Regional Change Agents – LMASE Conference Scholarship Recap – Part 2
Breakout Sessions begun on Conference day 1 and I started off at “Accept It: Culture and Branding Are All That Matter”, presented by Terry Isner, CEO/Owner of Jaffe. I’ve been hearing a lot lately from companies in various markets how vital the culture is in employee satisfaction and retention, productivity, recruiting and so on. As mental health becomes a more publicly acknowledged factor in corporate America, companies are shifting focus from strictly output, to, how you deliver your brand, get your employees to passionately back your brand, and also, how to foster a relationship with every client.
Terry explained that brand leaders need to value their culture as an asset to make their brand experience more relatable and to make people remember you! It can be especially difficult to stand out and be successful as a brand when your audience isn’t sure who you are or how you can help them. This same mindset is also applicable for hiring and retaining employees. Professionals want to work with like-minded individuals who encourage and support not only their workplace goals, but who also share a similar moral compass.
Terry went on to identify loyalty as the most significant factor in building a brand and maintaining strong client relationships. An emotional and empathetic connection is what creates trust, internally and externally, which is key in generating growth and ultimately revenue. What stuck with me most from this session was the message that “brands don’t inspire loyalty, people do” and to “empower your people to have empathy by encouraging them to forge an emotional connection; that engenders loyalty”.
Next, I moved on to the “Competitive Intelligence Workshop”, led by Sarah Hodo, Competitive Intelligence Analyst, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Heather Ashby, Competitive Intelligence Manager, Akerman, and Dave Whiteside, Director, ClientsFirst Consulting. I’ve always found panel discussions particularly valuable because of the various backgrounds and perspectives offered by each panelist. This session honed in on formulating strategies and gathering/producing actionable intel while acknowledging the potential to become overwhelmed with the vast amount of information we marketers are all faced with.
One of the suggestions I found most helpful, was to begin every competitive intelligence request process with a conversation with the requesting attorney in order to fully comprehend what they’re actually looking for. I know we’ve all encountered instances where an attorney shoots off a request for ‘X’ when really, they mean ‘X…but also Y and Z, but also not X at all’. Defining the request and developing a structured template of questions for an intake form and process can help you meet your attorney’s expectations as effectively as possible.
I then went on to attend, “Develop Your Executive Presence”, by Christine Clapp, President of Spoken with Authority. This session was really interesting and forced all participants to deep dive into our own individual, professional and personal identities. We were asked to explore the five elements of our professional presence by first identifying our strengths and weaknesses in writing, and then by observing them via video recording. After discussing the factors that contribute to how we present ourselves and how we can leverage our strengths, we re-recorded the same video message and reassessed, hopefully finding that we were able to project a more polished and confident account.
The last session for the day was the, “Building a Data-Driven Culture: Strategies for Analyzing, Interpreting, and Presenting Data” panel moderated by Kathryn Whitaker, Director, Recruitment & Strategy Consulting for Calibrate Legal. The sessions panelists were Pedro Campos, former Head of Continuous Improvement with Hogan Lovells, Stephen DiGennaro, Director of Marketing Technology for Eversheds Sutherland, and Courtney Eddings, Senior Manager, Marketing and Business Development with Shearman & Sterling, LLP. Their main message was to replace gut instinct with data in order to rely on measurable information to develop solid strategy with results that can be tracked.
They discussed how important it is to see marketing operations as a framework that is part of your firms whole operating model. When processing information, determine what’s important and if you can’t make an actionable decision based on the data, then don’t spend any more time there. Developing a system that allows you to filter through vast quantities of information resulting in a series of next steps will ensure you’re not getting caught up in the data. Also, communicating the most impactful results, especially specific metrics i.e. time/money invested, online traffic generated and converting as a result of an online ad, will help get your attorneys to buy-in. Not always an easy task, but imperative to your firm’s growth and your own sanity!
Sessions ended for the day and next we broke off into groups for Cocktails Around Town, a time to meet some new faces and get better acquainted with LMA cohorts. Day 1 did not disappoint and I learned so much, but was also reassured that some of the tactics and strategies I’d been implementing at my new firm were those with proven track records of success. The consistent trends I picked up on thus far were; culture, culture, culture!, relationships with clients and earning loyalty, and developing a method for measuring and acting on data collected. In my third recap I’ll go over Day 2 and key Conference takeaways.
Elizabeth W. Barnett
Director of Marketing and Business Development