I have written previously about the advantages that talented attorneys have when they are equipped with the proper tools and preparation. Lawyers who are not as skilled when it comes to marketing are much more effective when they employ the correct systems.
I recommend starting with a marketing plan considers the following elements:
Target practice areas ranked by expertise
For short term effectiveness, I recommend starting with expert practice areas. Recognizing that most legal services are sought after by numerous competitors, a deficiency in expertise will likely be insurmountable. New and less experienced practice areas may be developed over a longer term horizon with the initial emphasis on building expertise and credibility.
Goals covering 1, 3 and 5 years with annual benchmarks
Goals are necessary for determining the level of commitment required for success. Goals also provide a primary measure of accountability. I recommend basing goals on a level of research sufficient to indicate a reasonable expectation of available business in the targeted areas. Goals also drive other assumptions included in the plan.
Examining individual and team capacity is useful to determining the ability to meet the client's commitments assumed by the plan. I am not suggesting that staffing up in advance of new business is always necessary, but an understanding of present capacity and potential future capacity needed is helpful in the sales process. Properly handling new business is essential to continued marketing successes.
In team situations, staffing assignments and workload distribution may be used to enhance marketing efforts. A staffing mix that includes a balance of skill sets and cost to the client is an advantage. Additionally, capturing economies by concentrating lawyers and paralegals in such a way as to raise competency to the expert level is also a distinct advantage. Staffing client accounts with these factors in mind is likely to attract more existing client work and creates a more compelling offering to new clients.
In addition to planning activities and time on an individual basis, effectiveness is also improved by including or requiring team members to participate as well. The three broad areas of business development include content marketing, personal contact and referral development. Most activities will fall into one of these categories. It is relatively easy to involve professionals at all levels in one or more of the activities included in these categories.
Creation of opportunity analyses for each client and target
A deep understanding of the issues important to current clients and prospects is an advantage in keeping and growing existing business and attracting new business. An opportunity analysis defines a client's issues as they see them and how these issues exhibit themselves in their daily lives. Further, it is important to recommend the right solutions and to understand the value of any proposed solutions to a client or prospective client. Lawyers and firms that understand and solve their client's problems, which may have little to do with actual legal services, are likely to enjoy a higher level of success.
There are a number of excellent tools available to those lawyers and law firms that seek to increase their marketing effectiveness. I will address these in future posts, but this planning approach is an excellent place to start.