For most law firms, it's budget season. Given the upheaval on Wall Street this fall, some law firms are worried, several have faced well publicized lay-offs and even the ones who are doing pretty well, are uncertain. Twelve years ago I created a program called "Couch Money(r)," a marketing budget and cost recovery analysis designed to cut the fat from marketing budgets. It essentially started with a zero-based budgeting model, which, at the time, wasn't widely embraced.
October 29, 2008 was day one of the Forrester Research Consumer Forum, "Keeping Ahead of Tomorrow's Customer" in Dallas. According to the blog posts, we are a society of multi-channel, multi-taskers (we already knew this) -- and have become this in a relatively short period of time. How will the next ten years change the landscape of consumer (and law firm buying) behavior?
Two short summaries on this blog struck me as relevant foreshadowing of what's to come for law firms:
1) Cameron Death, VP of Digital Content, NBC Universal, talked about the "time-shifting" of TV viewers. He said, "34% of people who watch The Office watch it time-shifted." Meaning, they watch it when they want to watch it, not when it's actually airing in their time zones. This also means that the advertisers who have spent millions to air their clever ads during this program, will likely be ignored by this 34%.
2) Tim Suther, SVP Digital Marketing Services, Acxiom, estimated $100 billion in "massive wastage" -- marketing spent badly thanks to old-fashioned thinking. He focused on understanding your customers and aligning marketing measurement and incentives to incentivize the right way of thinking.
So, with all the consumer behavior shifts, there is a new focus on Couch Money. Money that used to be well spent no longer is. This is a perfect time for law firm marketers to climb up to their 30,000-foot perches and look far out over the horizon -- not just at 2009, but look at the next few years.
The fully integrated marketing program should look very different than it did in 2008 and before. Answer the question: how can my budget reach the multi-tasking, multi-channel buyers of legal services? Then ask: how can my budget fund initiatives that will build client loyalty and increase both revenue and profit? Finally: how can I prove to management that we are doing everything possible to avoid falling into the category of "massive wastage?"
All important questions given the belt-tightening we are seeing.