October 23, 2012

What Can Marketing Directors Teach You?

Law Practice Magazine

Law Practice Magazine Logo
Marketing Technology Trends

Ways To Boost Your Business Development In 2008


 Table of Contents

January 2008 Issue | Volume 34 Number 1 | Page 39

Marketing and Technology

What Can Marketing Directors Teach You?

Even if you are in a small firm or solo practice, knowing what technologies the larger firms are using will help you leverage your marketing.

Of course, the Law Firm Marketing Technology Survey results reflect technology usage in firms with in-house marketing staff. And most of the firms responding have more than 50 lawyers. But even if you and your law practice don’t fit that profile, there are important things to be learned from the survey results. Let’s take a look.

You can and should be more efficient

Let’s assume that marketing professionals know a little something about marketing and how certain tools and tactics can be used to rev up your marketing efforts and improve the return on your investment. When participants were asked why they chose to use specific types of technology to support their marketing programs, the results show that the number one reason for selecting a technology was efficiency.

That’s right, across the board, efficiency—whether the technology is for proposal generation, in-house printing, deal tracking, CRM, automated surveys or design—outranked “solve a problem,” “required to reach goals” and “impress clients and prospects” as the top reason for selecting a specific tool. So, if you believe that being more efficient is one of the soundest ways for a smaller operation to compete with a big one (and I do!), then take a look at ways the technologies in the survey can leverage your marketing efforts without growing your staff.

Have a bigger impact with fewer dollars

Why not learn from others’ experiences? Looking at the survey results, you quickly see that marketing pros rate some technologies as extremely effective … and some, well, not so much.

At the top of the heap is design software—that is, off-the-shelf layout and graphics programs like Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress. A full 87 percent of respondents gave this technology the top effectiveness rating. Comparing the relative cost of design software packages to their impact in marketing terms, it’s hard not to run out to purchase In-Design and get someone trained on it immediately! It won’t take long at all to brush up your graphic image in print and online.

A full 79 percent said the use of survey software was highly effective. Since the two most often referenced products are Survey Monkey and Zoomerang, and they are both online services that allow free initial usage followed by remarkably low annual fees, I’d recommend you not even take a hard look at this. Just wade right in and try them out.

Figure out how you can use them to do the following:

► Learn more about what your clients and prospects want and expect.

► Measure clients’ satisfaction with your services.

► Create proprietary data that can be used to launch your profile in a new market.

► Build client and contact relationships through online interaction.

► Get feedback on client programs and newsletters.

► Become a subject-area expert in an emerging area.

Think hard about investing in CRM, though. Yes, in the ideal, a CRM system can be wonderful—and conceptually, it sure beats the heck out of using Rolodexes and scribbling notes about contacts on 3-by-5-inch cards. Used properly and fully, CRM is a powerful means of tracking and leveraging your contacts and can turbocharge your personal and firm marketing efforts. But what do we do with the data that says a full quarter of the respondents described their investment in CRM systems as “not at all effective”? And remember, these are firms with full-time marketing staff focused on making their CRM systems work. What we know is that the trouble with these systems is not in the software itself, but rather in the implementation. If you are lacking the clout, discipline, man-hours or determination to drive consistent and good usage of this software, you might instead target higher impact tools with fewer dollars and less brain damage. (For more perspective, see the “Law Practice Case Study” exploring the pros and cons of CRM beginning on page 51 of this issue.)

Know your competition

Walk away from this survey armed with the news that lawyers who are working hard to take away your clients have an arsenal of effective technologies at their disposal—and they know how to use them. Remember, in many of the 183 firms responding to this survey there are lawyers who practice in precisely your area of law—lawyers who, at some point, will compete with you for work. Skimping on your marketing budget and jury-rigging solutions at the very last minute is not a good way to face them down for that next great client.

About the Author

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton is a founding member, past-President and Hall of Fame inductee of the Legal Marketing Association, immediate past-President of the College of Law Practice Management and former Editor-in-Chief of Law Practice. She advises law firms on strategy, competition and innovation issues.