When marketing first inched its way into the legal industry, the mere announcement of capabilities seemed to serve a firm’s needs.

As competition increased, the function evolved to include advertising, public relations, the new media, and the support and tools associated with a business development capability.

As we deal with what seems to be constant, not to mention unprecedented change in the industry, where do Marketing and Business Development fit? What is the role of its leadership?

Here are 5 Ideas offered as fodder for the discussion.

1. Marketing has two roles within the law firm. Everything we do, and each investment made should be tested against these two areas:

  • To protect and enhance the value and integrity of the firm’s brand; and
  • To instigate, facilitate and support strategic business development.

2. The services of a marketing department can be plotted in a pyramid:

  • At its baseare the products and services that provide a foundation, and must be available to every professional in the firm. These include (but are not limited to):
    • state-of-the-industry web site
    • up-to-date profiles for professionals
    • descriptions of services
    • collateral marketing materials
    • a presentation and RFP capability
  • At the top of the pyramid are activities associated with highly targeted business development pitch and pursuit opportunities. These include (but are not limited to):
    • target identification
    • strategic architecture
    • business development coaching

Between the foundation and the top of the pyramid fall scores of activities typically overseen by marketing leadership within the firm. As the pyramid narrows, the activities become more focused, strategic and typically provide a more measurable and higher return on investment.

Highly productive organizations find innovative ways to put a strong foundation in place, and leverage and align this foundation with a strategy that invests heavily near the peak of the pyramid — resulting in solid and sustainable growth.

3. Consistent with the two roles / areas of responsibility, every product or service delivered by the marketing / business development team must stand the market’s test of excellence. Mediocrity reflects on the brand, diminishes return, and should be viewed as unacceptable.

4. In great firms, everyone markets in one way or another. The essential roles of technology, finance and human resources demand that the marketing team tear down silos, resist turf wars, and leverage every asset. Marketing leadership must embrace and facilitate collaboration with every discipline within the firm, providing support, energy and leadership by example.

5. In terms of organizational “personality”, the Marketing organization is bridge-builder, educator, strategic architect, coach and administrative assistant. Success in each of these roles requires accomplished and authentic listening rooted in an understanding that relationship trumps everything. This is what we advocate among the professionals with whom we work; and this is what characterizes the successful Marketing / Business Development team. We listen first.

Five ideas. Please join the discussion with your thoughts and additions.