David Ackert is the president and CEO of Ackert, Inc, the company behind PipelinePlus.
While business development is a primary revenue driver in most other industries, it has remained an afterthought in law firms – until recently. According to Thomson Reuters’ 2017 Peer Monitor survey, 90% of marketing and BD professionals indicate that improving business development is a top priority for their firms.
Law firms can no longer survive if all they do is practice law. Improving lawyer engagement in business development is imperative to remaining competitive. Monitoring industry trends is one way to identify opportunities to drive growth. With that in mind, here are four business development predictions for 2017.
Intelligent content is on the rise
Law firms are, surprisingly, some of the most rapid adopters of content marketing. They’ve invested in robust tools and strategies, hired the right people, and focused on relevant content.
Content marketing will continue to proliferate across the legal industry, but the most innovative firms will begin to shift their attention to intelligent content.
According to Ann Rockley, “Intelligent content is content that is “structurally rich and semantically categorized and therefore automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable.”
Law firms with diversity in services, audiences, and languages are best poised to to benefit from intelligent content. Why? Those who produce diverse content in an already complex content marketing landscape will reap immense benefits.
Lawyers will continue to flock to LinkedIn
An increasing number of law firms are emphasizing social media as a business development tool.
Lawyers are using LinkedIn to demonstrate thought leadership and highlight their expertise, which is likely an effective use of their time. According to the ABA, 78% of business decision makers review a lawyer’s LinkedIn profile prior to engaging them.
Lawyers will continue to flock to this channel to market their expertise and drive growth.
Marketing and business development will align
Marketing sets the stage for business development, and most firms recognize that they are different functions requiring different skill sets. Yet, law firms can benefit by aligning the two more closely.
Recent research by LexisNexis shows that more law firms will start acknowledging this in 2017. Instead of duplicating work, they will communicate and collaborate. They will invest in technology that spans both functions, like CRM and marketing automation software. They will also invest in thought leadership, a marketing activity that often directly results in business development results.
CRM for law firms will change
According to the Financial Times, “Firms are recognizing that failure to invest in technology will hinder the ability to compete in today’s legal market.” Also, there is a need for greater efficiency to keep up with increasing workloads. Technologies continue to be key for marketing and growth initiatives.
Though most law firms have adopted CRM systems, lawyer utilization rates are extremely low due to cumbersome platforms that don’t meet the needs of time-strapped lawyers. In 2017, we will continue to see new entrants into this category, as well as increased support from marketing and business development professionals to promote accountability and lawyer engagement in technology use.
Practice Pipeline is one such system. It’s a simple pipeline management tool that helps lawyers keep their relationships top-of-mind without taking up too much of their time. With a 75% adoption rate, Practice Pipeline is designed with the busy lawyer in mind.
For more information on driving business development and how to create a strategy that works in law firms, download our guide.