I just spoke at the sold-out-standing-room-only LMA Tech Midwest (#LMATech) conference in Chicago. It was the first Legal Marketing Association tech conference held in the Midwest, but it followed in the very successful footsteps of its older brother, LMA Tech, which takes place in San Francisco each year.
The audience was comprised of hungry, passionate marketing tech and other legal marketing/business development professionals, and those providing services and products to this crowd. If you are interested in quickly immersing yourself in the terrific content, search for #LMATech on Twitter and read the seriously good nuggets consumed and shared by tweeting attendees.
I moderated a panel on experience management, “Demystify Experience Management and Turn it into one of your Most Powerful Allies,” with panelists: Mikala C. Stewart, Global Director of Business Intelligence and Global Director of Litigation Development for Kirkland & Ellis; Deborah R. Grabein, Director of Business Development for Andrews Kurth; and Adam Stock, Chief Marketing and Client Services Officer for Allen Matkins.
Our premise, which is fueled by both many years of experience and passion, was that experience management is one of the most strategic – yet paralyzing – “initiatives” in today’s law firm. (See my earlier Law Firm 4.0 post, “Experience Management is not an ‘Initiative’ – it’s got to be in your Firm’s DNA.”) It’s a universal problem for firms of every size, but it’s obviously a more painful concern for global and other multi-office firms.
Every law firm shares the same over-arching and unifying problem: they all want to win more profitable work. And the only way to get on the short list to win more and better work is to quickly present a list of specific deals or cases with a lot of detail that is relevant to the buyer of the legal service. Buyers want to know: what have you done, for whom you have done it and what you can do for them. This formula is predictable and simple. You have to win this short list test before you can make it to the actual hiring phase.
Experience management requires the perfect marriage of marketing and information technology (and oftentimes finance, too). For too many years, these functions in a law firm have been impenetrable silos, where the different races or classes seldom mix, let alone respecting each other’s contributions. CRM started the need for convergence, but even that is typically managed exclusively by the marketing/business development team. However, building a strategic and powerful experience database requires a comfortable union between marketing and IT – and in the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of the hybrid and "bridge" professional – marketing technology specialists.
Harvard Business Review projects that by the end of 2016, 89% of large companies will have a Chief Marketing Technology Officer. Two years ago in an article called “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist,” HBR quoted Gartner research that said, “… by 2017, a company’s chief marketing officer would be spending more on technology than its chief information officer was.”
The HBR authors (Scott Brinker and Laura McLellan) wrote, “Acting as the connective tissue between different constituencies, these executives engage with four key stakeholders: the CMO and other senior marketing executives, the CIO and the IT organization, the broader marketing team, and outside software and service providers."
All fine and well, but how do they do that? Ted McConnell, a featured contributor to Media Post OnlineSpin, in his June 23, 2016 post called “The Marketing Technology Culture Clash Prevention Guide,” describes the marketing technologist as: “scientist, marketer, tinker[er], politician – not exactly a typical skill mix.” His next statement, “it’s hard to find people that can respect the old and imagine the new, but that’s what it takes,” precisely applies to law firms. THIS is what’s required – and expected – of these marketing technologists in organizations where people sell their brains for a living. I might add “nerd” and “geek” to this list, a' well as “sales person.”
McConnell says, “You will need a big thinker to help identify the new opportunities, a diplomat to calm the waters, and a pilot to turn the ship. With luck, the triumvirate plays well together." He devised a rule-book of sorts that speaks directly to every marketing technologist, which I have included in its entirety below. Note to these MTs – if you are naturally more scientist than you are marketer, then you should identify the skills you must develop to elevate your role even further. Likewise, marketers – if you are a creative visionary, but behind when it comes to your geekiness, climb in and learn about the top software products and vendors, and how they can help save your sanity (and help your lawyers be more effective and competitive).
Ted McConnell’s rule book to bridging the cultural divide between marketing and IT is below.
- “Do ban buzzwords. 'Analytics' is a way to describe any activity that might involve math. It does not describe a business outcome or process. 'We need analytics' is a poorly formed request, and 'We have analytics' is equally lame. Sharpen your vocabulary and insist that others do the same.
- Do focus on the 'so what.' The most useful information feeds the processes closest to the place where decisions are made. Does IT know how communications planning or media buying decisions are made? Each side can guide the other. Be gentle.
- Do calibrate risk to reality. The IT world is filled with Sarbanes-Oxley-driven horrors — go-to-jail stuff. But I’m not aware of anyone who went to jail for a bad marketing decision, or sending an ad to the wrong person.
- Do know the size of the prize. Is a claimed 20% efficiency improvement for an item that’s 10% of your budget worth falling on your sword for?
- Don’t dismiss agency capability. Brands often look to their agencies to make the right decisions regarding creative and media. Most agencies have measurement people and analytic teams. Advertisers might need the internal IT people and the agency to collaborate — which doesn't seem to happen very often.
- Do invest in talent. Top talent might come from either marketing or IT, or both, or from the outside. Require top talent, enable them with tools, and constrain them to solving your most important problems. Find practitioners. Take them under your wing. They come in all shapes and sizes.
- Don’t boil the ocean. Systems thinking often leads to the urge to design the perfect machine. That’s dangerous. Get real-world experience with people, platforms, and agencies that already do this before designing your own thing. Plan to evolve.
- Don’t nod as though you understand if you don’t. The current level of misunderstanding (both ways) is significant. Worse, the risks of getting a market wrong are significant.
- Apply startup rules. Fail early and often. Use 'minimum viable product' thinking. Be market-aware. Favor real world over PowerPoint.
"The people who can bridge the cultural divide are curious, eclectic, articulate, humble, and thoughtful. They might not speak up. They might not come in the package you are used to, but that’s a risk you can live with.”
I couldn’t be more excited about this development in our industry.