As the days get shorter, leaves turn brown and I feel a little chill in the air, my mind begins to look toward planning for the coming year. Although I have met many of my personal and professional goals, I have also had to re-prioritize many as well, succumbing to my perpetually full inbox.
Prioritizing activities that provide the highest ROI life is very important however, many (if not most) law firms will delay creating a marketing plan, subordinate it behind a host of other activities and find themselves scrambling as they enter a challenging new year. Law firms are not alone, all businesses are faced with doing much more with much less and the thought of investing in marketing often feels much more like a cost than an investment.
The key to success starts with prioritizing the necessary time to plan for successful marketing and new business initiatives. Planning does not have to be long and arduous, but to be most effective do it before the holidays get in to full swing, colleagues are on vacation and a general lack of focus ensues.
Here are 4 simple steps that will set your firm up for success in 2014:
1. Conduct a S.W.O.T. Analysis
Pull your partners together, along with the key individuals involved with any firm marketing activities, and conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis. I am sure you are familiar with this exercise: Draw four quadrants on a whiteboard and label them Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Begin by encouraging the help of all present to create a list in each quadrant with an emphasis on how it relates to marketing the law firm. For instance, for Strengths you may put down that your firm has a great track record for settlements in Mass Tort cases. In the Weakness quadrant your practice may have slow call response times or too many low quality leads coming in to your firm’s website. Opportunities might include refocusing your efforts into best performing legal topics or producing more relevant content to attract new clients. Threats include outside competition to changes in the type and volume of legal matters. But don’t overlook the threat of inaction when it comes to execution of a marketing plan.
2. Strategize Your Marketing Approach
With the SWOT Analysis complete, take a few minutes to feel good about your strengths and accomplishments but also look for patterns of success and where your opportunities may lie. Maybe it is focusing exclusively on your Workers Compensation practice, Bankruptcy or Social Security Disability. Take into account the threat of a changing digital marketing landscape that requires new skills, tools and an understanding of how consumers and businesses now look for legal services online. This process does not have to take weeks or even days, but it is an extremely valuable step to make sure high priority business development initiatives are put into place in advance of when they are expected to produce results.
3. Set Measurable Steps
Boil down the details of your strategy to incremental steps that are concrete and measurable. Your plan should include monthly review, tracking and measurement, sales forecasts, expense budgets and non-monetary metrics for tracking progress. These can include leads, presentations, phone calls, links, blog posts, page views, conversion rates, etc. Match important tasks to people on your team and hold them accountable for their successes and failures.
4. Review and Adjust Your Plan
Your marketing plan should evolve as the year progresses. Watch for patterns of success, what is working and what isn’t. Some parts of the plan will naturally work better than others, so don’t be afraid to review and revise as you see fit.
Remember, this exercise is designed to be flexible and not take a great deal of time. The key is to make sure that the remainder of the year doesn’t get away from you and you allow some quality time with your team to set your firm up for new business success in the coming new year.
Above all, consistency is key to improvement. Contact JurisLead to find out how we can help supercharge your practice!