A Foundation for Entering New Markets: Where to Start By: Deana Kardel, President Eos Consulting, Inc. 415 845 7690 email@example.com www.eosconsultinginc.com The overriding goal of the Law Firm Marketing Professional is to boost the firm’s bottom line. One way to accomplish this is through penetrating new markets. Any competent marketing professional can recite the steps for putting together a marketing plan and executing that plan, but it is not often recognized how important it is to do careful groundwork before writing and implementing the plan. A Good Beginning Even a well-written plan and brilliant execution is useless unless it proceeds from a solid base of facts, thoroughly analyzed to provide insights into actual past and likely future patterns. Tight control and accountability during the implementation process to ensure plan adherence must be based on good information - otherwise, “garbage in: garbage out.” The marketer first of all needs to decide whether the market is worth the effort of penetrating. Study Study Study! One of the first things to be done is a comprehensive study of the probable impact a proposed new area or targeted market will have on the firm’s operations. The primary purpose of this type of business analysis is to come up with recommendations for the management committee on whether or not to consider a particular idea as a market development project. Another key component of the business analysis is to determine the resources needed to implement the initiative. Finally, benchmark reports focusing on key business indictors must be developed so that progress can be tracked and evaluated over time. Now for the Concept Test Once the business analysis is complete, the concept must be “fleshed out.” This means that the idea needs to be transformed into a concept by pinpointing its basic purpose and identifying its key characteristics. The comprehensive description of a potential initiative should be presented to members of the target market for their reaction. Existing and potential client surveys or formal focus group studies with target audience participants can be employed to facilitate the validity of the initiative. This process is often termed “concept testing”. The concept test is important because it can determine if the initiative is viable and/or if it appeals to the target market. When the plan evolves from the business analysis through concept testing, the marketing profession is then in a position to move forward with a strategic approach to communicating its offering. However, there is one more step to consider before communications. Maximum Impact Once the concept is tested and the market response is relatively perdictable, consider developing an impact statement. The impact statement measures the probable repercussions of a concept’s implementation and introduction. If the concept is to be successful, how will this new practice area affect our financial results? What type of marketing resources do we need in addition to what we already have? What attorney manpower is available now and what will be required for the plan to be successful? How long will it take to “break even” or generate new revenues? Then most importantly, how will management define success for the initiative? How’s The Fit? It is now becoming clear that in order to forge into new markets, the marketing professional must address many questions besides the obvious ones of marketing and promotional vehicle selection. In addition to the business analysis, concept testing, and an impact statement, an examination of how well the new practice area both fits in with and enhances the firm’s existing practice areas must be considered. Does it add depth or does it open up a new dimension to the firm? What types of synergy between the firm’s current clients and the targeted new clients exist? Action! Now, after all the groundwork has been laid, is the time to write and implement the business development and marketing plan. The research and testing information will enable the setting of valid goals, the development of a focused and effective plan, and allows the plan’s implementation to be tracked accurately. Launching into new target markets is an intricate cyclical process that leads from analysis to action. It involves an in-depth examination of the company’s strengths and weaknesses and considers market challenges and opportunities. This may seem basic, but oftentimes the initial evaluation and analysis procedures are overlooked. Without the proper concept testing and analysis on the front end, the best and most detailed plans for launching into new markets will be fraught with peril for the unsuspecting marketing professional.
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