bennett [at] boulderestateplanning [dot] com
I learned of Mark Merenda and Smart Marketing through the WealthCounsel listserv, and engaged their services not long afterward. We were a startup firm and the impact was immediate. First came the branding. The quality was amazing. To me, Smart Marketing’s work in this area is world class. I couldn’t imagine better. It’s on a par with what top corporations have. It gave us immediate impact and recognition in our community.
Then there was our pricing. We were trying to get started by undercutting the market with lower prices. Exactly the wrong strategy, as Mark showed us. He gave us the confidence to price our work appropriately. We made more money, there were no ill effects, and clients valued us more and treated us better.
But the greatest value was Mark’s personal coaching. He helped me to identify my key strengths and to capitalize on those. Once I had that, it changed the way I do business. I stopped trying to be a technician behind a computer and got out among people. It was something I had been struggling with for years and Mark nailed it in a minute. It changed my whole way of being and the effect on business was stunning.
In short, I strongly recommend Smart Marketing.
jreed [at] zifflaw [dot] com
There are two reasons to hire Mark Merenda today: First, Mark “gets it.” Second, even if you “get it”, your time is more lucratively spent representing clients than managing the myriad details of your own marketing.
Mark gets it… he understands marketing… he understands law firms… he understands business. Mark is both a skilled marketing advisor and a trusted business advisor.
SmartMarketing gets things done. Tired of having lots of great marketing ideas but no time to get them done? Tired of half-completed marketing projects that sit stagnant for month after month? Me too. That’s what led me on the hunt that culminated in my discovery of Mark Merenda and SmartMarketing. Mark has assembled a dynamite staff that can turn your marketing “ideas” into reality.
Bottom line: I don’t spend money freely and I expect a “big bang for my buck.” SmartMarketing has been worth every penny.
Diedre Wachbrit Braverman
Diedre Wachbrit BravermanWhen I opened my law firm focused on estate planning, I studied and created lots of marketing strategies. I bought kits and books and used my marketing knowledge from management consulting days. After a time, I realized that I needed consistent, experienced, and practical help to execute a solid marketing plan. To cull through my ideas, choose and executive the workable ones, discard the unworkable ones and identify new strategies I hadn’t considered, I wanted a marketing expert on my team — one who could create and execute a strategy that reflected my philosophy.
As a former McKinsey management consultant, I had marketing experience but also an appreciation for the value of teamwork. I knew I didn’t have the time to create and execute a comprehensive strategy alone. Nor did I want to work in a vacuum. I needed a partnership with someone who had current experience in marketing an Estate Planning practice.
After several very helpful conversations with Mark Merenda (each one providing insight and value even before I retained the firm), I chose Smart Marketing. It was obvious that Mark knew how to translate my marketing dreams into reality. He earned my respect through his insightful approaches during our conversations. And I was eager to have the support of his personally-trained staff in executing my plans.
I hired Smart Marketing in September of 2003. It has been a long and successful partnership. The first six months of my association with Smart Marketing brought tremendous value as we got up to speed on seminar marketing, a nut that we had yet to crack. There followed a period of adjustment, where I struggled to find how Smart Marketing could be most useful to my firm going forward. Now, Mark Merenda is a key counselor in continuing to improve, build and refine my practice. Smart Marketing continues to help move my now-successful firm into the future.
Diedre Dennis Wachbrit
Attorney at Law
Westlake Village, CA
My impetus for hiring Smart Marketing was to re-do my corporate identity — my stationery, business cards, and so on — but in the process of doing that I discovered all the other things they do and decided to take advantage of all of them — plus a few I thought up!
I was extremely pleased to suddenly have a fully-staffed marketing department to which I could delegate everything: my workshops, my communications, my invitations and mailing, and so on. Having Smart Marketing on retainer really expanded the capability of my infrastructure. They tackled items I had had on my “to-do” list forever and had not gotten done. One good example is an article I had been meaning to write about closing my late father’s medical practice and the issues my mother and I confronted in that process. Not only did Smart Marketing work with me to get it done — they got it published in the May 2005 edition of Southern California Physician.
Smart Marketing has done a great job in creating “top of mind awareness” for my firm. I have gotten lots of comments from advisors and referral sources to the effect that I had done a great job of branding my law firm.
Smart Marketing’s workshops and seminars have brought us clients whom we never would have met otherwise. Before my relationship with Smart Marketing, I was a dedicated “marketer” but felt I had run out of fresh ideas. Smart Marketing helped me to open new avenues and new target markets.
Mark Merenda’s personal coaching was something I had no idea Smart Marketing offered. It really has been invaluable in transforming our whole office and the staff into alignment with the marketing effort. It has changed the way we hire, the way we answer the phone, the way we define the role of our receptionist, even the way we conduct employee performance reviews.
