Blog Post

Building a culture of marketing


People often ask us, “Who’s your best type of client?” In the early days of our company, the answer would have been easy: “The ones with the biggest budgets.”

However, in our old age, we’ve learned a few lessons. And chief among those lessons is that firms with a strong culture of marketing are our best clients. They are most appreciative of the websites we create for them (not to mention the advice we provide them).

Why does culture matter?
It matters because a good website requires lots of good content. And without a culture to facilitate the creation of good content, your website will end up feeling like an empty shell – no matter how pretty the design is.

The websites that we’re building today are so much more than online brochures. Today’s websites essentially are publishing platforms for attorney-generated thought-leadership content (like articles, presentations and blogs). Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to consistently create quality content for your website. And it certainly doesn’t happen spontaneously. Successful firms weave content creation into their firm culture.

How do you build a culture of marketing?
I really can’t say. However, I can tell you that I’ve observed common characteristics among firms with a strong and successful culture of marketing. Here are a few:

  • High level buy-in. To build a culture of marketing, a firm’s leadership needs to wholeheartedly endorse marketing. One clear indicator of this is if the CMO or marketing director serves on the executive committee or is otherwise a part of the firm’s leadership.
  • Professional marketing leadership. Legal marketing is a profession that requires years to learn and master. If your marketing director was recently the office manager (or a paralegal), chances are that your firm isn’t really dedicated to building a culture of marketing.
  • Incentives for marketing. It takes time for marketing efforts to yield clients. Thus, in order to nurture a culture of marketing, it’s important that people are incentivized to perform the incremental work of marketing (like writing and speaking). Credits towards billable hours work well.
  • A decent budget. Money certainly isn’t everything. However, firms with a successful culture of marketing are generally willing to spend the money to do it right.

Has your firm built a strong culture of marketing? If so, I’d love to learn how. Please leave a comment.


3 comments... read them below or add one.
  1. Tom Matte says:

    Great post Robert. I would like to add one comment. I have seen some great office managers turn into very capable marketing directors. While I agree with your statement that it’s probably not a good idea to go straight from office manager to marketing director. With some time under their belt and a desire to learn an office manager or paralegal can potentially make a great marketing director. Keep up the great work.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. It all starts with culture. A great culture should inform all strategy. We often see that it all becomes problematic when the firm’s executive craft great strategy, be it in marketing or otherwise, but never gains traction in the wider organisation because of misalignment between strategy and culture. In the case of web design and development for law firms, it often plays out with a charismatic partner who is as keen as mustard about the transformative nature of user-centric design, persuades the other partners, the job is commissioned, then the grunt work of content strategy and generation with the troops becomes problematic and it falls over, or is beaten by mediocrity and the end result falls short of expectations. Start with culture and get it aligned with strategy.

  3. Hi Robert, just by way of update, Dan Toombs from the Law Firm Marketing Podcast is interviewing one of the World’s most acclaimed culture authorities, Steve Simpson on the podcast tomorrow (09/23/11). Steve’s got a great way of exposing culture traits through his distinctive UGR’s (unwritten ground rules) It’s worth a listen at tomorrow and into the future.

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