Law Firm Marketing Planning
The Value of Strategic Marketing
Seeking to stay ahead in a marketplace that has seen unprecedented consolidation and competition for top-of-mind awareness, revenue growth, and client and market share, many law firms are expanding their marketing and business-development programs. As firms increasingly allocate resources for sophisticated marketing and business-development initiatives, they want to ensure that they are getting the best return on their investment. Whether their goals relate to firm visibility, to new business opportunities, or to raising the profile of individual practices and attorneys, firms have a vested interest in approaching their marketing planning and execution as strategically as possible.
Our Marketing and Business-Development Planning team at Zeughauser Group helps law firms create strategic marketing and business-development programs that align with their values and goals. Because we believe that "random acts of marketing" generally are wasteful, we work closely with our clients to develop marketing and business-development programs that help them tie marketing to firm-wide strategy and ultimately deliver a meaningful return on their investment.
Strategic marketing is crucial at all times, but particularly in a tight economy when competition for clients is even more intense. Law firms have to think carefully about how to allocate marketing resources across practice groups, industries, geographic units, and client teams. We help our clients build marketing and business-development infrastructure that can support their plans fully and effectively. As a facet of helping clients develop that platform, we evaluate the full range of marketing resources and tools the firm employs, including business-development programs for existing and new clients; marketing communications and public relations; Web sites and other electronic communication vehicles; printed collateral; pitch and proposal generation systems; protocols for gathering and analyzing competitive intelligence and for conducting market research; CRMs and other databases; and strategic business-planning procedures at the firm, industry, office, practice, or client levels.
Some law firms also choose to retain Zeughauser Group's Marketing Organization Assessment and Design team concurrently to help them maximize the effectiveness of their marketing department's structure, personnel, and operations.
The members of our Marketing and Business-Development Planning team have extensive experience as marketing and business executives in leading law firms and corporations. We have created dynamic marketing and business plans that have driven profitable growth for law firms and Fortune-ranked companies alike.
Our advice is informed by substantial data we collect about best practices in law firm marketing and business development, by our surveys of Am Law 200 firms, and by the insights shared by the chairs, managing partners, and marketing executives who are members of our bi-annual Zeughauser Group Leadership Roundtables.
Because no two law firms are identical, we tailor our strategic marketing consulting to each firm's circumstances, culture, and objectives. We design marketing plans to enhance client relationships that have the greatest potential for the law firm's growth and to attract the most promising new clients to the firm. We consider our plans successful when every marketing and business-development dollar the firm spends has the potential to contribute directly to its growth and profitability.
The scope of each plan we develop is governed by the firm's client-development objectives, which may be firm-wide or focus on particular offices, practice groups, or industry or client teams. Regardless of its scope, every plan contains attainable goals, clear steps for implementation, and benchmarks for measuring success. All planning is done collaboratively with the relevant planning group's lawyers, with the marketers who support that group, and with firm leadership in order to ensure the consensus needed to make the plans successful.
Because of the differences among law firms, we customize our planning process to each firm's strategies, cultures, and objectives. However, our marketing and business-development planning process typically includes many of the following steps:
- Creating a working group. At our request, the firm designates a planning team with which we work closely during the course of the engagement. As the engagement progresses, we expand or contract the group as needed. At the outset, we meet, either in person, by video, or by phone, to refine and obtain consensus about the goals of the engagement and the proposed process
- Collecting and reviewing relevant data. In advance of or simultaneous with the kick-off meeting, we collect and review the client's strategic and business plans for all relevant practice groups, industries, and offices; data about client targets; marketing budgets and existing marketing materials; and any other relevant information the firm can provide. To this, we add our own market research and benchmarking data.
- Analyzing firm and competitor positioning and marketing. Working collaboratively with the firm's in-house marketers, we familiarize ourselves with its current positioning and marketing initiatives and then compare them with how its key competitors approach the marketplace.
- Developing a guide and conducting internal interviews. Using a custom-tailored interview guide, we interview a relevant group of lawyers and staff to solicit their perspectives about the firm's competition, clients, marketing goals and expectations, and current marketing and business-development practices.
- Evaluating benefits of external interviews. We may interview a small, representative sampling of clients by phone to gather their perceptions of the firm and its competitive positioning.
- Conducting planning sessions. We conduct one or more face-to-face planning sessions with the designated team to:
- review the planning unit's strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats it faces;
- clarify target markets, specific client targets, if applicable, and marketing objectives;
- create a plan that supports each marketing objective and includes:
- a detailed description of each activity and how the activity will help achieve the corresponding objective;
- the names of team members who will be responsible for completing each activity;
- a timetable for achieving each activity, including key milestones;
- the internal and external marketing resources required for each activity, and
- ensure the team's commitment to implementing the plan.
- Presenting and refining plan and communicating with leadership. We present the plan to the relevant management team, make adjustments as needed, and finalize it. Throughout the process, we provide interim reports to the planning group leaders and to relevant firm management, as desired.
Ultimately, the availability of the firm's designated planning team determines the duration of the planning process. If the planning group makes the process a priority, it can be completed in two to three months.
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