[The Viewpoint] Law Firm Practice Development – Proper Planning is Key To Growth

When marketing is planned, the efforts are aligned with the firm’s objectives and marketing spend is optimized to achieve the organizational goals.
Aman Abbas
Aman AbbasADMIN

In the legal profession, traditionally a lot of business ‘walked-in’ based on the reputation of a firm or due to equity created by some prominent lawyers in the firm. However, with intense competition among firms that have similar kind of talent pool and increased pricing pressure, a lot of marketing push is needed. It is an established fact that high growth firms spend more on their BD and marketing compared to their peers with slow growth. However, spending more is not enough. Marketing works effectively when they are tied with the firm’s strategy and planned meticulously for the whole financial year as a part of long-term planning.

In your everyday life, as a senior partner, you are swamped with mails offering double spread profiling opportunities that would reach millions of your prospective customers. Or you are offered an event that gets all the ‘decision-makers’ to listen to your proposition. But mostly, all those opportunities are paid ones. You reject a few by your gut feeling but end up accepting some of them, often due to sheer persuasion of the sales guys. You end up spending your precious marketing dollars only to learn that you are going to reject ‘this one’ next year. And this gets repeated.

We need to look at marketing more strategically. In this competitive environment, it is important to understand why a client should choose you among many offering the same kind of services. For that, you need to recognize yourself – who you are, what you stand for, what are your markets and why you.

The firms which excel do invest in people, technology, processes and other touchpoints with their clients. In addition to the traditional 4 Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion, Booms and Bitner added another three elements particularly in the context of the service industry, which are – People, Process and Physical Evidence. Therefore, strategically speaking, when you think of marketing, you must think of all these elements in your advance marketing strategy. However, in this article, we would be discussing more fundamental issues.

‘Recognizing yourself’ is the first step in which senior management must do guided and dispassionate discussions on top of data points. Everyone is not everything. The biggest mistake we make is when we put our hands in many things, spend marketing dollars on several things and don’t get the results. So, we need to define what the firm stands for.

The discussion should be to figure out what worked well for the firm historically and therefore build further on it, which way the wind is blowing so invest in it, what are low hanging fruits, which must be immediately grabbed and what are the long-term objectives of the firm.

A well-articulated strategic direction that comes from the above discussion is the solid backbone of marketing planning. The planning needs to have three-year horizon with one year’s activities defined along with budgets.

This needs to be mapped on the ‘knowledge’ of available marketing opportunities in relevant markets. For instance, if you are trying to make an impact in a market for a particular service, you ought to know where the target audience can be found and offer them the knowledge they care about. And this needs to be done repeatedly with follow-up actions already defined in the plan.

Another key element in achieving BD and marketing goals is to clearly define the roles of BD and Marketing teams. This is often the most neglected area of law firms in India, which must be addressed.

Proper marketing planning also flows in the roles and responsibilities of the BD and marketing team, makes their evaluation process scientific that helps both the team and the organization. When marketing is planned, the efforts are aligned with the firm’s objectives and marketing spend is optimized to achieve the organizational goals.

Aman Abbas is the CEO of Commwiser Consultants LLP. He is a former Director, Client and Markets Department, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, and Former Head of Communications at KPMG. He specializes in Legal and Professional Services Marketing.

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