Businesses of all kinds have historically had a difficult time reconciling the respective roles of those in the marketing and in the accounting/financial departments. It has always been understood that marketing should "pay out." Yet those who performed that function had difficulty articulating how each element of their program contributed (for better or worse) to the company's bottom line.
Now however, that “fuzziness” of respective roles has carried over into the IT department as well. Marketers of all kinds (and legal marketers in particular) might well ask where marketing begins and ends. More often than not, in today’s information driven society, it begins and ends at the desk of the firm’s technical guru.
For proof, one need look no further than the importance CRM software plays in the business development process. If attorneys (particularly at larger firms) had to procure, understand, implement, train and then utilize such applications on their own, it is doubtful this technological advance would be as widespread as it is today. Same holds true for the marketing guys who may well understand how to develop a message, place an ad, disseminate a press release or even create a pay-per-click campaign, but who at the same time, would have difficulty recognizing the compatibility of one legal application with another.
So much of legal marketing today revolves around online activities. Yet it is the IT folks who understand the benefits (and limitations) of the various social media outlets, the changing algorithms involved in search engine optimization, the capabilities of online dissemination services, and the potential of the firm’s web site to convey everything the firm wishes to convey.
The law firm that places too great a distinction between marketing and information technologies runs the very real risk of inefficiency, but even more important, is almost certain to miss out on opportunity. A much wiser approach is to promote the full integration of the IT folks into the marketing decision making process.
By doing so, law firms are almost certain to discover ways in which to efficiently stand out from competitors through both substance and style. And even in the information age, “standing out” is still what marketing is all about.