Defining Legal 1-to-1

My first awakening to the term 1-to-1 came from the Peppers & Rogers book, Enterprise Marketing 1-to-1. They examine multiple case studies and examples where companies leveraged their database knowledge and power to customize messages targeted to a market of one. The key is to collect data relevant to your market and product or services, and the use that data to craft your offering for the relevant segments, each with a unique message that resonates to their needs and desires.

In truth, you are not creating thousands of unique messages. Rather you are leveraging database technology to merge your data to make it appear that the target is receiving a unique message. For example, if you make widgets and you have collected prospect’s data on their widget preferences, you use that data to drive your offer.

Widget Data
















Your letter with merge fields could look like this:
     “<NAME>, today you can own your own <SIZE> inch <COLOR> Widget for use at <USE>.”

Customer one would receive:
     “Bill, today you can own your own 1 inch red Widget for use at home.”

And customer two:
     “Fred, today you can own your own 2 inch blue Widget for use at work.”

This is the basic database marketing strategy direct marketers have been employing for over ten years. You see it every day in the offers you receive in the mail, email, and custom magazine inserts. Package goods manufacturers have this strategy down cold. They conduct research to identify their market and what drives their purchase decisions, then they collect the relevant data, and finally they the data to craft their offers. Using the data is the key to 1-to-1 marketing.  But marketing legal services is different than selling soap so it’s more difficult to develop a 1-to-1 strategy.

I have noticed two very important characteristics in law firms and many other service industries that set them apart from most other markets.

1. The attorneys are both the product and the sales force.
2. A strong sense of entrepreneurship

Attorney Sales Force
Although many attorneys may cringe as being classified as being in sales it’s a simple truth. You can dress it up under the euphemism “business development” but it still is sales. The attorney needs to listen to the client or prospects needs, identify where he or she can address those needs, present the benefits of their service to the decision maker, and then close the deal.  So if you view sales as part of the attorney’s job description, then the firm needs to employ a marketing strategy that allows the marketing staff and its resources, including the CRM database, to integrate within the sales pipeline in support of the attorney’s efforts to bring the sale home.

In this environment you are not going to be sending out form letters merging in widget colors. But your database still needs to collect and present relevant data in support of the personal selling process. Legal CRM products provide the foundation of this support.

A Firm with a Thousand Solo Practitioners
Attorneys have a strong sense of individualism. Even in a firm with hundreds or thousands of attorneys, each one still views their contacts as their own book of business. Their contacts are their life blood, their assets, their future. Technically, the contacts are assets of the firm, but I’m not going to enter into a debate on that issue. What is relevant and important to this discussion is the attorney’s reluctance to lose control of their contacts for fear of being raided or of another attorney’s incompetence soiling the relationship they have work to develop and nurture. I believe the key to solving this delemma is the word “relationship.” If an attorney does have a strong relationship with their contacts, the risk of being raided is lessened. Sure it will still happen. And raiding will happen even if the contacts are not in the CRM as most of the information a raider needs is readily available online.  Legal CRM is a vital tool to provide attorneys a competative advantage over their counterpart who rely solely on their memory. 

Managing the Relationship via CRM Software
The key to 1-to-1 marketing with entrepreneurial attorneys is to teach them how to use the CRM as a tool to help manage their relationships. The first step is to get in the habit of collecting critical data relevant to the relationship and keep a journal of key communications (touchpoints). CRM software allows attorneys track this critical information and journalizing activities. Finally, the attorney recalls the information either in advance preparation for a call, meeting or email, or as a way to identify which contacts to reach out to that may have a need in response to a current event, ruling, etc.

Collect, Store & Use Relationship Data

Collect, Store & Use Relationship Data

Collecting Data & Journalizing Activities
You want to record bits of information that will help you establish and maintain a rapport with the contact; where you first met, spouse name, favorite restaurant, skills, areas of responsibility, etc. Some may be able to do this in their head for their critical contacts but it becomes impossible to do it with all of your contacts. I have seen attorney’s whose contacts number in the thousands. If you take good notes you can easily reconnect with old contacts whose fate brings them back across your pass.

Likewise, logging a contact’s critical activity provides insight to the progression of the relationship. It’s a record of all of the critical touchpoints between you and the contact so you have a historical record of the relationship. Emails you’ve sent or received, phone calls, meetings, lunches, and letters are logged with pertinent comments or notes. Over time you will have a journal you can call upon at a moments notice to refresh your memory on any discussion or corrispondence.

Storing in a CRM
Attorneys are very good at keeping track of those key contacts they deal with day in and day out. But you cannot remember everything for everyone when the you get beyond the first tier of contacts. I have seen attorneys with 2,000-3,000 contacts. Truthfully, most of these are not business development prospects. But the point is that all attorneys have a large number of contacts that reach out to periodically. Keeping pertinent data in your CRM is critical for managing these contacts that may move up to become key contacts at some point.

In a team environment where multiple attorneys are either involved with a pitch, or in a client situation where multiple timekeepers have interaction with multiple client personnel, tracking and journalizing helps ensure the team is on the same page. A CRM tool is more effecting than broadcast emails, a common practice used by attorneys to carbon copy team memmebrs, as it keeps a permanent record available on demand by any team member even those who were not with the firm at the time the corrispondence or incident. Emails tend to get forgotten and lost. The CRM data has permanence.  And the CRM data will also incorporate marketing’s touchpoints: newsletters, alerts, invitations and RFPs. So you have access to a more complete relationship picture that includes all communications, not just your own. Of course this is dependent on everyone on the team participating. A system is only as good as it’s weakest link.

Using the Data
So let’s tie the concept of a law firm CRM to direct marketing 1-to-1 scenario. Instead of a merging of preference data into a widget offer, the attorney “merges” the CRM data in preparation of a meeting or a call. This is the “use the data” part of Legal 1-to-1 that drives the sale process, the attorney as a salesman. You pull up the record in your CRM software and review your notes and your most recent communications, look to see if anyone else has been in contact and why, and find out what recent marketing communications have been sent and/or requested. The attorney “merges” the data into their communication strategy to make the touchpoint more relevant and therefore more valuable to the receiver.

The other use of the data is to use it to target specific contacts for services as market conditions or the political landscape create opportunities. This data is different than recording spouse and children’s names. It requires a deeper understanding of the contacts needs and role in their organization. The firm’s marketing department can be instrumental to help identify and track this information. I’ll discuss this in a future posting.

The bottom line is that using a CRM software allows you to track and monitor critical data that helps you create and maintain a business relation with your contacts. It becomes a 1-to-1 relationship when that data is relevant to your target markets needs. But only becomes truly valuable if it’s used as part of your relationship strategy.

So in order to get started an attorney needs to answer three questions:

“What information do I need to track?”
“How do I track or record this information?”
“How do I use stored data to establish a 1-to-1 relationship with all of my contacts?’

These will be the topics of my next series of posts

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: