RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIF.—Law firms’ marketing and business development efforts are becoming more important in today’s competitive legal marketplace even as pressure mount for these units to show they can add to firm profitability, according to several speakers at Thomson Reuters’ Legal Executive Institute’s 22nd Annual Law Firm Marketing Partner Forum.
The theme of this year’s Forum was Building Collaborative Strategies across the Firm and with Clients and many of the panels and discussion groups focused on the growing importance of cross-firm collaboration in the current legal environment.
For instance, Silvia Coulter, a Principal Consultant at LawVision Group, and Steven Petrie, the Chief Strategic Officer for Faegre Baker Daniels, detailed a key study of Marketing Partners and Business Development officers within firms and found that collaborative marketing efforts involving multiple parts of a firm were viewed as the most important and potentially successful.
“There are many islands within firms that these collaborative efforts by marketing and business development partners are bridging together,” said Coulter. “And that boosts the overall effectiveness of the firm and adds to the growing importance of marketing partners within the firm.”
The study showed that among the most highly effective strategies for business development, respondents chose “Visiting Existing Clients” as most effective; and respondents chose “Lawyer Visibility” as the most effective marketing strategy. Of course, other studies have showed the pressures such marketing efforts are under, with the average corporate client cutting the number of legal service providers used by 18 firms since 2012, noted Petrie.
“Companies have really squeezed down on the number of law firms they are utilizing, and are going to just two primary firms for the bulk of their legal needs,” said Petrie.
Indeed, while much of the Forum was devoted to issues of how to drive firm collaboration to improve marketing and business development efforts, the overarching industry trends of slower growth, client-driven pricing and increasing competition from tech-savvy non-traditional legal service providers were never far from topic.
Fortunately, the three-day Forum also gave attendees key tools and strategy suggestions to help them reactive positively to these pressures and focus their firms’ marketing and business development responses as they strive to get out their message to clients in a loud and crowded marketplace.
For example, the keynote presentation by Dr. Eric Siegel, Founder of Predictive Analytics World, and entitled, Predictive Analytics for Marketing, did just that, showing attendees how to use predictive models to better target clients with messages the clients will respond to and cut marketing costs by not over-saturating the market with messages unlikely to generate a positive response.
“Prediction is really the Holy Grail of marketing,” Dr. Siegel told the audience. While many people view predictive analytics and the use of data as overly complicated and even boring, Dr. Siegel demonstrated how easy it could be to see positive results from such a strategy. Using a simple comparison of a marketing effort using predictive analytics and one that did not, Dr. Siegel showed the marketing campaign that used predictive analytics was more profitable and less costly. “As you can see, a little prediction can go a long way,” he noted.
Attendees also got some hands-on practice with workshops and break-out discussions with some of the legal industry’s top experts on subjects ranging from using collaboration to turn your firm into a marketing machine to developing collaborative efforts around such key issues as pricing.
In one such workshop, Christopher Zorn, a Principal, and Evan Parker, Director of Analytics at Lawyer Metrics led a discussion of the importance of investing in firm-wide research and development initiatives and how those efforts improve firm productivity and innovation.
Noting that some law firms are “drowning in data”, Zorn explained that the most successful firms have realized the importance of analyzing this data and using it to give their marketing and business development efforts a boost.