In this podcast, Mike Mellor of Pryor Cashman discusses legal marketing trends today and best practices for optimizing relationships between attorneys and law firm marketing departments.
Podcast Show Notes
Mike Mellor is the firmwide director of marketing and business development for Pryor Cashman, a 175-attorney midsize firm with offices in both NYC and LA. In this role, he works to identify, develop and execute strategies to both drive new business for the firm and increase brand awareness. Mike’s nearly 20-year career has spanned various marketing and business development roles throughout the professional services sector, including business development and pursuit roles at Paul Weiss, Katten and KPMG.
Why is there such a push for legal marketing these days?
A combination of things are happening that may be driving this trend. First, there is a bigger respect towards marketing, with more people seeing the value of marketing leading the way in terms of client experience and client lifecycles. In the past, firms had institutional clients from attorneys bringing in clients and revenues from their previous firms. Now we have some forward thinking firms hiring legal marketers and because law firms love to see what everyone else is doing, more have followed. We’ve also seen more firms doing strategic planning, using sales teams and other tools more inline with a traditional business.
What do you see as the biggest problem to its adoption/success?
The biggest problem comes back to a cycle of risk aversion and not seeing ROI. This isn’t necessarily marketers or attorneys fault — sales and marketing have historically been taboo in the legal industry, with attorneys educated by mentors and senior partners. While they are now realizing that what worked then doesn’t work now, there is really no precedent or playbook for how to work more effectively with marketing teams today.
In trying to figure this out, attorneys need to be asking the right questions in order to determine what success looks like for them and collaboratively work backwards.
What are some ways attorneys can be more effective in marketing?
It can be difficult because what works at some firms does not work at others. It’s important to view marketing in the lens of culture, but there are key things attorneys can do. First, attorneys can help to champion avenues of internal communication by keeping marketing in the loop. We’ve tried different avenues such as weekly roundups in order to keep lines of communication open. This will help attorneys avoid emergency situations and aggregate information in a central place that everyone can benefit from.
It’s also important for attorneys to take time to understand the resources they have in their marketing departments. Sit down with your marketing department to understand the ability of your firm to obtain actionable information that can help drive business forward using various technology resources.
Involving marketing early in the process is key. Attorneys also need to understand that the sales cycle has changed. A recent Gardner study showed that 56% of the sales cycle is complete before a meaningful contact is made in a B2B sale. This is evidence that attorney bios and digital footprints are more important to success than many attorneys might think.
Finally, lawyers need to understand clients’ needs in terms of the wider picture and should utilize marketing teams to ask the right questions and understand industries before the first pitch.
What are some other tools law firms can use to be more efficient in marketing?
Gone are the days of siloed technology — firms today have billing and financial data, mailing lists, social media platforms, relationship scorings and more. The process of parsing that data into something that gives you a complete picture is really time consuming. Firms that can invest in the technology and spend time acting on the information rather than just gathering it are the ones that will be most successful. To that end, we are trying to automate the process to take it off attorneys’ plates and even off marketers. We want to understand who is really engaging with contacts from a social perspective, or what individuals do once they open a client alert. Attorneys and marketers can use this intelligence to understand life cycles better and put content out in anticipation of next triggers.
Where do you see the market going from here?
In the next couple of years, firms that are putting sales and client-facing professionals out in front of market will be driving the industry. The legal industry is unique in that attorneys do everything from targeting clients, getting leads, closing the deal, doing the work, billing, and collecting. Marketers can help narrow the sphere for attorneys and let them focus on what they do best, leading to overall increased efficiency. The firms that realize this and are able to let go of the traditional client process will be the most successful.
For marketers, face to face time with attorneys and getting on the same page is essential. Explaining what you do and the why behind it to keep lines of communication open will allow for more informed and effective decisions. From the attorneys perspective, the more they understand marketers’ capabilities, the better questions they will ask.