Jennifer Gamber is a marketing and business development strategist at Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP in Chicago. She holds a B.B.A. in business journalism from Baylor University and an M.A. in journalism from Michigan State University, and she began her career as a journalist for the Planning & Zoning News. From there, Jennifer moved into marketing, first with Reuseit.com and then CGN Blackwell Consulting, before moving to Marshall, Gerstein & Borun earlier this year. Jennifer recently joined the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) and is the new editor of In the Loop.
Q. How have your journalism studies and professional experience helped you in your marketing roles? In legal marketing specifically?
In the years since I began journalism school, the Internet has redefined the role of a journalist and reshaped how customers make decisions. This has blurred the line between journalism and marketing, making my background extremely helpful throughout my career path. Many consumers, whether B2B or B2C, favor the Internet, blogs and their social networks when making buying decisions, and they expect to be able to find a wealth of information on any product or service before buying in. I have worked with a retailer, a consulting firm and now a law firm to create content that satisfies consumers’ and clients’ need for information. My journalism background has proven invaluable in helping organizations expand and mature their written collateral, especially online.
Working for a trade magazine required me to routinely interview experts from academia, business, government, science and other niche industries. This training taught me how to talk to technical experts, synthesize complex information and cull out a compelling story that resonates with a broader audience. That might be my biggest gain.
Q. You had been in marketing roles with businesses outside the legal profession for a few years before joining the marketing department. What was the appeal of a transition to legal marketing?
I love the fact that legal marketing, in my experience, is so dependent on reputation, quality and exceeding customer expectations. It’s about getting the word out about exceptional work that talented lawyers and the firm are accomplishing, and this is an exciting change from the harder sell required in retail marketing.
Q. What are some of the similarities and differences you can see between professional services marketing in a consulting firm such as CGN Blackwell Consulting and a law firm?
In my experience, a lot of lawyers are modern content marketers, though they may not even realize it. By that, I mean they recognize the importance of establishing reputation, publishing thought leadership and branding themselves within their professional and client communities. Emphasis on individual personalities resonates with today’s clients, especially web users. Those are the kind of activities that many consulting firms are only beginning to capitalize on, but this focus seems to come naturally to law firms. On the flip side, a business development perspective is second nature to consulting firms, but this is relatively new to the legal field.
At CGN Blackwell and Marshall, Gerstein & Borun, my experiences have been similar in the ease of finding content to produce. When working with consultants and attorneys who have such extensive academic and professional interests, there is never a dearth of topics or content waiting to be turned into an article, a brochure, web content or a white paper. I learn something new every day, and that’s why I am passionate about professional services marketing in general.
Q. What sort of feedback and mentoring from your superiors and other seasoned marketers do you find most valuable? Why?
Kind of like publicity, I believe there’s no such thing as bad feedback. My colleagues have years of experience in the legal marketing field and understand the nuances that enable legal marketing and business development initiatives to be truly successful. I especially value their insights specific to the intellectual property field and the most effective ways to communicate to our clients and attorneys whose talents run the gamut—inventors, scientists, academics, medical professionals... the list goes on.
Q. Why did you decide to take on the role of editor of In the Loop?
Throughout my career, I’ve worked on newsletters for various associations, and I saw this as a great opportunity to bring my experience to an exceptional professional organization. I am so impressed by the level of engagement the LMA community has and was excited to play a part in facilitating communication among our members. Already, I’ve met many talented and fun LMA members, and I am grateful for the opportunity to take on this role.
Q. What do you do for fun?
I’m pretty adventurous and find fun in (almost) anything, so I’ll try to keep this short. Generally, I like being outdoors, taking a class to learn something new, yoga and, most of all, traveling. Nothing has shaped my life or world view as much as international travel, especially trips to China, India and Korea, and I try to do as much of it as possible. This year, I’m off to New Zealand to visit my mom’s side of the family. When I need a break, I love reading non-fiction books on just about any topic. I just finished a great one on Google called In the Plex.