Silvia L. Coulter, principal, LawVision Group LLC, writes about her experience at the West LegalEdcenter 22nd Annual Marketing Partner Forum, including firm marketing trends that may emerge over the coming months:

Each year Thomson Reuters Marketing Partner Forum presents a host of opportunities for attendees. My favorites for 2015 included:

  • Visiting with various sponsors and exhibitors. It’s always good to see those colleagues who provide great resources to the legal community. They have a valuable perspective about the industry and it’s great to share stories and ideas with them.
  • The networking opportunities. It’s great to see old pals and to make new acquaintances. The various networking opportunities this year included two cocktail receptions and breaks in between the sessions long enough to make a connection, grab a refreshment and catch a quick “hello” with someone.
  • The programs. This year’s programming had more partners and in-house counsel than the last few years, along with senior members of the community who represent a unique perspective as business professionals. It’s always helpful to take away a few tidbits that one can implement back at the office.

The 2015 Marketing Partner Forum annual marketing and business development survey of Q4 2014 was also shared, which included a few surprises this year:

  • Firms plan on increasing their sales budgets more than their marketing budgets. My view is that significant marketing projects are complete and investment is going to those specific activities that either support client retention and growth or new business development.
  • 17 percent of firms reported that they have separate and distinct marketing and sales departments. While we see this as a slow-growing trend, we believe we will continue to see gradual separation of these two important functions at firms. Accounting firms, by comparison, generally have separate sales and marketing teams, but this was a gradual separation, as well.
  • Marketing and sales metrics remain a challenge for many firms, particularly measuring ROI on marketing and sales activities. While many firms agree reporting on activities is the closest they come to real metrics, others will say determining metrics remains a challenge.
  • We also would argue that metrics must include partners, which, in turn, means partner accountability. Starting to see the issue? Most firms have yet to hold their partners accountable for their individual marketing and sales needs/requests/activities, and until they do, true metrics will remain elusive.
  • Today’s marketing and business development/sales professionals can’t count on themselves or their respective teams for success. They must build bridges to others in the firm – including IT, Finance and Library/Research – to build strong relationships and support one another to reach the next level of success.

We predict 2015 will bring an even greater focus on sales activities and the further development of important clients. We like to think firms will take their key client team programs and focus on making these strategic clients, supported by initiatives that include the client in the planning process.

Stay tuned for the 2015 Marketing and Business Development survey coming in the fall of 2015. To make sure your firm is included, please email to let him know you wish to participate.

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