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The Legal Marketing Annual Conference 2014 was held over two days in Florida at the end of last week and covered a range of topics and issues faced by legal firms when marketing their business. If you missed out on coverage – or want a whirlwind tour of the highlights, here’s the first in our two-part blog post on the event:

During the first day of the conference, President of Cinnabon , Kat Cole , discussed the important role that partnerships can play in building and maintaining a brand’s reputation. Attendees to Cole’s talk were treated with a bottle of Cinnabon Cinnamon flavoured vodka on every table (now you wish you’d gone along!)

Kat Cole encouraged guests to evaluate and understand their business – where it came from and what it stands for, so that they are able to make strategic partnerships to expand their business and brand. Cole believes that the ‘new normal’ is being able to lead, innovate and change constantly.

Randall Craig, President of 108 ideaspace tackled the vital role that social media has in creating the identity of a law firm. During his talk Craig argued that social media could be more beneficial in the creation of a brand than a business’s website.  The use of social media builds trust in a business through engaging with its customers, the motto ‘don’t set it and forget it’ was used to emphasise the importance of actively communicating with your audience online, in a culture with  a 24/7 mentality law firms need to be proactive when using social media as a customer service tool.

SEO tools were another discussion point and Randall Craig evaluated the pros of using blogging to establish thought-leadership and Google+ to improve SEO. Interestingly, Craig calls Google+ a ‘ghost town’, an opinion shared by many marketers at the event, but argues that it is still valuable to a social media strategy.

Craig also advocated the use of personas as a way of developing a marketing strategy, allowing marketing teams to deliver targeted marketing campaigns.

Discussions also took place surrounding emotional intelligence and how understanding each generation can aid marketers in creating effective communications. Gina Rubel , CEO of Furia and Rubel Communication, hosted a discussion in which she urged marketers to consider the outside influences that have shaped each generation. For example, traditionalists will view digital and social media in a different way to the millennial generation, who are accustomed to using Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Only by understanding and embracing these differences can marketers produce effective communication strategies.

Generational differences was actually a huge talking point for many in attendance at LMA14, particularly the challenges faced when trying to get more established law firms to adopt social and digital marketing as they become more deeply integrated and less of a novelty.

Many law firms are collecting and receiving large amounts of data but the majority are not using this information to its full advantage. Key figures such as Steven Bell, chief marketing and sales officer for Womble Carlyle Sandridge and Rice suggests law firms should be using the collected data and predictive analytics to predict future events, so they are able to prepare and position themselves in advance.

The first day of the LMA14 conference had a focus on generational differences between lawyers and the need for an open minded approach when considering new technology and forms of communication in marketing strategies.

If you went along, or was following the event through coverage and social media, let us know your thoughts on the topics @ElephantCreate

Our round-up of the second day is available next Monday.