Monday, November 06, 2006

Right Sizing Your Law Firm Marketing Department

Question: What is the right number of marketers to effectively market a law firm, or any professional services firm? Answer: As many as it takes to do it right. Here is my take on people, numbers, and timing.


  • Marketer #1 (small firm growing) is a mid-level marketer capable of contributing to strategy, and definitely capable of being a hands-on performer. This manager can use PhotoShop, manage mailing lists, coordinate events, coordinate RFPs, handle memberships and sponsorships, etc. Small firms usually have a named partner that takes huge ownership in marketing direction (and often, unfortunately, are not ready to listen to anyone else). The firm also uses outside resources which might include a PR specialist, a strategic mind, and a professional graphic artist and/or web team.
  • Marketer #2 is an marketing coordinator. If your first marketer has gotten things running on most cylinders and the firm is growing there is just too much for one person to sustain. Your second marketer can be an administrative/secretarial person assigned full-time to marketing.
  • Marketer #3 (firm has gained significant momentum and has at least 50 market-facing professionals) is skills-capable of being a marketing director. This person is a strategic thinker who KNOWS what to do next. This is a tough period of adjustment for some partners... because here comes someone that might have a different opinion about what to do.
  • Marketer #4 is an additional marketing coordinator. By now your first coordinator is ready for greater responsibility and can easily be assigned to work with a group, office, or practice area.
  • Marketer #5 is either a communications specialist to replace most of the PR activities that are being outsourced or; a graphic specialist capable of taking on all advertising, collateral, and RFP responsibilities. You’re ready for these people when your outsourced vendors are spending 40%-50% of there time on just your work.

There are no iron-clad rules about the order of hiring but the general rule-of-thumb is to maintain a ration of one marketer for every 20-30 selling professionals. A "selling" professional is a partner or associate responsible for bringing in new business or maintaining the daily relationship with existing clients.

Note 1: A good marketing effort requires the right amount of PEOPLE, a PLAN for what needs to happen, and a BUDGET of the appropriate size so that the right PEOPLE can execute on THE PLAN. The most common order of “inadequate” is: Plan; Budget; People.

Note 2: On average most firms do not have a plan beyond "just knowing" they want good things to happen. But even with a plan, many firms do not allocate an appropriate amount of money to execute. Figure 1.5% to 3% of revenue. No less, no more.~


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