Since the budget process is underway in many firms for 2010, I thought it was timely to talk about next year’s marketing budgets. Actually, I received a Google Alert last week about a post I did in the very first week I started blogging in January 2005. In re-reading that post, I decided to share it mainly because I wouldn’t change the gist of it, and newer readers may not have seen it:

January 12, 2005 Posted By Tom

Law Firm Marketing Budgets? You Want How Much?

A percentage of gross revenues is not what a marketing budget should be based on. The percentage approach – whether 1%, 2%, 4% or even more – was popular with a number of consultants and some in-house marketers for years. Comparisons to the accounting or architectural industries should not be used as the guide, as in “accounting firms spend X% of revenues on marketing, etc.” This approach is wrong on a couple of fronts.

It isn’t very original, and is the lazy person’s approach to budgeting for marketing. It doesn’t require any planning, which in turn means it is likely to be wasted and/or misdirected. I have been a proponent of zero-based budgeting, that requires thoughtful planning to arrive at what the firm, practice group or individual wants to undertake in order to reach the desired goals. Unfortunately, too many firms do not use such an approach.

If planning is done properly, which means it is goal oriented with specific measurable objectives, and action plans are designed to reach those goals and objectives, the budget can be relatively easy to arrive at and more likely to be approved…

[In that post I linked to an article by Kerry Randall, a consultant whose advice I very much admired, entitled “How Much Should I Invest in Marketing?,” but I cannot locate a live link to the article, and unfortunately Kerry passed away in 2005.]