My advice to anyone thinking of hiring Smart Marketing is that, like any new relationship, it requires a bit of time and patience. It probably took us 3–4 months to really hit our stride. One thing I have learned from being an advisor myself, is to listen to my own advisors and to rely on them. So it really helps if you schedule frequent coaching calls and make your own effort to push and get everything you can out of your relationship with Smart Marketing — and to implement the strategies.
The bottom line? Our revenues are 50 percent ahead of last year, and last year was our all time best. I do attribute that in large part to Smart Marketing.
Pasadena Law Group
70 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
While I am a part of a firm originally established in 1924 and have had a successful estate planning practice in that firm for nearly two decades, I always believed that my practice could soar higher. Even before I met Mark, I was fairly effective at marketing. I write an estate planning column in a local newspaper, have an established network of referral sources that feed me good business, and have written professional articles in trade journals that I have used as effective marketing tools. But Mark was able to take my instincts – and help me create a platform that effectively communicates my firm’s services to clients, using graphics, layouts and language that our clients can understand. We’ve created brochures and web sites that speak to our client’s needs and wants. With the team at SmartMarketing, we constantly add to and improve the look and feel of our materials, so that our client knows what we offer, and our client can understand the value that my firm is adding to his estate planning experience.
And after a couple of years with SmartMarketing, we’re just scratching the surface. Mark’s team is implementing Internet marketing strategies as he correctly points out that a firm’s web site is the 21st century calling card, helping us build brochures and inserts to our brochures for specific estate planning techniques, and is assisting me in the publication of books and other written materials. We continue to define in a very tangible way the unique abilities that my firm offers to its clients. Without a doubt, I believe that the investment in hiring SmartMarketing is and will continue to pay dividends to me and my firm over the course of the next several years.
Craig R. Hersch Sheppard, Brett, Stewart, Hersch, Kinsey & Hill 9100 College Pointe Court Fort Myers, FL 33919
In early fall, 2004, our firm was seeking someone to facilitate our next attorney retreat, which was to be held in December. One of our partners recommended a speaker he had met at an Elder Law conference (NAELA) that year. He was extremely impressed with this person’s knowledge of Elder Law, as well as his ideas regarding marketing the practice area. The person our partner referred to turned out to be Mark Merenda of Smart Marketing. We contacted Mark right away and he graciously accepted our invitation to assist with the retreat.
Mark opened the eyes of our partners, and the firm as a whole, to the new trends in marketing. We presumed that since our firm was the oldest law firm in North Carolina, and the fact that we were so well-known, we did not need to market! (Okay – I know you now think that we were in the dark ages! But it was not until around 1999 that law firms started to market their services.)
It was January, 2005, when Mark officially began the mission of guiding our lawyers through the marketing process. The journey, which continues today, has not only enhanced the reputation of the firm, but has reinforced that we are, and always have been, a premier law firm. He provided us with the tools necessary to ensure we continued to be seen that way in our community.
Since beginning our relationship with Mark, and his extremely talented staff, they have developed a highly regarded, wonderfully executed website for the firm, designed an elegant brochure, built-up our marketing efforts in ways we never dreamed of and taught us the financial benefits of conducting client seminars. Bottom line — he has trained our staff and attorneys how to become better at what we do.
Working with Smart Marketing has placed us in more venues and exposed us to additional professional groups. We have also re-acquainted ourselves with our existing client base. As a result, we have added new clients, been given the opportunity to assist more individuals and families with their various needs, and formed new business relationships. Good marketing efforts always result in enhancing the bottom line. We now feel that if we participate in a conference, or speak to a group, and gain even one client or referral from that experience, it pays for itself! I know of no business today that does not like to grow their client base! We truly value our client relationships and feel that working with Mark Merenda the past few years has only been a win-win for our firm. One of my staff people sums it up in 3 words – “He inspires us.” As a manager, that speaks volumes to me about the caliber of person Mark Merenda is, and how he has affected our firm.
On a personal note, I have grown as a professional under Mark’s guidance, and am told I have become a more valuable asset to the firm. I not only highly respect Mark and his firm’s abilities as professionals, but also consider Mark, and his staff, my friends. Hands down, Mark Merenda is the best at what he does, more so than anyone I have encountered in this field. I look forward to working with, and continuing to learn from, Smart Marketing for years to come.
Deborah H. Walker
Craige Brawley Liipfert & Walker LLP
110 Oakwood Drive, Suite 300
Winston-Salem, NC 27103
I met and engaged Mark Merenda and his team at SmartMarketing nearly five years ago when I first opened my elder law office as a solo practitioner. It was the best developmental move I could possibly have made at the time. At the commencement of my practice, I had no clients, no systems, no processes, no marketing material, and no small amount of trepidation.
