bag-and-handsI love bringing guest voices to Zen to share some wisdom with you, and today, I am fortunate to introduce a legal marketer and friend of mine, Jennifer Simpson Carr. Jenn has led business development and communications efforts at national law firms for nearly ten years.  She has a passion for strategic communications and recently earned a Mini-MBA in Digital Marketing from Rutgers Business School.

I got to know Jenn when she was working with ILN member firm, Davis & Gilbert, in New York, and we’ve stayed in touch as her career and family have taken her all over the country. This is her first foray into blogging, offering an excellent recap of the roundtable session she led during last week’s Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Forum, with some important takeaways on creating a digital strategy across your firm. Let’s give her a warm welcome! 

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I had the pleasure of attending The American Lawyer’s 7th Annual Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Forum last week in New York.  Throughout the two day program, industry leaders covered topics ranging from industry disrupters, to defining value, to communications.  I also had the privilege of leading a roundtable session on, “Creating a Cohesive Digital Strategy Across Your Firm.”  As the use of digital marketing by the legal industry is growing, we decided to discuss fundamental questions around creating and maintaining a successful digital strategy.  (I reminded attendees that when I started working in law firms, the core of our “digital strategy” was SEO and measuring email campaign metrics.)  It has been exciting to watch as the role of digital has evolved within law firms.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAOGAAAAJGQ2ZDVmNjBiLWEyMjYtNGU3Ni04MzBhLTU3MDZmMTk3MjY0ZAWe had a fantastic group of participants who shared challenges, opportunities and war success stories from the trenches.  In the end, I think the best way to ensure digital success in your organization is to go back to the basics.  Here are my thoughts:

  • Document: Your digital strategy is part of your communications strategy.  While the concept of “digital marketing” may feel rather new at some firms, it is, and should be documented as, part of your overall integrated communications plan.  It should seamlessly support your branding and messaging efforts.
  • Measure: Define your KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] and how you plan to measure success.  A multitude of data points are available, so be clear up front on which matter most to your organization, your campaign and achieving your goals.  Then, use the data to adjust and develop a smarter strategy.
  • Train: Resistance to the use of digital, especially social, can be a hurdle.  Provide training.  Explain the target audience and goals for engaging in each of the various platforms, and the benefits for both the firm and individual users. Help users identify which platform(s) are best suited for their practice and to support individual goals.  Provide guidelines, discuss strategy and answer questions.  The more comfortable users feel, the more inclined they will be to participate (and stick with it).
  • Prepare: Plan ahead for questions, comments and (yes) any potential crisis that could arise.  Prepare an anticipated Q&A sheet around campaigns; provide users with pre-written replies that answer questions or link to relevant information.  Jennifer Connelly, CEO of JConnelly, says that you must have a crisis communications plan in place — even if it isn’t perfect, you are one step ahead.  Crisis planning is critical to the preparedness of any communications team.
  • Content: Melissa Croteau, Principal of M Croteau Consulting, says content should be “client focused and value based.”  Focus on your clients’ needs and add value, rather than simply summarizing an issue. Tell readers how the issue impacts their business.  Interactive and visual content, such as infographics, can make the most impact, most quickly.
  • Confidence: Don’t be afraid to explore new strategies and take risks.  Barbara Tannenbaum, Senior Lecturer at Brown University, says that to build confidence, you must first fail and realize that you will get through it.

I am very grateful to the attendees who chose to participate in our roundtable session, share ideas and learn together.