by Mike Mellor
I had a wonderful time learning from and networking with some of the top legal marketers in the industry at the LexisNexis Accelerate Conference. As a process junkie, it was inspiring and affirming to hear that process and automation continue to be top of mind for legal marketing departments, but what was more exciting was exploring how the client journey can be really the differentiator in a relatively homogenous legal landscape.
While there are a number of ways to stand out from your competition, those firms that can identify, map and deliver on unique client experiences will create the type of evangelism that makes a significant bottom-line impact. The advance of the legal marketing profession in design thinking and process improvement has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past few years, and I love understanding how to bring more value to relationships.
- Law Firm Clients are Demanding More (and Deserve it). We were lucky to have Dawn Hudson, the Chief Marketing Officer of the NFL, deliver the keynote address. Dawn was engaging and provided sobering statistics (70% of GC’s are unhappy with their current outside counsel experience) and inspired us to take how we deliver legal services to clients to the next level. Dawn has brought data-driven decision-making to the NFL with great success, and we would all be wise to more effectively utilize the in-house data we have to better segment our audiences, “see around corners” and bring value beyond the numbers.
- Better Understand and Improve the Law Firm Client Experience. Whether it was looking into the onboarding and file transfer process, developing a systemic approach to post-matter follow-up, or providing a consistent message for pitch materials, creating and ensuring a singular “birthday-like” client experience is mission critical in today’s environment. At Pryor Cashman, we offer and communicate our significant differentiation based on lack of leverage, heavy partner involvement and overall value, but visualizing the journey in a formalized/mapped structure was pretty neat. It was cool to see how technology can help us do a better job to see the bigger picture and better integrate information.
- Create Evangelists (or Raving Fans). We are big on the concept that the best piece of marketing you can do is to make your clients giddy with delight, and my new friend Mo Bunnell was great in his storytelling and “Whole Brain” philosophies. He tackled the age-old questions around how people want to be sold (based on how they communicate and their personas), and offered advice around authenticity, such as simply asking your top clients and friends for help.
- Client Feedback is Everything. Guy Alvarez and Yolanda Cartusciello led a panel on enhancing the customer journey by using current client data to predict future needs. Understanding your clients, where they sit in their lifecycle and what is coming around the corner will more effectively enable you to provide anticipatory value to them, but law firms seem to lag in this area. Guy and Yolanda shared a relevant video about this process, demonstrating how firms can use their situational knowledge to bring more to clients and stay top of mind for future opportunities. I think that this type of segmentation is one of the single most important things that we can do to add value to current clients, and we will be focusing on this in the next 12 to 18 months.
- There is no Set CMO Playbook. Going back to that growing “to-do” list, it seems that the trend is to get the marketing and business development functions involved in more of the firm experience because it is so interconnected. But what does that mean for us? Each of us is heavily involved in some combination of marketing and business development, and most of us touch HR, recruiting and laterals. Some of us work closely with the Executive and Compensation Committees, and others have a growing say with regards to IT system selection and integration. Lacey Ford from LexisNexis led a great discussion on this topic, and it seemed like everyone had a slightly different take on what it all means, especially with the cultural nuances of different firms, and the corresponding partner and management structures that are never “one size fits all.”
The one thing we all agreed as that we are drivers of change, and we need to be more responsive to our clients throughout every step of the process. That’s one playbook that should be written in stone.
Mike Mellor is the firmwide director of marketing for Pryor Cashman LLP, a 160-attorney firm with offices in both NYC and LA. In this role, he works to identify and develop and execute omnichannel marketing and business development strategies to help drive new business for the firm and increase brand awareness. Mike’s nearly 20-year career has spanned various marketing and BD roles in law, consulting and in financial services, working at such firms as Paul Weiss, Katten, Deutsche Bank and KPMG. He can be reached at email@example.com.