Everyday Marketing Tips from the Chief Marketing Officer of One of the World’s Best Law Firms

Written by John Starr, Yuko Sugiyama, and Yuanhong Sun, students in Jon Harari’s class.  Edited by Jon Harari.

Mrs. Deborah Farone is the Chief Marketing Officer at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, arguably one of the best law firms in the world.  Mrs. Farone provided us with a wealth of information, but it was all on a theme; Build a reputation by producing outstanding work, creating great content, and maintaining solid perceptions.

deborah farone

Mrs. Farone talked a lot about brand story telling – a way companies can engage with the consumer through a narrative that attracts the audience and invests them in more than just a product or service. She advised us that having great technology can be a boon in this respect, but technology should not dictate the strategy. “Craft the strategy first,” she said, as we stopped for a break to eat cupcakes, Baked by MelissaMrs. Farone understands her audience well, and she understood the class well too; she knew that our attention would flag, unless there was something to keep us engaged.

Mrs. Farone used the cupcakes to illustrate how the burden of engagement has subtly shifted in the post-Facebook world.  Brands used to take it for granted that people were engaged by flashy ads and sparkling products, but websites like Twitter and Yelp have broken down the traditional marketing barrier between producer and consumer.  Brand managers can have instant access to target markets and gain instant feedback on their products, they have a much higher responsibility to keep the consumer satisfied and engaged.

Halfway through her talk, Mrs. Farone brought out a flip-flop and waved it around, asking the class to describe characteristics of the imaginary owner.  Many of the students had sincere suggestions.  Mrs. Farone politely considered each one, weighing up the reasons and smiling warmly, before revealing that the entire Q&A had been an exercise in judgement and assumption.  “You have demonstrated how each of us judges, often on limited information and simply on what we see,” she asserted.

This is undeniably true, and brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch have suffered from such shallow and rash perceptions, whilst many brands have wisely capitalized on the phenomenon.  At this point, Mrs. Farone dropped a useful tip; “You should each have personal stationary to reflect your personal brand,” she said.  Not only does personalized stationary help extend and give people another touch-point to your brand , but it very importantly ingrains your reputation into the minds of those with whom you correspond.  In an increasingly small world, where brands can reach out through social media and interact with consumers ubiquitously, something personal is the key to differentiation.  Over all, just as the best web sites and brands use clear and simple navigation, so do the best personal brands.  Have a strategy first and once you implement Mrs. Farone’s excellent advice you will be well on your way to building a superb reputation.


Mrs. Farone studied at Boston University and has taught at NYU. She believes life long learning is a key to success. Mrs. Farone, as a chief marketing officer, is known for implementing strategic programs in the area of business intelligence, marketing communications and key client management. Prior to working at Cravath, she was with Ketchum Communications, Towers Perrin and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP.