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3 Key Takeaways from the LMA NYC Marketing Operations Panel 

On Tuesday, July 16, the Legal Marketing Association’s New York Local Group gathered for a panel presentation on the rise of marketing operations in law firms. I was pleased to moderate the panel, which included:
  • Courtney Eddings, Senior Manager, Marketing and Business Development, Shearman & Sterling
  • Carolyn Manning, Director of Business Development, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
  • Krista Sande-Kerback, Peformance Marketing Operations Leader, IBM
Marketing operations arose more than two decades ago in the technology and consumer goods sectors, and law firms have been slow adopters. But now leading firms are embracing the concept, and the panel of presenters discussed their definitions of marketing operations and provided practical insight into what it looks like in real life. There was a lot packed into the 1.5 hour session, but here were my main takeaways.
          1.   Marketing operations does not equal marketing technology.
Our industry is experiencing a massive surge in marketing technology, as marketing and business development professionals increasingly see the need for data-driven decision making and have the skillset to utilize these tools. As a result, discussions of marketing operations often quickly turn to marketing technology, but it is just one leg of the stool with the others being people and processes. The marketing operations function looks at the department holistically, allowing for critical insights around efficiency and results.
          2.  Law firm CMOs do not believe measuring the performance of their marketing/BD function is a critical issue.
As noted in the 2017 Law Firm Marketing Operations Index produced by Calibrate Legal and Totum, CMOs do not believe they are effective in measuring the performance of their marketing/BD function, which perhaps isn’t all that surprising. I am more startled by the realization many CMOs still do not see this is a critical issue. As we continue to see marketing operations mature in law firms, I expect proving the department’s impact on revenue will become critical.   
          3.  Respect the limits of data.
One audience member asked if there was a risk of being too data focused in a relationship-oriented industry. And in fact, the “agile methodology” Krista introduced us to (an approach to project management that allows for iteration during development) is built on the premise that we should focus more on individuals and interactions than processes and tools. It’s not just the data itself that matters, it’s the findings. Marketing operations works to continually improve marketing data but also to synthesize and analyze it, recognizing it tells but one part of the big picture story.
I look forward to many more discussions of marketing operations in the legal space. How’s your department improving efficiency and results? I’d love to hear from you.

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