LMA's Your Honor Awards program recognizes excellence in legal marketing. This year, 33 winners emerged across 13 categories. In all, the submissions across the board were both excellent and insightful, providing guidance into the future direction of the legal marketing profession.
Being a YHA judge means getting an opportunity to see great work from marketers across the country. Outlined below are emerging trends we saw, which can help you re-think marketing and communications for your firms.
Website and Marketing Materials Get Personal, Impressive
Overall, we are seeing a nice combination of text and imagery in ways that feel genuine and more personal. Stock photos are out, and real images of locations or associates are in, along with marketing text that sounds more authentic. A dedicated effort to include impressive imagery is in place--replacing postage stamp headshots and pictures of vacant conference rooms with large images that lend a sense of magnitude and gravitas.
In addition, an increased effort to connect with audiences on a local level is apparent in the material being created. Firms are using location imagery synced with geo-targeting technologies to aid this effort.
Programs for Young Associates
The number of programs submitted that involved associate's initiatives was impressive. More than one program included internal education systems to game-a-fide mentorship and business development.
A related trend that the judges observed was the increased involvement of the marketing department in shaping and promoting these internal programs.
Video on the Rise
This year, we observed three ways that law firms are incorporating video into their marketing; (a) short content, (b) long-form accredited video content for things like Continuing Legal Education (CLEs) and (c) video in place of images (videographics), which were often found on website homepages.
Brand Messaging, No Longer an Afterthought
Messaging strategy continues be a priority for the legal industry, and as such marketers continue to bring creative and engaging ideas to the forefront. We are seeing everything from anniversary celebrations to board games. A constant theme is how brand messaging has been extended far beyond simply being a new headline on the firm's homepage. More and more, firms are successfully weaving their brand message into things like holiday gifts, books, retreats, videos and pro bono activities.
Business Development Efforts Increase
Another strong focus for legal marketers is on business development/coaching. We continue to see innovative ways to get attorneys to do client outreach and visits, as well as the implementation of permanent development training programs within law firms.
Are these trends ones that legal marketers should emulate? Undoubtedly, some are fads. But much of what the judges saw reflected an overarching trend of marketing initiatives that were increasingly sophisticated and thoughtful. And that presents some excitement going forward as legal marketers continue to play a more strategic role within their firms.
BEST IN SHOW
Like most law firms, Allen Matkins collects a wealth of data on clients and prospects, yet lacks a clear picture on the patterns and relationships that are being developed based on this data.
For instance, the firm sends more than 330,000 emails annually, comprised of alerts, newsletters and invitations. But how can it ensure that what it is communicating is most effective for its audience?
Enter data visualization: the art of displaying information to enable the viewer to gain insights that would not otherwise be apparent through numerical displays and spreadsheets. Allen Matkins began a process of applying data visualization to address three areas of its business:
* To understand and improve email marketing performance
* To understand and improve the structure of client relationships
* To improve attorney interaction with clients through real-time dashboards
Its goals associated with these areas were to:
* Better understand its business processes
* Better communicate information to others at the firm
* Positively impact business activity behaviors
With data visualization, Allen Matkins saw key email metrics, with evidence for how emails that used best practices received up to 10 times the engagement rates compared to standard emails. It has also improved client relationships by using a single dashboard within its ERM system to evaluate the strength of relationships between clients and firm personnel. And the firm has employed multiple real-time dashboards with data visualizations that have helped spur competition, improve performance and change behavior amongst its attorneys.
When it comes to emails, Allen Matkins can now provide its attorneys with clear, data-based information on the impact of writing good headlines and adhering to the marketing team's "best practices" for writing alerts. Client relationship visualization has become an important tool used by management to understand which attorneys interact with clients regularly through email. It is one of several tools that is used in evaluating attorney performance and identifying key client personnel when looking at client teams and other client service analyses.