It has been said many times that failing to plan is planning to fail. Never is that saying more true than when it comes to growing your business.
How much can I spend? What should I implement first? Who is my target market? What are the threats to my practice? If you construct the proper plan with key elements, all of these questions will be answered for you ahead of time.
No matter where you’re going with your firm, a properly designed marketing plan is a roadmap to help get you there. It won’t happen by osmosis, and you can’t do it all by referrals alone. So, what are the foundational elements you need to consider when setting up your firm’s marketing plan?
1. Goals. Identify your goals clearly. Make sure that you’ve taken the time to indicate the who, what, where and why. How many new clients do you want for your business? For which products or services are you looking to attract new clients? Are you looking to build brand awareness, attract new clients directly through your marketing activities, or to generate leads? Make sure you state the goal clearly and objectively.
2. Target Market. Take some time to step outside the box and get into the mind of your potential clients. Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they local to your small town? Does your business target regionally or nationally? Internationally? If so, each of these areas needs to be included in your target market analysis. It may very well turn out that the marketing strategies necessary to reach these different audiences will vary significantly.
3. SWOT Analysis. This is the quintessential aspect of writing a good marketing plan. It represents a clear, concise report on four distinct areas of business development: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Be sure to be overly transparent about your weaknesses and threats. Failure to recognize these properly can be an achilles heel of your business. Direct and indirect competitors can both be threats to your success.
4. Branding and message. Developing strong branding and a powerful message is essential. Are you the premier provider of legal services in a metro area? Let prospective clients know it. Are you a boutique firm with a unique practice that will address a proven pain point or need? The world needs to hear it. Your logo, your branding and your message are your voice. Make your voice heard.
5. Budget. Trying to grow your firm without a dedicated marketing budget is like taking off without knowing how much fuel is in the tank. What happens when you need to know how much you’re capable of spending for a new marketing ad campaign? What about hiring that PR agency you’ve been contemplating for a while? Without diligent budgeting and tracking, you’ll never know if the answer is yes, no or wait.
Creating a marketing plan will help your firm map out future growth. Take the time to construct one properly, taking into consideration the competitive landscape and the nature of your organizational goals.