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The Mad Clientist

The Most Underrated Trends in Legal Marketing

By May 24, 2017April 16th, 2020No Comments

The best opportunity for growth lies in getting more business with existing clients. The typical law firm can triple the amount of business they get from a single top client. Yet, this is the least appreciated approach to the market.

Client Development Is Used So Little and Offers So Much

The single biggest underrated trend in legal marketing today is client development—by a factor of more than 2. This dovetails with the large number of CMOs who see broad market outreach as overrated and who want to be more focused in their approach. Client development includes the following key tactics:

  • Systematic objective client feedback
  • Client teams and team activities backed by a budget
  • Developing client-specific CLEs and tools
  • Training clients in key issues
  • Training the client team in client preferences and business issues
  • In-person client visits

These may be viewed as underrated because the best-performing firms (from a revenue and profits standpoint) are using these tactics with great success. But, they are generally flying under the radar at most firms. You can start your client development initiative by finding the partners who believe—every firm has them—and build on your success.

Social Media—Love It or Hate It

Social media is the most polarizing of the trends. 13.1% of CMOs see social media as an underrated trend versus 21% who see it as overrated.

Wondering who is right? Start following the attorneys who blog, tweet, or post videos on a regular and systematic basis—at least weekly. Then watch for those attorneys who are thematic and have a story to tell. If the social media outreach continues over time, then you can be sure some kind of high-quality lead flow is behind it. Social media is too much work for no results.

Many legal marketers (and attorneys) have high expectations for their social media outreach—with more than one CMO expecting overnight success. The instant nature of social media defies the amount of time and effort success actually demands. Those who say social media is underrated have built the infrastructure to support the social media efforts and developed the ecosystem to bring in big-time results—including new clients they didn’t expect to get.

Ultimately, we think a small number of law firms and attorneys will get big results from social media. These social media winners will carve out a differentiated brand, a following, and the most attractive clients—because the best clients make it their business to know who the legal thought leaders are—and want to do business with them.

Where the Most Underrated Trend Is Internally Focused

22% of law firm marketing leaders believe bringing work process redesign to their departments is bringing vastly unrecognized rewards. CMOs have too much work and too many deadlines. With processes in place they are able to unlock new levels of productivity. This, in turn, makes their work life happier and they’re able to find more time to devote to higher-level activities. They are using the time to help practices with their strategies and other client-facing initiatives.

These internal work processes include embracing proposal automation, content management (especially for rankings and directories), embedding experience databases in proposal development tools, and more. Not every firm is willing to invest, but the investors can feel the boost.

Is the Sun Setting on Broad Market Outreach?

CMOs don’t want to rely on broad market outreach as their driving force. They clearly want to focus on clients—and specific clients. This includes strategic account programs, client teams, and industry teams. These tactics include strategic prospecting and much more strategic use of content than is in the market today. And finally, it is hard to see success without social media playing a role.

BTI has been helping firms inside and outside of law develop and implement client-centric programs for 27 years. I welcome the opportunity to help you move the over/under to a winning bet. You can reach me directly at to discuss options for your firm. 


*This research is based on interviews with more than 180 law firm marketing leaders conducted over the last 12 months.

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