The plan drives the budget. The budget doesn’t drive the plan.
Often, when people get stuck planning their law firm marketing budgets for the year, they get overwhelmed with the possibilities and start plugging random numbers into a spreadsheet, or they come up with one bucket of money for all things “marketing.” And that’s totally understandable, but it’s not the most effective approach.
Before you start filling in those spreadsheet gaps, take a step back and ask yourself these three questions:
➢ What do we want to accomplish this year?
➢ What marketing will make a difference?
➢ How can we allocate the funds most effectively?
The budget spreadsheet CMO2Go uses with our clients has several categories and subcategories, including business development, communications, events, research, technology, consultants, etc. But not every category needs to be completed. Pick the ones that make the most sense for your firm’s goals.
Once you have a baseline budget, you can benchmark it against other firms and see if it stacks up to what they’re spending. Is it between 1-3% of your firm’s gross revenue (this is generally the range to aim for)? If it’s larger than that, what’s causing the overage? And over time, you can track year-over-year spend and compare budget to actual spend.
For example – maybe your firm has a lot of content, but no CRM to distribute it effectively, so deploying a CRM is the priority. Or, perhaps you want to return to a conference that produced some promising new relationships. Taking a deeper dive into what you engaged in over the past year can help you determine future priorities.
Midsize firms need to make strategic choices about what marketing efforts will make the biggest difference for them. Next week, I’ll be covering how to make the most of your budget. But in the meantime, if you want my budgeting spreadsheet template, fill out our contact form and we’ll send it to you.