Key Conference Takeaways for a Successful 2019

The 2018 Legal Marketing Association Eastern Canada Region (LMAEC) Conference brought together industry experts and legal marketers for a full day of learning and a wealth of networking opportunities. Afterwards, attendees enjoyed a gala dinner in a magical ice palace, where lights played on crystal and mirrors, and vodka flowed from a fountain sculpted of ice!

Below are some takeaways.

Keynote Speaker

Screw the Apologies: Learn to Lead with Confidence

Professor Maja

The moment she approached the podium, conference attendees knew they were in for a dynamic key note address. Professor Maja lit up the room with flaming red hair, glittering sequins and an aura of unapologetic conviction in the message she was about to deliver.

Her targets? Perfectionism, self-doubt, negative self-talk, fear of failure, apologizing — self-defeating attitudes and behaviours that can limit the personal growth of everyone, but particularly women. Research shows that men are 30 per cent more confident when rating their own performance than are women. The author of Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing!, Professor Maja discussed the impacts of society’s expectations and offered a number of strategies to help us break free of self-doubt.

Values we have been raised to accept as feminine — humility and self-deprecation — can work against us in reaching personal and professional goals according to Professor Maja. In some ways, being female means minimizing our self-worth by deflecting positive recognition away from ourselves. For instance, many women are incapable of accepting a compliment.

Our use of the phrase, “I’m sorry,” when there is nothing to be sorry about, or other hedging vocabulary such as, “I just wanted to add” or “I’m no expert but” can lead others to believe our input is of little value.

Professor Maja describes failures as learning opportunities; as information. Striving for perfection, a state of being that doesn’t exist, can cause us to internalize and ruminate on failure. She warns against performing “autopsies” on things that didn’t work out as we had hoped. We need to recognize where we could have done better, brush it off and move on.

The session ended on the subject of Marley Dias, the 12-year-old author of Marley Dias Gets it Done: And So Can You who started the #1000blackgirlbooks campaign. Marley’s success in uncovering 8,000 books in which black girls are presented as positive protagonists shows us how far we can go when we ignore our fear of failure and take action.


Running Your Department Like a Business: Creating an Offensive Playbook

Susan Van Dyke & Gordon Braun-Woodbury

To some lawyers, legal marketing and business development (MBD) are nothing more than golf swag and hockey tickets, while others recognize the critical role they play in brand recognition and revenue growth.

Susan and Gordon urge legal marketers to leverage metrics to prove the massive return on investment (ROI) on the MBD spend.

Research shows that the average estimated ROI on an investment of $1 million, is $47 million for an AmLaw 200 firm. This impressive ROI could be used to help you justify an MBD increase for your department’s annual budget.

Among the positive outcomes of making a solid case for the value of MBD initiatives is shifting perception: the goal is to present your team as a revenue enabler, rather than a cost centre. Take time for big-picture thinking, and forge alliances with chief information officers (CIOs/CTOs) to increase your impact on critical business planning.

Susan and Gordon presented a “playbook agenda” of eight essential plays:

  1. Change your mindset — Discussed above.
  2. Follow the money — Review the economic levers that law firm’s typically track: hours worked, rates charged, utilization (billable hours vs. total hours worked), operating costs, billings and collections. Considering all the variables, you will be able to write a strong business case to support your budget. Ask early in the year, so that it gets prioritized with other operational demands.
  3. Get aligned — Everything you do should support the firm’s strategic plan. Meet with leadership to share ideas. Consider reducing focus on low-return activities like sponsorships. Spend time and money on initiatives that drive revenue growth.
  4. Track your time — Tracking exactly where you and your team spend time over the month might not sound like fun, but it will help you refocus efforts on revenue growing activities.
  5. Prioritize the work — Consider using tools such as Allen Fuqua’s Smart Work Matrix that measure a project’s potential value against its limitations. These tools can help you assess the likely success of any marketing initiative.
  6. Optimize processes — Make friends with your CIO. Marketing is increasingly technology driven, so this is one of the most valuable relationships you can make. Research shows that a typical law firm has implemented approximately 17 technologies to support MBD.
  7. Measure, report, reposition — Establish key performance indicators (KPIs). For example, set a timeline for updating contacts in your CRM. If the set number of months has been exceeded for certain contacts, you know it’s time to update them.
  8. Elevate marketing operations — Marketing operations is a growing discipline that uses data to help marketing teams align operations to help grow revenue. Optimize your contribution in areas such as establishment of a new practice area or the adoption of a new technologies.


