This is a guest post by the brilliant Deborah Farone. She is the former CMO of Cravath and Debevoise & Plimpton and now runs a successful marketing strategy consulting firm, Farone Advisors LLC.

(If you don’t already own a copy of her book, Best Practices in Law Firm Business Development and Marketing, go out and buy one – it’s one of my favorite and most-read legal marketing guides.)

I was thrilled to present to legal administrators from around the country at this year’s Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) Conference.

We talked about lessons from my book on legal marketing and what firms can accomplish when they have a limited marketing budget – as in truth, most do.

Even though I’ve spent much of my career creating and running marketing and business analytics departments for Big Law, in two cases, I started off as the firm’s first official marketeer – keeping with the Mickey theme. I had to build each department (and budget) from the ground up.

Here are four steps we discussed to help both those trying to market on a shoestring and others with a budget fit for a Disney Princess.

  1. Create valuable content, whether in the form of articles or speeches, and make it go far. Today, content creation is essential to promote a brand. The best content is strategic and speaks to what you want to be known for in the world. Once you have great content, repurpose it. If you give a speech, take the text and turn it into an article, a fact page, an infographic or a podcast.
  2. Be effective in your use of technology. In marketing, there are a lot of repeat requests from a marketing department. If you are asked more than once for X, come up with an easier way to provide X. Using databases and self-service technology for repetitive things can save time and money.
  3. Train your associates in business development. If you wait until associates are partners, it’s more challenging to teach them new techniques at that point, and often they’ve lost 7 or 8 years of developing contacts. The best firms out there recognize that their associates want training, and for a minimal amount of money, they are providing it. The creation of BD training programs demonstrates to your associates that you care enough about them to invest in their future.  Take advantage of the fact that you have this talent in-house, and nurture it.
  4. If you want to be inspired with new ideas, look at brands you admire outside of your industry. We can learn from companies like The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company or Amazon on how to excel in customer service or from Bergdorf Goodman or JPMorgan Chase & Co. on care for top clients. The Walt Disney Company shows us there is plenty to learn about anticipating customers’ expectations and delighting them with an experience.

Follow Deborah on LinkedIn.