Mid-Atlantic Region Conference Program Review: Breaking the Bimodal: Developing a Long-Term Digital Strategy

The inaugural LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Conference presented attendees with a variety of wonderful panels and other presentations. Among them was one titled “Breaking the Bimodal: Developing a Long-Term Digital Strategy.” During this presentation, the speakers, Kalev Paul Peekna, Managing Director & Chief Strategist at One North, and Jeff Cordle, Senior Marketing Technology Manager at Alston & Bird, introduced the bimodal problem and elaborated on what could be done to resolve it.

So what is the bimodal problem? For starters, what is bimodal? The presenters explained that, in graph form, bimodal would be best represented as a line looking like two camel humps. These two humps represent two “modes” which reflect how marketing often works, usually over a (on average) seven-year cycle. The presenters discussed how, in years one and two, a marketing team heavily invests in creating a new platform (for example, a firm’s new website). In years three through five, the platform runs with minimal reinvestment (or enthusiasm). Then, in years six and seven, the platform gets replaced by something bigger and better.

This presentation elaborated on how the bimodal method causes many structural problems for legal marketing teams as, the presenters opined, most marketing and business development projects are approached this way. They explained that bimodal makes it seem as the marketing team can only focus on one project per year whereas, in reality, many projects overlap – thus, a staggered shift of attention from one project to the next. Thus, it presents an inability to react to current problems and many of the team’s digital capabilities become out of sync. In order to resolve such problems, the suggested solution is usually to spend more money to fix them.

But the presenters didn’t only look at the problems of bimodal – indeed, they offered solutions. The solution they spent the most time exploring was the Digital Endurance Curve. In the Curve, they suggested that platforms are here to stay and not to be replaced. In addition, they opined that projects ought to be thought of as less like projects and more like investments.

The presentation then turned the attendees’ attention to the real-life example of Amazon. Through using multiple screenshots from years past, the presenters explained how Amazon’s website (and overall marketing strategy) wasn’t focused on re-branding so much as it was focused on re-optimizing. But re-optimization, the presenters warned, requires strategy.

The presenters explained that building a digital strategy should be done in-house – and not by looking at what competitors are doing. They suggested that info regarding a firm’s website and/or other digital capabilities should only take a few weeks and focus on anywhere between three to eight key insights. Next, the information should be presented to firm leadership.

Most of all, the presentation articulated the need for digital strategy to require a vision. Once the marketing team’s vision is solidified, a roadmap must be set for getting there. Getting there would require specific directions as well as a timeframe.

By Adam Hopkins, Marketing Communications Specialist, Miller & Chevalier Chartered, for the Fourth Quarter 2018 LMA Mid-Atlantic Region Newsletter

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