With a New Year bearing down upon us, there’s no time like the present for attorneys and law firms to get to work on creating annual business development plans and/or their marketing plans. Some firms have both a business development and a marketing plan, and other firms have neither; however, having a written plan rather than just an idea or a discussion of what you hope to accomplish as an attorney or a law firm will allow you to gauge your progress, as the year marches on.
Business development and marketing activities are vital to the success of almost every law firm. However, many legal practices will simply continue to do what they’ve always done without much organization or thought. For firms that want to take a more strategic approach to their marketing and business development efforts, written plans are the first step to improving. Here are a few benefits of taking this strategic step:
Too many law firms and attorneys try to fill slower times with a slew of marketing and business development activities. However, these kinds of things should not be done on the fly. In doing so, you run the risk of making investments that won’t provide an ROI and you will almost certainly end up being inconsistent or overlooking important opportunities.
There are only so many hours in the day, week and year. A well-crafted plan can get you to focus on the items that are the best use of your time, as opposed to those that are less useful. For example, if you commit to attending 5 networking events each year, you can identify those that are “can’t miss” events ahead of time, so that you’re not feeling pressured, or pressed for time to attend every event you’re invited to.
When your plan is spelled out in black and white, it will provide an objective look at how well you’re accomplishing what you set out to accomplish. It also allows you to measure your efforts as you move through the year, essentially showing you any areas where you’re particularly successful or those where you’re falling short of what you set out to accomplish.
Formulating and writing out your business development and marketing plans are important for every attorney and law firm. However, the plan is only worthwhile if you refer to it regularly. Keep it accessible and review your progress as time passes. Abide by your own deadlines, and keep accountable for what you have promised yourself you will do to grow your practice. After all, the best plans in the world will be rendered useless if you don’t regularly refer to it, and confirm you’re on track.
Life is unpredictable. That’s why our parents likely warned us that there are no guarantees in life. None of us truly know what will happen next; however on several occasions, prospective clients have asked me for guarantees, which is what prompted this blog. These prospects want a guarantee on how many new clients I can bring them, or how many times they will see their name in the media after hiring us. The fact is, just like life, there are no guarantees in marketing either. Trust me, I wish I could give them a number, or tell them what the future holds, but at the end of the day, all I can bring to the table is my experience, expertise and confidence that we will achieve success.
If they still aren’t quite getting it, I put it in their terms. Take a lawyer as an example. When someone hires you as their lawyer, do you guarantee that you’ll win? No. You can feel very confident in the case, but promising a win is unethical, and if you lose, you’re going to have a very upset client on your hands. All you can do is put your experience to bear and do the best job you can. The same goes for PR and marketing.
Marketing is always going to be a little risky because it’s reliant on people’s behavior, which is notoriously difficult to predict. What works for another law firm isn’t necessarily going to work for you, and what works for you today won’t necessarily work for you a year from now. We’ll never be able to guarantee results because finding what works requires experimentation, and, quite simply, some experiments don’t have the outcomes you want.
That said, there are a few things you can control when it comes to your marketing plan:
Prairie dogs are cute little animals who are often found happily digging away underground. Their signature move is suddenly popping up out of their burrows when they sense danger or to scan for predators. It’s a great strategy for prairie dogs. Not so much for marketers.
In my line of work, I often come across “prairie dog marketers” — people who pop up to market only when a new competitor enters the space or does something interesting. Once they’ve done enough, they go back into their burrow to focus on “real” work and leave the marketing for another day.
This strategy may work for a little while, but it will never lead to long-term success. Marketing can’t only be done when you feel like it, when there’s a new trend, or when you’re falling behind. One example that seems to make sense to people is the idea of losing weight. Everyone knows that exercising and eating right is the best strategy, but if you only do it for a month or two, you won’t get very far. The same goes for marketing: consistency is key.
Don’t fall into the prairie dog marketing trap. Be on the lookout for these warning signs that you need more consistency in your marketing plan:
Nothing seems to be working.
If every strategy you try seems to fail, it might not be the strategies themselves — they could just need more time to work. If you’re constantly dabbling in new things and quitting a few months in, you’ll never know what would have been a success. You won’t have enough data to measure, and you won’t be able to compare over time. Even if a strategy really wasn’t working, maybe all it needed was a small tweak rather than a complete abandonment. Sticking with strategies for awhile helps you know for sure whether they’re successful.
