Updated: Jul 29, 2019
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail:
A Simple Approach to a Solid Personal Marketing Plan
By Liza Vasquez CMC ICF and Jeffrey F. Silber CPA MBA CMC
Certified Master Business and Life Coaches
Let us dispel the idea that your good legal work alone will be enough to fill your legal practice with a stream of new clients. Of course, top quality legal work is a minimum requirement because happy, satisfied current clients will be an important basis for moving forward.
Inasmuch as you have very capable competitors, you cannot rely on your legal work to speak for itself to drive new clients to you. You are going to need a pro-active plan for your own individual marketing.
Do you have a written well-thought-out plan to guide you in your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly activities? You don’t? Are you flying blind hoping that your random marketing efforts will achieve your objective of attracting more and even better clients? If you have no written plan, this is a mistake. Have you heard the saying “Failing to plan is planning to fail?”
It means that if have no road map for where you want to go and how you are going to get there, then you are highly likely to get lost, waste a lot of time by squandering your energy on activities that do not advance you toward your goals and you have no objective standard to measure if you are really doing what you should.
If good legal work is 75% of what is needed to be a great lawyer, and you are a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, then you get 6.75 points as the first part of your grade. If you are a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10, on the 25% that you should be devoting to growing your practice, then add only another .5 to your overall grade. And you end up with a 7.25 as your final grade.
Now do you still think that being a great lawyer alone, which results in a grade of perhaps 7.25 out of ten, is the best approach to growing your legal practice? Personally, we don’t think so.
Part of the problem is that in the absence of any external force, the default setting for a lawyer is to practice law to the exclusion of other professional activities.
In our simplistic calculation, we gave you a 2 out of ten for your current marketing activities. This represents the result of some inconsistent activities and unorganized efforts to attract clients.
If you are serious about wanting more clients, you must hold yourself accountable for creating a plan and living up to it. We hope that at this point you are convinced that you do, in fact, need your own individual marketing plan?
Let us relieve you of any fear you might have about turning yourself into a marketing expert and the need to write an elaborate formal marketing plan. The more complex your plan, the less likely you are to implement it. Therefore, we think you should keep your plan simple, one or two pages should be more than enough.
Where and How to Begin a Short and Simple Marketing Plan
Keep it simple: that is the starting point. Write down a few goals and objectives (less is more). For now, stay away from goals such as “I want to be the most well know litigation lawyer in my city.” That is a fine goal, but it cannot be measured in the short term.
For this purpose, we ask you to focus on your objectives – which can be measured. Objectives such as: “I want to have five new clients in the next twelve months and increase my annual billings by $500,000 USD.”
Now, write out your objectives and put this list in a place where you will be sure to see them every day. This will be more than enough to keep you focused and to refresh your memory if you are not sure what you need to do on any particular day.
A Good Outline for Individual Marketing Plan
A good individual marketing plan will start with specific objectives as mentioned above, such as “I want to have five new clients in the next twelve months and increase my annual billings by $500,000 USD.”
Next, it will consist of very detailed monthly activities:
I will devote a minimum of X hours per month to my marketing activities
You should be working toward 25% of your time being devoted to your individual marketing activities
I will have X lunches or meetings per month with current clients
Follow up with these people always maintaining a personal relationship. This should be approximately two promotional lunches per month
I will have X lunches per week with potential clients or referral sources
Follow up with these people aiming to develop a personal relationship with them. This should be approximately one promotional lunch per week
I will join one or more organizations related to my current practice area or my desired practice area, organizations where I will find many potential clients
Avoid organization where you will find other lawyers who are competitors such as Bar Associations
I will attend monthly meetings
I will join a committee to advise the organization about legal matters in their industry and if no committee like that exists, I will create one.
I will follow up with everyone I meet
I will find opportunities to speak to meetings of these organizations about legal issues that are my area of expertise
I will write X articles per year
I will try to get them into these specific publications which I have identified: D, E, F
Even if I cannot get the articles published, I will post them on my website
I will use these articles to follow up with people I meet to demonstrate my expertise
I will find speaking opportunities.
I will identify try to identify these the organizations where I can have these speaking opportunities
I will attend X conferences, congresses and meetings outside my city and/or country this year.
I will follow up with the all the people I meet at these conferences not less than three times each year
I will try to become active in these organizations, not just attend the congresses
Where possible, I will join or create a committee to advise the organization about legal matters in their industry
Once a year, I will present at a live webinar.
Not less than once each month, review your marketing plan item by item. Remember, your legal work will absorb as much of your time as you are willing to give it. That is why you need to make a big effort to stick to your marketing plan – Ask yourself: Am I doing what I should be doing to get a better grade as a lawyer?
In the 25% that represents your marketing activities, you need to go from being a 2 to being a 9. Then you will get 2.25 points to add to your 6.75 for your technical work and you end up with a final grade of 9 out of ten. Now you’re talking - an overall grade of 9 (out of ten) is an excellent score.
Don’t plan to fail – Planning is the way to succeed.
Now you are as much of a legal marketing expert as you need to be. Write the plan, then put it into action.
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