Some small firms may feel that they can’t afford to invest a large sum of money in marketing or that they won’t be able to use marketing in an effective way due to having simpler, less ambitious goals than larger firms.
But while their goals may be smaller and the marketing budget smaller still, a small firm can still develop an inexpensive but effective marketing program. Unlike the large and ambitious goals of the large firm, a small firm’s goals may be simply to make an impact in a new market or establish the expertise of the firm in a particular area.
A bare bones marketing program starts with planning. Firms need to have a clear idea of what they want to accomplish and the action needed to accomplish it. Since you can’t accomplish everything you want with the limited resources available, firms need to eliminate the add-ons found in more elaborate programs.
Firms should pick one specialty in one practice area as their starting point, as they can always expand their marketing efforts to the other practice areas later. Building a reputation for a single skill in a single target market can get results. That’s what bare bones marketing is all about. When choosing the practice area to focus the marketing on, firms should carefully examine the potential market, the commitment of their partners, the firm’s competitive strength, the marketing opportunities, firm resources and expectations.
The firm must be committed and willing to participate in the marketing program. Even if you have the best plan in the world, you won’t get it off the ground if the responsible partner sees the effort as a waste of time or sees marketing as something that somebody else should be doing.
A bare bones marketing also requires spending some money. When you know what you want and what you have to do to get it, figure out how much it will cost. Then work out if you can afford that kind of expenditure.
Even if you have planned the best marketing program in the world, if it is founded on unrealistic expectations, you are bound to be disappointed in the results. Your expectations should be clearly defined at the very beginning, not after the program is started.
Finally, firms need to elect who will lead the marketing program. To be successful, the marketing leader needs three sets of proven skills: marketing, business and people skills. Small firms need to decide if it is something a firm partner can do, or if they will need to contract outside professional help.