It’s pretty well accepted that the two hemispheres of the brain perform different functions. Within a commercial context the traditional left-brain dominance of logic, sequential reasoning and transaction focus has become far more balanced with right-brain skills. There’s thankfully a far better appreciation of the value that creativity, design and holistic thought can bring. This applies to law firms too.
Although the practice of legal work tends to be based on sequential reasoning, to stay competitive and relevant the addition of creativity and big-picture thinking is more important than ever. Since law firm marketing became legal back in 1986, the growth experienced by both the legal sector and individual law firms has been mind-blowing.
This growth has created a shift in both the need for and the approach to marketing and business development. Today, law firms understand they need to set them themselves apart from competition and that creative marketing has a more and more significant part to play in overall success. So, while the practice of marketing naturally tends to be more creative, I believe it also needs reasoning as its foundation and analysis applied to its outcomes. Let’s bring right brain skills to bear in this important left brain context.
Lawyers and law firms are spending increasing amounts of time and resource in developing and executing a plethora of marketing and business development activities, ostensibly for business gain. Firms need to find ways to work out what works best, what’s really appropriate and relevant to the intended audience, and the big one, “What delivers best value against our business objectives?” They need to imagine what success looks like and then have tools and processes in place to understand “Was it successful?”
Of course, many firms have turned to technology to help with marketing delivery efforts, using traditional CRM systems and eMarketing tools to carry out the operational side of marketing. But, the leap to attributing these efforts to specific outcomes or returns tends to be an afterthought and remains a huge a challenge.
Following up on marketing activities and attributing new conversations, relationships or even chargeable work to them can be time consuming and difficult – all too often it just doesn’t get done. This does business development and marketing disciplines a disservice. It means they don’t have the proof to show their worth, in an industry famously fixated on billing rates and revenue.
So, in an ideal world, the systems firms put in place to help with marketing should provide metrics that enable the firm to justify the activity. To help them understand more about what’s working and what’s not. Surely it makes good business sense to choose systems that help measure return on investment in some way? Whether that’s a macro view such as looking at new client revenue versus total campaign spend, or a micro view, perhaps allocating the total business development costs of winning a specific client.
The important thing is to decide what success and the metrics look like and then ensure you have the customer relationship tools and processes that can report on this. Choose a system that enables you to capture outcomes from specific marketing activities and events to build return investment figures for specific relationships, client organisations and campaigns alike. This means you can analyse the specific costs associated with winning work and then evolve and tweak your business development and creative marketing strategies to help you stand apart from the crowd. You’ll also show the firm, once and for all, that marketing and business development really do help maximise business value and create client loyalty – compelling reasons to use both sides of the brain, no?
Client Solutions Director, OnePlace