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Marketing planning: deciding how to spend your marketing dollars and keeping track of what works

The need to ensure each marketing dollar is used effectively and delivers on its objective is always important. .It is also an opportunity to assess your past marketing spend and to drop the activities that are not delivering good returns in the changing market.

Your marketing planning process (as outlined in steps 1-3 of the marketing planning for guide) will have helped you identify the priority areas for investment for the coming fiscal year. With the strategy in place you can now turn your attention to the tactics and budget for each strategic priority. There is tendency at this stage of the planning process to set overly ambitious plans – eg. hold four client seminars, send out monthly newsletters, attend 3 conferences, write 4 articles for trade press etc.

The good news is that, unless the practice has a particularly strong track record in delivering on ambitious programs, these plans and the budget to support them can be cut in half. The focus should be on making the plans realistic and achievable and then executing them exceptionally well.It will be a welcome morale boost for everyone involved to see the plans and results take shape compared to falling behind on a long list of poorly executed activities.

As part of the process you should put in place some measurable objectives that can be used to monitor results. These objectives can of course be financial, but they can also include a number of important non-financial goals which can help you gauge your success. Some simple examples include:

  1. A first referral from an intermediary

  2. Number of top prospects who attend an in-house seminar

  3. Instructions from an existing client in a new practice area

  4. Establishing a relationship with a new senior contact at an existing client

  5. Invitation to tender from a prospect

  6. Improved ranking in a legal directory

  7. Increased number of visitors to your web site or practice specific pages

  8. Increased cold calls from prospective clients

  9. Number of press appearances

  10. Improved search engine rankings

Finally, where practical, think about setting short term plans and budgets which are reviewed on a quarterly or six month basis. This will help keep the focus on delivering on the immediate plans and will allow resources to be re-allocated to the initiatives showing the greatest promise and the groups most actively committed to executing their marketing plans.

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