attorney firm with a marketing team of one. It also included a general counsel from a technology company. Clearly, this was a very diverse group, but the themes were common; these attorneys love and appreciate what their marketers do for them. While we started the hour with the intent of working through the Top Ten list, the attorneys were so excited about what their marketer or marketing team does for them that they quickly changed gears to hit the most important things first. Without further ado, here’s a short summary of “Things We Love About Our Marketers.”
You save the lawyers time.
- This partner talked about finding value in her team in so many ways. From creating a client newsletter specifically for the partner and organizing speaking engagements to handling post-event follow-up and researching prospective clients and competing law firms, the marketing team makes business development easier for the attorney. Marketers do much of the legwork and make the attorney look good. They do their job and they do it well.
You think about business development so attorneys don’t have to.
This sounds so basic, but sometimes attorneys need someone to keep them on track and hold them accountable. Some of the things the marketer does to help the attorney stay engaged include:
- Filtering and prioritizing client opportunities.
- Spelling out for the attorney, “Here’s what I want you to do” and “Here’s a draft of the letter to send.”
- Holding attorneys accountable.
- Keeping attorneys on track.
- Checking in on client follow-up and discussing next steps.
- Preparing attorneys for meetings with prospects, guiding them with meeting agendas and helping attorneys feel comfortable about the conversation.
- “Thinking about marketing in a new way when I don’t have time to do it.”
You keep up with industry trends.
- Here, the partner loved when the marketer was able to analyze industry trends and convey that information to the attorneys. This might be used for strategic planning for the firm’s growth strategy or for a meeting with a client or prospect to better understand their issues and competitors. It’s research that the lawyer doesn’t have time to do but can be critical in gaining a client or in leading the firm in the right direction.
You introduce us to new technology and software that helps us improve business development.
- Having access to the right tools can truly set a law firm apart from its competitors and enable the firm to act in a proactive manner, fully armed with the knowledge necessary to understand the needs of clients. One partner mentioned how his one-man marketing department had brought in a competitive intelligence tool and remarked that “it has paid off wonderfully!” Both partners commented on a variety of tools including docket alerts, competitive intelligence, litigation analysis, legal news feeds, CRM, etc. The theme with all this is preparedness. For a growing number of firms, having these kinds of tools is no longer a “nice to have” but now a “have to have.”
You help attorneys get exposure by developing speaking opportunities
- One partner commented that his marketer had made a tremendous impact in helping the firm develop the “right” speaking opportunities. Historically, attorneys at the firm had spoken at a lot of attorney CLE programs in efforts to get referrals, but it was a strategy that did not pay off. The marketer helped the firm shift gears and get more involved in the local Association of Corporate Counsel and in industry conferences that could help the attorneys get closer to the people making the hiring decisions and develop relationships with those individuals. He also helped them review the event attendee list, identify in-house attorneys to meet with and prepare for those meetings. He helped them target their energies into speaking opportunities with decision makers.
Our session only got through five “top things we love,” but I think the theme is clear. Partners love marketers and marketing teams that think strategically, have vision, hold attorneys accountable and lead. Those that do it well make the attorneys look good, help the firm grow business and in turn, create a team of loyal followers and raving fans.