A firm’s marketing goals need to tie into and be aligned with your firm goals. A goal is simply a statement that states the direction of a firm in a particular area. For example, a firm might say:
“Increase awareness of firm in three niche markets (real estate, manufacturing and financial institutions).” Or, another firm might set a goal to obtain more referrals from attorneys and bankers. A third firm might decide to focus on seminars and speeches, or increase revenue from new clients through new services.”
Undoubtedly you will come up with many goals. You won’t be able to do everything or be all things to all people, so it will be important to prioritise your goals. The more you can focus and strive to achieve some immediate results, the more satisfied you will be with your marketing plan. Small successes along the way will provide you with the encouragement you need to stick with your plan. Don’t worry if you won’t be able to do all things at once.
Identify the threats and opportunities that will impede or assist you in obtaining the goals you have identified. A mistake that many firms make is to just outline threats and opportunities and not tie them into a specific goal. If they don’t relate to one of your goals, chances are they are not threats or opportunities.
For example, a threat that could apply to the first goal above could be: “Partners and staff lacking significant presence in these markets.” An opportunity could be:”No other firm in the market has a dominant position”.
Next you will have to set objectives. The main difference between a goal and an objective is that an objective tells you who will do what and when. For example, “By May 1, marketing brochures for the real estate, manufacturing and financial services niches will be completed. Responsibility: Marketing Director and Team Leaders.” The marketing plan needs to become a living document and objectives are the elements that give it life.
Before you get too far down the marketing path you will need to create a budget. This does not have to be a major project. Ask yourself these two questions:
- How much time will I spend?
- How much money do I plan to spend?
To get a quick reality check, ask yourself what are you currently doing in these two areas (time and out of pocket expenses). How do they compare to what you expect to spend? Your largest expense will most likely be your opportunity cost. In other words, for every hour you spend marketing you should multiply that by your billing rate. If you plan to spend 30 hours per month and your billing rate is $150/hour, your monthly opportunity cost is $4,500. If your marketing is going to be successful, you will need to bring in that much business for the time being spent.
Finally, write out your plan. If it is written it will more likely happen. A key to making your marketing plan a living document is to schedule your marketing time just like any other billable engagement. This way you are more likely to perform the marketing activities you listed in your plan.
Make sure you have a process to report on your progress, at least monthly. If you are a sole practitioner, make a monthly report to your spouse. If you are a multi-partner firm, have the marketing report the first thing you discuss at your monthly partners’ meeting.
Now is the time to start developing or refining your marketing plan. Take it step by step. Think seriously about the answers. Develop a clear picture of where you want to take the firm and then take it there.