Moving from Art to Science: Incorporating Metrics to Drive Business Development & Marketing

Timothy B. Corcoran

With over 25 years’ experience in law firm marketing/BD management and consulting, former CEO and past president of the US Legal Marketing Association, Timothy Corcoran explained how even limited access to data can enhance decision-making.

For many of us, embracing metrics is a stretch, taking us out of our comfort zones. Maybe we don’t like math. Maybe we’re afraid to approach firm management with information that exposes current inefficiencies.

The truth is that data is the strongest argument. If you can provide numbers that prove there is a better way, firm management will sit up and listen. Offering ideas that result in less investment for greater results, will make you a hero.

Random acts of marketing — initiatives we undertake simply because we’ve always done so, or to please someone at the firm — do not reflect the new reality facing marketing and business development teams. Does everything your team do support the firm’s revenue objectives? And if you were asked to, could you prove it?

Request access to the firm’s financials, so that you can determine where your firm makes its money, essential information for your marketing/BD strategy for the year.

Look for trends in revenues earned by each practice area (PA) over three years. Then, use thoughtful analysis to build a forecast for each PA, recognizing that all practices/matters will not have the same growth potential.

Next, determine the gap between total forecast revenues and the firm’s total target revenues, and then allocate a percentage gain to the top performing PAs and matters.

Now you’re ready to develop business development growth strategies that might include:

  1. Taking on more matters, focusing on matters that bring in the most revenue
  2. Assigning more work to underutilized lawyers, freeing up rainmakers to bring in more business
  3. Raising fees
  4. Developing new services, e.g., is there a market for drone law?
  5. Increasing focus on cross-selling opportunities

But how do you get started using data to increase revenues? You could start by analyzing data on client use of firm resources (newsletters/blogs readership and webinar attendance, etc.) and comparing it with new matters won. You may find a way to identify the firm’s most qualified prospects based on engagement.

Make friends with finance and IT. We’ve already established it’s important that you have access to the finances. And as marketing and BD become increasingly reliant on technology, you need to get the chief information officer on your side to ensure that, going forward, you will have the data you need to build the best strategies for revenue growth.


Change Management Strategies to Achieve BD Success

David W. Jacobs, LexisNexis

Client Relationship Management (CRM). Some firms embrace it as a critical BD tool; while others can’t get it off the ground. Law firm marketers need to develop change management strategies to show lawyers the role a fully implemented CRM system can play in the realization of the firm’s strategic goals.

Challenges include breaking through the “eat what you kill” culture that still exists in many firms. The focus needs to shift from “contact ownership” of individual practitioners to “contact sharing” with the team and the firm.

There is always resistance to change. An effective change management strategy needs to address communications, training and incentives. David suggests that legal marketing/BD professionals focus on building firm-wide adoption of the following attitudes:

  1. I know the firm is better off with the CRM system and that it will help us serve our clients more efficiently, enhancing our ability to grow revenues (Communications)
  2. I am supported by the firm in learning the skills I need to use CRM effectively (Training)

Because legal practitioners and their assistants will see their efforts enhanced or made easier as their familiarity and use of the system increases, they will be motivated to continue to develop their CRM skills. This fulfills the “incentive” requirement.

Your communications should illustrate how CRM can help lawyers serve clients more intelligently, leverage existing relationships to grow revenues, and manage cross-selling more effectively.

In developing training, try to integrate existing business processes with CRM functionality. Organize content around scenarios that describe day-in-the-life realities for legal practitioners and their assistants. Don’t focus on the features of the technology; rather, illustrate how CRM will make their jobs easier and maximize efficiencies.

Work with lawyers and legal assistants in their offices or at their desks to walk them through tasks such as adding an activity to submit an expense report, scanning a business card, editing a contact, adding a client to a marketing list or setting up a follow-up reminder. This one-to-one approach reduces obstacles for users, resulting in small gains that, taken together, drive the momentum of change. And don’t forget to encourage users to share their success stories across the firm.

Here's a valuable exercise to consider. List the firm’s top 20 clients based on revenue, in say, financial services. Then examine:

  1. What do we know about them? Is our information relevant and up-to-date?
  2. What services do we provide them? How might we win more matters or other types of work from them?
  3. Which of our lawyers know them, for how long and how well?
  4. How can we enhance our communications with them? Are we meeting all firm touchpoints?

Even if your current CRM database cannot provide all the answers, this exercise can be used to illustrate the power of data and the critical importance of a robust change management strategy to encourage firm-wide use of the CRM system.


