It’s easy to throw money into marketing and hope for good results. But strong marketing isn’t about spending money; its purpose is to ensure that a firm accomplishes its business objectives by doing the right things. Determining what marketing actions to take is both an art and a science, and keeps me very busy with my clients throughout the year. The needs of each firm are unique as firms are at different stages of evolution; they have different client bases; their lawyers and their firm culture are different, etc. To do this well takes time, strategy and a bit of a financial investment. But for firms that aren’t quite ready (financially or emotionally) to take that step, here are my top five suggestions for how you can realistically and cost-effectively market with good returns on your investment.
- Update your website. This primary internet profile can be a powerful and relatively inexpensive marketing tool your firm, but only when it’s properly maintained. I’m shocked at how often I see professional services websites that have stale or incorrect data and broken links. Take the time to review your site and ensure it’s the professional selling tool it should be. That means a few hours of your time and a couple of hours for your web company: doable and affordable.
- Become more active on LinkedIn. With over 380 million users worldwide, LinkedIn has arisen as the main business platform for social media. Take half an hour in the New Year to improve your profile – the system will walk you through it. Challenge yourself to increase your contacts and endorsements. Update your status once a week by referencing links to interesting articles, etc. The basic LinkedIn profile (which is all you really need) is free and given LinkedIn’s prominence, this could be the least expensive and most powerful marketing tool you take advantage of in 2016.
- Communicate more with your clients: Anti-spam legislation has terrified many firms. As a result, I bet you receive 80% less newsletters in your inbox than you did a year ago. Guess what, so do your clients. I smell an opportunity. And it pays to stay in touch. Marketers know that clients tend to hire professionals from a short list of 3 – 5 people. Often, the one who gets hired has made a connection with the client within the past 90 days. Make sure you’re one of those people – just make sure you comply with pertinent legislation.
- Initiate a client feedback program. There are years of research identifying client feedback programs as some of the most powerful investment tools service firms can use. You can start small: ask your administrator to send an email to each client (at the time of their final bill) asking a series of questions about service, results, costing, etc. For larger clients, invite them once a year to a client feedback lunch and ask those questions in person. Then make sure you follow up with the client on any resulting action you’ve taken. It’s been suggested that less than 20% of firms have any formal feedback mechanism in place and of those, very few have follow-up processes. This might just be the easiest, cheapest way to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
- Develop a strategic business plan for the year – at least a starter plan that you can easily do yourself. Come up with five business objectives, and then determine all the actions required in order to achieve each one of those goals. Such a plan defines focus, establishes clear business goals everyone can get behind, and ensures that you take actions to achieve those goals. You might be shocked as how easily those goals can be achieved by simply articulating and supporting them.
The cost for the programs referenced above is minimal, and can be done for the most part with existing resources. I can promise you that the financial benefits your firm receives from these actions will far outweigh any internal time and external costs required.
Marketing is an investment with many choices. The easiest choice is to start with lower cost items and your existing resources. If and when you’re ready to move beyond this level into more sophisticated business and marketing strategies (including coaching for your professionals), I’m happy to help. In the meantime, I encourage you to take advantage of the suggestions in this post for fast, easy marketing returns in 2016.