The New Year’s holiday brings to mind a renewal, a fresh start, a time to reflect and look ahead. New Year’s is known as a time when we set goals for ourselves – “Resolutions” we decide to call them somehow implying that we’re committing – resolving – to make them happen. While the tried-and-true health related resolutions are admirable, are you considering making a New Year’s Marketing Resolution?

  1. What do you want to achieve? Resolutions focus on self-improvement. Start by setting a specific and measurable goal.
  2. How much time you can commit to marketing each month? Nothing tangible can reasonably be expected as an outcome from anything less than 2-3 hours per week.
  3. What activities will lead to your highest probability of success? More networking? More speaking opportunities? More client referrals? Getting an article published?
  4. What support do you need? Some people need guidance, others need to be held accountable. What will help you stay the course and change your habits?

Here are two marketing complaints I hear a lot and suggestions for how to go about setting a plan for 2019 into motion.

I want a better new client pipeline:  I get a reasonable number of referrals but only very few of them are in your optimal target range for size and service mix. 

Resolve to help your referral sources get clear on what you do best for clients so they’ll know what a good referral looks like to you. Start by making a list of your top referral sources (10 at the max) and aim for four meetings a year with each of them. These meetings could be breakfast/lunch, an invite to join you at an industry event or firm-hosted event, or something more social. You could even try to introduce non-competing referral sources to each other!

Here’s the kicker… You’re probably taking the new clients on, are getting busier with low/mid-quality work, and are scrambling to give a referral back to someone at all times, and have no time for doing marketing/networking.  Instead, you need to decline mediocre client referrals. Your referral sources will understand and appreciate that when a client is a good fit, you’ll have the time to dedicate to the company because you won’t be stretched thin with an overload of smaller clients. Be sure to express gratitude for the referral and to explain WHY the client isn’t a good fit. The first time you make this difficult move, you’ll feel nervous and sick – followed quickly by feeling freer and more resolved to your new path forward. Not ready for this bold move? If you’d like to, ask the referral source if you can internally refer the prospect to someone else more junior but still capable in your firm or let your referral source know what other firm might serve the company well.

This New Year’s Resolution will take about 12-15 hours per referral source per year including planning/scheduling/travel/meeting time. If you have (or can build up to) 10 referral sources, then that’s about 12 hour per month commitment. To do this, you’re potentially committing to up to 40 meetings a year… outside of holidays and the weeks your industry ramps up and gets busy, this is one meeting a week so you’ll need to be diligent about scheduling these meetings in advance. Get help if you need it!

I want to get more clients in a specific industry:  My clients are all over the place but my favorite clients are an industry niche.  

For this example, we’ll assume that your firm has clients in this niche but that there has not been any concerted marketing effort around growing it as a distinct concentration. First, state your intention with your fellow partners and get their buy-in. You’ll need their support – or at least for them not to thwart your efforts!
If your firm has a niche roll-out, certainly follow that! Otherwise, try this:

First, join the trade association and get involved at the committee level. You’ll want to know what’s going on inside the organization and this is a great way to do it. You’ll also then know someone at every networking event for the group – and the staff, which can be tremendously helpful when you want a specific introduction.
Add the niche to your website. You can decide if this is done with fanfare as a big reveal with a press release and online announcement etc, or if you just want to have a stake in the ground to hold yourself accountable.

Make a list of all of the clients in the firm (not just your book) who are in this niche. Use the client list, adding in referral sources and COIs to create a newsletter list. This can be a stand-alone list or added as “tags” inside your current newsletter distribution list. Find people inside the firm who are working in the niche or would like to and get them to each write one article. Can’t do this? Come up with six topics and hire a freelance writer. Now you have six months of newsletters and social posts… this will buy you some time to figure out what topics are most popular for Q3 and Q4.

Figure out what services your current clients in this niche use and, from your knowledge of the niche, what services they ought to be using. Identify an internal strategy for how to help the partner in charge of each client to bring this new service idea (with you at the meeting) to the client.  Customize your proposal for this niche. Include your articles in your proposal package.  Hopefully you’ll be involved in serving the client with this new service so that you can begin to develop a relationship.

Consider what kind of study or report you can develop to show your firm off as a leader in this space. Use your firm’s slow season to enlist people interested in the niche to research and assemble data that can be professionally designed and rolled-out as a shareable document.

Over time, you’ll want to become the partner in charge of the niche which might mean sharing or taking over client responsibility for all clients in this niche. This is hotly contested inside some firms and a natural occurrence inside others… either way, I think it’s a best practice.  Unlike the first example, this New Year’s Marketing Resolution evolves throughout the year. Your commitment to the bigger prize and being able to pull others in to support the niche will be keys to your success. Good luck!

Do you have a New Year’s Marketing Resolution but want ideas or help making it happen in 2019? Reach out any time! Cheers to a productive and profitable 2019! – Alison


The following two tabs change content below.
Alison has more than fifteen years of professional services marketing and business development experience. She is a Boston College Double Eagle, holding both a BS in Management with concentrations in Marketing & Information Systems, and an MBA. Alison is a member of the 2009 Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 class of honorees.

Latest posts by Alison Simons (see all)