At the LMA conference earlier this year, my colleagues and I met hundreds of people from across the globe who were all gathered to learn about what was next in legal services. 

However, one of the most striking things was not what was said, but who was saying it: enter the Marketing Technology Manager. 

As competition increases in the legal sector, with new players (often niche / non-traditional service providers) entering the fray, a savvy way for the incumbents to grow and add more value for customers is the use of technology. Moreover, with most businesses now leveraging a 'stack' of technology, it's important to leave the management of as many as 20 pieces of kit to one expert and the implementation of the benefits of said tech (e.g. a blogging platform, PPC, podcasts & videos etc.) to individual experts. 

I am seeing some of my most successful clients utilising an expert who has a holistic view of the business and can then purchase (but more often, not purchase!) the correct technology. These Marketing technology managers act as an internal 'procurement' for all tech and are the fulcrum around which it must work. They are a symbiosis of technical nouse and business practicality. Crucially, they start to drive the cumulative benefits of utilising the different pieces of kit working together.

I was reminded of this after a conversation last week with a UK client on what makes our other clients so successful: not just processes, but how do they work together in the BD, Mkg, Comms and Tech teams to be more effective. I thought it useful to jot these thoughts down: 

#1. Redefine and reposition 'Marketing': Lucy Murphy (CMO, Freshfields) spoke at The Lawyer Marketing Summit earlier this year around what 'Marketing' meant to the wider firm. They (Freshfields) had conducted a survey and the answers were so wide-ranging and varied that it was clear that it was impossible to define the role. Moreover, if so many people were asking one part of the business to do so many different things - run an event, publish an article, roll out a CRM, etc. - then it's inevitable that somewhere along the line, standards might slip or something would have to give as they were being stretched so thinly. 

One response was to do away with a 'catch-all' term like 'Marketing' and allow for specialisation. That then consisted of doing away with the traditional Marketing manager role and indeed further specialising to allow for roles like Special Operations Managers, Bids Managers, Events specialists etc. to come to the fore. A good example of this was a leading Irish law firm I met last week who have just built a video / recording suite along with hiring a videographer to help them create the content they desire on a regular basis rather than asking a member of staff to cobble something together ad hoc. 

#2. Control how the wider business engages with your team: Lucy suggested having every marketing-based request having to fill out a generic form which would then filter through to the right person who was then a specialist. This means everyone gets a better, more focused outcome and it drives greater value for the customer as well. The result here is that Marketing is no longer the agony aunt for the wider business. They are a target-driven part of the business whose goals are directly tied to overall performance. They only offer help in a structured manner, not fire fighting / responding to late emergencies from the wider team. 

All of the above are, of course, interlinked, but with each firm needing to drive ever-greater value for their customers, I fully expect every Top 100 UK law firm to have a Marketing Technology manager within the next 5 years.