Where legal marketers need to focus their attention

By Josh Mait
The Brief
An oft-quoted Gartner statistic predicts that by 2017, CMOs will be outspending CIOs on tech. Whether or not this holds true for the legal industry depends in large part on whether law firms truly adopt—and not just spend on—marketing tech in the first place. Here is your guide on how to decide whether or not to invest in any new technology.
Legal CMOs

As the billable hour tightens its iron grip on law firm culture, the overhead in hours required to successfully integrate and train on new tech has sent many scattering away from CRMs and data analysis.

The Technology Dillemma
Part of the problem, of course, is the complexity of current CRM and big data offerings. (Gartner urges tech companies toward streamlining CRM platforms into versions of their consumer-oriented brethren.) And as marketing leaders get slammed with more and more offers for new tech, analysis paralysis sets in, so that those who should be firm champions for CRM and analytics end up sticking with the older, simpler—and less effective—methods.

The rest of the problem has little to do with the particular piece of tech itself, whatever it may be, and more to do with firm priorities. In a recent ABA panel Clinton Gary, CMO at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP, framed it as such: “Attorneys are not corporate sales reps and cannot be prodded or cajoled to consistently spend non-billable time on tasks that don’t appear to directly and immediately improve their client service delivery and originations.” 

“As CMOs get slammed with more and more offers for new tech, analysis paralysis sets in, so that those who should be champions end up sticking with older, less effective methods.”

The Role of the CMO
That’s where CMOs come in. It’s their responsibility to make the connection between prospective technology and specific business goals. In the same panel, Jeff Cordle, marketing technology manager at Alston & Bird LLP, noted that the firms that were having success integrating marketing software into firm culture used a “combination of showing value, highlighting in-firm hero stories and providing memorable examples.”

Of course, evangelizing for increased tech integration doesn’t mean adoption of every new piece of software that comes along. Enterprise solutions may work for some firms, but there are plenty of modular and a la carte options available that can work with existing platforms to deliver on business goals. First, marketers have to understand what those goals are and how technology can directly address each. By assessing their firms’ particular needs, marketers can customize their tech stacks to best serve their business, gain attorney buy-in and shave off hours of unnecessary training and maintenance.

“It’s the CMO’s responsibility to make the connection between prospective technology and specific business goals.” 

The 4-Question Guide
Here are four questions CMOs must ask before investing in any new tech:

  1. Will it have a direct impact on a specific business or lead generation goal?
  1. Is it compatible with existing workflows?
  2. Are there hours and human resources set aside to train on, use and maintain it?
  3. What is its lifespan?

For law firms, marketing tech might be the answer to achieving business development goals, if there are team members on the inside willing to advocate for it. But adding tech for the sake of adding tech is not a viable solution for most firms, and it’s the responsibility of marketing heads to determine which platforms or modules can best fulfill their specific goals, within the hours allotted and with the people available to maintain them.

For more on how marketers can navigate the tech stack, download our white paper “Why the race for the biggest marketing stack makes no sense.”


Josh Mait is CMO at Relationship Science (RelSci). RelSci provides a relationship capital platform that helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. 

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