Have you ever wanted to pick the brain of a trailblazer? A true thought leader, who during their career saw opportunities inside challenges and ran with them all the way to success? Can you imagine the perspective and tips you would receive? Well, that is exactly what we did in this episode of Foresights & Friends with Jennifer Manton.
As Kramer Levin’s CMO, Jennifer is responsible for the firm’s marketing and business development initiatives. We spoke with Jennifer as she recounts her career and how the legal marketing industry and role has changed over the years. She offers us a lens into the pioneering opportunities she saw and how she got involved in the Legal Marketing Association.
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Alternatively, you can continue reading for some highlights of our conversation with Jennifer Manton.
Opportunities in challenges
Jennifer started in legal marketing back in 1995 after a term in the accounting marketing sector. She was attracted to the opportunity and the challenge that legal marketing offered because it was all “just starting.” Law firms were in the beginning stages of deciding “whether or not they needed a website.”
Back then, accounting marketing was much more advanced than legal marketing. Equal emphasis was placed on marketing and sales and regular practices such as client feedback interviews were part of the norm. But after transitioning to the legal world, Jennifer was surprised to find herself introducing these marketing and communication methods to law firms.
It was in these moments, she saw the chance to “be the first, to be the trailblazer,” and develop and implement new ideas and programs in this space.
Marketing’s seat at the table
The legal marketing profession has greatly evolved inside law firms over the span of Jennifer’s career. Not only has marketing and communication efforts grown due to the digital transformation, but she has also witnessed the sophistication from the business development and sales side. In addition, talent within the industry has increased and marketing departments have expanded — adding industry and functional experts.
When asked about what marks the growth of marketing and BD roles, Jennifer told us that you don’t have to look any further than “the tenure of the CMO or the CBDO.” Tenures of Am Law 100 CMOs and CBDOs have grown from abysmal averages of around 2.9 years not so long ago to six years now.
These days, marketing is seen as an integral part of a law firm’s operations — in terms of their impact on revenue generation and the bottom line. Law firms understand the importance of investing in their brand in order to bring in new client matters and new business. But one of the things Jennifer advocates more of is to have CMOs and CBDOs be more involved in firm strategy or strategic planning. Marketing can bring their resources and experience to those conversations and help define the firm’s strategic objectives.
Other than that, it is clear the influence of CMOs and CBDOs have expanded. Jennifer backs up this claim with how pricing comes down to them. Also, new roles such as Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, and Chief Value Officer were created and most of the people who fill these positions have come from marketing and BD.
The power of marketing has progressed the opportunities to deliver value and make an impact within their firms.
Rise of content and technology inside firms
At Kramer Levin, Jennifer uses content as a tool in marketing. Her team curates information for their clients and presents it in a format that is practical. It aims to inform their clients that they understand their business and industry. It also helps them brand practices or specific individuals within their firm as thought leaders.
With the help of technology, which is widely adopted at the firm, they are able to grant access to information quickly and leverage it to their advantage.
Legal Marketing Association pioneer
Jennifer has been the national chair of the Legal Marketing Association and involved in starting several regional chapters in the past. For her, the organization has been a critical part of her success since the beginning.
As a first-ever marketing manager, she needed guidance and resources. She found that when she joined LMA, she could tap into an “unbelievably generous” community who would provide answers to questions she had. Members helped each other because they were in a “really unique situation” of navigating pioneering roles in the legal sector and new technologies that would soon change how we all work.
Peer help and mentoring weren’t the only things Jennifer gained from being involved in LMA. She recommends that young marketers get involved in professional associations because they can acquire real leadership skills. The opportunities to volunteer and eventually lead “gives you a whole set of skills that you wouldn’t have the ability to obtain otherwise.” These skills could then transfer over to your day-to-day job.
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