The first "marketing and math" presentation I gave was for the now-defunct Marketing Directors' Institute conference 15 or so years ago. It was, looking back on it, rudimentary - but it was a start. I told the law firm marketing audience to care about client and matter profitability, realization and billing rates, staffing ratios on particular types of matters, alternative fee arrangement scenarios (yes, even then), RPL, PPP, PPEP, and more.
Thank heavens, law firm marketing and business development has evolved to high levels of strategy, analysis and sophistication. But, as this Marketoon from clever business illustrator Tom Fishburne illustrates, there is still a struggle. For some, data is akin to Brussel sprouts (wonderful!) and for others, data is akin to Brussel sprouts (horrifying!).
Fishburne describes the conundrum as tension that exists between marketing and math. I think it's more black and white than that. Some days marketers love data and other days they hate it. Occasionally data works in our favor (i.e., supports our point of view - see "acceptance" in the illustration above), and sometimes it works completely against us - (see "anger" above).
"Big Data" is getting bigger. According to research firm IDC, big data services and technologies will grow at a compounded rate of 27%, exceeding $32 billion by 2017. The greatest challenge is knowing what to do with it: How can we learn from it, affect change with it, make progress and grow revenue?
Because Big Data is intimidating and can be paralyzing, I like “Lean Data” better – it makes more sense for law firms.
The Guardian says: “The dirty secret of big data is that no algorithm can tell you what’s significant, or what it means. Data then becomes another problem for you to solve. A lean data approach suggests starting with questions relevant to your business and finding ways to answer them through data, rather than sifting through countless data sets.
Here are a few Lean Data opportunities for law firms:
- Google Analytics and other tracking of your website assets
- SEO statistics – how are you doing? Be specific in your improvement goals
- Experience databases filled with intelligence about expertise, clients, lawyer qualifications
- Litigation and corporate databases that reveal who else is representing your clients and for what (then do something about it)
- Client loyalty interviews - who else are these clients hiring and for what?
- Financial data about your top 50 clients, then next 200 clients
- Process improvement analyses – where can you streamline, save time and get better results?
This is just a start and the tools are readily available to most firms. The key is to start - Roll up your sleeves and say, "I'm going to love me some Brussel sprouts today."