Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our Biggest Marketing Flop.

Marketers like to argue which works better, Marketing or Sales. 

It's like asking which is more successful, Nike, the classic marketing company, or IBM, the definitive Sales organization.  Obviously, the answer is "both."  They're terrific companies, they just have different strategies. 

Law firms need both Marketing and Sales.  When times were good, firms overspent on bad marketing and succeeded in spite of their poor decisions. Now there's no fat in the budget so they have to spend smarter and more strategically. They have to ensure Marketing is aligned with the rainmakers (our Sales force), so their individual efforts are more successful (more below). 


What I like about Marketing is that if you do it right, you can, in one fell swoop, improve the effectiveness of nearly every rainmaker's efforts, firm-wide. You can shift the entire Rainmaking Bell Curve slightly to the right, which totals a lot of additional business.. 

So, when the fee-earners do the things they have always done (i.e. building their networks, investing in relationships, identifying opportunities where they can help people solve their business challenges), they find that things simply work better. Their win-rate increases. Some rainmakers get slightly better, others significantly better. Everyone has more traction. 

How does this work?  Their firm is suddenly viewed as a safer choice.  The perceived quality of their "product" has improved.  The firm's value proposition is clearer.  Prospects are more interested in seeing them, and are more receptive to their message.  They get the benefit of the doubt more often.  They start to win the head-to-head competitions where the firm's reputation is an important consideration.  The Sales scales simply tipped their way more often.

The overall effect across the entire firm becomes sizable -- and easily measurable. If firms don't see that type of improvement, they're shooting too low.  I think firms that overhaul their websites without using it as the hook to seek that type of strategic improvement are missing a real opportunity to drive revenue.

We wouldn't touch a website redesign otherwise - trading an "online brochure" for a shinier version of the same thing suggests to the lawyers that Marketing is just pretty pictures.  We need to prove to them that it's a strategic tool that can achieve measurable financial results.

But, when Marketing and Sales aren't aligned. . . 

Thirteen years ago we launched a terrific marketing campaign, conceived by one of the smartest, most dynamic managing partners I've ever had the pleasure to work with.  The marketing materials we developed to push it to the target market (print ads, brochure, direct mail, seminars, newsletters, etc.) were strategic, creative, visually powerful, and narrowly focused toward a defined, close-knit community of affluent purchasers. We were confident that it was going to be a huge success.

After a big splashy launch, the local and national legal and business media wrote over a dozen prominent feature stories supporting the campaign and its innovative marketing.  The firm and its managing partner were heralded as progressive profession leaders.  High-fives all around. 

Unfortunately...

... when we measured our results, we discovered that it didn't drive a single dollar of new revenue. We were gobsmacked.  Later, following a thorough investigation, we figured out what had happened - the campaign simply didn't support anyone who knew how to sell business.

The rainmakers were off selling what they always sold, not this particular initiative.  In spite of receiving additional training, the lawyers who supported the program couldn't sell water in the desert. 

That is, creative marketing might be fun, but without an effective sales force behind it, no one makes any money.

We'll never make that mistake again....

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