When people think of the marketing department in a law firm, they often think of events and client gifts. But in reality, it’s a team of people who often have MBAs, master’s degrees in communications, and similar advanced degrees working to move the firm’s strategic plans forward—and they’re often an untapped resource for the knowledge management (KM) and library services teams.
Gone are the days that the marketing department planned your parties and ordered conference swag. These functions still happen, but they’re driven by data and measured against targets. Now marketing staff also coach the firm’s lawyers on how to win and develop business in a systematic and repeatable fashion, help shape firm priorities with data-based decisions and insights, and lead major changes in how lawyers communicate—customer relationship management (CRM), anyone?
But how can they help KM professionals? In many ways, depending on the skill sets in your marketing team. Below are just a few suggestions of how you can take advantage of the skill set and expertise within your marketing departments.
- Skills Coaching and Training Opportunities
Practicing lawyers get conflicted out of training all the time, and the marketing team is often tasked with filling those seats. So, if you’re looking to polish your persuasion skills or other professional skills, talk to marketing. They’re the subject-matter experts on communicating and building relationships and are often aware of firm resources that you can leverage to build your next pitch for a new idea. Consider asking marketing to help you craft better elevator pitches and perfect your presentations.
- Practice Group Strategy and Priorities
The marketing team has a front-row seat for a practice’s priorities. Here’s a sampling of what they know:
- what industries they’re pitching and winning business from;
- what questions clients are asking;
- what trends they’re seeing from competitors;
- whether the practice is focused on developing new business or on raising its image in a market;
- where they decided to focus the budget this year, whether it’s attending a conference or traveling to visit clients; and
- much more.
Reach out to marketing to get a better understanding of what the priorities are at the personal and practice level so that you can tailor research or select and promote resources more effectively.
Not only does the marketing team help execute the practice’s or the firm’s business development strategies, but it also crafts those strategies. Today’s marketing department is skilled at facilitating strategic plans at the firm, practice, and individual level. Your firm’s marketers can share these best practices and help your department design tactics that are measurable and actionable. You can set the right priorities for your department, and are more likely to get purchase approval if you can show how a big project or resource fits into the practice or firm strategy.
Marketing typically works very closely with lawyers on a variety of projects near and dear to them. Given this close working relationship, the marketing team is well positioned to share subtler details about the lawyers it’s interacted with. For example, marketers often know whether a lawyer prefers morning meetings or likes to leave by 4 pm to have dinner with their family. Marketing also plays the role of a listening ear when collaborating with and coaching lawyers, and those conversations give marketing teams valuable perception of lawyers’ needs and wants as well. Knowing how and when to reach out to a partner may expedite the approval or adoption process for new tools and services.
We’re the keepers of client feedback, both formal and informal. Marketing professionals run formal client feedback programs, and from those insights, we help develop and execute key client programs, including retention and growth plans. Additionally, we gather informal information by holding debriefs with clients when we do and don’t win business to understand what worked and what didn’t; we also collect data as we work with them on award submissions and charitable events. Because of these collaborative activities, marketing builds relationships with all types of people within clients. A KM department, for example, may be able to offer client-facing solutions if they are better aware of client needs.
When you’re rolling out a new technology or an upgrade to a system, talk to your marketing department. By the nature of our jobs, we stay up-to-date on the best way to raise awareness, we create targeted and meaningful messaging that drives behavior, and we know how to communicate these changes effectively. Do you need an FAQ, a step-by-step guide, or an email campaign? Do you know who is best to deliver the messaging? Do you need different messages for different users? Or perhaps this is a major incentive that needs branding and collateral. Call your marketing department and leverage the subject-matter experts.
- Digital Marketing
Are you trying to raise your department’s profile in the industry or write a blog post? Talk to your digital communication team for the best tips on writing content for a blog vs. posting on LinkedIn vs. trying to write an article for a third-party publication. They’re also a great resource for tips on crafting your LinkedIn profile so it positions you as a leader in your space.
Are you designing cutting-edge solutions that are solving clients’ problems? Talk to marketing about how to promote this work in your firm so you can replicate it for other clients. And make sure your marketing team shares the potential benefits of your work with prospective clients via pitches, RFPs, rankings and awards, and other communications. KM and Library professionals bring valuable skills and resources to the firm, and many clients are unaware of the cost savings, efficiencies and other benefits they provide.
The marketing department sends a lot of surveys to internal and external clients on a variety of topics, including feedback on educational programs, client satisfaction, content, and the like. They’re skilled in how to ask and design questions that solicit meaningful and actionable feedback from respondents.
Marketing is the welcoming committee for new laterals. We help integrate them and their clients into the firm and their new practices. We also play matchmaker with other lawyers across the firm to help grow the bottom line. During this time, we get great insight into their old firm and how it did things, what they miss, and why they decided to make the switch.
- Expertise Identification
Marketing often keeps or creates representative deal lists, lawyer biographies, and is responsible for CRM systems. When KM or Library needs to find an internal expert, Marketing may be able to suggest people best suited to evaluate a new library database, profile a deal or document for a KM repository, or just explain a particular legal concept in a pinch.
Branding is key to promoting new ideas. So, when you want to use the firm logo or branding, check in with marketing. They know the latest legal advertising rules and firm policies around when, where, and how you can promote the firm or how others can promote their relationships with the firm. Internally, they can help design custom logos, signature lines or tag lines to brand your department or products.
BONUS - Change Management
When marketing teams succeed, they’re winning the hearts and minds of people, getting them to do something that they would not have done in the normal course of things. And what is change management but a battle to convince the hearts and minds of lawyers to do something different? It could be a new way of communicating with clients, implementing new programs like client feedback, or embracing a new technology like CRM systems. So, collaborating with your marketing team on new releases could lead to faster implementation and adoption.
These are just a few recommendations of new ways that you can work with your marketing departments. Just remember that we’re all on the same team, so we should take advantage of each other’s special skill sets.
We also encourage you to read the fantastic blog entitled "12 Ways Marketing & Business Development Can Leverage Library & Knowledge Management Teams."#KnowledgeManagementandSearch#MarketingandBusinessDevelopment