2014 LMA Capital Chapter Your Honor Awards “Big Idea” Winner: Morrison Foerster and 1776

The “Big Idea” category for the 2014 LMA Capital Chapter Your Honor Awards is a broad one: the award criteria are defined as being “presented to the chapter member(s) who has taken their marketing efforts to the next level and whose actions can provide solutions that will help motivate colleagues facing similar challenges.” This year’s clear winner (for the second year in a row) is Morrison Foerster (MoFo) and its partnership with 1776, an incubation platform in Washington, DC, led by MoFo’s former Business Development Manager Andrew Stief (now Senior Business Development Manager at Wiley Rein LLP).

At the beginning of 2013, MoFo’s marketing team was tasked with heightening the visibility of its collaborative efforts between its local practice groups (Government Contracts, Venture & Private Equity Investments, M&A and Intellectual Property) to an audience of local technology startups. The firm’s national and international visibility was well established within these groups, but smaller local companies that could be the ”next big thing” did not have MoFo on their radar.

MoFo decided to create a strategic plan for its partnership with 1776, which was planning on opening its doors to 150 technology startups in early 2013. The marketing team noted the target audience’s younger demographic, and created specifically-designed collateral and advertisements to appeal to them. They asked MoFo’s younger associates to attend 1776’s opening events and networking opportunities, as they could relate better to the younger entrepreneurs at first introduction. MoFo also created a special pricing structure for the technology startups housed at 1776, including reduced rates and deferred fees.

Potential clients from 1776 were invited to attend bi-monthly ”office hours” at MoFo, wherein technology startup representatives could meet with some of the firm’s associates and ask high-level questions related to building their business. The marketing team would then evaluate the initial interaction with the potential clients after they met with an associate of the firm, and would decide which companies were likely to retain the firm. Second, the marketing department would meet with the company’s representatives, in an effort to better understand what legal services the company was currently seeking or might need in the future. Finally, if the marketing team saw real potential at that point for engagement, a partner at MoFo would be contacted and background on the company would be provided prior to a meeting being set up. This process proved successful with MoFo retaining four new technology startup clients from 1776 since the inception of the program.

MoFo saw the project as a success because they formed a strategic partnership with a brand new organization, and in turn got in on the ground floor with potential clients. The marketing team created an efficient architecture for leveraging the partnerships benefits so that attorney involvement was methodical and impactful. In involving multiple practice groups, the marketing team was able to draw from a large pool of attorney participants and best utilize the firm’s broad expertise. MoFo gained exposure to their target audience through several media mentions regarding the strategic partnership, consistent exposure to DC’s best new technology startup companies, and increased name recognition among the entrepreneurial community.

By Jenna Schiappacasse, Director of Marketing at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP, for the November/December 2014 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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