Article - Top 11 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

 

“Top 11 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid During Q3 and Q4 2011

By Kevin W. Brown, M.B.A.

As an experienced marketing consultant, I am frequently barraged with questions at networking events about what lawyers, CPAs and other professionals can do to improve their marketing efforts (I could spend my entire week answering these questions for free if I had the time!).  In these informal conversations, I hear recurring themes that explain what they are doing wrong.

Here are the “Top 11 Mistakes” that I’ve seen non-clients do, time and again, this year:

1.       Fail to recognize that marketing is your “lifeline.”  It isn’t uncommon for a small, struggling firm to say “We can’t afford to do any marketing right now.”  Really?  Without marketing, you don’t have revenue.  Cut costs in other areas that aren’t as critical to the future of your firm.

2.      Home-made marketing plans.  Having the drive to do things yourself is admirable but in marketing it can be extremely costly.  Think of all the money that is wasted by following an ill-conceived  marketing plan – advertising in publications that don’t make sense, internet marketing that brings no results or unwanted inquiries, etc.  On the other hand, a professionally-prepared Strategic Marketing Plan is a relatively cheap investment.  For example, it can cost only the price of one advertisement!

3.      Start-and-stop marketing.  Marketing pro­grams should be consistent, year-round efforts because “start and stop” marketing always bring mixed results.  It is crucial to have consistent implementation, since this will maximize your efficiency and effectiveness.  It is also easier to rate the productiveness of an activity if it is carried through to completion.

4.      Poor branding and differentiation.  You work in a crowded marketplace of competitors offering similar services.  As such, it is important to figure out how to make your firm distinctive.  Don’t make the mistake of “me, too” marketing.

5.      Lack of a well-rounded marketing program.  Many firms lack a unified, cohesive, well-planned effort.  An effective program encompasses many aspects of marketing.  The entire marketing process should be considered with a marketing professional before determining the appropriate combination of methods to utilize.

6.      Lack of training and ongoing coaching in Business Development.  It is amazing how many great sales opportunities are wasted by a lack of training and coaching in business development.  We’ve found that such training can dramatically increase the closure rate.

7.       Not recognizing how clients select you.  What causes your target market to choose you?  Do you know?  You might think so – but if you truly understood, your marketing program would likely be very different.

8.      Hiring a PR firm or advertising agency – and expecting them to do more.  Simply put, public relations and advertising are subsets of marketing, so they are just a small part of what a full-service marketing firm can offer.  So, hiring a PR firm or ad agency, by its nature, limits your firm’s ability to market itself.   Further confusing matters, these firms are now saying that they can do more than their capabilities allow, since their traditional services are not as in high demand.

9.      Working with consultants that don’t understand how to market your firm effectively.  Does it make any sense to hire a PR or advertising agency with zero or limited experience in marketing a law or CPA firm?  Marketing a profession is far different than a product or other services business.  Don’t waste money by hiring someone who has to learn on your investment.

10.   Overemphasis on the internet.  The internet is fantastic for many aspects of marketing and we use it all the time in helping our clients.  But some firms put far too much of an investment in it without understanding how it can fit in with other marketing efforts.  Ask yourself: Do your quality clients make buying decisions based on relationships and referrals or websites?  If it is the former, then what are your programs for personal relationship marketing?

11.    Waiting until the economy gets better.  Numerous empirical studies have proven that marketing should continue strongly during a recession.  These studies typically have shown that the biggest sales increases throughout the recession were experienced by firms that marketed more than others and that, almost without exception, sales and profits dropped off at firms that cut back on marketing.

Make a Commitment Today
I’ve often said that my firm encounters two types of clients in a recession: those who say they “can’t afford to market” and those who say they “can’t afford NOT to market.”  We tend to work with the latter group, who realize that if they don’t market their firms, they may very well shrink or dissolve.  Make a commitment to market your firm and you will be in a much better position to “weather the storm” of the recession.

About the author: Kevin W. Brown, M.B.A. has worked with professional services firms for over 20 years.  His firm, Kevin Brown Marketing & Consulting, is a full-service marketing and management consulting firm that  specializes in serving lawyers, CPAs and other professional services firms. The firm is also a qualified advertising agency and public relations firm. Phone: (714) 965-1556. Website: www.KevinBrownMarketing.com .