American Law Media’s Marketing the Law Firm (MLF) recently published its 2012 MLF 50 list, recognizing the most innovative law firm marketing departments in the U.S. According to feature stories about the top five firms on the list—Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, K&L Gates, Adams and Reese, McGuireWoods LLP (tied for No. 3), Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, and Goodwin Procter LLP—law firms’ focus on collaborative business development plans and integrated technology strategies have only increased over the past year.
Not surprisingly, all six law firms reported that they have enhanced their business development and client development plans in 2012, while MLF also highlighted five of the firms’ improved website interactivity through their use of video, blogs and client alerts. MLF also noted the use of social media as a continued trend among law firm marketing departments, citing the firms’ unanimous emphasis on Twitter and LinkedIn, with still secondary use of Facebook, YouTube and Google+.
While various areas of marketing, such as media relations, event planning, mobile websites and branding proved to be critical components of the top law firms’ marketing strategies, their emphasis on improving client service and business development seems to have been the top priorities across the board in 2012. To that end, here are some of the innovative business development initiatives that the top law firms successfully implemented in 2012:
Coaching: Business development managers, chief marketing officers and partners are collaborating on various levels to host one-on-one and group business development workshops that help associates grow their practices through marketing and cross-selling, enhance leadership skills, build their reputations as industry thought-leaders, talk to prospective clients and improve networking skills, deliver elevator speeches, develop pitch materials, strengthen client relationships, and perhaps most importantly—better understand their clients’ needs, businesses and industries. MLF noted one department’s collaboration with their firm’s human resources department and hiring committee to formally introduce marketing and business development onboarding initiatives so associates and lateral hires are immediately positioned to maximize their business development efforts.
Research: Marketing departments have bulked up their research capabilities to assist lawyers with researching and developing comprehensive reports on business trends, clients’ present and future legal needs, corporate and executive profiles, financials, business strategies, industry news, lawsuit developments, and other client-related information. These reports are critical to preparing for client pitches, meetings, cross-selling, and growing existing business.
Direct client feedback/communication: Some of the top law firms have enlisted their chief marketing officers and firm chairmen to participate in meetings with clients to solicit candid feedback on client service and to generally strengthen client relationships. With a wide-spread push to deliver clients practical industry-focused materials and resources, engaging in more frequent direct communications with clients helps to give law firms a competitive edge.
For more information about the MLF 50, click here.