Marketing Isn't Sales
Marketing Isn't Sales
by Melissa Rogozinski, Chief Executive Officer
A version of this article first appeared in the July 1, 2022 issue of Law Journal Newsletters.
But it should lead to sales.
As we move into a post-pandemic era of inflation and recession rumors, it is imminent that we make changes in how we operate and grow our businesses in order to move successfully – and profitably – forward. For law firms, we need to understand how marketing, business development and sales work together to produce new opportunities for revenue growth.
Law firms, like other businesses, have typically approached marketing and business development as completely separate functions. Marketing teams are generally behind-the-scenes with branding, content creation and message distribution and rarely have the facetime with clients. Business development, on the other hand, is tasked with expanding existing client relationships and acquiring new ones through client and prospect outreach, attorney coaching and mentoring, and market intelligence.
But marketing and business development are only two of three necessary components to revenue generation. Although lawyers don’t think of themselves as sales professionals, they ARE in the business of selling their services.
As mentioned in our February 2022, article, “10 Steps to Realigning Sales, Marketing and Tech” marketing and sales strategies that depended on interpersonal relationship-building lost their impact after nearly two years of social separation, remote meetings, and backtracking on budgets. Additionally, technology has revolutionized the way professionals buy, sell and generally want to conduct business.
If you want to want to drive real revenue growth for your law firm in our post-pandemic environment, then you must align marketing, business development and sales in order to meet the needs of the new legal services buyer.
1. What is marketing?
According to the American Marketing Association, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Regardless of whether you consider marketing an expense or investment, every idea, every decision, every move you make should be designed to generate revenue. Marketing deliverables include branding (logos, color palette, font family), content (blogs, videos, graphics, audio) and the distribution channels (website, social media, email campaigns) through which consumers receive this information.
Although marketing should generate brand awareness and leads (MQLs “marketing qualified leads”), they don’t generally lead to a direct engagement (or sale). The best way for marketing to set the path to revenue and growth is a strategic content approach that begins with client persona development. Client personas are fictional representations of your target client, their demographics, business objectives, challenges and how your services help them overcome those obstacles.
Client personas then inform your content and marketing strategy. Distribution of your content through your website, social media channels and email campaigns creates thought leadership, which is a tactic used in business development to build credibility.
2. What is business development?
Think of business development as a bridge between marketing and sales. This function is an opportunity to nurture current clients and build a pipeline for new clients, both of which drive revenue growth for the firm.
Nurturing current clients can be accomplished with simple handwritten “thank you” notes and “birthday” cards. Schedule time to ask current clients if there are other ways you can help them, utilize cross-pollination efforts between practice areas, request referrals and occasionally issue a satisfaction survey.
Thought leadership, on the other hand, is the key to building your new pipeline. Did you know that seventy percent of the buying journey for a business professional is completed through individual research?
If you’re not consistently creating knowledge resources for your target audience, then you are leaving valuable opportunities on the table for your competitors. The main goal of thought leadership is to become recognized as an expert and used as a go-to resource in your field.
To become a thought leader, leverage your buyer personas to create and promote educational, helpful content and become active in your target clients’ industry communities, particularly on social sites. Marketing technology makes it easy to generate new prospects through content marketing, social media engagement (LinkedIn for B2B, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok for B2C), op-ed articles, industry publications and speaking engagements.
3. What is sales?
Business development and sales are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, they are actually different parts of the same process that leads to client engagement and revenue growth.
Sales can be defined as “a transaction between two or more parties in which the buyer receives tangible or intangible goods, services, or assets in exchange for money.”
A study by Jacqueline Militello, reviewed by Complex Discovery, reported that business professionals attributed the lack of face-to-face interactions during COVID as their most significant handicap to networking and the ability to build new relationships leading to organic sales. Prospects of our own consulting firm confess that the majority of their business comes from existing clients or referral sources, and my legal industry recruiting friends are almost always looking for candidates with existing books of business.
Natural-born sales hunters can’t help themselves—we’re always hungry! Every step of the chase excites us, and we have a hard time being patient about the sales process. However, lawyers who have relied on existing business, become complacent with the status quo or realistically struggled on how to evolve through the pandemic can be trained as HUNTERS with this recommended sales process.
Driving sales and growing revenue is achieved through intentional outreach, follow-ups, intake meetings and negotiations designed to help a prospect trade money for your services. Prepare for the intake meeting with some strategic research and pre-conceived “how” and “what” questions in order to encourage dialogue that confirms or refutes your research and provides additional information.
Listen – let them do the talking – and they will often lead themselves to your solution.
4. What should you realistically expect?
The most important thing to remember is that marketing isn’t sales. However, marketing should lead to sales.
As this article addresses, there are several components to a true revenue growth strategy: creating client-centric content, distribution through marketing channels to generate brand awareness and thought leadership, and the process of hunting for prospects, preparing for meetings, facilitating negotiations and engagement and providing continued client success maintenance.
But it takes time. Be patient. Be realistic about your expectations. Following a proven, repeatable marketing, business development and sales process will always yield the desired result, and ultimately, drive revenue across your firm.