For the next few months, The Conversation will be focussing on the challenging topic of Return On Marketing Investment, as it applies to legal businesses. This is a study we have been doing jointly with New Law Journal. I have had a lot of fun gathering these words of wisdom from some of the best management and marketing thinkers in the field. I know you will find their insights as fascinating and informative as I have. Enjoy!
Victoria Ash believes that, often, a law firm can only assess Return On Marketing Investment over the mid-to long-term, maybe 12-24 months. As a partner in RCR, a firm that specialises in helping boutique and specialist law firms grow, she says she’s frequently observed that if the objective is about changing culture to secure a business’s long term future, then in some cases you could even be talking as much as five, 10 or even 15 years before you reach the desired result. “But you do need interim goals to keep everyone focussed and on track to meet those long-term goals.”
And it’s important to track not just “outcomes", but “source activities” as well, she says, “Because whilst you can’t directly control outcomes, you can control your source activity. And it’s important to make sure you are selecting the right marketing initiatives to focus on and that you are executing them well.”
The starting point of any marketing and BD programme has to be clarifying what it is you are trying to achieve as a business and then setting outcomes-oriented goals to define what success looks like, she says. “This might be increased revenue, whether generally or through on-selling or up-selling to a specific client; or it might be enhanced client retention rates; or some other measure. Now whilst financial returns can take time to become apparent, especially if there are long sales cycles, there are other things you can measure in the interim. So for example if the goal is to bring in new clients, whilst it’s important to decide on longer-term measures that will tell you when your goal is reached, in the meantime you can set interim goals to track e.g. the number of pitches you do; meetings with new clients; number of follow-ups, etc. Another helpful interim measure might be “levels of engagement” with your marketing, which is much easier to ascertain in this social media age than previously.”
Whilst these disciplines are the norm in most sectors, in the legal industry they are sadly actually quite rare, Victoria points out. Far more usual is for in-house marketing and BD teams to be running around breathlessly “doing stuff”, but without much (if any) strategic or even tactical direction, she says.“We ran a survey a while ago to assess how much money firms wasted on ineffective marketing. The answer? A shocking £60m!”
Victoria also agrees with Serle Court’s John Petrie who commented in this blog last year that the success of marketing programmes has to be judged holistically, rather than measuring individual initiatives in isolation. “Everything should work together in an integrated way. For example a heightened press profile and social media presence will help your lawyers’ conversations with prospects on the ground at conferences and seminars.” I love the cycling analogy Victoria uses: “If you want to get better at cycling, it’s not just about buying a bike. It’s about getting fit and doing training to learn techniques. It’s the whole programme that gets results, not just one activity.”
On your marks, get set, go!