With reference to the article on the Cost of Time Survey (Journal, February, 14), there is no doubt that the current economic conditions are proving challenging for all businesses, including law firms of all sizes and of all specialisations.

In times of economic uncertainty the first response is often to cut costs. In all professional services, cutting costs normally means reducing salaries or cutting staff completely. Although this may temporarily rebalance the accounts, it is not a long term solution. Alternatively, firms could use these challenging times as the opportunity to develop “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”: the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s definition of marketing.

Marketing is not unprofessional; it is not shameful or seedy. It is absolutely vital to the survival of all business. It has been argued that marketing is to all business what breathing is to human beings.

Marketing is not a cost; it is a source of revenue. It is the function that can help firms answer questions such as:

  • Who their most profitable clients are and who are not?
  • What level of profit does the firm generate from the types of work undertaken?
  • What growth potential is there in existing clients?
  • How to profile future potential profitable clients?

Many firms are so busy winning clients, servicing clients and billing clients that they never get the opportunity to review their value to their clients and to use this information to help grow their firm profitably for the future.

In any professional service firm the people are the product, and as such every member of staff should be a member of the marketing staff, from senior partner to receptionist. If they are not in your firm, the current economic situation will be a challenge. If all your staff understand what makes your firm special, understand how to explain this message, and do so willingly and with enthusiasm, the current economic situation is a wonderful opportunity.

Sarah Fraser BA(Hons), MBA,TEFL, MCIM
Management School, University of the Highlands & Islands, Inverness