You don’t have many engaged followers.
Engagement goes hand in hand with consistency. Your followers will notice if your social media strategy is constantly changing, or if you’re only active on social media in short bursts. People like to follow and interact with accounts that share informative content in an interesting way, and if you’re not doing that regularly, your follower count and engagement will probably stay stagnant. Consistently posting on social media, even if you’re not posting the most groundbreaking content, can help with engagement.
Your leads are falling off.
One place where a lack of consistency will quickly become apparent is lead generation. If you stop marketing leads will stop coming. This should be a big red flag because without leads, you don’t have a business. Frantically marketing only when you need new business isn’t going to cut it, so it’s critical that it’s part of your day-to-day plan. If you’re recommitting to marketing consistency, this is the place to start.
Nearly a decade ago, workplace collaboration was all the rage. CEOs and senior staff were knocking down walls to create open offices, forgoing the traditional corner office and getting employees from different departments to work together in the same space. It even seems hard to imagine that this trend started a decade ago. So what are CEOs and senior staff asking for now? Privacy – and they want their offices back.
When surrounded by other people chatting, typing and talking on the phone, many employees have found that they have to sneak off into conference rooms or wear headphones just to get their work done. It seems like the pendulum has started to swing away from the big, open office.
Another pendulum swing is that the gig economy means people are working remotely more than ever before. Working remotely is a great perk for employees, but I’ve noticed many companies struggle with the virtual workforce, prompting me to think maybe all these fads will fade away.
So how can we expect the workplace to change over the next year, or even the next 10 years? Below are some thoughts.
Rebuilding some of the walls they knocked down
As noted in a Wall Street Journal article, many people in leadership roles are opting to take the corner office rather than sit with the whole staff all the time. Today, however, a private office is less about status and more about having a space to think. One downfall of the open office is that everyone can tell when the boss is stressed or feeling down, and they have nowhere to go to deal with it. Managers have found that having a personal space to regroup helps them be better leaders and keep company morale high.
Companies will continue to encourage working remotely, but not go crazy
The Wall Street Journal’s article stated that the percentage of employees working entirely remotely is at an all-time high of 20%, up from 15% last year. Although some companies have found that allowing employees to work remotely reduces costs, its real value is in increasing employee autonomy and satisfaction. Shifting to remote work takes strategy and investment, but the reality is that more workers are going to expect (and need) to work from anywhere in the future.
That being said, a distributed workforce can oftentimes hinder collaboration. I believe that when you are working in an office, collaboration will occur naturally. Regardless of the tools we have to communicate no matter where you are in the world, a digital workforce can have a negative impact on morale and culture. We are thankful for tools like Slack, where working remotely isn’t in opposition to collaboration. In fact, it can create radical transparency: there is no such thing as a closed meeting when there are no doors.
Shared spaces won’t be limited to the people at your company
Co-working spaces are popping up all over the country to support freelancers and remote workers from all sorts of industries. These shared offices can provide the best of both worlds: a quiet space to work and an opportunity to socialize and problem-solve with other people (without the possibility of them assigning a new project in the lunchroom). Although open offices may be on the decline, collaboration is not—in fact, co-working spaces may increase cross-sector collaboration.
When we are speaking with prospective clients, we answer a lot of questions. But undoubtedly, one we hear a lot is, “Why should we hire Berbay when we could just hire a full-time marketing person?”
It’s a great question and like most great questions, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The answer will change depending on what your marketing goals are. Here are some tips to consider when making this decision.
Hire an agency for:
Hire an in-house marketer for:
Clearly, each solution has pros and cons. You may even think this blog is biased given my allegiance to agencies for more than a decade. So, you still want advice on what to do? My honest answer is you should use a mixture of both. An in-house marketer can tackle day-to-day projects, and an experienced agency can help fill in the gaps and expand what your in-house team is capable of doing. Based on my experience and what I’ve seen work best, a hybrid model can further propel your marketing goals while ensuring you have all your bases covered.
At some point, everyone has encountered that person who seems to have everything going for them. You may even be a little jealous, but you recognize that this particular person deserves every bit of their success. What are they doing differently?
I am not saying this is the end all, be all, but it’s likely that the magic ingredient is confidence. Not arrogance or a phony confident front, but a deep self-assuredness that they can accomplish anything—and so can everyone else around them. Real confidence is hard to come by, but at work it’s incredibly valuable.
