Asfirms struggle to increase their profitability in a time of reduced revenue,having an effective marketing and business development function is moreimportant than ever. But how do you know whether your firm’s marketing programis doing everything it could — and should — to support your businessdevelopment efforts?

Five key roles

Assumingthat you have the right people in the right place to do what the job requires,here are five roles your marketing staff should be playing to boost your firm’sbottom line:

1. Leadgeneration and pursuit management.One of marketing’s main job should be to generate leads and keep your businessdevelopment pipeline full of prospects and suspects. To this end, your firmwill need to engage in market research, data mining and direct marketing,conduct seminars, participate in associations, and more. You’ll also need tonetwork and communicate regularly with clients, prospects and referral sourcesto keep your firm top of mind and show how you can be of service.  

To maximize ROI,have your marketing staff measure the effectiveness of various marketing andbusiness development efforts, as well as track and report on follow-upactivities. Also, hold partners and others responsible for making calls,sending e-mails and doing whatever it takes to convert a lead into a client.

2. Leveragingtechnology. Social media— blogs, networking sites and photo/video sharing sites — offer powerful newways to communicate quickly and effectively with other participants, so you canincrease awareness of your firm and build relationships that generatereferrals, turn suspects into prospects, and result in new business. If youdon’t yet have a social media marketing plan, you’re missing out.

Because thesemedia can easily drive people to your Website, it’s also important to have asite that’s brand-enhancing, easy to navigate and effective at making the casefor doing business with you. (To find out how well your firm is leveraging thelatest technology, contact Sarah Johnson, sjohnson@pdiglobal.com, for a copy of her “Top 10 Social Media MarketingStrategies.”)

3.Cross-selling. To increaseclient wallet-share, you’ll need to train your people in how to identify needsand propose services to meet them. You’ll also find it helpful to usenewsletters, tax guides, and other communications to educate clients about waysyou can help them increase their success. (For a helpful “Cross-sellingChecklist,” contact Art Kuesel at akuesel@pdiglobal.com.)

4. Clientretention. The key toretaining clients is making sure that you’re meeting their needs. To this end,you’ll want to use such vehicles as client satisfaction surveys, clientinterviews and client advisory boards to facilitate feedback. You’ll also wantto rank your client list to make sure you pay especially close attention toyour top 50 or 100 most important clients.

5. Business development training. In today’s tug-o-war of professionalservices, you can’t rely on a few rainmakers to bring in all the business yourfirm will need to thrive. Everyone in your firm has to be pulling on the rope, oryou’ll lose out to others.

Tothis end, your marketing staff will have to provide training in how to work aroom, give an elevator speech, build a referral network, recognize anopportunity, and ask for business. Don’t ever let a lack of business developmenttraining keep your firm from realizing its full profit potential.

Art Kuesel is a director of consulting services forPDIGlobal, Inc. andworks exclusively with CPA, law, and financial services firms across thecountry meeting their most significant marketing and business developmentchallenges. He currently works one-on one with more than 30 CPA firm partnersin a coaching capacity helping them build, sustain, and enhance their personalmarketing and sales pursuit efforts. He also enjoys gourmet cooking andtravel with his wife, Colleen.Art can be reached at akuesel@pdiglobal.com  or 312-245-1745.