Por y para profesionales del Derecho

Portal jurídico de Aranzadi, por y para profesionales del Derecho

31/05/2023. 22:36:58


Por y para profesionales del Derecho

Entrevista a Gerry Riskin, Cofundador y Partner de Edge International.

“Differentiating is becoming more and more important”(II)

Legal Today

Gerry Riskin, empezó su carrera como abogado en el despacho Emery Jamieson y después pasó a ser Managing Partner de Snyder & Company. Su experiencia en estas firmas fue decisiva cuando dio el salto a la asesoría. Sus conocimientos profesionales y una reconocida habilidad para enseñar las técnicas más exitosas para atraer clientes lo han consolidado como uno de los rainmaker´s más importantes de Norte América.

El Marketing es una de las disciplinas que enfrentan una mayor dificultad para pasar de los enunciados a la vida real. Es difícil encontrar verdaderos consejos que provengan de la experiencia y el conocimiento, pasos que trasciendan la óptica del derecho propiamente dicho y nos permitan entender la relación entre el mercado y los profesionales. Hoy contamos con algunas reveladoras ideas de uno de los profesionales más eminentes del Legal Marketing a nivel internacional.

“Differentiating is becoming more and more important”(II)

One change that I'm keeping my eye on is the speed at which clients and prospective clients can get detailed information about providers that may not be in a form that the provider was trying to provide. Let me be specific. The provider creates a brochure or a website and thinks that the client or prospective client is going to pick up the brochure and read it and be overwhelmed by the prose, and is going to go to the website and be overwhelmed by the sophistication and follow it all the way through and look at the site map and not be able to sit down for a moment. That is not how the consumer of professional services is viewing things at all. They now have the capability of doing random access searches which give them data on professionals that span firms. For example, let's say a railway wants a professional to serve them. That railway now can say, "I want a search of professionals who have a range of certain capabilities but I want in particular to know those who in their resumes have railway experience." They've either worked for a railway, fought a railway case, have audited a railway, or whatever. Now, you might say that's a pretty narrow search but if you think of the way the web works you might come up with dozens of professionals with criteria of that nature. Now that wasn't in the thinking of any of the service providers when they put the data in their resumes. My point is that I think the sophistication of the consumer to acquire information about providers will outpace the sophistication of the provider to provide information. As a result, I think that professional firms would be quite wise to think about the way information is accessed from the web, or directories, and to begin to plan the nature of the content so it will be captured by various types of searches.


What do you think are the major obstacles to the success of marketing directors?

The most significant obstacle to the success of a marketing director is the very different mindset and processes that they experience as opposed to the professionals they serve. The relationship can nearly be toxic out of the gates. Before the marketing person has expressed a single idea or attempted to serve the relationship could be in trouble. I went through an analysis of this; I'll try to give you the quick bottom line. If you want to know whether someone is a lawyer there's a very simple answer to that question. It's yes or no. And most lawyers will tell you the exact criteria you need to apply to answer that question, for example, a certificate that allows them to practice. Let's call that the generic criteria. The second question is a lawyer likely to be educated? Oh, yes, we can pretty well bet today that a lawyer has a law degree and probably has an undergraduate degree before it. How does a lawyer create a document, for example, draft a contract? Well, a lawyer looks backwards at contracts that have been done before. Why? Is it because these are regressive people? No. It's because their job is to create an agreement that will have a predictable outcome if tested in a court. Now, follow that for a moment. A lawyer is someone who is very definite about who they are, at least from one dimension, and number two, are very conservative careful approach to avoid risk and gain predictability.

Now, take the marketing professional. What is a marketing professional? Well, in some firms it can be the most sophisticated, capable, educated, experienced person you can imagine. In another firm it can be a secretary who showed some promise and was asked to help with the firm brochure when there weren't sufficient resources. The position itself doesn't tell us enough to know what we're dealing with. Then, number two, how would a good marketing professional create a document? What they would do is realize that the world is dynamic, it is continually changing, people are continually bombarded by certain kinds of information packaged in certain ways and so their mission is to break out of the mold enough to capture the attention of the intended market. They know the only way to do that is to experiment because they know the whole game of marketing is testing and measuring and finding out what's working and what isn't, and doing more of what's working.

Now take those two people and put them in the same room. The lawyer wants to see the marketing plan so the marketing professional describes the plan. The lawyer wants to know the authority for that, "Who's done it before?" "How do we know it has worked?" The marketing professional says, "We don't, we're trying it." Well, if you want an analogy you can think of a young lawyer who goes to a senior lawyer who asks, "How did you draft this agreement?" "Oh, I just had this dream last night that it would be neat to draft an agreement in a particular way." Then, we ask this kid if the agreement would be sustained if tested in a court. He says, "I'm not sure, we won't know until we try it." Well, the firm is going to fire that lawyer.

The successful marketing professional has to learn to facilitate the process. Professionals are normally control freaks and normally very capable of acquiring vast amounts of information very quickly so they want to have all the information and make their own decision. The successful marketing professionals are those who provide information, insights, give good alternatives, so when they choose from the menu it's a win-win selection. Also, respectfully, a lot of marketing professionals put themselves right behind the eight ball because they fall into the trap of recommending, "I recommend you do 'A'." The first thing a good professional is going to do is tear that apart. That's how they think. "Why shouldn't we do 'B'?"

If the marketing director was to give them two or three alternatives that are all equally good and the professionals made the decision, then they've got buy in because the professionals made the decision.

Yes, but even in additional to that, perhaps facilitating. For example, you have several alternatives. They are all fraught with risk because none of them will necessarily work. Here's the thinking behind the experiment. Here's the reasoning why this might work. You need to decide whether you want to take a risk. Maybe even facilitate what the gains would be if this idea worked. In other words, we could do a traditional brochure and the risk is low. But, what's the upside? We could attempt to provide services over the Internet. The risk may be higher but the rewards could be astronomical.


Can a marketing director be a leader in a firm and be held in equal esteem to the partner group?

My speculation is this. You and I both know that some firms are well managed and some are not managed at all. I don't think an excellent marketing professional has a chance in an unmanaged firm only because they're too afraid of the inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies of every single individual. They can convince and gain the unqualified support of a good managing partner but if the managing partner doesn't have influence in the firm then they'll be eaten alive.

Let's say a firm is well managed and organized. Then, my speculation is that the marketing professional can have an enormous impact, especially as firms get larger. I think that successes can become visible and a good marketing professional does what any good service provider of anything does and that is reminds the people whom they are serving of the successes and the accomplishments.


What are the three greatest contributions a marketing director can make in a firm?

Number one would be real advice. In other words, information based on experience and knowledge that is really outside the scope of what most professionals within the firm would otherwise be aware of. Two, would be interpersonal skills, the ability to help the firm leaders sell good ideas among the rest of the firm. Three, would be the ability to execute. Marketing ideas are the toughest things in the world to breathe life into so even when there's agreement executing well is yet another talent.

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