Demand for strategic marketing services and lead generation increases while the level of staffing remains the same or decreases. In light of this, being intentional and setting realistic expectations can be challenging. To share your vision, empower your team, and set realistic goals and objectives. It is vital to identify your strategic marketing drivers and establish a way to show the return on investment while maintaining a high level of client service. Guest authors Miki Hanlen and Kelly Schrupp share how.
Identify and Outline Your Strategic Drivers
Working with your marketing leadership team. Outline the strategic priorities that offer the greatest value to your internal stakeholders and to the profitability of the organization. These may include a client feedback program or business development/sales coaching. Be realistic in the number of initiatives you identify and set a reasonable timeframe for execution. If your organization has a strategic plan, be sure your priorities align with the overall business goals of the organization.
You may find that once you identify the strategic marketing initiatives, there are varying degrees of strategy associated with each one, particularly when pairing them to available staffing and other resources. At that point, take time to segment the list into highly strategic and moderately strategic drivers. When making these decisions, don’t overlook the standard business operations that must be maintained for the marketing program to function. These include website and content updates, marketing technology oversight, and internal communications. As you outline the projects and initiatives, consider those that require the involvement and collaboration of other teams. Then gain buy-in and a project commitment from them before moving forward.
After identifying your strategic initiatives and drivers, identify the teams, including those from other departments, who will be responsible for each initiative and the project timeline. Share these initiatives and timelines with leadership. This will engage your decision-makers while also empowering your team and breathing life into your marketing vision and strategy.
Use Data to Help Drive Decisions
From Google Analytics to web tracking and e-communications activity, time and billing information, and external sources of industry and company information, the amount of data available to help you evaluate and determine the most effective strategies has never been greater. Therefore, this readily available data can help provide the information needed to identify which activities create the greatest return on investment and can directly impact your strategic initiatives.
After identifying your strategic initiatives, outline the goals of the initiative and what success will look like. If data will help drive decisions and show a return on investment, identify what data needs to be collected. Review similar past activities to identify pros, cons and lessons learned. This allows successes to be repeated and avoidance of failures. Establish the project timeline and budget. Then identify the intentional actions that will move the project forward and show the necessary return on investment. Once an initiative has kicked off, establish milestones and adjust the plan as needed to reach the goals. At the completion of the project or initiative, collect and review the established data points to evaluate success.
Be Intentional and Set Expectations
Industries are changing rapidly and the marketing focus is continually evolving. Hence, it is unlikely that you will be able to make everyone happy every day. However, by identifying your strategic initiatives, setting the expectations for the delivery of client service with your team, and being intentional in your actions, you will be able to manage expectations and drive success. Here are a few recommendations to help you exceed expectations as projects evolve:
- Be proactive and responsive. Don’t wait for the stakeholder to contact you with new ideas. Add value to your strategic initiatives by making recommendations and suggestions.
- Communicate regularly. Provide status updates, and if you cannot meet a deadline. Be honest and upfront and provide an updated timeline for completion.
- Identify the communication style of your target audience. An email update may be ideal, but in some cases, a face-to-face meeting leading up to the project deadline will be preferred. Ask and include this in the project plan.
- Be visible. Attend internal meetings. Network with your leadership, target audience and administrative teams.
- Build effective relationships with leadership, your target audience and administrative teams. Relationships are the lifeline for professional service organizations, Likewise, they are what drive all effective professional service marketing programs.
- Be intentional and thoughtful in identifying industry trends. Send timely updates about key clients in the news.
- Add value to the business development initiatives by understanding the business of your organization’s clients and the work of your stakeholders. Always try to offer new ideas or suggestions that will help drive the strategic initiatives.
Continually Refine and Assess Your Plans and Processes
Demand is shrinking but competition is increasing. As a result the volume of marketing requests is only going to grow. Understanding your strategic drivers and where you should spend your time is invaluable. To continue to engage your team and internal stakeholders, be sure you take time to reflect on whether the goals for each initiative are being met. If they aren’t, review your plans and implement the change necessary to try to reach a successful outcome.
To manage expectations, be sure to provide regular status reports and feedback. This allows internal stakeholders understand what adjustments are needed, why a timeline may change and what the new desired outcome is, should it change. By taking the time to identify strategic drivers and continually refine your plan and process, you will see a greater level of buy-in and engagement in future projects and planning.
About our guest authors:
Miki Hanlen focuses on identifying solutions that drive innovation and client service to enhance brand loyalty and increase profitability. She currently serves as Sr. Director of Marketing for Steptoe & Johnson LLP where she sets the direction and oversees the implementation of the firm’s marketing and communications strategies and manages the firm’s client engagement program. Miki also advises and collaborates with firm leadership, its lawyers, and the business development team to increase market awareness and drive lead generation.
With more than 20 years of experience in the legal industry, Miki aims to identify ways to improve efficiency to support the marketing operations program so it enhances the strategic marketing, communications and business development initiatives. She is a results-oriented leader who takes great pride in developing the capabilities of her team and those with whom she works. Over the course of her career, Miki has held various leadership roles with the Legal Marketing Association (LMA).
Kelly Schrupp is the director of business development & marketing at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. She has more than two decades of business development, marketing and sales experience with nearly half of those in law firms. She focuses on developing strategic initiatives that further the business development, marketing, and client relationship-building objectives for over 500 attorneys and ten offices at her firm. Kelly received her B.A. in Business Administration with a marketing concentration and her M.B.A. in management from Samford University, and recently completed The Wharton School Executive Education Certificate program “Business Analytics: From Data to Insight.” When not at work, Kelly transports rescue dogs and puppies to their forever homes and along with her husband Jeff, enjoys spending time at the beach, traveling, following the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, and spending time with their rescue dog, Alfie, and their rescue kitty, Matilda.