Workshop: Being the Leader You Would Follow

Mark Besse

A member of the LMA Hall of Fame, Mark Besse designed his workshop to illustrate the obstacles to leadership that are specific to the law firm environment, and how best to overcome them.

With clients increasing the amount of work they keep in-house and decreasing the outside spend, law firms are facing greater competition. The marketplace has changed, and law firms need to adapt to survive. Legal services need to be redesigned around the unique needs of the client; they need to be user-based.

Driving a culture shift in a law firm is no easy matter given personality traits many lawyers share that can make them difficult to convince. For instance, they are often highly skeptical. New initiatives will only be considered where the lawyer sees a direct connection to improved client service and revenue growth. Connecting the dots between change and bottom-line growth is the most important role of the marketing and business development team.

Law firm marketers who think of themselves as “innovation officers” are more likely to effect positive change.


Top Marketing Tips You Can Implement Tomorrow

Moderator: Morgan MacLeod, Co-Founder, Cubicle Fugitive


Pam Foster, Director, Marketing & Business Development, Howie Sacks & Henry LLP

Carmen Austrup, Professional Development Manager, Marketing, IBM

Alison Janzen, Director, Marketing & Business Development, Torkin Manes LLP

Julie Klein, National Marketing Manager, Smart & Biggar

According to Alison Janzen, providing business development coaching to legal professionals is one of the most valuable long-term investments she has made. The one-on-one approach to coaching helps identify the up-and-coming rain makers.

Alison also explained how Torkin Manes established a committee to review all content before publication to ensure it supported firm goals. The committee achieved an impressive one- to two-hours turnaround on newsletters. She also recommended that firms consider implementation of Clearview Social software to make engaging in social media easy for lawyers.

Interestingly, Alison suggested that, as marketing and BD professionals, we should treat our lawyers like we expect them to treat their clients. Make sure you get to know your lawyers and their needs, and don’t be afraid to use success stories to underscore the value you offer.

Pam Foster stressed the importance of using social media strategically to reach a target audience. In the firm’s work on the Fly Jamaica class action, a range of social media channels were employed which maximized the reach to people who were on the flight. She also discussed the importance of consistency in hitting home on key messaging with clients.

Carmen Austrup from IBM encouraged us to “map the journey of the client.” Successful BD strategies start with putting yourself in your client’s shoes. She described IBM’s ongoing initiative to reduce noise in its communications, which involves an 80 per cent reduction in web page content, while performing ongoing content audits to maximize relevance and value. Another focus at IBM has been to simplify language, increasing accessibility for the less technically-trained decision-makers that make up part of IBMs audience.

On the topic of professional development of marketers, Carmen recommended committing to continued education and taking a proactive approach to shaping your career.

In her discussions, Julie Klein argued that law firms would benefit from adopting the financial sector’s focus on business planning. Firms need to ensure that every marketing or business development action taken or not taken is based on sound reasoning. She also urged marketers to be aware of topics covered in newsletters or webinars that are resonating with the firm’s clients. This is the subject matter you are going to want to replicate across channels. Know what themes are important to your audience and keep topics on theme.

Getting a “seat at the table” where business planning takes place is a challenge that Julie feels can be overcome by establishing credibility with key firm stakeholders, and being sincerely curious and openly interested. Often a less formal approach such as arranging a coffee date can help you establish a valuable relationship. She described her “Friday afternoon walk around” where she pops her head into peoples’ offices as a point of contact. It’s important to show you are there to support the practitioners of the firm.


The Mash-Up: Client Intelligence + Marketing to Drive Bottom-Line Growth

Stacy Rowe, Director of Client Success, Manzama

Stacy put us through our paces in her session by having us identify opportunities where legal services would be required by our clients or within an industry. She stressed the importance of vigilance to what is happening in the marketplace. Or as Stacy would say, “Growing your client IQ!”         

Attendees were divided into groups and given a challenge. They were asked to formulate a business objective to resolve the challenge and identify the legal services required to meet the objective. Our group discussed an actual environmental event involving a lake. Media reports of masses of dead fish on the shoreline and clams floating on top of the water signaled the need for a legal solution. After contacting the government to find out what was happening, the lake association was ready to consider its options, including a class action suit against the company that sprayed trees in the area to kill caterpillars.

The legal services indicated by this challenge are environmental law and a potential class action law suit. By following the breadcrumbs backwards, law firms can increase opportunities to provide their services. Stacy recommends building a process that prospects the marketplace on an ongoing basis to anticipate developments that demand your law firm’s expertise. In this way, marketing/BD teams can contribute directly to the bottom line.


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