Blog/Podcast: Maximum Marketing on Minimal Budget

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Everything would be a lot easier if we all had unlimited budgets, but sometimes more money isn’t in the cards and we need to work with what we have.

Silvia Coulter, co-founding Principal of LawVision, specializes in working with lawyers to build their books of business, and she’s worked with many firms to implement successful marketing programs with minimal resources. Silvia joined the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast to talk about her strategies.

You don’t always need a huge marketing budget

In-house legal marketers do important work, but some marketing departments are just too big to move the needle. While large firms may need larger marketing teams to accommodate all lawyers’ requests, small and mid-sized firms can do just fine with a modest team and budget. If you refine your client growth and go-to-market strategies, you don’t need a huge department or costly initiatives.

At its core, business development is paying attention to your existing clients and leveraging those relationships into new introductions. You don’t necessarily need a flashy campaign to achieve this; it can be done with strategizing and networking skills. Don’t let a small budget trick you into thinking you can’t accomplish anything.

The two free tools that all lawyers should use

There are two absolutely free, easy-to-create documents that all lawyers need to maximize their business development efforts: an annual plan and a contact activity tracker.

An annual plan sounds basic and even a little mundane, but it’s the key to marketing success. The plan includes a list of your goals for the year, and it doesn’t need to be formal or extensive. But this simple document is far more powerful than it seems: according to the Legal Sales and Service Organization (or LSSO, which Silvia co-founded), the most successful rainmakers all create annual plans. If you clarify your goals and consistently make decisions to support them, you’ll inevitably succeed—and be able to count yourself among those rainmakers.

The second document is a contact activity tracker, which is simply a list of 50 contacts that you plan to be in touch with quarterly. It’s a dynamic document that changes when you grow your network or contacts turn into clients. The tracker is predicated on the idea it takes one to three years to develop business, and if you actively stay in touch with people, eventually some will become clients. It’s a numbers game and the contact activity tracker will help you monitor your efforts.

One place to put your budget? Sales

It’s becoming more common for law firms to hire sales teams, and this trend is only going to grow. If you’re a CMO or director of marketing and business development, the best thing you can do right now is get some sales education outside of the legal industry. Sit in a classroom with folks who sell technology or financial services, so you really learn the sales framework. Having this knowledge will help you hire the right salespeople and work with them effectively.

One thing that’s important to note: hiring a sales team is not an excuse for firms to cut their marketing teams or budgets. There’s no question that firms need legal marketers to guide communications, strategic planning and market research. Although sales and marketing are interrelated, they’re two very different functions, and firms need both to maintain a competitive edge.

The second thing to note about sales is management (or the lack thereof). The best salespeople are typically independent; thus, they don’t like to be managed. If you try to control them too much, it’s going to harm the relationship and make everyone’s lives more difficult. Before venturing into sales, make sure your own leadership development is up to par. You’ll likely need to use a different management style with salespeople, but if you can learn to work with them, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Click here to download/subscribe to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast.

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