As appeared on LinkedIn on April 4, 2023. “I am not sure if I have the right people doing the right things in my marketing department,” the chairman remarked.
A marketing department can get stuck in a searing hot spotlight. A merger, a new chair or an economic event causes renewed interest in business development. Legal marketers are an incredibly talented group, but often unfairly, the function is viewed as overhead.
As a result, partners begin to question, “What value do they provide?”
If you lead the firm or the marketing function, before you throw out the baby with the bathwater (an old expression and pretty macabre), you will want to:
1. Work with your CMO or marketing leadership about your concerns. Let them explain what the group and its members do for the firm, how they operate and their limitations. You may find they may not have enough funding, staffing or support.
2. Consider a marketing department audit. Having conducted several over the past few years, I can attest that these are game changers.
How can a CMO or law firm leader approach this? Just like any problem. They need to look at it systemically.
How do you do an internal department audit? There are steps I take in conducting these, and here are a few you can take internally.
📍 1. Clarify your firm’s key objectives over the next five years.
For example, is it to grow organically, hire more laterals, or develop key clients? If the objectives are hard to articulate, you likely have a more significant problem and need a strategic plan.
📍 2. Determine if your marketing department can support your lawyers in achieving these objectives. Do they have the resources regarding technology, training, and talent? Also, consider whether they are empowered to do the necessary work.
📍 3. Survey your partners and other key users of the marketing department. Dig into what they use the department for and garner feedback on the current staff and functions. Survey them individually and ask them to be as frank as possible.
📍 4. Turn to the department. Ask their members about their job frustrations and opportunities they think the firm is missing.
📍 5. Produce a gap analysis. Show the difference between what the firm needs and currently has, and itemize those gaps. Then create a strategy to get those gaps to decrease or disappear altogether. A gap analysis is a challenging thing to do within the own confines of a law firm. It requires time, attention and an unbiased viewpoint.
📍 6. Understand the options and various structures. A department might take several approaches, from having a core service area servicing the different firm functions (PR, BD, graphics) or placing BD managers for practices. There are matrix organizations where you either layer on top of these other areas or, in lieu of them, a grid of practice, geography or client teams.
Knowing the firm’s objectives and the various options is vital when ensuring your marketing department is the right fit for your firm.