Chances are your firm has done some marketing, whether it’s ads, events or social media. The chances are equally good that you did not get the results you wanted.
Too often, what passes for marketing is a collection of tactics that are not firmly anchored to business goals. The result is initiatives that may look successful -- a Twitter account with many followers, for example -- but do not result in a sustained stream of new clients.
The simple truth is this: to reliably gain business, you need a professional marketing plan.
This is not just a list of ideas, but rather it is a systematic approach that identifies a competitive advantage, retunes your firm to focus on that advantage and then takes that advantage to market with a concrete plan. As such, here are seven steps you can take to create a successful marketing plan for your firm.
1. Understand the Business Situation Your Firm is Facing
A marketing plan only has one purpose: to help achieve your business goals. If you don’t have a clear idea of those goals then no marketing plan will be effective.
Take the time to evaluate what you are seeing in the marketplace. Are you getting squeezed by price sensitivity? Are new competitors appearing regularly?
You have to have a realistic understanding of the business landscape before you can market. A SWOT analysis is a good first step, listing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
But that analysis will be filled with common wisdom unless you take steps to challenge your assumptions. Statistics show firms that use a regular, systematic research to study competitors, understand client needs, and identify opportunities grow more quickly and are more profitable.
2. Research and Understand Your Target Clients
You know your clients, right? Most service professionals would say they do and most would be at least partially mistaken.
Time and again, I have seen research open a professional’s eyes to client needs and priorities that were previously unknown. Often, this is a specific business problem that needs solving.
Almost always, there is new information to be learned about how clients hire professional services and what they value. When conducting research, you should focus on the clients you value most, the ones you want more of. This will equip you to attract more of them as you execute your marketing plan.
About Lee Frederiksen
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is managing partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.