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Law firm manages marketing projects that come fast and furious

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Challenge: Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice is a fast-growing corporate law firm based in Winston-Salem, N.C. The firm's marketing department handles a number of campaigns and projects in process: from marketing brochures to direct mail fliers; from ad copy to white papers; from sales proposals to campaign analyses, to ad placement, to special events, to e-mail blasts.

“Our in-house marketing department gets flooded with requests for all kinds of creative projects,” said Mark Whitley, director of strategic planning and marketing. “We struggled for years trying to manage the projects in our pipeline in a more businesslike way, and were having the kinds of problems you’d expect in a high-volume production environment—such as managing projects, no two of which were the same, or even losing track of them.”

Solution: At the suggestion of the firm’s accounting department, Whitley tried campaign management software from MarketingPilot Software. Whitley bought a few seats for his department, tried a project management module for six months and liked it enough to increase use of the system throughout his department of about 20 marketers.

Whitley focused initially on production and design projects, managing requests from sales and marketing people spread throughout the firm’s 11 offices from Georgia to Delaware. His department also uses the system to manage customer satisfaction surveys, as well as reports on market research, industry trends and competitive analyses to better prepare attorneys for client meetings.

Whitley’s department meets as a group once each week, reviewing the reports generated by the program, due dates for all projects and any necessary changes.

“The conversation is more important than the report,” Whitley said, “but the report is the facilitator.”

Womble Carlyle has a policy that prohibits the use of online software applications when financial and other confidential data are used, so the firm is using MarketingPilot’s modules on its own servers.

Results: After more than a year with campaign management software, Whitley is impressed.

“I can say we’re delivering a lot more projects on time or ahead of schedule,” he said, “so our productivity and efficiency have improved, and I’m pretty sure our cost-effectiveness has improved as well.”

Since project tracking and reporting is paying off well, Whitley is considering additional modules to help manage the firm’s client events.

“It’s important just to convince people that I’m dealing with a huge volume of activity here,” he said. “Ultimately, I’d like to use this analysis as feedback to the lawyers who requested the projects. When you’re an in-house department, you’re considered an expense. What we’d like to do is convey to others the value of what we’re delivering for them.”

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