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Interview with Joerg Rathenberg, Chief Marketing Officer at Lex Machina

Sulakshan Kumar By Sulakshan Kumar in Interviews on

Lex Machina is the creator of Legal Analytics, a new category of legal technology that enables lawyers for the first time to predict the outcomes of their legal strategies, win cases, and close business. Based in Silicon Valley, Lex Machina emerged from Stanford’s Law School and Computer Science department and was acquired by LexisNexis in 2015.

Your Journey as a Marketing Professional.

After completing a Masters in Computer Science, I started my professional career as a mainframe systems engineer at IBM Germany. While I was getting started, I saw with envy that Steve Jobs was starting Apple in the San Francisco Bay area. But, we also had an exciting series of events on the other side of the globe – during the fall of the Wall, I volunteered to move eastward, to start a new IBM East GmbH, which was my first entrepreneurial experience. I stayed for two years, during which I was unsure of what to do, as many of my IBM colleagues advised me to move into sales, which I really didn’t want to do.

So I took a 2-year sabbatical and signed up for the MBA program at Thunderbird in Phoenix.

That’s where I discovered my love for marketing.

Running one of the clubs on campus, I created my very first marketing video, using an old VHS camera to interview students and capture testimonials. It helped drive membership from 3 to 110 after the first semester.

Fast forward, I made my way to the Bay Area, where I have been living for the past 20 years. During this time I was fortunate to run the marketing organizations for six exceptional and highly disruptive startups. Probably the biggest influence on my marketing experience was the time I spent at Salesforce.com, where I was responsible for vertical marketing.

As the creator of the modern CRM, at Salesforce we wrote the blueprint of how to design marketing machines that supply the sales team with a steady flow of leads to fuel the business.

As the creator of the modern CRM, at Salesforce we wrote the blueprint of how to design marketing machines that supply the sales team with a steady flow of leads to fuel the business. We were breaking new ground, promoting the end of software as we know it, and came up with many successful campaigns to drive what eventually became the concept of computing in the Cloud. I developed a game plan, on how to create repeatable and scalable demand generation processes across different channels. I also learned how to track progress and how to deliver measurable and predictable results.

At my next company – Unisfair – I had the most fun I had ever experienced on the job. We provided a platform for virtual events, which turned out to be a game-changer for marketers. In a virtual environment, you can observe all of the interactions, behavior, preferences and activities of your audience – a dream-come true for any marketing professional. I did something that none of our competitors had done before – I ran large virtual events for our prospects, to show people what was possible and what they could do too. I bought two high end video cameras, occupied one of our meeting rooms permanently, and set up our own broadcast studio in the office. We had events with thousands of attendees, which were taking place in outer space, under water, at the Eiffel Tower, or just at a fancy hotel. All of them provided us with unprecedented amounts of attendee data. We quickly became the market leader in our space and were acquired soon after.

I joined Lex Machina, my current company, at an early stage. It was an exceptional experience, where we defined a new industry category, called Legal Analytics, which we proceeded to dominate. I started by getting the company leadership together to come up with a common messaging platform, which we used very effectively to get a consistent message to the market, whether it was by our customer facing team, the press and ultimately even by our competitors. We soon won industry awards and are today the de-facto standard for analytics in the legal profession.

Strategy

Almost all of my experience comes from launching startup tech companies, so my experience is probably not that relevant for larger organizations. In a B2B setting, the channels I typically focus on are the following, ordered by importance:

1. PR

The key to launching a new brand or getting a startup to explosive growth, is a good media strategy. It requires a willingness of your leadership team to engage with journalists and analysts, and cultivate these relationships, which takes time and patience.

My advice: While your investors may advise you to hire a PR person on your team (to save cost), I have always relied on an outside PR agency. An agency will have a much wider network and will also have the ability to move people on and off your team if you need a change.

Be sure to set specific goals for your PR team. We have targets for individual product launches, as well as overall goals for the year.

Get at least one or two product awards early on, it is often not as hard as it may seem and provides good 3rd party validation.

2. Email

Although it may seem that social channels have become super-important, my experience is that email continues to be the workhorse of B2B marketing organizations. Content marketing through emails is how I usually reach half of our pipeline target.

My advice: Create content that has real value for your audience. At Lex Machina we are creating trend reports based on our own data that are highly sought after by customers, prospects, press and thought leaders. We use these as fulfillment pieces in our email campaigns.

Don’t be salesy! Don’t brag or use superlative language. Instead, try to be humble about your offering and establish trust with your audience. It will get you higher open rates and more responses.

