In my 30 years in this business, I have found that lawyers are pretty good at planning marketing activities. With guidance, even in the early days, some were enthusiastic about putting a plan together. Maybe it was the challenge, possibly, as time went on, more attorneys recognize the need for developing business, as they realize the marketplace becoming more competitive.

But over the years, I found that even with a simple, straightforward marketing plan, the biggest problem was the failure to implement the plan. Often the excuses range from not having enough time or being overloaded with legal work, or simply procrastination.

Sally Schmidt offered 9 tips relating to marketing organization and discipline last week on Attorney at Work. In a nutshell her tips include:

  • Prepare a list of contacts and prioritize the frequency of contact. Set up Google alerts or case filing notifications to help with reasons for contacting them. (Personally I prefer a quarterly contact list using an Excel spreadsheet containing the names of former clients/potential referral sources, and how and when each will be contacted on a quarterly basis. Comments can be added to the spreadsheet to capture the results of each contact);
  • Develop a marketing and business development plan for the year that includes specific, measurable goals and objectives to raise your profile, and persons you will contact, preferably in person, and for what purpose;
  • Schedule your business development activity like any appointment using whatever technology tools are at your disposal, which should help you set aside a specific amount of time each week for implementing your plan;
  • Break your activities into manageable segments (one time management tool I learned years ago was to limit the segments to 15-20 minutes) which will help keep from being overwhelmed or from procrastinating. The shorter periods will also remove guilt for not working on a file during that period; and
  • Don’t overlook the resources available in your firm to help with your marketing and business development efforts.

When I begin a one-on-one coaching assignment with lawyers, I mention that my responsibilities include being their CNO (Chief Nagging Officer) during our calls and by email. Several clients have said they find that of great value in getting them to actually implement the plan.  So, start nagging yourself today!

Ran across an interesting article about getting things done and thus being more effective in practicing law by adopting five principles of GTD discussed by Daniel Gold in a piece he wrote for Attorney at Work.  It struck me that the same ideas are applicable to greater effectiveness when it comes to marketing.

His five phases of productivity include (as I see them applicable to marketing):

  1. Collection. First, it is important to gather all your marketing tasks from your various “in-boxes,” which may include both the physical and digital versions, as well as the poorly organized ideas on loose stickies or papers lying around;
  2. Processing. When you have gathered all your ideas or “stuff” into one place, then you should analyze them for worthiness and discard those that you shouldn’t waste your time on.  You need to ask whether your marketing idea is sensible, doable, likely to lead to profitable new business, or just a waste of time;
  3. Organizing. Of course, then you should decide on priorities, and list the activities, targets, and time frames to accomplish your marketing tasks;
  4. Reviewing. When it comes to legal project tasks, I agree with Gold that setting aside time on a Friday afternoon is a good idea to assess where things stand, including what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done.  And so it should be for marketing tasks.  This review can deal with things that need to be re-prioritized for the coming week or possibly dropped for whatever reason.   As Gold points out: “The weekly review allows you to empty those in-boxes  reflect on the past week and prepare to the week ahead.”  Oh yes, and free up your mind for an enjoyable weekend, since things will be more under control; and
  5. Doing.  Obviously, the most important phase in all of this is actually getting things done.  Most lawyers are very good at planning, but implementing not so much.  This in part is due to the time conflict between producing the legal product, and bringing in the next project.  Nonetheless, accomplishing both things is what today’s law practice is all about.

So, getting better productivity – whether it’s in doing your legal work or bringing in the next piece of business – in both areas is critically important in creating efficiencies, effectiveness, and of course profitability.