Drew Sammeth, Client Educator, LexisNexis:
Legal marketing is a beast… so much so that there are local, regional and national organizations specifically aligned to the legal marketing and technology marketplace. These organizations bring like-minded professionals together, providing atmospheres for networking, brainstorming and collaboration. For many, these gatherings are also a place to see the newest innovations and technology in legal marketing and business development (MBD) management.
There are various hurdles that can be prohibitive to technology in law firms; budgets, staffing, knowledge, and experience, for example. Some of these hurdles are out of our control; but for others, there are opportunities to build skills and present as qualified marketing technology thought-leaders. By taking advantage of these opportunities, professionals prepare themselves for tactile processes, and better understand how these technologies integrate with your industry as a whole.
So, how do MBD teams bring their technology wish list back to their firms for serious consideration?
Building Your Reputation
A very helpful personal resource is having the knowledge and experience in your industry. To start building your clout, get involved in legal marketing organizations. While there are a variety of local communities and social groups, there are many national and regional options as well. The Legal Marketing Association (LMA), American Marketing Association (AMA) and the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) are all great national organizations to become familiar with, as they offer regular discussions and seminars that speak directly to the work you do. Further your investment in these organizations by looking at presentation openings that highlight your expertise. These speaking roles not only validate your knowledge to your industry, but to your firms as you discuss advancement to technology and process. You will generally participate in these organizations through the approval of your firm, but staying involved in these organizations is up to you!
Building Your Skills
If 'the pitch' is what you’re more concerned with, find organizations that help you with these development and delivery skills. Toast Masters, a national organization that builds public speaking skills, is a well-known organization to help conquer your public speaking fears. Confidence in your presentation can make a lasting impression, so it's important that the presentation is well constructed. Looking at the content directly, consider taking a business writing course. These can provide many strategies to tailor your message to make an impact. Effective business writing combined with powerful delivery skills are a very valuable asset to possess, and skills that you don't need firm or management approval to improve.
Building Your Expertise
Being a thought leader is an important role to play in your organization, and successful implementation of the technologies you bring in will, in part, measure your leadership. As marketers, we are often lacking the IT skills needed for technical installations, but to be involved, (and have some say) in the implementation, it's so important to be an expert in your tools. MBDs will often know how the tool works better than IT does, and having that knowledge keeps you in the conversation… which is half the challenge!
Showing value beyond your department will also build your credibility as an expert. By finding ways your innovations will help others in the firm, you highlight the knowledge you have of firm processes as well as the needs of other departments. This goodwill can sometimes offset the price tag between different budgets.
Be prepared for the long-game. In the fast world of marketing, we often find the reverse in IT. Queues, tests, and more tests slow down technology, but that's a good thing! We want everything to work for the best user experience.
Leave an Impression
Marketing and business development professionals are in a unique position in law firms, connecting with every department and practice group, and even vendors and outside clients. Showing leadership in your field indicates to colleagues that you've invested in your professional development, and in the whole organization. This dedication does not often go unnoticed, and soon you'll be seen as an expert advisor for many firm technology initiatives.
Technology in Marketing and BD teams really does go beyond these departments. CRM, e-marketing, BD reporting… they all integrate into the success of the firm. Selling this integration takes skills, and supporting ongoing projects takes dedication, both of which are achievable with a little time and focused effort.
Drew Sammeth with be co-presenting with LexisNexis Account Manager Pam Tobias at the Philadelphia LMA gathering on July 19, speaking to the Empowerment of Marketing and Business Development with Technology, expanding on some of the concepts in this post. Hope to see you there!