Almost overnight, SmartMarketing provided me the tools, techniques and confidence to present to prospects and convert them to clients. The success was near immediate. Five years later I still use those tools and techniques daily, in a firm that has grown to 11 attorneys and two offices with hundreds of satisfied clients whom I have been privileged to serve. I wrote a paper recently for my state bar explaining how to grow an elder law practice. It was well received by the elder law community. In that paper I gave the utmost and well-deserved recognition to SmartMarketing for the fundamental principles and approaches necessary to a successful practice. Mark Merenda is not just the most brilliant marketing consultant I know, with the finest supporting staff in the business, he is also a friend and confidant whose integrity, talents and vision are unmatched. It worked for me. If you will entrust your practice development to SmartMarketing, it will work for you also. Good luck and Go Fishing.
W. Wayne Walston
Beers Mallers Backs & Salin LLPM
110 W. Berry St. Suite 1100
Fort Wayne, IN 46802
I can’t say enough about the Smart Marketing team. They were instrumental in taking my firm to the next level, which allowed me to retain more and better clients, and raise my fees accordingly. Mark Merenda and his team offered us outstanding service. They were extremely patient with us when we didn’t listen to their advice, and they didn’t say “I told you so” when we finally did listen to them. Their creative abilities are inspired – they put together our website, brochures, marketing materials, and seminar materials, including the PowerPoint presentations. Mark coached me through the process of conducting seminars, and really made me a better speaker. I have had a tremendous experience with Mark and his team. Didn’t I say I couldn’t say enough?
Rima D. Ports, JD, MBA
PORTS LAW GROUP, LTD.
150 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 2700
Chicago, IL 60601
As a law firm, and not a marketing firm, I can’t begin to express the level of satisfaction and confidence we have in Mark Merenda and the wonderful staff at Smart Marketing. Our boutique estate planning law firm has been around for 15-plus years and we had — through networking, hard work and client and advisor referrals — already reached a level of success.
In 2006, we began to think about our marketing plans, growth, goals and vision for the 21st century and beyond. How could we increase our revenue, spread our wings into a larger territory and be in sync for what the customer wants, uses and expects in terms of estate planning deliverables in this technology age that we now live in? We recognized that we did not have the support or knowledge, nor the time and energy to focus on this aspect of our law firm. I love to practice law rather than developing creative marketing ideas.
It was time for a marketing person and solution! And boy was he right about the Internet!
I met Mark Merenda through our relationship with WealthCounsel at a National Conference. We were convinced after several meetings and phone calls that SmartMarketing could help us to achieve our goals. I can attest that for the 2007 year, we have increased our revenue by 30 percent just by initiating some of his suggestions. But what is truly most important is the customer service that is provided by all members of Mark’s team. They always have our back, and are prompt and efficient in getting our marketing projects complete. His team deserves a ton of credit. We have a long way to go to continue to be state of the art in marketing estate planning, but we are confident that with Smart Marketing behind us, we will be able to deliver and grow with the ever-increasing demands on our practice.
Gary D. Altman
Altman & Associates
11300 Rockville Pike, Suite 605
Rockville, Maryland 20852
I had been aware of Mark Merenda and Smart Marketing for almost 18 months before I decided to pick up the phone and call him. Mark posted frequently to an attorney marketing email list serve I participated in, and I always felt his comments were right on target and that he had a real grasp on marketing issues, specifically for attorneys.
When I called, Mark spent almost an hour on the phone with me learning about my practice, the financials, my past marketing efforts, client base, etc. He then made very insightful suggestions about my practice areas and how to grow my business. By this time, I was hooked, but just didn’t see how I could justify the cost at that time. After much consideration, I “threw caution to the wind” and signed on as a Smart Marketing client in November, 2007. Since that time, Smart Marketing has revised my logo, completed a major overhaul to my website, created the presentation materials for a seminar, and managed the seminar event, from obtaining the mailing list, designing the invitations (for direct mail and email), booking the space, working with catering…it’s literally been A to Z in their “event management.” I just have to show up and be the “expert” of the night!
Additionally, the Smart Marketing staff has created 2 versions of a brochure for me and several other marketing pieces as well. I have full access to a copywriter for writing content for me on just about any communication I want to send out. Their work is very high caliber — I’d put my marketing materials up against the materials of the largest firms in the country any day — and the staff is completely accessible and responsive. I have gotten so many compliments on the quality of my marketing materials.
Finally and most importantly, I have a growing pipeline of business. While I’ve only been a Smart Marketing client for a few months, I can see the benefits this group brings to my practice. They do a first class job and make me feel like I have a full service marketing department in my business. I highly recommend Smart Marketing to any attorney who is serious about building a thriving practice.
Traci D. Ellis, Esq. LLC
3020 Highlands Parkway, Suite F
Smyrna, GA 30080