Now more than ever, law firms have started to understand the role and importance of the business development and marketing departments within their organization. As more lawyers are looking into communications and becoming what we jokingly call “recovering lawyers”, they are starting to appreciate the significance of not only developing the right soft skills for the job but rather having proper marketing studies.
I am a proud recovering lawyer myself. As a marketer, turned lawyer, turned Business Development Director at a leading regional firm, I have seen firsthand the evolution of the business development and marketing departments over the years. Still, as in every profession or industry, changes due to COVID-19 have been exponential in these past months. The pandemic has been a catalyst for transformations that were, to some degree, foreseeable but mainly inevitable.
For better or for worse, these changes have come to test our resilience, focus and determination. They have forced us to regroup (in a social distancing compliant manner!) and reinvent. They have come to challenge the way we used to do things and to shed light on mistakes we didn’t know we were making.
Even if the current situation is far from over, there are many lessons that I have learned to this point and that I have had the opportunity to discuss with colleagues and friends, some of them recovering lawyers like me, others straight-up legal marketers.
Here are those lessons for legal marketers in a nutshell:
- First and foremost: Forgive yourself for panicking over the tsunami wave of work that crashed into your already overflowing planner. The first couple of weeks to one month after the pandemic struck it was a fight or flight situation where all eyes were on the marketing department to execute, execute, execute! If you didn’t panic at least a bit, I want some of what you´re having.
- The sense of urgency and tight deadlines multiply in times like these: Learn to discern and prioritize which tasks are indeed urgent and stop feeling guilty for not undertaking the ones that didn’t make the cut.
- It is impossible to please everyone: The above-mentioned tsunami of work will come at you from all directions, and you will feel overwhelmed and understaffed, because well, you probably are. Be diligent, work hard and be sure to go all out. Even after this, you won’t be able to please everyone, and you get no brownie points for trying either.
- Flexibility is critical: A moment of silence for all of those long hours and late nights spent on developing a winning marketing plan for 2020. And on to the next, and probably another one a month from now. In these uncertain times, we need to let go of strict plans and timetables and be able to adapt swiftly and empathetically to whatever comes our way.
- Technology is king: Beyond the evident prerequisites of technology to successfully work from home, the business development and marketing departments need to be able to rely on top-notch technological platforms. They also need to have the abilities to use them and implement a (new) winning marketing strategy which adapts to the current and future circumstances.
- Don’t just stick to what you know: Find the time to keep learning and further develop your skills – I know what you´re thinking, but if you had the time you wouldn’t have to find it. Having said that, be wary of where you invest your time once you do find it. There are countless courses, blogs and training. Carefully select the ones that will get you closer to your personal and professional goals. At the beginning of the year I took the Digital Marketing Certification Course for Law Firm Marketers by Good2bSocial – never has a course come in handier, and great timing too!
- Understand your audience: Take the time to examine your internal and external clients. Focus on their problems and opportunities and how their needs have shifted due to the current situation. This client-centric approach will help prevent any tone-deaf slip-ups.
- Different strokes for different folks: It is not uncommon for non-marketers at the firm who may be currently bearing a lighter workload to offer advice on how to approach a particular task. I have personally received and implemented worthy and successful ideas from many of my coworkers. However, when it comes to marketing, sheer perception and preference are not good indicators of a thriving or failing strategy and what may be a good idea to one may seem dull to another or may conflict with the rest of the business development & marketing plan. To avoid losing your way and falling into an inconsistent methodology, remember to always set your KPIs and measure them regularly.
- Last but certainly not least: Remember to thank your team. A committed and efficient team will help you get through the hardest of obstacles.
Now, more than ever, law firm marketers need to adapt and be flexible. If legal marketers turn the challenges they are facing today into opportunities for sustainability and growth, they’ll find that their law firm is better positioned than the competition for years to come.
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About the author:
Monica Malcotti is a regional Business Development Director for BLP Legal, a leading law firm in Central America. Monica oversees the firm’s growth in the region, developing new business and client relationships. She also manages the Marketing & Communications department at the firm. Connect with Monica on LinkedIn.