AttorneyatWork.com just published an e-book with 50 "really good marketing ideas" from some of best marketers in the business. They were kind to include an article I wrote on using video to market legal services.
When consulting with law firms, I frequently get asked about the future of law practice. What will it look like? How will firms compete? How will services be delivered? How will it be priced?
I think I saw a glimpse of the future in what Seyfarth Shaw is doing today. Several of their leaders made a presentation on how they use six sigma process improvement tools to improve efficiency and client service and lower cost to the client.
They believe that corporate buyers of legal services want high quality legal work and more predictable and lower legal costs. Cutting rates (and profit margins) is not a sustainable strategy, so they dug in and started to re-design work flows and processes as a manufacturer might value-engineer a production process. Using "lean" process improvement tools, they found ways to save clients as much as 50% off their bill while maintaining or improving quality.
Think that will sell?
To clients, yes. But to the partners of the firm who realize that they have to produce twice as much work to get the same revenue, well, that's another kettle of fish. Profit margins increase and client loyalty improves, but the essence of the law firm revenue and compensation model changes significantly. I have so much respect for any firm who can make such significant cultural change to not only serve clients but to essentially set the standard for a new way think about delivering legal services.
Greenfield Belser asked CMOs at Amlaw 200 firms what they are planning for next year. Here's a summary. Read the full article here.
The top two marketing/business development projects are investing in social media (92%) and investing in client loyalty interviews (92%)
When asked what marketers plan on doing differently, they indicated that they will "Focus on business development efforts" (15.6%) and "Client Centered business development efforts" (12.5%). Taken together, they represent the largest category of "innovation". "New enhanced ways of marketing" (18.8%) and "Using Social Media" (12.4%) rounded out the top four.
50% of law firms are looking to redesign their website. Belser suggests that firms, "Convey what you want the visitor to do, create a dialog and position the firm as important, confident and a leader in the field."
Surprisingly, "Alternative Billing Arrangements" were on the bottom of the "To-Do List".
There seems to be a paradox between the 92% who say they are investing in client loyalty interviews but only 6% say that conducting client satisfaction interviews would be "radically different" next year. Perhaps most of the Amlaw 200 think that they already have sufficient client visit programs.
"Fortunately, there is life after Lehman Brothers and the panics and declines across the market over the past year. Law firm marketers are making concrete plans for reaching out and cooking up new business, even though in some cases they have to do it with one hand tied behind their backs. (Read slashed budgets, decimated staffs and gun-shy partners.) Many firms and lawyers now seem to realize that their business development and sales efforts cannot be successful without strong support from marketing. And that’s a cause for hope among true believers in marketing." - Greenfield Belser
BTI Research published their annual benchmark survey of law firm marketing activities last month. You'll have to buy the survey to get all of the details, but here are some trends illustrated by the data:
The AmLaw Second Hundred (firms 101 to 200) is catching up with the AmLaw 100 in marketing spending per attorney.
Dollars dedicated to salaries climbed 22% on a per FTE basis at the largest law firms.
Marketing spending per attorney increased by 20%
Marketing staffs are expanding significantly (30%). Growth primarily in business development and client service areas.
CMO tenure declined to an average of 3.6 years. CMOs are increasingly lured away by more lucrative offers at other firms.
While firm leaders say they are open to hiring CMOs with experience outside of the legal world, 61% of top marketers are hired from other law firms.
Client Surveys and Client Teams are top priorities for law firm marketers in 2008. Both practices are now mainstream - with the vast majority of firms engaging in them.
Veteran law firm marketer and consultant Sally Schmidt has come out with a new book on business development for lawyers. Years ago Sally wrote the definitive book on lawyer marketing. I'll review the book on this blog in the future. In the meantime:
Marketing staffs are growing in major law firms. Only a few years ago the ratio of lawyers to marketing staff ranged from 35:1 to 50:1. Today it is closer to 24:1. Firms are not hiring more PR or advertising folks. They are investing in business development professionals who help lawyers be more effective in attracting clients, building networks, establishing relationships, and professional sales. I wrote a brief article on structuring a marketing/business development team on Larry Bodine's LawMarketingPortal. I'd appreciate your comments on article.
It has been 10 years since Tom Peters wrote an article in Fast Company called, "Brand You", but the principles of personal branding (read: reputation) remain the same. Lawyers especially rely on their reputation as a niche specialist for referrals and new business. Read the article here.
One way to measure your brand is to see how you are perceived on the internet. This article has several tips on building your on-line presence and an on-line assessment of your on-line brand. What's your Google IQ?
In this month's issue of Law Firm Inc, reporter Karen Dean writes about three law firms that "get" marketing in its cover story. Dean profiles marketing and business development initiatives at Holland & Hart,Foley Hoag, and Thompson Hine. The article describes Holland & Hart's partnership with Frontier Airlines, a client of the firm, featuring 5 minute business profile videos on their airlines in-flight television network, Wild Blue Yonder. Read the article here .