Marketing Database Checklist

August 2000

By Joy Long, Marketing Manager, Ross & Hardies, Chicago, Illinois

First published in

Outline of Presentation

  • What are the Marketing Department's goals and expectations?
  • What are the expectations of the Firms lawyers and Management Committee?
  • What information do we want to store and/or track
    • Client/Prospect information
    • Mailing Lists
    • Event planning
    • Media/PR Sources
    • Vendors
    • Practice Group Expenditures
    • Attorney information
      • Practice Area/Group Information
      • Bar Admission Data
      • Court Data
      • Professional Associations
      • Articles
      • Alumni Information
      • Language/Translation Skills
  • Can the database software be integrated with existing technology
    • WordPerfect/Word
    • Email
    • Internet
    • Fax
    • Accounting/Time & Billing
    • Records Management/Conflicts
    • Telephony
  • Who will access, update and maintain the information?
    • Marketing Department
    • Staff
    • Attorneys
  • Who will train users? Who will act as administrator? Who will support the software?
    • IT Department
    • Marketing Department
  • Will the vendor offer upgrades and solutions to problems?
    • Customer Support Hotline
    • Technical Assistance, if necessary
    • Input/Participation in Upgrades
  • Cost Factors to consider:
    • Clean up and transfer of existing database
    • New data entry
    • Maintenance -- labor intensive
    • Upgrades/technical support availability
    • Licensing & additional equipment
    • Presentation

To help new and experienced marketers, board members of the Chicago Chapter of the Law Marketing Association held an interactive roundtable discussion on May 18, 2000. Joy Long presented a process for identifying and implementing a marketing database:

  • Identify the Marketing Department and Firm goals and expectations. It's often easier to customize a database than it is to change attorney and management behavior.

  • Up-front, learn how they plan to use this tool. Identify the information you want to store and track. This can include client/prospect data, mailing lists, media sources, vendor information, attorney biographies, etc.

  • Determine the ease of integration with existing technology. Will this system work with, or against, your current word processing software, e-mail system, accounting and billing programs, etc.?

  • Identify responsibility for content updates and system administration.

  • Identify ownership of training function. While IT may seem like the logical resource to conduct training, they may not have insights into how and why the system is being used. Marketing may want to administer this training.

  • Now that you have a sense of your requirements, invite vendors to demonstrate their software solutions. However, don't rely on their promises! Test the system yourself, preferably on your own, without the vendor hovering over your shoulder. Ask the IT group for their opinions.
Ask additional questions:
  • Will the vendor offer upgrades, support and technical solutions?

  • What hidden costs are associated with this system? For example, who will clean up and transfer existing data, enter new data and maintain the system? What charges are associated with upgrades, support, licensing and additional hardware requirements?

  • Once you've narrowed your list, ask for an open demo, for management and key firm players. Get their early buy-in and support. After identifying a system and beginning the implementation, be sure to carve out time for adequate testing. It's very difficult to recover credibility when a system belly-flops as soon as the starting gun sounds!

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August 2000