Wednesday, February 4, 2009


The companies which emerged from the Great Depression as category leaders were largely those who marketed more aggressively – not less – during hard times. I’m not suggesting that you increase your marketing spending nor should you necessarily cut your expense level – but you should absolutely scrutinize it and realign it so that your money and time work much harder for you. Review each of your initiatives against the following factors before adding or cutting from your marketing budget:

What kind of revenue will the effort yield? Relative to other initiatives you might pursue will the revenue generated likely be:

o Plentiful – will the initiative lead to enough projects that can be priced at high enough rates?
o Profitable – will the initiative lead to work with clients who are willing and able to pay those rates and to engagements which, despite the fee level, won’t suck your resources and profits dry?
o Predictable – will the initiative lead to annuity work or one-time-only engagements?

Are all the levers engaged? Growth is a function of reaching enough of the right people, often enough, with the right content, in the right context and with a level of urgency that accelerates the process. As you assess your marketing budget and the initiatives represented, are these levers aligned and engaged?

o Reach - you need to reach enough of the right executives within the right prospective and existing clients who are most likely to resonate with you and your claim to fame. Are you getting the right quantity of outreach?
o Frequency – you need to reach those right executives often enough to be perceived as familiar, likeable and trustworthy by your prospective and existing clients. Is your marketing program loaded with opportunities to engage prospects over time…or just once? Are you getting the right frequency of outreach?
o Content - reaching a lot of people often without providing anything of value is simply stalking. “Need any of my services today? How about now? Now?” Instead, connect with content – meaning only make contact if your message is loaded with value for the other person. Value doesn’t mean sharing commercial solicitation material that touts your capabilities. It is, instead, a demonstration of your difference as a professional advisor because it shows that you are fully equipped to bring ideas, introduction, information and income to them and their company. Are you getting the right quality of outreach?
o Context – ensure that the environment in which your outreach is conducted reinforces the image you want the prospect to have of you and your firm. Do you want to be affiliated with Captain Underpants?
o Velocity – focus your marketing on activities that most quickly move prospect relationships from initial contact to successful engagement. Do your marketing initiatives significantly speed and shorten the client development cycle?

What’s the full cost? Examine both the evident, immediate cash cost as well as the hidden cash, time and anxiety costs of your business development initiatives.

o Cash commitment - what’s the absolute out-of-pocket cash cost to you and your firm of your marketing program? Are you spending enough and how do you know?
o Non-cash cost - what’s the cost of the time you and your colleagues need to commit in order to enact the marketing initiatives? When you buy a car the “total cost of ownership” includes what it costs to drive and maintain the car, the same needs to be considered when understanding the real, total cost of your marketing initiatives.

Return on Marketing Investment = marketing results (output of the reach, frequency, content, context and velocity of your efforts) divided by the cash and non-cash costs of executing your marketing efforts.

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