Above the Law recently posted an article on an interesting topic: the substantial divide between lawyers and the legal marketers who serve them. It notes, correctly, that lawyers often “view marketing as fluff, pointless overhead, or just the people who order the letterhead and do that Twitter thing.”

It’s an unfortunate state of affairs, but one that seems to persist in the legal industry. The Above the Law piece identifies three main reasons why legal marketers are not afforded much respect within large law firms:

Without data, you’re left with weak explanations of how a full-page ad in X-Industry Weekly is worth it.

  • The fact that many lawyers lack a business background, and thus don’t appreciate the important role that marketing plays in business;
  • The fact that marketers use terminology (e.g., “leads,” “ROI,” “MQLs”) that sounds distasteful and offensive to the professional sensibilities of a lawyer; and
  • The fact that law firms under-fund their marketing departments—devoting less than 3% of gross revenue to their marketing budgets, compared to an average of 9% outside the legal profession—which doesn’t get them many results (and, in turn, confirms the pre-existing notion that marketing is a silly endeavor).

We haven’t heard too many people use terms like “MQLs” inside large law firms (and if they did, we can’t say an eye roll wouldn’t be in order), but otherwise, this analysis strikes us as being spot on.

Even more interesting than these points, however, was the post’s recommendation for steps that marketers could take to bridge the divide between themselves and lawyers. It offered two ideas:

  • Blog. Forget press releases and marketing brochures that no one will read, the post says; put your resources into blogs and other content that help your attorneys get discovered online. The blogging recommendation is, well, let’s say unsurprising given that the author is with LexBlog. (Digression: kudos to LexBlog for getting this self-serving post placed on Above the Law without any indication that it is sponsored content.) Regardless, the recommendation is correct. Creating content that can be discovered online—via blogs and other means—should be a significant priority of both lawyers and law firm marketers. And as they have success in the area together, they should have greater respect for each other’s roles.
  • Use data. The post urges marketers to use analytical tools to back up their case for pursuing the strategies they recommend—for instance, why it is a good idea to advertise in “X-Industry Weekly.”

Without [data], you’re left with weak explanations of how a full-page ad in X-Industry Weekly is worth it because it builds brand recognition and puts your firm top-of-mind. It sounds flim-flammy, and it is because you just don’t have anything to back it up. This is the stuff that fuels the “marketeer” maligner’s poison pens.

Not anymore. Tools are available that track the efficacy of everything you do. Marketing automation software allows you to track absolutely everything, including that url at the bottom of your full-page ad in X-Industry Weekly. If that ad drives people to your website, or drives people to your blog, then to your events page, then to your practice areas page—you’ll know it all. So the next time you report on your marketing activities, it’s with charts, graphs, and numbers backing you up.

These are two excellent take-aways, which do in fact offer some hope of increasing respect for marketers within large law firms.

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Hellerman Communications is an award-winning corporate communications agency specializing in positioning professionals to win business. With expertise in strategic marketing & content development, crisis & litigation communications, and social influencer & stakeholder relations, we help the world’s most elite professionals and their firms build and protect their most lucrative relationships.

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