By Dr. Ben Gilad, ACI Faculty
We just completed a two day rigorous CI certificate to marketers in the legal profession, a joint effort with the Legal Marketing Association, the authority in the field. We granted LMA-CIC designation to those who passed the qualifying assessment.
The rise of CI (and marketing) in the legal profession is not surprising. It follows law firm partners’ realization that consolidation in their industries makes life harder for the thousands of smaller firms, and makes the large firms all look alike (one-stop-shop). So, it’s time to bring in marketers.
The caveat is that marketing, as a discipline, began with consumer products. When mass production and economies of distribution brought these products within reach of millions, broadly conveyed differentiation became a necessity and brands and marketers flourished. Sales people’s individual selling skills became less important as retailers and consumers demanded the products. Market research reigns in consumer markets.
Why are marketers “step children” in Law Firms?
Alas, in relationship-based industries, where the product or service is not mass marketed, marketers struggle as sales people reign. In legal firms, senior lawyers and partners are de facto senior sales people. They are the rain makers. Their sales are based on developing and cultivating personal relationships with decision makers, and tailoring solutions. They regard marketers as brochure writers and data gatherers from the internet. Marketers are therefore “step children”. It is the partners who know the client’s ins and outs.
CI in many law firms is barely more sophisticated than algorithmic search. Sooner or later law firms may decide that this can be relegated to back office operation and outsource to Hyderabad.
Where marketers and CI can add the greatest value
That’s where we step in. The low status of marketing and CI is an opportunity. In relationship-based industries, where services are almost impossible to differentiate based on marketing alone, marketers must
- Develop deep expertise of their firm’s own positioning. That’s where differences in activities – not differentiation – play a huge role.
- Develop a true understanding of customers’ problems stemming from changes in their industries’ structures. The partners will continue to have unparalleled knowledge of the clients’ inner working, and marketers will never have similar access. Lawyers, however, don’t have the training to understand the big picture (clients’ industry analysis). Actually, their training is the antithesis to big picture- the devil’s for them is in the details. For us, the devil is in too many details.. That’s where marketers can create value with relatively little effort (industry structural analysis doesn’t require a lot of data or time).
Lawyers, however, don’t have the training to understand the big picture (clients’ industry analysis). Actually, their training is the antithesis to big picture- the devil’s for them is in the details. For us, the devil is in too many details…
LMA and ACI to the rescue
LMA comes to CI means CI is coming to law firms. Not information, algorithm, junk collection, “trade craft” voodoo. Instead,
- Competition analysis
- Clients’ industry structural analysis
- Strategic implications to the firm’s positioning
- Risk and opportunity early identification
Gravitas, influence, career path; Marketing (and its competition understanding) as a true partner to the sales people.
LMA and ACI together will change the industry. Mark my word.
And we don’t even bill by the hour…