Determining how much your firm should spend on marketing takes a tailored approach, and, above all, a clear understanding of what your marketing goals are. Does your firm need an SEO-optimized website because your current website hasn’t been updated in years? Would you like to be regularly quoted in news articles to build credibility? Do you want to create information-rich blog content that will introduce new potential clients to your firm? Your marketing goals will dictate what strategies to use and how much you need to invest in order to make them a reality.
To help determine what you want out of your marketing budget, use the SMART goal outline. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This framework can help you define your goals and start building a strategic marketing plan. It’s very important to set goals grounded in reality, as different marketing tools can have a wide range of effects on your business.
Be clear and unambiguous about what you want. Instead of saying ‘I want to increase my firm’s online presence,’ focus on the specific change you want to see, such as ‘I want to audit my firm’s web presence and evaluate where we can allocate extra resources to increase our traffic and engagement.’
Whether it’s updating your website, creating content, or getting PR placements- you need to figure out what you’re going to target. If you decide that one of your goals is digital advertising, then get specific about what kind of ads you want to create and where you want to place them. Will they be Google ads that pop up on the side of a news article, sponsored podcast segments, or something else?
What metrics will you use to measure progress? If your goal is digital advertising, determine whether your priorities are conversions, impressions, increased website traffic, or something else. So rather than ‘I want to improve my firm’s digital influence,’ make it more measurable with ‘I want to increase my firm’s monthly new website visitors by X percent- in X amount of time.’ Your goals need to be framed in a way that they can be quantified. This allows you to track their progress or lack thereof and make concrete, data-based evaluations at regular intervals.
What’s a realistic outcome? It’d be great if your ad campaign could quadruple your website traffic overnight, but that is not feasible. A more achievable objective would be to set a goal range based on your website’s aggregate monthly new visitor rate of growth, for example. Start more conservative with your range until you get a better idea of the impact your marketing efforts will have on your website’s traffic.
If your firm’s goal is to increase its awareness with new prospects, then sending a newsletter updating stakeholders won’t likely help with that goal. It could help you with maintaining current relationships, though, which is very valuable and a goal in itself, but will do little to reach new people. Your marketing goals should be based on your firm’s overall goals; this ensures that your objectives are relevant and support your firm’s long-term plans.
Whether working on a marketing plan or a rocket launch, there need to be deadlines. All projects need time-based limits. Time is a precious asset, so it’s important for goals to have predetermined deadlines so you can evaluate their progress on an ongoing basis. Deadlines should give projects reasonable room to achieve their goals without writing a horological blank check. They help team members get on the same page about what needs to be prioritized and in what order
A general rule of thumb for a marketing budget is 2-5% of revenue. However, that does not mean one size fits all. After going through the SMART goal outline and assessing the types of marketing tools needed, you might determine that you need more or less than the average. For example, if your business is in the early stages of the marketing process, there might be some startup costs like creating a WordPress website or running an audit on the state of your firm’s digital output and search engine rankings. You may decide you want to implement an array of tools and then review their effectiveness, later on, to determine what will bring you value.
A great way to gauge a comfortable budget is to consult with an agency that is experienced in performing marketing audits and marketing plans.
Determining a marketing budget can be overwhelming, especially if your firm has a breadth of practice areas vying for budget dollars. If you find that you need assistance with this process, a full-service integrated marketing agency may be a great fit.
Horowitz Agency is highly skilled at developing individualized marketing plans and budgets at all levels. We work extensively with professional services firms to identify their unique marketing needs and identify a corresponding budget. If you’d like help marketing your firm, reach out to us.