From the U.S.A., Canada, Central America, Bahamas, Europe, Australia and Asia, approximately 1,000 legal marketers and lawyers attended the 2012 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in Texas. Topics included best marketing practices, communication strategies, crisis communications, law firm technology, and the business of law. Here are just some of the takeaways.
Competitive intelligence (CI) is invaluable: No matter the size of your law firm, CI is a must. You need to understand how others in the market are selling their services (yes, I said it, “selling” – all attorneys’ favorite word). I was most impressed by Suzanne Donnels, a CI consultant who can be found at www.donnels.com. She provided numerous handy websites for CI. Here are a few:
- www.almlegalintel.com (law firm revenue, demographics and survey data).
- www.factiva.com (legal and business news index).
- www.feefiefoefirm.com (a law firm website search engine).
- www.onesource.com (SWOT Analysis, investor profiles).
Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems are a must and if you have to ask what a CRM system is, then you’re already behind the eight-ball.
- CRM information can be merged with accounting, time reporting, call center and case management data to better understand a firm’s proclivity.
- A well-used CRM system allows a law firm to measure the success of its business development and marketing efforts and to make more educated buying decisions.
- CRM systems should be managed by marketing and IT – which must work together.
- CRM systems should be used to monitor a firm existing clients and prospects to ensure regular and ongoing communications.
- Client data analysis can help with retention efforts.
General Counsel (GC) said a lot at the Legal Marketing Conference. Here are just a few of the most quotable items that came from the GC panelists:
- Don’t give us brochures; we put them in the trash and don’t use a PowerPoint presentation to pitch for new business. Build relationships. Connect.
- Tell us: what have you done for us lately?
- I could care less if I talk to a lawyer. Just give me someone who can do the job.
- Understanding our corporate culture is critical to engagements. Corporate culture is what drives an organization. A law firm’s culture and a clients’ culture need to be in sync.
- We hire for credentials, experience and culture.
- We don’t like: surprises including unexpected bills, competitive representation (even when there are proverbial walls in place), breach of confidences, inability to take responsibility for something that went wrong, lack of solutions to problems, inability to think proactively.
- The traditional law firm model is dying. The key is to understand what the new world is going to be.
- There’s nothing “alternative” about alternative fees. Talk to us about value-based fees, etc.
- Law firms need to understand business better. They need to understand their costs, fees, profitability models and how these things affect their relationships with clients. We don’t really care about your PPPs.
- Law firm size doesn’t matter – it’s the skills that they deliver that matter.
- Quality is the price of admission, not a differentiator. Get over it. Don’t tell us that you’ll be efficient, effective and provide quality work. That’s what we expect from all service providers. Tell us how you are going to make our company better, our lives easier, exercise good judgment and solve problems.
Lindsay Griffiths (@lalaland99 on Twitter) sums it up in her Zen & The Art of Legal Marketing Blog, Change or Die: A General Counsel Marketing Panel – http://tinyurl.com/7pmy964.
Loyalty in relationships is like owning dogs: One of my favorite presentations was that of James Kane (www.jameskane.com) who did an excellent job demonstrating how to build loyalty. I actually wish there were more attorneys there to see the program (as opposed to legal marketers) because this is what we try to get across day-in and day-out. My friend Jon Holden from Calgary did a great job of summing it up in his OpinionEhted blog: Building Loyal Relationships with Social Marketing Relationships with Social Marketing at http://opinionehted.com/?p=2754.
Marketers want better: For some sad reason, many of the in-house marketers we spoke with shared discontent in their jobs. They said:
- We’re not appreciated.
- We’re just puppets executing non-measurable and useless tactics.
- I have no support.
- I’m actively looking for a new job.
- Our marketing partner doesn’t think a 50+ attorney firm needs a CRM.
- We don’t really have a say in the game. We want a seat at the table.
Can you blame them when the average ratio of attorneys to marketers/business development professionals is 36:1? That’s like one person competing in a Super Bowl against another team’s offense, the defense and sideline all at the same time. While it is certainly the attorneys who provide the legal services which generates the revenue, an engine doesn’t run without the proper gas to fuel it. Adrian Dayton sums it up well in his article for the National Law Journal, Give Marketing a Seat at the Table at http://tinyurl.com/864vlqa.
Gina F. Rubel, Esq., is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc., a strategic marketing and public relations agency with a niche in legal marketing. A former trial attorney, Gina is the author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers. Gina and her agency have won many awards for legal communications, PR, media relations, website and graphic design, strategic planning, corporate philanthropy and leadership. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com, is a contributor to National Law Review, The Legal Intelligencer Blog, AVVO Lawyernomics and The Huffington Post. You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubel or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ginarubel. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.