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Agile Budgeting for Law Firms

by Guy Alvarez • November 28th, 2023 • Digital Marketing, Legal Marketing, Marketing Technology | Blog

Agile budgeting is more than just a buzzword. While the practice is becoming more popular across a wide range of industries, it’s important to understand what it could mean for your law firm. Here’s what legal marketers need to know about agile marketing. 

What is Agile Budgeting?

You’re probably familiar with the term agile as it pertains to project management. The goal is to prioritize project speed and enable flexibility, which ideally leads to more seamless adaptation to change. 

When it comes to budgeting, agile methodologies allow marketers to respond quickly to change and adapt to shifts in demand as well as prioritize resources for the areas of greatest opportunity. Marketers can use these methods to be more proactive than reactive, focus on real-time happenings rather than retrospective, and have fewer siloes which means they can be more nimble. 

Even though one of the benefits of digital marketing is the fact that you can make moves relatively quickly and adjust campaigns as needed, too often the department is siloed and channels are disjointed, with budgets that are planned specifically over certain time periods. 

Agile budgeting, coupled with advancements in AI facilitating swift responses to market changes, can contribute to addressing this challenge. With agile budgeting, you can respond more quickly to industry and firm dynamics rather than being constrained by fixed budgets and timelines. Agile budgeting involves re-thinking, re-organizing, and re-prioritizing instead of being focused on budgets by channel only. It also requires that marketing, sales, and finance work closely together, which is an adjustment for many marketing teams. 

Benefits of Agile Budgeting for Law Firms

Agile budgeting requires that many firms change how their firm plans, allocates, and optimizes digital budgets – which can be very daunting. That being said, becoming more budget agile doesn’t require a complete overhaul, and most firms will find the effort worth it. You might even be doing some agile budgeting without realizing it already. 

With agile budgeting, instead of allocating a certain amount to each particular channel, your budget is applied dynamically as client need is demonstrated – which obviously changes over time. The objective is to find incremental conversions at your targets regardless of which channel is driving them. 

In one study from Google, marketers who use agile budgeting methods (meaning they adjusted budgets weekly or more frequently) reported the following: 

  • Engaging in formal marketing planning to align with strategy and digital media budgets every month. 
  • Are able to make budget changes of 20% or more in about a week. 
  • Saying it’s “very easy” to obtain additional budget to start new tests that weren’t included in the initial media budget. 
  • Their marketing performance exceeded internal expectations and marketing KPIs. 
  • Are twice as likely as non-agile marketers to call their marketing across channels “very tightly integrated”. 
  • Their agency partners greatly influence adjustments they make after initial budget planning, vs. non-agile budgeters. 

Becoming More Agile in Budgeting

AI advancements are a big part of the move toward agile budgeting. New tools allow for more multichannel campaigns, which means that firms have the chance to re-evaluate their efforts to maximize ROI. For truly agile budgeting, there are a few areas of focus that are key. Here are the main concepts marketers can apply to be more agile in budgeting. 

  1. Frequent and flexible planning Agile budgeting doesn’t mean you just throw your normal planning process out. It does mean that you know change is inevitable, and so you plan and prepare for it. Allowing space to adapt as things shift is critical. That usually means increasing the frequency with which you look at your campaign performance and adjust plans. 
  2. Cohesive goals and measurement – Your budget and associated strategy should be focused on the goals that make the most sense for your firm. From there you need to implement consistent measurement and metrics across cross-functional departments. This means that groups can assess and work together, knowing everyone is on the same page as far as outcomes. 
  3. Increased collaborationBeing agile is about breaking down silos and moving away from only certain individuals accessing specific channels. The goal is to break down organizational barriers to ensure that teams and individuals – including external stakeholders like agencies – are able to meet, collaborate, and share together on a regular basis. Everyone should have a commitment to being able to move toward budget agility as a group. 
  4. Strong partnership with finance – Agile budgeting is really difficult if you don’t have trust and understanding with your finance team. Moving toward budget agility requires close cooperation with your CFO. If you already have such collaboration, you have a head start on this type of agility. 
  5. Operational alignment One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in agile budgeting is getting timely budget allocation or reallocation approvals. Truly agile budgeters are able to make budget changes in less than one week. That’s a worthy goal but often difficult. Seizing new opportunities requires the ability to drive incremental value and experiment faster. 
  6. Baked-in experimentation – Speaking of experiments, ongoing tests and iterations are a crucial part of digital marketing success. However, too often marketers run up against budget constraints that make it difficult to execute on experiments. Agile budgeters have a much easier time getting budget approval, including incremental budget, for trying new things. 

Takeaway: 

Agile budgeting can offer a lot of value to marketers who want to get better aligned on organizational goals, improve measurement, and move faster executing strategies. A more flexible planning and budgeting process can help you to invest in new opportunities and drive more growth. For more tips on modern digital marketing strategy, start a conversation with our experts.

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