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New Business 2012

16 November 2011

Christmas is coming so its time to start thinking about business development plans and budgets for 2012. Easier said than done when faced with the tax deadline and professional indemnity bills! However two positive thoughts have struck me recently:

1)you have more money than you think
2)you can improve your return on your marketing investment

How do you have more money?

Most firms work on roughly 1500 hrs pa. Partners are expected to bill 1000 hrs. That leaves 500 hrs for practice development. At say €300/hr that’s a budget per partner of €150,000. In a 10 partner firm the business development budget is therefore €1.5m and €15m for the top firms! That’s a lot of money.

How can we get a better return on our investment?

Professional Service firms in general suffer from three problems when it comes to business development activity:

1.Feast or Famine - The first problem with Business Development for Professional Service firms is that you get caught up in the day job which means people drop their business development work. This produces a stop – start situation. So when you are finished the big project you have time to start selling but there is a gap in the pipeline.

2.Smorgasbord - There is simply too much choice in terms of marketing activity – think social media like LinkedIn, networking events, email marketing, blogs, writing articles, adwords, seminars, speaking engagements etc . Most firms feel they have to do everything and do too many things with insufficient focus.

3.Lets play golf - When partners fear or don’t really get their business development responsibility they play golf ! I enjoy my golf as much as the next guy and it does have a role in terms of relationship building but it comes way down the list in terms of cost effective business development.

The simple answer as outlined in CJ Hayden’s book “Get Clients Now” is to select a small number of effective activities and implement them consistently. This sounds easy but it requires a really disciplined  approach to identify the effective activities for your firm and then to implement them consistently. So it may not be easy but it will deliver a better return on investment in 2012 !