Why does your firm need an overall marketing and business development plan (and how do you implement it)?

At your firm, is your marketing and BD a little ad hoc?  Do different departments sometimes promote the firm in different ways?  Is there a bit of inertia and do some fee earners stick to doing the same old things and get the same old results)?  This is why your firm needs an overall marketing and business development plan.

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes in the company of Tenandahalf you will undoubtedly have heard the saying ‘what gets measured gets done’.  We like a plan.  And we like to measure progress against a plan to be measured.   

We also know making plans work is not easy.

We’ve worked with hundreds of law firms, accountants, IP practices, barristers chambers and architects.  We’ve seen first-hand that it’s the individuals, teams, departments and practices with a joined-up approach and work to a plan that win not only more work but also more of the work they actually want.

Where do you start with an overall marketing and business development plan?

Here are 5 practical suggestions that will help you improve your business planning and the results your plan yields:

1. Commission an independent marketing and BD audit

You may be familiar with the expression “you can’t see the wood for the trees”.  Almost always the best start point is a totally fresh perspective from an experienced independent who can benchmark what you are doing versus the rest of your profession.

2. Create a one-page plan before you drill into tactics

The problem with most over-arching plans is that they are too long.  They might impress some of your colleagues, but they’ll have little practical use when it comes to implementation.

Instead, what is required is a simple one-page plan that you can put straight into practice once the talking has stopped and the doing has to start.  This plan will tell department heads what they need to do so those heads can choose the right tactics.

3. Appoint an internal sponsor to champion the planning process

People choose the correct behaviour for a given situation by looking at what others are doing.  This is called social proofing.

You can use this psychological phenomenon to your advantage by appointing a popular and influential fee earner as your planning champion.  They would oversee the whole process (both internally and externally if you partner with an external agency to help with design, training and/or implementation).

4. Hold fee earners accountable for supporting your departmental marketing and business development plans

An over-arching strategic plan must be combined with a bottom-up approach.  All heads of department will create and be accountable for the delivery of their own tactical plans.  These plans should be in synch with your firm’s over-arching messaging and objectives (e.g. growth, merger, acquisition, exit, brand positioning, client/sector development etc.)

5. Forward plan review meetings to check progress versus your marketing and business development plan

Both your overall plan and your departments’ tactical plans should be ready to be implemented from day one of a new financial year.

This means the planning process – starting with your independent audit – should be completed in plenty of time before your new financial year.  We’d suggest a 3-month lead time from the completion of your audit to start of the new financial year is a sensible timeline to work to.

If you would like to find out more about the marketing and BD audits we run or our marketing and BD planning model, please get in touch and we can find a convenient time to talk.

Published by sizetenandahalfboots

Douglas is a director of Size 10½ Boots, a specialist business development agency that works solely with the professional services, helping firms grow by winning more new clients and more work from the clients they already have. Although every project is different our work generally falls into one of three camps - strategic marketing support, BD training and 1on1 coaching and independent client research.

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