Setting Realistic, Achievable Growth Goals
July 13, 2012 | The Whetstone Group

With summer here, many firms are planning retreats beginning to set growth goals for next year. It’s the perfect time re-think your goal-setting process. Don’t just think in terms of acquiring new clients when setting target numbers; it’s important to evaluate all factors that will contribute to your final growth goal.

  1. Average Useful Life of Clients: From mergers and acquisitions to changes in management — there are a number of factors that will lead to lost clients. Every client has an average useful life cycle. If your firm’s average is ten years, that means on average your firm will lose 10% of your clients every year. If your firm’s average useful life is 15 years, you can expect to lose 6.7% of your clients per year.
  2. One-Time Projects: You should also consider the amount of one-time project work your firm does in one year. Typically this averages 10-20% of a firm’s total volume.
  3. Net Growth: The net growth you want to achieve this year.

After evaluating these three factors, you can determine your growth goal. For example, if you have an average client life of 10 years, 10% of your revenue is one-time projects, and you want to grow by 10% next year, you really need to generate 30% of gross new business to achieve your 10% new growth goal.

As you can imagine, it takes a lot more activity to generate 30% gross new business than it does 10%. So it might be helpful to break down your goal and determine exactly what you’ll need to do to realize it.

  • How many new clients will your firm need to secure?
  • How much additional work to current clients will you need to sell?
  • How much of a price increase will you need to consider?

When you actively define you growth goals with these three components in mind you can easily assess how realistic or aggressive your goal is. Tracking each of these on a quarterly basis will give you the ability to measure how you are doing against your overall goal. If one of them is lagging, you can increase activity within that component or adjust to make up the difference another way.

Be realistic when setting goals. Make sure your firm can generate enough activity — and that you have enough money budgeted in your growth plan — to achieve your goal.

A Friendly Reminder about Marketing Budgets
March 24, 2011 | The Whetstone Group

You need one.

Ok, so maybe that wasn’t as friendly as you might have imagined based on the title of this post. But seriously, you need a marketing budget.

Why, you may ask? After all you’ve been getting by ok without one. You’re still marketing. Last year you sponsored 25 different golf holes at 20 different outings (those 5 overlaps were due to an unfortunate lack of internal communication). You have people out networking in the community and serving on boards. You take your clients to lunch and got a sweet deal on your yellow pages advertising. Last year your firm offered a couple of seminars and sent out a few letters. And maybe you even are investing in an email newsletter. Of course, you don’t really know if any of this stuff works, but at least you’re doing it, right?

So if you have all this activity going on, why do you need a marketing budget?

Here are five reasons:

  1. Control spending. The fundamental purpose of a marketing budget is to give firms control over their marketing spending. A budget enables firms to put aside a set amount of money that they would like to invest in growth and manage the way that money is spent each year. It precludes the open checkbook policy that causes firms to end up spending too much (or in many cases, too little) on marketing and sales activities.
  2. Avoid random and ad-hoc marketing activities. Creating an effective budget requires some marketing planning to take advantage of the best opportunities for growth. This ensures marketing dollars are being spent in a manner that supports your firm’s growth strategy. Without a budget and this forethought, firms often struggle to reign in their spending. These same firms almost always find themselves engaging in one-off marketing activities that may or may not support a firm’s vision for growth.
  3. Leverage investments. A by-product of developing a marketing budget is the ability to leverage marketing investments by creating activities that support each other. For example, investing in an advertisement in an industry journal can also support an investment in telephone lead generation that is also focused on that industry segment.
  4. Measure results. Without a marketing budget it is impossible to measure the return your firm is generating from its marketing investments. Measuring results is critical in determining which activities you should continue to implement, and on which activities your firm should not waste your people’s time or firm’s money.
  5. Ensure the proper balance between marketing and sales. Firms need to implement the right mix of marketing and sales activities to be successful in meeting their growth goals. By evaluating your firm’s marketing budget you can get a feel for how your firm’s business development efforts are divided among marketing, transition and sales activities to make sure the mix is appropriate based on your firm’s goals.

Yes, five awesome reasons you need a marketing budget. What are you waiting for? Don’t know where to start? Visit our website to learn how we can help.