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    Embracing Technology in Legal Marketing

    Summary

    In a quickly evolving world, Head of Marketing and Business Development Sean Graham discusses why it's crucial for law firms move with the times.

    With a younger roster of legal professionals clawing their way up the ranks, we are seeing a workforce which understands the importance of technology, realises the benefits of using it, and adapts to and utilises new tech much more quickly. This also means that they expect much more from their marketing teams in turn. 

    Technology is expanding at an exponential rate. Look back 30 years and the typewriter, Filofax, floppy disk and carbon paper were must-haves in the office, all of which have since been replaced by new technologies such as mobile devices, CRM databases, the cloud and photocopiers. Look forward 30 years and the possibilities are endless.

    There’s a lot I’d like to talk about, and even more I could talk about, in this article, however, were I to mention all emerging technologies we’d be here a very long time.

    Spoilt for choice?

    As of April 2018 there are a staggering 6,829 marketing technology solutions from 6,242 unique marketing technology vendors, including CRM systems, Social Media Marketing tools, and more recently a growing number of Social Influencer apps, according to the Martech 5000. This year we’ve seen an increase of 27% on the 2017 model (5,381), but what’s even more astounding is that 2018 is equivalent to all the marketing tech landscapes assembled from 2011 through 2016 added together. So, it’s no wonder that marketers have a hard time choosing the right tools for the job.

    Before looking at which tools you need, I’d advise that you look at your overall marketing strategy. What are you looking to achieve with these systems, do they fit with the firm’s overall business plan, and will they help your team to be more efficient? Ensuring that the systems you choose are fit for purpose is key, and the only way to do that is by researching each system. This is admittedly a time consuming process, but utilising your contacts and their experience will help you make an informed decision, saving you a great deal of stress later down the line, when your systems aren’t meeting the needs that you had envisaged.

    Throughout my career, I have discovered that the best tools, those that have gained my buy-in, work together. Siloed systems don’t work. I mean that literally… they don’t work together, they don’t talk, they don’t communicate. And as with any team, communication is vital to a strong working relationship, and it goes both ways – the same can be said for products. When you understand your strategy, you will be able to understand how important it is to connect the dots. Your CRM should be talking to your e-marketing platform, which in turn should be communicating back the information gathered. Your client portal will need to be linked to your PMS, and allow clients to comment on developments.

    Being all things, to all clients

    Clients now want more for less, and they want you to know what they want before they even know they want it. You must be better than your competition at meeting your niche clients’ needs — even before they become clients. Doing this successfully doesn’t involve just a single strategy, program or tool. You have to be able to meet demand in various ways and in multiple places. 

    It’s about overall experience for the client – ensuring that you have robust intelligent systems behind the scenes, means that your client’s journey is much more efficient, and therefore cost-effective for both parties.

    Conclusion

    Adapt or be left behind. It’s fair to assume that firms who hesitate to change with the times and keep in line with the curve may struggle to survive; by 2020, it is estimated that 100 firms will disappear from the top 300. 

    The role of the CMO is no longer just that of a marketeer, more and more we are expected to drive ‘sales’ and bring in clients. Today, most CMOs own or share P&L responsibility. Many CMOs are responsible for a digital commerce channel. And while customer experience very much remains a team sport, marketing often funds these cross-functional CX initiatives, sets the strategy, and designs the experience itself—and, in many organisations, owns and controls a growing multitude of customer touchpoints. As digital marketing becomes marketing in a digital world, technology is woven into virtually every planning decision. Technology should be aiding that endeavour, but in a world of overwhelming choice, is that really the case?

    It’s an evolution, not a revolution. Technology isn’t changing the face of law overnight, and no doubt it will adapt and change to the needs of the market, but firms should certainly be prepared to innovate and evolve with it.

    This article first appeared in Legal 500's monthly publication, fivehundred. Fivehundred gives the inside track on what makes the world’s elite law firms successful. 

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