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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Key Ingredients for Growing Marketing and Business Development

 

By Michael Bond, Blattel Communications

 

On April 19, the Legal Marketing Association - Bay Area Chapter presented “Growing and Mentoring Your Staff.” This program brought together four industry veterans, including: Mark Beese, president of Leadership for Lawyers LLC in Denver; Darrin Emerick, chief personnel officer of Perkins Coie in Seattle; and Kathleen Flynn, chief marketing officer of Sedgwick in San Francisco. The panel was moderated by Scott Kessler, managing director at Major Lindsey & Africa.

The discussion began with a brief look at how law firm marketing departments are changing these days. Flynn, who participates in a local law firm chief marketing officer group, presented some interesting statistics on Bay Area firms based on an informal survey of members:

  • The marketer-to-lawyer ratio is roughly 1/36
  • The average marketer-to-partner ratio is 1/16

The panelists noted that, much like other sectors of the economy, marketers are doing more than ever before in smaller departments. Beese noted that the Great Recession fundamentally shifted the average law firm’s focus to the tune of, “Goodbye marketing. Hello business development.” Emerick added that the key for today’s marketers looking to provide firm value is to actively seek out opportunities to expand one’s skill set.

Many law firm leaders grapple with how to structure a marketing department to produce both optimal results and keep professionals motivated and content. The group concluded in today’s economic environment, it is important to find individuals interested in solving problems and who are eager to take on new responsibilities and learn more about an organization.

Emerick and Flynn differed on the importance of titles. Flynn stressed that titles, in her mind, are important, indicating some level of achievement. Emerick felt that the title itself was inconsequential and that the level of responsibility given to an employee was what really mattered.

Beese presented a few interesting slides on the challenge of managing “millennials,” those born between the mid 70s to the 2000s.

He stressed that millennials like “respect, precise guidelines, constant reviews and feedback.” He mentioned that often these individuals are so-called “Trophy Children,” used to effusive praise, and that many grew up with “Helicopter Parents” who have been heavily involved with their lives – much more so than previous generations. Kessler added that he has even had parents come to job interviews with their children.

The panelists and moderator agreed that marketing and business development professionals are critical to a firm’s success. They believe that creating an environment that recognizes and adapts to the competitive landscape – different now from even five years ago – is critical. It is also of utmost importance to work to build a marketing and business development staff that is motivated and eager
to innovate.

Michael Bond, an account executive at Blattel Communications, is on the LMA-Bay Area Chapter Program Com-mittee and can be reached at michael@blattel.com.

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