Bridging the Chasm Between Marketing and Law Firm Growth

Mention ‘marketing’ to a managing partner and you’ll get one of two responses: “I’m convinced it’s a powerful driving force behind achieving our firm’s goals faster” or “what, you mean the people that write our blogs, run our social media and spend a small fortune on new technologies?” 

According to Jason Ball, Founder of B2B marketing agency Considered Content, harnessed properly, marketing plays a pivotal role in business development, client relationship management and growth strategy.

All too often, there’s a breakdown between the head of marketing and senior partners, both in how they communicate and their vision for success. This is often fuelled by marketing’s failure to deliver results that directly contribute to revenue, and by leadership’s failure to understand that marketing can be strategic and powerful, rather than merely tactical.

Breaking the vicious circle demands the following:

1. Better communication: what your CMO needs to know 

Firstly, there needs to be a shared language between marketing and management. Firm leaders must paint a more detailed picture of what success looks like, beyond the financials. Where will we compete? How will our mix of services change? What will the market be like in five years’ time?

Next, the conversation should turn to what is needed to get there. Perhaps you will need to expand into new geographic markets, merge with a competitor, or hire different people. Identify likely obstacles and be very specific about timescales. If CMOs focus on the long term and firm leadership is sweating over the next quarter, marketing could be highly successful on their own terms but an abject failure in the eyes of senior management. 

2. A marketing strategy that marries with the business strategy

The term ‘strategy’ is one of the most used and abused in marketing today. There is no such thing as a ‘digital strategy’ or a ‘social media strategy’ – these are tactics. And when tactics are mistaken for strategy, everyone loses.

Strategy is the concentration of resources towards an agreed goal and it requires overcoming the hurdles preventing the business from realising its long-term ambitions.

If nothing stands in the business’s way, you don’t need a strategy – or marketing for that matter. Strategy sits between goals and tactics. If goals are where we want to end up, and tactics help us get there, then strategy tells us how we’re going to do it.

Many parts of the business strategy can be helped by marketing – sometimes too many. So it’s important that marketing identifies no more than three critical objectives to focus time, money and effort on.

3. Revenue-moving results

In a 2018 survey of 190 marketers and 135 attorneys in the U.S. and Canada, by the Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law, 41% of attorneys reported hiring or increasing marketing staff as one of their top investments for developing new business.

When marketing works, it really works. But the need to prove its value has been an ongoing battle for as long as it has existed as a discipline.

Marketers do themselves no favours by defaulting to vanity metrics (likes, shares, retweets etc) when asked to produce figures, which have no impact on bottom-line revenue.

To highlight just one example: In professional services, just 17% of marketers are measuring the length of sales cycles – aka ‘pipeline velocity’ – according to a survey by Considered Content. Yet, for marketers under pressure to deliver revenue, accelerating the sales process would be one of the most efficient ways to achieve their objectives.

Tracking this would force marketers to more closely examine the sales cycle, letting them spot where points of friction exist – not only slow sales but points where opportunities simply vanish into perpetual ‘no action’ loops (turning into zombie leads that can skew the overall picture of sales and marketing effectiveness).

This would forge a better alignment between sales and marketing while generating some very specific metrics that are understandable throughout the firm.

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