Mid-Atlantic Region Program Review: Moving from Art to Science: Incorporating Metrics to Drive Business Development & Marketing Priorities

There aren’t enough hours in the day to implement all of our ideas, and frankly, not all ideas are worthy of implementation. How can we use data to prioritize and strategize our marketing and business development initiatives?

This was the topic presented by Tim Corcoran, a principal with Corcoran Consulting Group, as he visited The Virginias, Capital, and Baltimore Local Groups in March. Corcoran is an LMA past-president, Trustee and Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, and Faculty Member and Adjunct Consultant with Legal Lean Sigma Institute. He also authors Corcoran's Business of Law blog.

Here are highlights from Corcoran’s presentation, “Moving from Art to Science – Incorporating Metrics to Drive Business Development and Marketing Priorities.”

The Value of Metrics

As marketers, our job is to inform partners’ decision-making. While lawyers will bring their own ideas – and often, the pressure to act on those ideas — to the table, it is our duty to evaluate their proposals against our strategic objectives. Rather than perform “random acts of marketing,” we should better position ourselves for success by using data to drive tactics. Data provides a clear, objective view of past successes and potential opportunities, helps us to predict likely financial outcomes of proposed initiatives, and empowers us to steer partners to more effective tactics. As such, it can help overcome firm politics and place the focus on results.

The Roles of Marketing and Business Development

Marketing creates opportunities by building awareness and placing us on the short list for consideration, while business development turns those opportunities into engagement. Data can help us improve the probability that our efforts will become an opportunity, and the probability that the opportunity will become an engagement.

Marketing and Business Development as Investments

Tactics incur both hard and soft costs — money and time. We should, therefore, treat them as investments. Data can help us weigh the costs against potential ROI and persuade partners to prioritize marketing and business development efforts that are likely to produce a return.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Corcoran noted that “It would be an extraordinary coincidence for all practices and matters to have the same economic potential.” Sophisticated planning requires analysis. Look at the data for revenue, matter count, and matter types to identify market opportunities. Expect that each practice group will have its own strategic objectives and require its own tactics. When a partner sees that a tactic has proven successful for one group, we should be able to demonstrate why that tactic may or may not be as successful for all.

The Gap Analysis

Gap analysis is an important strategic tool that analyzes where a practice group currently stands, forecasts how it’s projected to perform, and identifies the gap between its projected performance and its target performance. In other words, will the group fall short of its target, and if so, by how much?

Knowing where the gap lies helps us to identify and prioritize tactics that will get us closer to our target.

Getting Focused on Data

Corcoran shared some tips on how to begin building a data-driven marketing and business development culture.

  • Establish relationships with the finance and IT teams, who are the keepers of the data you’ll need.
  • Work with “friendly” practices to pilot new ideas.
  • Focus first on business performance not technology — business needs will drive the technology needs.
  • Build an investment case for necessary improvements.

For more information, visit Tim Corcoran’s blog at www.corcoranlawbizblog.com.

By Gina Eliadis, Content Manager, Baker Donelson for the First Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter

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