Larry Bodine had recent post entitled "Law Firms Spend Less on Branding, More on Business Development." The post summarizes an article of the same name by branding expert Leigh George.
Spending more money on business development than traditional branding makes perfect sense. Right now, the majority of our marketing and development dollars need to be spent to make the phone ring sooner rather than later, especially since sales cycles have lengthened.
An example in the post caught my eye:
Green & Seifter Attorneys, PLLC, a 30-lawyer firm in Syracuse, New York, has shifted dollars away from print advertising and reallocated those funds to a business development consultant who works with a handful of attorneys one-on-one and with another ten in monthly group meetings. Not only is the program a success, having already paid for itself in new business, but it’s paying dividends. Kathleen Ryan, director of marketing and public relations at the firm, has seen “an increase in confidence and in traditional business development techniques like articles, referral development, [and] speaking engagements.” (emphasis mine)
I am happy that the attorneys at this law firm are finding this program a success. However, I'm struck that it took a consultant to create confidence in "traditional business development techniques like articles, referral development [and] speaking engagements."
Part of my job and the job of many CMOs is to work with our professionals to secure articles and speaking engagements and support other business development efforts. I am not, however, a business development consultant. I just wonder how many dollars could be saved on consultants if marketing directors with the right capabilities stepped up and were allowed and trusted to work with professionals one-on-one in such a manner.
I mean no disrespect to Ms. Ryan because I feel certain that
she does a great job. Often, too much credence is given to the opinions of an outsider while the opinions and
experience of those inside the firm are discounted. I have experience being the one who has had her opinions discounted or dismissed in favor of "marketing professionals" so I know how that feels.
I also do not intend to demean the work of consultants. Like many firms, we have worked with consultants who were exemplary and helped us a great deal.
However, if there is sufficient trust in the capabilities of the insider and the right skill set, a consultant will not be needed. I know this can work. Our firm decided to develop a strategic plan without a consultant and we accomplished it. It was successful because:
the CEO and management of the firm were committed to it we knew it had to happen to aid our growth and deal with succession issues - so failure was not an option
the CEO and management of the firm were committed to it
we knew it had to happen to aid our growth and deal with succession issues - so failure was not an option
It seems if there is that level of commitment and a marketing director or other professional with the right skill set and drive, an in-house effort could be successful.