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The Legal Marketing Association (LMA) held its annual conference last week in Orlando, Florida, attended by more than 1,200 professional marketers. The buzz focused on a range of topics, from adapting to the “new normal” and sophisticated pricing strategies to using technology to market legal services and considering generational differences in your marketing message.
1. New normal. Jordan Furlong of Law21 and Edge International presented an audience of chief marketing officers with a startling image of two worlds colliding. The client’s world, driven by the need to reduce costs and improve efficiency, is crashing into the law firm world, characterized by the billable hour, a reluctance to change and well-established client service delivery methods.
Clients now have more options for high-quality work at a range of prices and methods, he said, including legal process outsourcing, working with a network of smaller, low-cost firms and bringing work in-house. At the same time, law firms are experiencing flat or declining revenue and profits, new forms of competitors and what Furlong calls “destructive cultural pressures.”
Old news? Furlong agrees. The “new normal” is not new anymore, but just “normal.” Normal today is a dynamic and rapidly changing market for legal services. His recommendations? Law firms need to:
2. The other marketing “P” — pricing. Akin Gump’s Chief Pricing Officer, Toby Brown, led a crash course in legal pricing. He reported on several trends:
3. Clever client apps. Paul Grabowski, CMO of Bracewell Guiliani, gave a behind-the-scenes tour of what it takes to produce an award-winning mobile app. Targeting energy companies, Bracewell’s free “ShalePlay” app provides a stream of news, analysis and legal commentary on the hydraulic fracturing industry segmented by geographic shale “plays” throughout the U.S. The process of creating the app took 14 months, and was a cross-disciplinary collaborative effort of in-house staff, attorneys and outside designers that required strong project management and a good budget. More than 10 software tools were involved in development, design and usage metrics. Grabowski’s lessons learned?
ShalePlay, which received a 2014 LMA “Your Honor” award, has been promoted through multiple channels, including industry conferences and email promotions. Word of mouth, however, seemed the main driver of the thousands of downloads in its first week of release. The fracking glossary and news feeds have been such a valuable resource, some clients and prospects have made the app required reading for landmen and energy executives.
4. Talking ’bout my generation. Heather Morse, Marketing Director at Barger & Wolen, and Jonathan Fitzgarrald, CMO at Greenberg Glusker, discussed their primary research on the generational differences between clients and law firm leaders. Here’s what they found:
Heather Morse articulated the marketing lesson: “It begins with knowing who your clients are, what generation they fall into, and realizing that age should be as much a part of your firm’s diversity mix as gender, orientation and race. Baby Boomer law firm leaders need to understand that Gen X clients are looking to you as an extension of their legal team, where they are the lead attorney. They earned their title through merit, and want their outside counsel to be made up of competent attorneys, not just seasoned and experienced. They value merit over seniority.”
5. Niche marketing. Think about the last time someone asked, “So, what do you do?” at a networking event. What did you say? “I’m a [fill-in-the-blank] lawyer” or “I’m an attorney at [X] firm”? Do you think you made a lasting, positive first impression?
Kevin McMurdo, Principal of McMurdo Consulting and former CMO of Perkins Coie, led a lively discussion on teaching lawyers to focus on a specific niche market where they have a specific value proposition. He used the “elevator speech” to illustrate the point. Which of these responses is most memorable?
McMurdo advised that lawyers define their niche market by expertise, reputation, network, industry or a specific problem they help solve. He had this advice on creating a targeted elevator speech:
He encourages lawyers to practice their speech within their firm, in practice group meetings and through internal introduction videos so that others know how to best refer opportunities to you.
Mark Beese is President of Leadership for Lawyers, LLC, a consultancy dedicated to helping lawyers become better business developers and leaders. He also teaches Marketing and Business Development at the University of Denver Sturm School of Law. Mark is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and has been inducted into the Legal Marketing Association Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter @mbeese.
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