Getting Firm Buy-In to Support the Changing Role of Marketing in the Digital Age
The marketing teams in professional service firms are in the middle of a seismic transformation! The digital revolution is ushering in the changing role of marketing trends and functions. What was oftentimes more of a sales support role for the partners, making sure they have visually appealing website and collateral, has morphed into a role that is responsible for attracting and qualifying new prospects for the firm. These new responsibilities may replace, or at least augment, the work of the traditional “Rainmakers.”
AAM was joined on December 8 by Jeff Antaya, author and Managing Director of Antaya Gladiator Marketing. With the changing role of marketing in the digital age, it’s important to get firm buy-in to support new and ongoing initiatives. To lead this transformation for your firm, Jeff believes you need two things: A plan and a persuasive argument. You’ve heard that saying, “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.” Similarly, you need to create a roadmap tailored to your firm’s goals that details what is necessary from culture, people, process and technology to deliver good leads
Part 1: The Plan
The first part of transforming the role of marketing in the digital age is a solid plan. For this, you need the right combination of culture, people, process, and technology.
Your firm should have a full technology stack that is customized to you and your goals. The basics may include:
- A website
- A visitor tracking tool
- A CRM tool/subscription system
- A scoring model
- Data warehouse capabilities
- An integrated webinar platform
The right people who should be involved in the plan include marketing team members who understand the dream and those who can optimize the use of the tools. You also need active LinkedIn usage by everyone at the firm. Finally, whatever the plan is, you need management leadership and buy-in.
When dreaming up the process for the plan, you need to make a commitment to produce content that readers want to learn, in a format that they will find engaging. The ability to identify the right time to add human interaction to a digital interaction is key. Plus, you should understand who is and who is not a good prospect, having the ability to boil down data to your best prospects.
Part II—The Persuasive Argument. Building a Business Case that Gets a Yes.
How can you position the investment in new initiatives in a way that allows the management team to not only endorse your plan, but enthusiastically support it? The best roadmap is worthless if it’s left of the shelf, so here’s how you can put together a business case that prioritizes initiatives for marketing in the digital age.
Speak your stakeholder’s language
Start by understanding what your decision-maker cares about. Frame the opportunity in the context of their world. A winning argument will include seven elements.
What is the big picture for the firm? What are you trying to accomplish in 5 or 10 years time, or longer? Zoom out and show them the 30,000 foot view.
What are the benefits to the firm of engaging in these initiatives? First, investing in the future means that you are working to create a sustainable firm that can pay retiring partners for services while you fund additional required investments. A strong marketing approach allows you to improve retention and recruiting efforts as the staff business development barriers fade. You can find work for non-“busy season” time by having a strategic approach to your marketing activities. Finally, a proactive plan can help you recruit new clients who are less fee-sensitive.
Creating a roadmap is how you set expectations for the timeline between work and results. How are you going to get where you’re going? What will it involve, both internally and with the help of external vendors? What kind of time commitment will go into these initiatives? Which internal resources need to be involved? When will you check in on your efforts, and how long will you work on one tactic or strategy before deciding to switch gears if something isn’t working? The more well-defined your plan, the easier the buy-in will be.
Financial Business Case
As marketers, we tend to know instinctively that not investing adequately in marketing initiatives, especially ones rooted in digital transformation, will be a costly misstep. However, the best way to communicate this to people who think in terms of the bottom line is to make a clear financial business case for your work – what is the cost of engaging and not engaging in your marketing plan? Find elements in your plan that have value and determine what the value is. Ideally, this would come from past performance, but it could also come from case studies and industry standards if needed.
Scorecard and Reporting
A plan wouldn’t be complete without something that can show your decision-makers what success is and isn’t. Your plan should include detail on what a scorecard would look like that measures success – what are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that show you your efforts are headed in the right direction?
Role of Management Team
While the responsibility of the marketing plan is on the marketing team, despite what some may believe, this is bigger than a marketing initiative. Marketing initiatives are firm initiatives. How does management need to get involved, and what needs to be encouraged from the top down to ensure success?
Other Topics to Discuss
Some other points you may want to discuss could include:
- Implementation/Migration and rollout plan
- Data migration issues
- Marketing staff training plan
- Firmwide education and compliance plan
One of the best ways you can ensure firm buy-in for your marketing initiatives is by having a strong plan. Use this blog and the on-demand webinar as your guides. What are you looking to introduce in 2022 and beyond? Check out the on-demand recording, available to AAM members.
About Sunny Ricks
Sunny Ricks, Director of Marketing Communications, Warren Averett. Contact at [email protected] Sunny Ricks works with Warren Averett’s client service teams and niche marketers to enhance the firm’s brand, visibility and audience communication experience. Within Warren Averett’s Marketing efforts, Sunny leads the firm’s Marketing Communications team, which functions as an internal agency advising stakeholders and other marketers on topics like branding, media relations, advertising, publicity, websites, content, social media and collateral, as well as office-based and firm-wide internal initiatives. Sunny’s ultimate objective is to communicate Warren Averett’s expertise, build the Firm’s audience and generate new client relationships. Before starting at Warren Averett 15 years ago, Sunny worked at The Zimmerman Agency, leading media relations, promotions, and publicity for clients such as Diners Club, the Don CeSar Beach Resort & Spa and Florida's Emerald Coast.
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