The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – 2013 Marketing Planning

Posted in Legal marketing

Part 1 – 2012 results review

The retailers are putting up decorations and advertising the most popular holiday picks. My grocery store just started selling poinsettias. While it is still a little too early for 24/7 holiday radio music and reruns of A Christmas Story, ‘tis the season to start your 2013 marketing planning process.

This two-part series will provide you with some practical ways to enhance your current planning process and prepare for 2013. The first step is a review and critique of 2012 results, identifying the activities that missed, met, and exceeded expectations.

Let’s break the 2012 marketing and business review down into four areas to help organize the process.

While charting monthly results on a Excel spreadsheet would be best, the primary goal is to get something documented that allows you to see trends over time and provide a baseline for future comparison. If you don’t have certain information readily available, skip it.

1.    Qualitative Review. Take a high-level look at your firm’s 2012 activities and results

  • Strengths – What worked particularly well? Could be a specific marketing campaign, attorney coaching, incentive program, networking, etc. All contribute to ultimate revenue success.
  • Weaknesses – What failed, or fell below expectations. You may need to look back through your marketing file, as we tend to quickly forget our mistakes.
  • Gaps – What are the things you wanted to do but didn’t get around to, and why didn’t you pull the trigger? Is there anything on that list still worth considering?

2.    Key Metrics. These are the short-term indicators of longer-term success.

  •  Website Traffic – Assuming that a major marketing goal (at least the internet component) is to drive website traffic , how did it go? Include number and source of visitors.
  • Contacts – How many website phone calls, email messages and chats did you receive? This conversion ratio of visitors to contacts as an indicator of website traffic and content quality.
  • Consults – Ability to convert contacts into consults is a critical indication of your marketing success. Use this ratio to monitor your associate and/or admin. performance.
  • Clients – The consult-to-client conversion ratio is also an important metric to monitor across your team. Who is doing the best job closing, and why?

3.    Revenue. There are a few different ways to view revenue results.

  • Per client – How has your average initial and overall retainer value changed over the course of the year? Can this be linked to any business change?
  • Per associate – How does your team measure up? You may be surprised at how both low and high activity volume can impact revenue results.
  • Over time – If you have seasonal revenue variance, why? Is it due to client interest, or another factor like competitor activity or associate availability?

4.    Expenses. Let’s use some expense ratios help determine which activities were more effective than others.

  • Cost per click – This is the expense of driving visitors to your website or ads. It provides a good baseline comparison between marketing activities.
  • Cost per contact – How well are your website, advertising, and other marketing-related activities generating leads? Some activities may be more expensive, but deliver better results.
  • Cost per client – This is your customer acquisition cost. Was it an acceptable amount for each practice area? If so, you can now look for ways to invest in new clients at this level in 2013. If not, you can cut less profitable activities and look for new ideas.

Remember that you are just reviewing data.

Whether the results were better or worse than expected, the year is about over and you can’t change history – but you can learn from it. Use the data as a valuable source of knowledge so you can build on the successes and fix/dump the failures.

If you made it this far I bet you already have some ideas about changes you’d like to implement next year. Don’t obsess about the details – yet. We’ll spend more time building 2013 plans in Part 2. Do make sure that you document your planning process, so you can follow it again next year view longer-term trends.

Plan to build some tracking enhancements into your 2013 plan if you’re having trouble separating contacts and campaigns. A little extra effort now will help you better manage your marketing expenses and focus on the most profitable on the best activities.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.