By Cady Darago & Ed Miller
Marketing – it’s a word that can excite some and cause others to bury their head in the sand. Everything from social media to SEO to blogs to advertisements to business development to branding. If you are a business owner, it can be too much. But, when your website is delivering leads, and you are getting positive responses to the blog you shared on LinkedIn, it’s amazing. Where can you find the balance to do what works for you?
Here are some simple tips and tricks to get 2021 off on the right foot.
1. Create your unique brand. Too often, competitors all look the same. Create a strategic plan to differentiate your firm from the pack. Some factors to consider are messaging, content, logos, colors, and design.
2. Update your website. Professional service firms tend not to update their website for several years. In addition, we see websites with broken links, outdated photos, old news, and bad contact information. The website will often be the first stop for a potential client – it probably is a good idea to show that you are still in business – wink wink.
3. Be consistent. As professionals, we know it is hard to keep at marketing. For many firms, there are just too many starts and stops. There are long periods of time between social media and blog posts as examples. Like an outdated website, these lags can send the wrong message to your target audience.
4. Make a plan and a budget. For a smaller firm, we recommend a marketing budget of 5-7% of firm revenue. Strategically decide how you will spend this money, how you will measure return on your investments, and where you will spend your limited time. The failure to create a plan and budget will lead to frustration and paralysis.
5. Promote the activities that you are already doing. If you speak or get published, spread the word. We see lost value and opportunity when professional service firms fail to squeeze out the marketing benefits from existing activities.
6. Be proactive in your marketing activities.Too many professional service firms are only reactive in their activities. For example, a social media campaign is reactive. People need first to connect and like, then they need to review their feeds to see your content. Repurpose this content to create an email campaign or create a newsletter.
7. Do not wear too many hats. You are running a business and practicing law. Obviously, you cannot do it all. Find help. Find good and professional help. If you are not doing items 1-6, then you really need help. We see the best-intentioned professionals fall short because they just do not have enough time. Outsource functions, like marketing, that is important, but you are unable to make a priority. Likewise, outsource functions that are not in your skillset.
8. Have realistic expectations. Similarly, to #7, even if you hire the best help, if you fail to uphold your end of the deal, expectations will not be met, and you will be frustrated. You need to personally contribute when it comes to marketing for it to be effective.
9. Be ethical. Professional services can find themselves in hot water if they fail to live by the rules of professional conduct within their industry. When working with an outside company, be sure that they understand the rules affecting your industry.
Don’t let the daily tasks of marketing overwhelm you. Marketing is like exercise. When you find what you like doing, or can tolerate, that is effective; you will see results. Immediate results? No. Consistent marketing, like regular exercise, is what helps you reach your goals. If you can’t go at it alone, hire a professional – a marketing company (or a personal trainer).