Marketing Pros “WOW” at the 2016 Legal Marketing Conference

The following summary and marketing tips should prove helpful to you as you develop your own marketing strategies and plans.

With breakout session topics including “The Secrets of Why and How TED Talks Captivate Audiences,” “The Latest Trends in Legal Marketing and Business Development,” “Getting to the Heart of Your Firm’s Brand,” “The Marketing Scorecard: Key Factors for Measuring ROI” and “Managing the Business of Marketing,” top legal marketing pros informed and inspired their audiences with measurable strategies and tactics for building on, and generating new, profitable client relationships.

Drawing an audience of over 1,400 people from 17 countries, presentations designed with powerful visuals instead of text-heavy PowerPoint slides broke through the clutter.  And no matter what the subject matter, succinct presentations interspersed with something personal (personal anecdotes, childhood photos, etc.) were welcome surprises that kept audiences engrossed in the presentations at hand and off of their cell phones.

While on the subject of engrossing presentations, one of the most talked about sessions was “TED Talks for Lawyers.” TED talks (TED standing for technology, entertainment and digital) have changed what constitutes an effective presentation and, more importantly for you, an effective presenter. When done correctly, incorporating TED techniques into your delivery style can elevate the power of your presentations, leading not only to more business but to providing a boost toward making you and your firm more memorable.

TED techniques include:

  • For maximum impact, focus on communicating one main idea, communicating that idea up front and making sure your audience understands it.
  • Make your presentation personal and design it to elicit an emotional reaction. The story is most important. When presenting, think 75% story and 25% data.
  • Keep your presentation concise and impactful, taking at most 18 minutes.
  • Text-heavy slides do not apply anymore; today, a picture really is worth a thousand words, so using the right images is critical. If you need one or two words to accompany each graphic, make sure they are descriptive in telling the story.
  • There is no hiding. TED talks have no podiums; it’s just you and the audience, so you must own the stage.
  • Memorize your presentation and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Bottom Line:  Know it and own it!

With the especially attention-getting title Big Law Wants to Crush You Like a Bug, ” this presentation focused on how smaller firms can fight back against Big Law in spite of Big Law’s budgetary advantages. Presenters shared data from a recent survey that Big Law invests more of its marketing dollars on improving client satisfaction and building superior client relationships as opposed to on activities and event marketing. Large-scale client feedback reviews and surveys are the key.

You may be thinking that your firm already does client surveys, but are your surveys asking the right questions and are you then taking positive action on the feedback you receive? With the importance of client service metrics — built into partner objectives, partner evaluations and partner compensation — firms of every size should consider taking this page from Big Law’s client satisfaction playbook.

Big Law delves deeply into the questions they ask on client surveys. They survey clients about other firms they use, why they’ve chosen specific firms, what they pay these firms and how these firms deliver value. Big Law is looking for what their competitors are doing in order to identify opportunities left on the table and see how they can fill in some of the gaps.  This approach is very strategic and designed to tell Big Law exactly what they need to do to generate additional business from their client, things like developing custom, multi-practice CLE’s and tailored briefings.

Every client is viewed as a “market of one” and approached — and marketed to — accordingly, which means they receive targeted marketing that specifically addresses what the client wants, how you will deliver those services, how you will provide value, how the client wants you to communicate with them, how they want to be invoiced, etc.

Bottom Line: Big Law focuses and acts on client satisfaction, not on specific marketing activities, which means a big marketing budget is not required to compete with them.

And using client satisfaction as an example, a presentation on “Metrics, Messages and Meaning” provided insight into capturing metrics and interpreting the messages from that data.  We implement client satisfaction studies and look at metrics that show whether our clients are “satisfied” or “not satisfied.”  But beyond that, we need to look to the metrics to tell us that our clients are satisfied because “here’s what we do well” or not satisfied because “here’s what we need to do better.”

As another example, we can measure the number of pitches and proposals we deliver and how much business we receive from them — that’s the metric. The key is to look for the meaning in the metric — in what specific areas are we winning or losing opportunities and how do we adjust our focus to generate more winning pitches and proposals?

The real key and importance in metrics is that we need to translate that data so we can act on it and give it tangible meaning

Another topic discussed at the Conference was “Quantifying and Driving the ROI in Legal Directories and Award Submissions.”

We’ve all asked ourselves if nominations are worth the time, money and effort.  There were some interesting survey statistics regarding submissions: 80% of firms plan to maintain or increase their number of submissions this year; larger firms prepare an average of 58 submissions a year; 18% of those larger firms have a dedicated staff to prepare submissions; the average cost to develop a submission is $2,550; and perhaps most telling, 60% of respondents said that their ROI from submissions is less than 5%. Taking into account this low return, why do firms continue to submit in such high numbers?

A low ROI (while really almost impossible to measure in this context as you would be hard-pressed to find an attorney who’d raise his or her hand and say, “Somebody saw me in SuperLawyers or Benchmark Litigation and that’s the reason they called me”) doesn’t mean submissions don’t have an impact — for example, they provide validation for clients that they’re with a good firm, they are good for recruiting purposes, etc.

While ROI related to nomination submission may be hard to measure in terms of direct return, developing a submission strategy based on which submissions will be most important to your marketing efforts and to the firm will help you manage the time and money you spend on them.

The last presentation we want to share with you relates to how smaller firms can successfully enter a new market, differentiate themselves and generate business.  The case study of a Wisconsin firm was especially interesting: Surrounded by a huge agricultural industry and unknown by anyone in the industry, this firm of 40 attorneys decided to pursue this prospect base as it had significant new business (dollar) potential.  Resistance from some of the attorneys who didn’t want to put forth the effort was overcome when a team was formed and a consultant hired to make introductions.

From there, the team laid out a plan that included identifying and attending targeted trade shows (with the attorneys staffing the booths); they joined trade associations and attorneys attended association meetings and networked at all of the events; they published articles in agricultural journals and positioned themselves as experts; and they advertised in publications targeted to the agriculture audience.

While none of the tactics they used were new by any means, it was the firm’s willingness to invest marketing dollars, stick to the marketing plan, continue to invest and modify the plan when necessary, and not fold up their tent when they didn’t see immediate results that led to their success.

Bottom Line:  Opportunities abound to focus on a particular industry or niche market.  It’s the willingness to make a marketing investment and the patience to let your marketing efforts take root and grow that will produce solid, long-term results.

As seen in this synopsis of just some of the great information presented, the Lone Star State shone bright as the host of the 2016 Legal Marketing Conference.  We look forward to seeing you next year in Las Vegas for the 2017 Legal Marketing Conference!

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