Yesterday I heard Swati Agrawal of firmseek and Anne Balduzzi, a legal and technology marketing consultant, present on “Using Technology to Make the Most of Your Marketing Dollars” at a an event hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association (LMA).

Swati and Anne emphasized the importance of using a single database to drive the marketing function. Maintaining marketing materials such as lawyer biographies, practice area descriptions, and standard cover letters in a central database offers two key advantages. First, it allows firms quickly and easily to produce, modify, and update both print and digital media. And second (this one was music to my ears), it allows firms to create Web-based versions of proposals. This means that clients can navigate proposals for content of particular interest and firms can track hits to learn what clients find most useful.

I was surprised by a show of hands at the beginning of the session. When the speakers asked how many of the attendees had recently spoken to their technology colleagues, only a few hands went up. CIOs who manage databases and CKOs who manage knowledge repositories should take steps to be aware of the needs and resources of their firm’s marketing department. On the one hand, there is a potential challenge in having to manage yet another repository. On the other hand, there are opportunities to integrate and combine data sources to provide better quality information and knowledge at lower cost. For example, firms that want to create an expertise database (skills locater) might consider whether they could at least get a first cut at lawyer expertise by doing full-text searches of the bios.

Law firms would be better off if they rose to the challenge of supporting marketing department technology needs and worked to integrate marketing data both at a technical level and as a knowledge resource.