Sponsored: The Importance of Marketing and Business Development in Legal Innovation and Client Centricity

Sponsored: The Importance of Marketing and Business Development in Legal Innovation and Client Centricity

By Scott Incognito
January 26, 2022 | 4-minute read
Business of Law Competitive and Business Intelligence Content Type Article
Client Services
Share this story

In this overview of current marketing and business development trends, Scott Incognito, vice president of client services of the Americas at Williams Lea, explains how law firms are making innovation and client centricity a focal point of their marketing and business development (BD) strategy to stand out in a highly competitive market.

In the spring of 2020, law firms reacted to an anticipated, pandemic-driven slow-down, halting marketing and BD campaigns and reducing budgets up to 75% to proactively protect profits. Now at the start of 2022, firms are looking to reignite their marketing strategies to capitalize on growing client needs and an increasingly competitive legal market.

According to a newly published survey conducted by Sandpiper Partners, more than half (58%) of law firm leaders plan to increase marketing spend in the next 12 months. This is backed further by a survey from Calibrate, which shows salaries for in-house legal marketing professionals in major markets growing by as much as 20% since 2020. Additionally, a recent article from Reuters states that at least 20 Am Law 200 firms hired new chief marketing officers (CMOs) in 2021.

A Shift to Client-Centric Marketing Strategies

It’s no secret that clients want to work with law firms that provide innovative services. At the start of the crisis, many firms adjusted their marketing and relationship strategies to position themselves as their clients' trusted advisor on all pandemic-influenced matters. Now almost two years later, firms are using this approach more broadly to build trusted relationships across all practice areas.

As firms aim to implement practice and sector strategies, they are seeing increased collaboration between senior law firm leaders and BD teams. These strategies are tailored to support specific client relationships and can be expanded to meet a broader set of clients.

An example of this is an award-winning international Am Law Top 50 Law Firm that specializes in the technology, energy and infrastructure, and financial sectors. This firm has gained accolades for its innovation and encourages a culture of idea generation where marketing and BD play a big role in the vetting process.

Part of this process involves thorough market research and working closely with clients to understand what they value. They then determine if the solution needs to be highly customized or can be built for clients across different industries. The firm’s marketing and BD teams work together to identify the most effective strategy to bring these ideas to market.

It’s no secret that clients want to work with law firms that provide innovative services.

Centralized Marketing Support Provides a Creative Difference

Delivering on marketing strategies across practice areas, offices and geographies can be a challenge. While the creation of a firm’s marketing strategy falls to its CMO and their team, a consistent brand and messaging tend to fall victim to a decentralized marketing execution process.

This challenge is heightened by the need for consistency across all media and communication mediums. Does a firm’s social media presence align to their website identity? Or to their thought leadership promotion and activities? It’s also important to consider economies of scale and the duplicative efforts of marketing support at the office or practice level.  

A centralized resource approach for key marketing tactics such as presentations, graphic design, copywriting, digital asset creation and translation can easily improve brand consistency and speed to market. Additionally, a centralized marketing support organization provides access to the same resources team, rather than sacrificing local profitability to improve the final work product.

Keeping Pace With the Competition

The competition is heating up, with 67% of respondents in the Sandpiper Partners’ survey stating that they will complete more than 75 requests for proposals (RFPs) in a year; more than half expect that number to increase in the next 12 months. Attracting and retaining clients and top talent will continue to be a key priority for firms. This will be especially true as virtual work styles will be increasingly influenced by the pandemic, adding obstacles to creating a unique firm identity. Law firm leaders who put significant focus on marketing strategy, and centralize and streamline the tactics behind it, will be in a much better position to stimulate growth, forge greater client partnerships and keep pace with — if not be ahead of — the competition.

To find out more on how law firms are adapting to a dynamic marketplace, download the eighth annual Trends & Opportunities in Law Firm Outsourcing Survey.

Scott Incognito
Williams Lea

Scott Incognito is the vice president of Client Services at Williams Lea. An expert consultant and advisor in navigating complex organization demands, he has more than 20 years of experience delivering a unique blend of creating strategic and tactical operational initiatives, management, integration of business process operations and financial results for Am Law 100 firms and Fortune 500 companies.