In these competitive times, law firms, large and small, should develop and implement a solid marketing plan and budget as key to effective business growth. Large firms typically have something that looks like a budget but is often not aligned with a strategic firm marketing plan, even is such a thing exists.
Small (or solo) firms usually do not create a specific marketing plan or budget but rather make marketing investments otherwise known as “random acts of marketing”. To that, I would ask, how’s that working for you?
Commit to making 2016 a more strategic, deliberate year for your firm’s marketing efforts. Six reasons why firms should create and implement an integrated marketing plan and budget are:
1. Drive the firm’s direction.
Wherever you are going, you will likely not arrive to your destination without some sort of GPS or map to help get you there. Same thing with growing a business. Not having (and, more importantly, implementing) an integrated marketing plan, you will find yourself spinning wheels, wasting time and resources.
It is challenging, if not impossible, to track progress of your marketing efforts without a written, well-conceived plan of what exactly the firm’s goals are, what clients specifically the firm is trying to reach, and what you are realistically trying to achieve within a given period of time. Remember, marketing plans and budgets are never one-size-fits-all and, ideally, it is the marketing plan which drives the budget. (No marketing plan usually means no budget).
2. Require accountability.
A firm should not try to be everything to everybody. In these challenging economic times, law firms cannot afford to spend marketing dollars unwisely or on a random basis. Every expenditure should be a part of a cohesive plan. Make every dollar work hard and be measurable towards your stated goals.
3. Stop the senseless spending.
Just because you receive calls every day from clever salespeople who promise to get you to the top of Google’s first page, does not translate into increased profits. Let me just say, there are a lot of slick snake oil salespeople in the market today. Avoid this trap by developing a plan which allows for only strategic investments and will nix the rest.
4. To bring focus to the firm’s marketing efforts.
If there’s one thing smart business people (including lawyers) need is a boatload of focus. A thoughtful marketing plan and budget will help your firm (and especially legal marketers) facilitate an effective marketing program on a day-to-day basis if there are benchmarks of what you are trying to achieve and for whom. It is also easier to turn down the occasional attorney “pet” project if it is not included in an overall plan or budgeted for.
Firms should invest the primary share of their marketing dollars and, more importantly, time, on initiatives which will result in actually achieving measurable goals such as:
- More business from specific existing clients
- Attracting qualified targeted new clients
- Heightening awareness and increased referrals from specific referral sources.
5. Create a measuring stick for results.
Law firms are notorious for spending lavishly on projects which have no probability of yielding anything. It is incredible how they can justify such expenditures. By planning and implementing a cohesive and integrated marketing plan driven by a detailed budget, you can measure the effectiveness (or not) of reaching your stated goals reached by the prescribed action items.
A well-crafted marketing plan with measurable goals, a purposeful timeline and detailed budget in place can help ask and answer key questions when evaluating your firm’s marketing efforts. The answers give guide you to your next steps.
6. Get some skin in the game: commit to your business.
Realistically, if a firm (and its legal marketing team) can’t (or won’t) dedicate focused thought and energy to develop a solid marketing plan and budget to grow and develop business, the legal marketer will move on, and the firm will continue to do what it’s always done and see the same results.
No one ever said building a prosperous business is easy. It does, however, require planning, commitment and focus, or, what we like to say:
The secret sauce to marketing success is the consistent, persistent massive amounts of action over a prolonged period of time.
It’s not rocket science, folks. Success is spelled out in the steady day-to-day connections you make in your structured relationship building, reputation-enhancing, and continuous follow through and outreach.
For nearly 25 years, KLA Marketing Associates has been advising law firms, lawyers and legal marketers every day to develop strategic marketing plans and budgets to identify their “ideal” clients and target markets, create actionable steps to reach those markets, and assign budgets to support those efforts.
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