As the end of the year approaches, marketing budgets are being allocated and line items are getting approved or (more probably) slashed. If your department is less-than-fortunate, your marketing budget might actually be raided in favor of other, more “urgent” business expenses.
Law firms spend a minuscule amount on marketing in contrast with other industries – roughly 3% of annual revenues. The average company spends 10.2% of their annual revenue on marketing, with half of companies planning to increase that number.
The tendency for law firms to tighten their purse strings when it comes to marketing is probably a cultural vestige of past decades when it was possible for lawyers to simply “do good work” and expect the clients to come rolling in. But in the digital age the consumer has access to more information than ever, which has rebalanced the power dynamic between buyer and seller and resulted in greater-than-ever competition in the marketplace.
Legal marketers have responded to this trend by ramping up content marketing and business development activities at their firms, perhaps taking cues from other industries. The average non-legal marketer spends 28% of their marketing budget on content, and more than half of them expect to increase spending.
In the words of Bill Gates, content is king; and some of the best content creators at your firm are the lawyers themselves. But convincing lawyers to engage in marketing activities is still challenging for many marketers. One of the biggest challenges marketers face is that lawyers fail to prioritize BD activities.
If marketing isn’t a priority, your budget will follow suit. Here are a few recommendations on how to keep your budget, make the most of it, and maybe even increase it.
1. If you’ve got it, spend it! If your budget is in danger of being raided, underscore the importance of promotion to leadership. A shoestring budget won’t allow your department to make a significant impact, and law firms are doing much less marketing than other industries as it is. If your firm is considering lowering its marketing budget due to poor performance, tie requests to specific initiatives that are more likely to yield traction so you can demonstrate ROI more clearly.
2. Educate your lawyers. Lawyers are much more likely to be proactive when they know exactly what to do. Low-cost educational programs like Business Development Conversations walk them through a practical step-by-step business development process in a lunch-and-learn setting. Give your lawyers implementable takeaways so that they immediately recognize the value of the resources you provide.
3. Focus on ROI. Demonstrate that marketing expenditures are an investment by identifying ways to measure the ROI of your programs. Ask your lawyers to participate in baseline surveys before and after your initiatives to show an increase in KPIs like ‘pitch meetings per month’ or ‘BD touch points per week.’ The more you can demonstrate that your programs generate a meaningful return, the more compelling a case you can make for an increased budget.
Authored by Olivia Cowenhoven
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