Marketing Budget: How to Set Your Priorities
Updated: Feb 17
Last week, we talked about establishing a marketing budget. A budget should be part of your overall planning process and is a step in implementing your strategic plan. Today, let’s discuss prioritizing your marketing plan, an integral part of creating and employing a marketing budget.
First, a marketing plan should be thought of holistically.
Each element of your strategic marketing plan should complement, support, and leverage the plan’s other facets. None should work in isolation.
Next, there are certain core marketing tools that deserve a prioritized position in most marketing expenditures.
Branding is one of these items. Each marketing tool should be branded and consistent with every other marketing tool. Reinforcing the brand reinforces the message and leads to action taken by the viewer. A well-defined and utilized brand is a message in and of itself. By establishing brand identity, messages are integrated into the brand’s imagery. Take for example the Nike swoosh. By itself, it communicates motion or action. But you get nothing more from it than that. However, because of the consistent effort by Nike to brand its products, its advertisements, and its other marketing, we now associate that simple image with much more. While few law firms will likely establish branding as easily recognizable as the Nike swoosh, one cannot underestimate the significance of consistent and effective marketing. And like the Nike swoosh, it need not be the scales of justice, a gavel, or initials. So, the first dollar spent on marketing should, in most circumstances, be spent on branding. Every marketing tool implemented will need to contain it and support it.
Another core spending priority for marketing is a website. Ideally, all marketing should lead there. It is the way we make first impressions. It provides potential clients, current clients, and referral sources with dependable and credible answers to questions and information they need to know. Because of the limited amount of information that can be contained by other marketing tools and the widespread use of and access to the internet, it is where your first marketing dollars should be spent.
Both websites and branding are important and critical components of your marketing plan. You need both. The next level of priority for marketing expenditures should be broached only if these two items are accomplished.
3. Email Marketing
My experience has proven the next priority for marketing expenditures to be email marketing. Emailing people you know is the wisest spend of your marketing dollars. Because they already know you, the learning curve is not steep. These individuals are great repeat customers and terrific influencers (referral sources). But they cannot be taken for granted. They need to be educated and reminded of what you do and the fact that you are doing it. Remember, they are being inundated with information from competitors actively (when they are searching the internet for lawyers) and passively (when they are searching the internet for other things or are just driving down the road – billboards). Emails are probably the most underutilized marketing tool by lawyers.
4. Social Media & Digital Advertising
The next tier of your marketing spend may include social media and digital advertising. While not related or the same thing, each easily falls between direct emails and other paid advertising. Social media can be effective if done correctly and completely. Digital advertising is effective for many practices because of the ability to target recipients with accuracy and specificity.