Serve Up a Strategic Marketing Approach In 2014

By Kimberly Alford Rice

Kimberly Alford Rice is principal of KLA Marketing Associates. For more information, call (609) 458-0415 or email kimberly@klamarketing.net.

Here it is April and a lot of you who began 2014 committed to changing your marketing approach now realize “wow, nothing has changed.”

Below are 10 steps to be more strategic in this year’s marketing planning:

1 Having good intentions in January is not the same as making marketing a priority. In other words, you jotted down some ideas, threw them in a drawer and went about your business. Marketing is often an afterthought. If you do not make building and growing your practice a priority by scheduling it into your daily calendar and then live and breathe the concepts, how do you expect progress to be made, by you and other team members?

2 Develop cash flow budgets and projections. It is imperative that you have something to measure progress. Businesses run with numbers. Law firms are no different. When creating a marketing plan, be as specific as possible. Set concrete goals such as below:

• Increase employment law cases by privately-held businesses cases by 15 percent;

• Acquire at least one new client each quarter with billings of at least $30,000 per quarter;

• And, increase revenue per existing top five clients by 20 percent.

3 Create metrics to measure the success or failure of your plans. Compare your results with the projects created under step two; it’s an ideal way to track your marketing initiatives by results achieved. Track items such as response rates, average new billings per new clients, average billings from repeat work of existing clients, etc. Do you have any written metrics and do you constantly monitor them? If not, this is a critical component for measuring success.

4 Assemble the right team. Get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. If your firm is full of worker bees, you will be challenged to produce marketing results. However, if you support and empower those lawyers who are motivated to become a producer, a rainmaker, then you’re more likely to have a stronger marketing focus and better marketing results.

5 Retain professional training. While many lawyers think they know what to do, and they may, most do not know how to engage in high impact business development endeavors successfully. Effectively marketing and promoting a law practice ain’t what it used to be. Gone are the days when deals are just a handshake away and a matter of spending the afternoon on the golf course.

Seeking outside support to fully learn, from soup to nuts, the sales process, how to efficiently fill your pipeline and persistently track your sales (i.e., new client engagements) are things that do not materialize from amorphous. Retain a professional trainer or coach and you will never go back.

6 Set a clear and powerful direction. It is a powerful exercise to have regular meetings with your team to cultivate a marketing culture within a firm and to outline the marketing expectations. Team meetings can serve multiple purposes of parlaying business opportunities, sharing knowledge and achieving positive marketing results.

7 Turn up the focus dial. Most likely, if you do not focus like a laser on identifying targeted clients, markets and niche areas of practice, you will become discouraged and ease up on your marketing commitment. Thus, it is imperative to narrow down exact targets, so you know who you are looking for. An example of this for a construction litigation practice may be commercial developers on the East Coast with revenues between $50-150 million a year. That description will narrow the companies you are looking for and are simple to find with basic online market research.

8 Assemble the marketing tools. Having the right tools is essential to deriving the most out of your marketing strategies. Tools are no longer limited to printed brochures, email and promotional items. Video, social media networking, SMS texting, webinars, podcasts and creative interactive websites can also be highly effective, depending upon your marketing goals and objectives. The increase in marketing tools equates to greater options in your toolbox. It also means that selecting the right tools is more important than ever.

9 Invest in the right things. Decadent offices, random acts of lunch and token shotgun expenditures in the name of marketing do not attract new clients. Invest instead in strengthening relationships with key clients, communicating to existing clients and prospective clients how you are improving their businesses or personal lives.

10 Action, Action, Action. One of the most impactful ways you can be more strategic in your marketing is by simply executing the plan. Marketing must be an integral part of your business, not a set it and forget it aspect of your business. In order to ensure that your marketing plan succeeds, you must be actively engaged in working that plan.

The means by which you instill a more strategic approach to your marketing are vast. Reiterating my mantra that marketing success comes with consistent, persistent massive amounts of action over a prolonged period of time, all the strategic marketing spokes (Internet marketing; communications program; reputation management, etc.) must be moving forward concurrently. Anything less and the wheels just spin.