Let’s face it, many law firms don’t conduct any formal legal marketing planning ever. And the reasons that a lot of firms don’t is because they don’t know how to begin, what they should do, who should be involved, and what they hope to achieve in the process.

Some firms that do plan, approach it as a major undertaking. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be depending on what your goal is. For instance, not much planning is involved prior to a few partners deciding to drop into the local pub for a few cold ones with a client, while planning to grow your 10-lawyer firm into a 1500-lawyer behemoth with offices in all the major world capitals is likely to take a bit longer.

Presumably, to most firm’s marketing planning is somewhere in between. Bruce Allen at Marketing Catalyst agrees that firms have difficulty getting started with planning. He offers us a chart that lists some of the factors that should be taken into account in doing strategic marketing planning. I like Bruce’s list because it’s a good one. However, I think it requires a lot of (eventually necessary) work that I don’t think all firms, especially those not tuned into planning, are ready for.

So, if you’re not ready to dig into Bruce’s excellent list, I would offer what I call my “Five Simple Planning Steps To Stop Random Marketing” (I didn’t say the title was simple). Here goes:

1.Assess client base (accounting can do a lot of this for you) -Break out "key" clients by industry, type of company, geographical area, revenues, etc; identify clients that are profitable; list work you do for key clients; compile list of current referral sources; and determine profile of clients you want.

2.Determine firm’s key practice areas – identify profitable practices, and preferred practice areas.

3.Identify marketing targets (includes clients, referral sources, and prospects) based on assessment of current clients and preferred practice areas.

4.Develop action items that work for you/firm aimed at specific targets by name – e.g. speaking, writing, networking, client feedback, entertainment, joining organizations, client visits, Internet, etc.

5.Get off your duff and do it – pick one or two action items at a time, set time schedule for actions and measure progress.

This isn’t the be-all and end-all of legal marketing planning, but for those who haven’t been into planning previously, this is a fairly simple way to get started.