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How Generative AI Can Power a Quantum Leap for Legal Marketing Teams. 

We’re less than a year into a new era for the marketing profession: the age of generative AI. This era started with the public release of ChatGPT v.3 in November 2022. As a habitual early adopter of technology, I was quick to put this app to the test, and I confess I was both impressed and depressed by the results. Impressed – because ChatGPT was able to give me an acceptable first draft of a blog post on a complex and nuanced topic. Depressed – because the app pointed to a future where writing skills – the foundation of so many successful law firm marketing/communications careers (including mine) – are no longer anything special, and maybe not even necessary. 

Threat, Opportunity or Both?

I spent a few weeks feeling rather anxious about this. I also listened to AI naysayers who focused on the limitations of ChatGPT and its cousins – after all, these apps don’t really think, they simply string together words based on predictive algorithms. The content they generate is not inspired – in some cases it’s maybe even a little lame. Sometimes they “hallucinate”, producing content that is just plain wrong.  Surely they’ll never make experienced marketers obsolete? 

In the end, however, I came to the conclusion that, while generative AI is certainly a threat to traditional approaches to marketing (and has its limitations) it also offers a massive opportunity to legal marketing teams. Why? Because generative AI gives legal marketers a set of tools to create and deploy impactful marketing/BD content at scale.    

Here’s what I mean. Over the recent past, the advent of digital has caused marketing to evolve from a craft into science. Today’s world-class corporate marketing function has a level of operational complexity that we could only imagine a decade ago. The most effective marketing teams are running automated, multi-channel, multi-step campaigns that play out over timespans of a year or more. The complexity of these campaigns is magnified when they are fine-tuned for different personas (buyer types). And account-based, one-to-one marketing introduces yet another layer into the mix. The payoff for this increased complexity is data — which gives marketers the ability to fine-tune marketing campaigns on the fly to get better results. 

Scaling the Content Factory with AI Prompts

Greater operational complexity creates a need for more — and more personalized — content. This is where things get tough for the traditionally structured legal marketing team. Most of them lack the bandwidth and resources to create multiple versions of content for the different channels, personas, practice/sector groups and accounts in their marketing mix. They can’t scale their “content factory” quickly enough to take advantage of modern digital marketing methods and techniques. The obvious solutions – hiring more writers or spending more on agency resources – are off the table because of cost constraints. 

Here’s where generative AI comes in. Using the right set of “prompts” (written instructions to the AI system) in-house marketers can quickly draft volumes of content customized to relevant audience, channel, persona or marketing applications. Here are just a few examples…  

  • Draft a series of campaign messages for a new legal service offering, each tailored to a different stage of the Awareness>Interest>Desire>Action (AIDA) journey. 
  • There’s a new legal issue that is affecting three industries. Draft two explanations of the issue – one tailored to GCs, one tailored for executive decision makers. 
  • Summarize a blog post for cross-promotion on social media channels. Create different versions optimized for LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram.
  • Create a draft proposal for a particular legal service, accessing information out the firm’s experience in similar matters.  
  • The firm is creating a special event aimed at leaders of three large clients. Create three different versions of a multi-step event invitation flow personalized for the decision-makers at each client.  

In the wider marketing world, we are now witnessing the emergence of a brand-new specialist marketing role: The “Prompt Engineer”. This role is deeply familiar with generative AI tools, and how to configure them to generate relevant content for particular marketing applications. With a legal marketing team, this role could, over time, become the nucleus of a “content factory” that can transform the creation of marketing content.  

Resources to Help You Get Started

These ideas barely scratch the surface of what is possible even with today’s AI tools in their current (and very early) stage of development. But there’s a catch to producing high-quality marketing content using generative AI – you have to “train” the bot to create the specific types of content you require, by writing prompts in an intelligent and nuanced way.    

AI prompt writing is a specific skillset that can be learned, and a number of consultants and online courses claim to be able to give you the formula. I have personally learned a lot from law professor and thought leader Josh Kubicki, whose blog “The Brainyacts” offers very practical daily suggestions for using AI tools in a law firm setting.    

There’s also an emerging ecosystem of martech vendors who are incorporating generative AI into their products. Of particular interest to legal marketers is iKaun’s recent announcement of “Ika,” an AI-driven RFP response tool, as an add-on to their experience management platform. We can expect to see a lot more developments like this in the coming months.   

Imagining the Future

Part of our job at Calibrate is to look around corners and imagine the future for legal marketing/BD teams. To us, generative AI points toward that future, and we encourage all legal marketers to invest in understanding its strengths and weaknesses, and to experiment with applications. 

If you’re a legal marketing leader, think about how generative AI can change your team’s workflow, and influence the structure of your resources over the medium term. Can you use AI to pilot a more targeted approach to campaign content? Are your current martech vendors adding generative AI to their platforms? If you’re in hiring mode for marketing talent, might this be the right time opportunity to add “Prompt Engineer” skills to your team?   

If you’re a practitioner, look to add generative AI skills to your professional toolset. Experiment with using AI tools to create content for your next project. Keep up to date on the field – read the literature, follow people who are already using AI.  Learn: take advantage of the training courses that are becoming available. 

In summary, I believe generative AI is changing the game for marketers. Over time, its effects will be as profound as the shift from print to digital that started two decades ago. Ride the AI wave – don’t let it roll over you!  

Get in Touch

Interested in discussing how generative AI can be integrated into your firm’s marketing workflow? Reach out to our operational excellence team to learn more.