Successful CMOs know how to navigate the people and culture of their firm. They know what experience counts and what’s worth caring about. The most successful CMOs have 7 lessons they wish they had known earlier.
What Advice Would You Give Yourself When You Were Just Starting Out?
We asked more than 150 law firm marketing leaders this very question. The messages are pretty compelling:
Don’t take it personally. Everyone questions new ideas. The questioners are not attacking you, they are trying to get their head around your ideas. Their approach may be hard and gruff, and they may not be believers—but it comes with the territory.
Persistence. Don’t give up the ship. People won’t really understand what you are saying until they hear it 7 times. This means the initial resistance and indifference are part of the process. Very few ideas get off the ground without at least 7 clear messaging events to the right audience(s).
Adapt. Learn from all the feedback you get. Rejection, resistance, and lack of enthusiasm all tell you the message or approach you are proposing may not be on target. Change your approach to play to the issues and concerns you hear.
Don’t make the job bigger than you. Don’t care more about the job than the firm cares. There will always be a few law firms who fundamentally don’t respect or care about the marketing and business development function. These law firm marketing leaders advise a new CMO to jump ship and go to a place where marketing and business development is an accepted part of the firm.
Really get to know the attorneys. Attorneys have their priorities and preferences. Marketing leaders recommend taking the time to understand these people and their personalities. You are there to make the firm and the attorneys more successful. Your knowledge of the attorneys’ personas, and how they conduct business, helps you develop your roadmap—and helps you make sure you get to know the partners most likely to make you successful.
Dial down the website. New websites are a visible success—but they take time. And, attorneys have many opinions about the website. In retrospect, these CMOs would have taken on the task, but given it a lower profile and spent more time with leadership talking about business development than web pages.
Do It! Only 2% of law firm marketing leaders tell aspiring CMOs to go elsewhere with their careers. In short, CMOs like being CMOs.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Advice for the new may also apply to the most seasoned CMOs. Let’s all keep learning and getting better. Use these insights as a start.
Any lessons we left out? Let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org