It’s safe to say that technology is a crucial part of legal marketing – from business development to recruiting and retention, legal technology can be found at every level of the legal marketing industry. Despite the prevalence of technology in our daily lives, the “technology” title is not easy to find in the marketing world. Fortunately, we found a Director of Marketing Technology & Operations in Vikram Gupta of Crowell Moring. We sat down with him to learn about how his role differs from a traditional director of marketing, the skills you need to be a marketing technologist, and how to get those tech-averse attorneys on social media.
As Director of Marketing Technology and Operations, what do you handle at Crowell & Moring?
Essentially, my team handles all things marketing with a technology touch point: events, the website, Intranet, social media, graphic design, and all of our different databases – CRM and relevant business development databases as well. We handle all of the firm’s client alerts and event invitations, and our general branding in relation to advertisements and sponsorships. I think most firms don’t have a specific director of marketing technology and operations. A director of marketing would probably handle a lot of the things that I do, but that division of labor changes from firm to firm. The Chief Marketing Officer and the Chief Technology Officers often have very different visions. At Crowell & Moring, we have four chief officers who work together very closely and I am fortunate to have great relationships with all of them. So that’s the key, marrying that vision between those two specific areas.
What’s on your schedule for today?
That’s the beauty of it – there are so many different areas that no day really follows the other. So today: we have an alumni alert that we do quarterly (we have a dedicated alumni microsite that we launched within the past year). We decided that we weren’t doing a very good job leveraging our relationships with our alumni. There’s so much business you can get from referrals, especially those alumni who have gone into general counsel and other in-house roles, so we are working to stay engaged with them. We are writing success stories about our alumni. For example, right now we have a great piece running on our alumni who have gone on to universities and are in prominent General Counsel positions at Princeton and Yale, among others. So we create that content, we push that out to all of our lawyers here and all of our alumni and let our business development team take it from there.
What are some of the most important skills for success in marketing technology?
It’s important to really understand that IT and marketing each bring something to the table while understanding the limitations of each; understanding that technology is obviously always providing a platform, but then putting a marketing spin on it, essentially serving as a translator between IT and marketing. That means making sure that a platform is branded correctly, but also understanding that it’s form versus function – it still has to work, it still has to deliver and that it’s not just about how it looks. We have to make sure that we’re getting all of the data that we have internally to our lawyers in a timely manner and make sure that it’s good data, not just that it has good aesthetics.
You began your legal marketing career in Canada and have been in the industry for 10 years. What are some of the most significant technological changes that you’ve observed in your career?
Ten years is a long time, especially in terms of technology. The biggest one is definitely social media acceptance. It used to be frowned upon for lawyers to even have a social media account like LinkedIn or to use Twitter actively, and now it’s becoming commonplace. Mobility is another major shift. Now that lawyers are on the go, you have to be able to provide them every platform – when they’re at home, when they’re running to a meeting, they have to have everything on their device now. It’s not just when they’re in the office. So that’s been a big change as well. The last thing has been client portals. Essentially, now we have these portals that are dedicated to the client. The level of transparency that is on those – basically it’s one stop shopping for the client. They come there, they see everything that’s been worked on, they can get their billing, there’s different information they can access, just with the push of a button.
What are three platforms or services that you couldn’t live without professionally?
Social media applications –LinkedIn and Twitter. A solid e-distribution platform. We’ve got one platform for distribution of our client alerts and all invitations. That platform ties into our website, it ties into our CRM system, it ties in to some of our internal systems that we use from HR for content we send to the alumni website. Everything kind of operates on that platform, which provides access to all the different touchpoints we have with our clients, which is very helpful for the lawyers and those of us in marketing. Also, a good content management system, which we’re putting our focus on now. That’s where business management goes for pitches and proposals, so to be able to grab content that we have, quickly amalgamate it into one document, and send that out to a client helps us to provide better services to our lawyers and clients.
Lawyers are not always tech-savvy or early adopters. How do you deal with lawyers who don’t want to get into social media or other areas of technology?
The biggest thing that I’ve found, and obviously this skews a little bit to older partners, is that if you can find out what their one “pain point” might be and if you can solve that with technology, that tends to help a little bit. My team also does an amazing job offering deskside assistance, where we work with the lawyers on LinkedIn and Twitter. We offer literally, “Here’s 15 minutes. One of us will come to your desk and walk you through it.” I think it’s more of a fear of the unknown that keeps them away from social media. People want to do LinkedIn but they don’t understand how to do it. They want a Twitter handle – they want to do all these things, but it’s a little daunting to go in there when you don’t have an idea of what to do. But when you have someone who literally comes to your desk and shows you what to do, I find that works really well. Once they get it, they really get it. Some of our best people for social media are actually really technologically averse, but if you can get them on it they will be your biggest champions.
By Ashley Stockwell, Communications Coordinator at BuckleySandler LLP, for the March/April 2015 issue of the Capital Ideas newsletter.