I recently had the opportunity to attend the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) Annual Conference on behalf of client One North Interactive, a digital marketing and technology agency that has historically worked with some of the world’s largest and most prominent law firms.
Maybe it was due to the event backdrop, which was set on the glorious San Diego Bay, or maybe it was the stellar lineup of keynote speakers and session leaders (including One North!), but more than 1,300 legal marketers attended the trade show, setting a record for the international conference.
Although this event was specific to the legal industry, many of the insights and conversations shared apply to all business marketers and professional services organizations. Here are a handful of the ones I noted during my time there.
Relationships don’t build themselves
Even though building and maintaining business relationships is a main objective for most trade show exhibitors, many times that goal translates to an intense game of attendee badge scanning where success is measured by how many email addresses are added to your Salesforce database at the event’s conclusion.
The LMA event couldn’t have been more different—of course lead generation is important but there was clearly more emphasis on connecting with former clients to maintain a strong relationship, in addition to striking up meaningful conversations with new prospects. For most vendors, the leads coming out of this show were likely the result of a personal referral from a happy customer based on long-standing relationships that have been built over time.
Be more human
This was the closing statement from conference keynote speaker Daniel Pink, author of “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving
Others.” To most people, the word “sales” has a negative connotation even though the sales process has changed dramatically.
The digital world has transformed “buyer beware” to “seller beware:” Consumers now have 24/7 access to company and product information, which has impacted the traditional sales and marketing funnel because they are armed with knowledge before they even approach you. Dan’s session dived into how sales/marketing pros should focus less on how to convince or sway buyers, but instead focus on how to make their choices easier.
Let’s get digital
“What does ‘brand’ really mean?” Kalev Peekna, One North Interactive’s managing director of Strategy asked the audience during his LMA session with cohort Nate Denton. Not surprisingly, it was hard for attendees to explain. Their session focused on Creating Natively Digital Brand Experiences, which emphasized that branding is more than just logos, fonts and taglines—it’s the complete digital experience you create for your clients and customers. Brands and marketers need to think digital first when planning for strategy and execution.
The times they are a changin’ for business marketers, but a well-planned digital strategy coupled with strong relationships will help ensure a firm’s success.