LMA Annual Program Review: Big Ideas for Small Firm Marketers

Big Ideas for Small Firm Marketers was a jam-packed PechaKucha-style session on day two of the LMA Annual Conference. Led by in-house legal marketers, Jeff Dennis and Lindsey Dilsaver of Kegler Brown Hill & Ritter, a 75 lawyer firm in Columbus, Ohio, this program delivered many ideas and practical takeaways in what felt like a whirlwind of a session.

Taking five main ideas and breaking them down into sections, lists, charts and grids, with a practical handout accompanying all of it, this well-matched team presented a practical and fun session for those in small and mid-sized firms.

But onto the nitty-gritty! What did they say? And most importantly, how do we do it?

Pitches and Proposals, Marketing and Communications, and Firm Investment

The session began by focusing on developing key marketing and business development metrics in three specific areas: pitches and proposals, marketing and communications, and firm investment. Measuring pitch success rate, integrated ROI of time spent developing the pitch and total fees generated were the metrics established for pitch/proposal work. Within marketing and communications, measuring email open rates, valuable web traffic (like bounce rates) and event engagement were noted as paramount. Finally, within the firm investment umbrella, tracking firm’s investment in marketing over time and against benchmarks [hint: (salaries + total marketing dollars)/revenue], knowing where dollars are being invested and reallocating based on strategy were suggested. Whether one chooses to implement any of these ideas or all of them, it is important to remember to:

  • Track over time
  • Communicate to key stakeholders
  • Create a response strategy to communicate
  • Convert to a scorecard
  • Prepare an annual report for Executive Committee
  • Work with accounting to verify numbers

Building Credibility and Becoming a Thought Leader

The second key area of discussion was building credibility and becoming a thought leader. Sound familiar? Interestingly though, this wasn’t about our lawyers doing so, but rather about us, the legal marketers, doing so. There were three specific areas identified to build credibility: within the firm, within the local community and within our industry. Suggestions as simple as attending internal meetings and participating on internal committees, such as recruiting and diversity and inclusion, to the more daunting, like winning awards for your firm, were on the list. Regardless, some things we as legal marketers take for granted, like being active on LinkedIn groups and sharing our involvements in LMA, also topped the list as of suggestions.

Developing an Effective Marketing Training Program for Lawyers

The third topic was developing an effective marketing training program for lawyers. Providing options in any of the following areas is a great place to start: business development, marketing and communications, client service, marketing technology, professional development, or economics and ownership. All the while, remembering the dos and don’ts of event management and applying them to the programming is crucial.

Building a Lawyer Coaching Program in Three Simple Steps

Key idea number four was building a lawyer coaching program in three simple steps:

  1. Discovery interview
  2. Marketing and business development brainstorm
  3. Implementation of three identified goals

The notion is to identify twelve lawyers based on interest or an area of practice identified for growth, and work with each of them, one at a time, for an entire month. Once these twelve lawyers have been identified, make sure to hit each of the steps listed above with each one. It is important in Step 2 to analyze the lawyer’s interests, strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvements and develop programming ideas that “speak to them” from the brainstorming session. Once the three goals have been identified, ensure that there are enough internal resources to complete their initiatives, counsel as to the right timing for each, and identify a next step once the goals are complete.

Create a Compelling Annual Marketing Report

The fifth and final topic is to create a compelling Annual Marketing Report. This report should communicate new business wins and should be distributed to all employees in hard copy shortly after the fiscal year ends. This report shows a willingness to embrace the firm’s values and most certainly adds value to what the marketing department brings to the table. Examples of content to include are:

  • A message from the firm’s marketing director,
  • The number of events hosted,
  • A summary of website metrics,
  • Case studies/new client profiles,
  • Community service highlights,
  • Fun new culture highlights, and of course
  • A look ahead to the next year.

The session concluded with just a few minutes to spare, but certainly left us all with energy and ideas percolating to implement many of the suggestions mentioned. If nothing else, this session confirmed that every day is (and should be) different, and that life for legal marketers in small to mid-sized firms is very far from boring!

By Debbie Henry, Assistant Director of Marketing, Gordon Feinblatt LLC, for the Second Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter

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