3. Events

We attend industry events, conferences, and shows, as well as running our own roadshows, where we hold events in exclusive hotels over breakfast or lunch.

My advice: Set specific targets for each event (number of leads, awareness, pipeline etc).

Define a rigorous process to capture leads and get them into your system in front of your sales team in as short a time frame as possible.

Secure a speaking engagement, before signing up for a booth space at a conference.

For events that you hold yourself, get a good mix of customers and prospects, so that you let them tell each other about their experiences.

4. Digital Marketing

In one of my companies we implemented a freemium model to drive revenue from upselling to the full product version. This was driven by a comprehensive digital marketing program.

My advice: Create a strong re-marketing program. If someone visits your website, cookie them and follow them for a period of time. Particularly as a small company this can yield astonishing awareness results and make you look bigger if you are not obnoxious about it.

There is lot’s of advice online about SEO/SEM, so I will not comment on that here.

I found that several platforms allow you to target your audience down to specific roles at individual companies. This is a very cost-effective way to reach your target market.

5. Account Based Marketing

Depending on the situation of your company, this can be the most effective Marketing initiative.

The hard part is to find a good metric to express the value of an account for you, so that you can rank your prospects and focus on the right ones.

My advice: As has been stated by many of my colleagues, this approach only works if your entire leadership is behind it. The benefit is that it helps you focus, which is why a lot of startup companies die – they are too scared to focus, worried that they might miss an opportunity.

Be creative and look for out of the box ideas to engage. We have been wildly successful with a gift box program. I love the idea of putting up a wanted poster at events, where you offer a reward to those who bring the folks on your poster to your booth.

6. Webcasts

For me, webcasts are a big factor to get early stage companies to build awareness and establish thought leadership, but also to stay in touch with customers.

My Advice: Go for thought leadership over sales. If you select topics of interest, get customers with a good reputation to tell your story.

Usually half of the people who register show up. Make it a point to get the other half to see the recording.

We have had great success with creating automated transcripts of good webcasts. You can then use the document to follow up and provide the summary to your audience.

Achievements

At KXEN, patience and persistence got us positioned on the Gartner Quadrant for Data Mining tools, together with companies that were orders of magnitude larger.

At Unisfair, we created a virtual treasure hunt, to show off the many different looks and feels, and the different ways of interaction within our platform.

At Lex Machina we created the Data-Driven Lawyer award, which led to an unexpected high number of submissions. I started the award, to get more use cases from the field about how people were using our product.

At Lex Machina we issue annual thought leadership reports for different legal practice areas, based on our own data. With thousands of incoming requests every year, these reports are the single most important driver of revenue for our company.

The Lex Machina Marketing team was selected as a finalist for the 2017 Marketers That Matter award for B2B brand building.

Tools/ Software

In today’s world, the role of a successful marketer has shifted from messaging and branding to numbers and metrics. Marketing software is indispensable to supporting you in this.

These are the key tools I have integrated and deployed at all of my companies:

Marketo – as the marketing automation tool that is infinitely customizable and helps me turn almost any idea into reality and allows me to track the results.

Salesforce.com – for providing sales-ready leads to the team and also for creating the dashboards to support my marketing initiatives.

On24 – I am now using my former competitor of Unisfair, as they provide an affordable webcast platform without downloads for the attendees, and without limits on the number of attendees. They also offer a virtual event platform to enable better engagement with your target audience.

AdRoll – my favorite retargeting tool that’s very effective and affordable

QuickTime – standard on Macs, it saves you a lot of money over many expensive video and screen recording tools.

SnagIt – small, but indispensable for day to day marketing activities.

Advice for the marketing community

If you are just embarking on your marketing career, be sure to get a good foundation in statistics and technology. Marketing has moved from being an art to being a science. Your management team will expect you to quantify your marketing activities and to make them achieve predictable outcomes. If you invest a certain amount in your campaign, how much will it generate in pipeline? If you place that ad, how many registrations will you get. If you attend this conference, how much pipeline will you drive from the leads? To do that, you have to be able to roll up your sleeves and get deep into numbers, metrics, reports and dashboards.

If you are just embarking on your marketing career, be sure to get a good foundation in statistics and technology. Marketing has moved from being an art to being a science.

Other than that, for me the trait that sets apart a great marketer from a mediocre one, is the level of genuine curiosity someone possesses. Stay curious, pay attention to details, and make that curiosity your asset.

Must-reads:

Geoffrey Moore, Inside the Tornado, and the other books of his Chasm series

Al Ries & Jack Trout, Positioning – The battle for your mind

Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma

And if you ever feel that you are working too hard, read:

Ashley Vance, Elon Musk