Business Development

How Should Your Growing Firm Allocate Its Marketing Dollars?

By Anusia Gillespie, JD, MBA
If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing. 
~ W. Edwards Deming

As firms grow, they encounter the fortunate problem of deciding how to create and implement a marketing and business development program. I’m often asked for materials that might be helpful in determining the best course of action for a firm’s formal implementation of such a program. Since there is no template solution, I offer the thought process that firms should flow through in creating a program best suited to their needs. Following are questions I would seek to answer in developing an effective strategy:

1) What does your current program entail? In answering this question, it might be helpful to consider:

  • Does your firm have a formal marketing plan, and is it updated to support your strategic initiatives?
  • What efforts are taken to enhance your firm and individual attorney visibility?
  • Is the firm’s brand identity current and does it drive all firm marketing materials?
  • What are you doing institutionally to nurture and expand existing client relationships?
  • How does the firm currently incentivize and support attorneys in their business development efforts?
  • Who in the firm is ultimately responsible for the success of the firm’s marketing programs?

2) What does success look like for the firm in implementing new initiatives? Do the partners agree on this?

3) What are the firm’s greatest needs in order to achieve that success, as it relates to the different functions of marketing, business development and sales. To reiterate the different functions:

  • Marketing. The marketing function includes responsibilities with respect to the website, broad sponsorships, and other initiatives that megaphone the firm’s brand to its audience, with little to no interaction with that audience.
  • Business Development. The business development function occurs at the attorney level, wherein individual attorneys craft their personal brands and endeavor to become recognized experts in their respective fields by engaging pre-selected audiences, with more interaction than marketing.
  • Sales. The sales function includes responsibilities with respect to client proposals and one-to-one communications, and is highly interactive with a targeted audience.

4) Who can you hire, either as a consultant or new hire, who fits both culturally and strategically in possessing a skill set aligned with your greatest needs?

Once the firm has determined the answers to these framework questions, the chosen consultant or new hire should then create and implement a strategy around the three functions, relative to their ranked level of importance, to maximize impact and achieve the requisite goals.