As featured on LinkedIn on April 28, 2022.
In the last decades, I’ve often felt like a contractor. As a CMO and now as a consultant, I’ve built new marketing departments and helped renovate others. They’ve ranged from talented teams of five people to troops of more than 100. When asked what makes a marketing department successful, I see the same six factors time and time again. I hope this helps at least one firm as they struggle to find those elusive secrets to success.
1. Leadership provides the scaffolding and supports the effort: Only when law firm leaders and a majority of the partnership believe in the concept of professional marketing and support the department will marketing stand a chance. Lawyers tend to look at precedence and role models. If the firm leader is a champion of the cause, developing business and promoting the marketing department, their marketing department is more likely to succeed.
2. The Chief Marketing Officer (or senior-most marketing person) is a silo buster. Silos are deadly in legal marketing. By cutting off communications between analytics, business development and communications, marketers work with one hand behind their back. As a result, partners become frustrated (“I’ve told Max this, so why do I now have to tell Barbara?”) and marketers without access to information feel helpless and often demeaned.
3. Marketing technology is in place, whether or not it was part of the firm’s original wiring or not. Even if the firm doesn’t consider itself a technologically advanced law firm, a robust CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) and EMS (Experience Management) system are necessary to operate a business in a client-centric profession. We still hear the stories of partners sending around emails saying, “Does anyone know anyone at XYZ company.”
4. Strategy is the blueprint for the firm and the practices. Tactics are the simple part. Writing an article, arranging a press interview, and making a website look compelling are challenging activities and generally straightforward to execute; but without a strategy (What message are you getting out? Who is your audience? What is the call to action?), they don’t make sense. We need to keep a watch on random acts of marketing.
5. Politics are blasted away. We’ve all heard the stories that take place at professional service firms. Partners have their favorite go-to people within the marketing department and stand steadfastly by them while often discounting the talents of others. A good CMO has the backing of the partnership to ensure that the entire department is treated equitably and fairly.
6. An investment is made into the most valuable asset, people. Time (and yes, money) need to be invested in the development of the marketing department. The best way to put the breaks on turnover is to treat your staff well and demonstrate an interest in their future. We’re seeing a generation of workers who care about purpose, growing professionally, and being part of something exciting. Investing in developing talent helps improve and add to the marketer’s skill set, and it sends a message that the firm cares about their growth and well-being.
Let me know if you find this helpful, and what secrets you have to share.