You are late, if you haven’t already budgeted for marketing and business development for 2008. Most large law firms start their budgeting process in early fall for the following calendar year.
Of course, there are firms that still do not prepare a formal marketing budget at all, so anything I say here would be a waste of time for those firms. Unfortunately, for some firms, budgeting is still done on the “Gee, can I take my client to lunch today on the firm?” basis. Planning ahead, ain’t part of the program.
For the others, (those not opposed to budgeting, but possibly have been procrastinating) there is some guidance from Michelle Golden of Golden Practices that may prove helpful in deciding as the new year approaches as to “What’s in a (your) Plan?”
I not only like her simple spreadsheet, I particularly like her focus and the priority order in which she lists her budget categories (with my usual editorial comments):
- Existing Clients – (clearly, this is the most critical area in which to budget dollars. As Michelle points out, this is the most important area to focus, but “usually, little is allocated in this area”);
- Influential People/Referral Sources – (likewise, very important, since the vast majority of new work comes from clients and referrals);
- New Business – (more long-term, so put less business development money in this category);
- Marketing Infrastructure – (the “bottomless pit” indeed, and should only be financed to the extent it supports the categories above); and
- Research & Development – (in the sense that a firm needs to constantly assess its position in the market and that of its competitors – to be honest, I don’t see this as a high priority for many firms, so don’t get hung up here).
Take a look and see if there isn’t some helpful stuff for your budgeting process.
Thanks to Dan Hull for the lead to Michelle’s post.