Confidence is rarely something you’re born with; it’s learned over time, like any other skill. If you want to boost your work confidence, here are a few characteristics to emulate:
You can easily attribute your firm’s or your personal achievements to careful planning, intellect and foresight, but no one built their business by themselves, or became the person they are today solely because of how great they are. It’s all built on relationships, and gratitude is the key to strengthening old relationships and developing new ones. Maybe it’s my Midwest roots, but I believe that saying thank you and showing appreciation is essential to anyone’s success.
One thing you can be thankful for is that showing gratitude is easy. You don’t need to make a grand gesture, buy lavish gifts or write a novel. Whether it’s through a thank you note, an email, a phone call or face to face, saying thank you is powerful. If you’d like to bring a little more gratitude into your work life, here are some people who probably deserve a hearty “thank you!”
Put simply, you wouldn’t have a business without clients. Clients aren’t just a source of revenue; they’re people who make the choice to support your business. If that’s not enough of a reason to say thank you, research shows that clients who feel appreciated will continue to do business with you—and it’s much more cost effective to keep current clients happy than it is to find new ones. Happy clients are also more likely to make referrals. Thanking clients isn’t just a nice thing to do—it has a very real impact on your bottom line.
Employees and coworkers
Everyone at the office plays a valuable role, from the CEO to the janitor, and your business couldn’t operate without everyone’s input. Show gratitude to your employees and coworkers for making your success possible. Make a point to thank people you don’t work directly with as well.
Mentors and teachers
There’s no statute of limitations on saying thank you. Even if you haven’t spoken in a while, reaching out to an old mentor or teacher is a great way to reconnect, and it’s a fulfilling experience for them and you. Don’t say thank you only when you need something from them, and don’t wait for an excuse like a holiday card. Sending a quick email when they cross your mind is genuine, simple and highly appreciated.
Friends and family
Chances are, you wouldn’t be where you are today without family that supported and encouraged you as a child, friends who helped you study in college and partners who were always ready to listen when you had a bad day at work.
This may seem odd, but being nice and showing gratitude to strangers who have helped you is important too. Those of you who have seen the movie Pay it Forward can relate. I bought a watch at a store the other day and the woman who helped me went above and beyond to make my experience great. As we were checking out, I told her how much I appreciated her help and she commented, “I just wish all my customers were as nice as you.” I thought that was sad—how hard is it for people to be kind to each other? Obviously this saleswoman had her fair share of rude or non-appreciative customers.
Midwest roots or not, my personal experience shows that thanking people regularly will not only make your whole life better, but will likely propel the kind of results you get, too.
Whether you are working in the marketing industry or just took one Marketing 101 class, everyone has heard of the 4Ps of marketing – product, price, promotion and place. We marketers have had this drummed into our heads by professors and textbooks more times than we can count. I certainly understand the importance of the 4Ps, but felt it didn’t always apply – especially to the luxury market. Then I read this article by Pam Danziger from Unity Marketing, which confirmed all my doubts about the 4Ps. The article, called “Luxury Marketing’s Higher Calling – from the 4Ps to the 4Es,” explained what luxury marketers need to grapple with as our culture goes through an anti-consumerist phase and the affluent change the way they “buy” into things.
To survive in an economy that looks completely different than it did 10 or 20 years ago, luxury firms or brands need to focus on being meaningful and inspirational rather than subscribing to the old marketing standards. That’s why Danziger came up with the 4Es of marketing: experiences, everyplace, exchange and evangelism.
I’ve recapped these 4Es below:
From Products to Experiences
In the new experiential economy, consumers—particularly millennials—are spending their money on experiences instead of tangible goods. Essentially, shoppers prefer to take a selfie while they enjoy their latest splurge rather than display that splurge on a shelf. Of course, this shift has been great for spas and fine restaurants, but companies in the business of selling a product aren’t off the hook. Take a note from companies like Stich Fix, which sells clothing by offering customers a personal stylist, or Laudi Vidni, which engages shoppers by giving them the ability to customize the material and style of their handbags.
From Place to Everyplace
Brick and mortar has been in a state of demise for quite some time now. Online shopping has surpassed traditional retail and has emerged into the idea that a brand needs to be wherever the customer is: in-store, at home, over the phone and online. Luxury marketers in particular need to go even further to make everyplace “meaningful and memorable,” as Danziger puts it. She cites J. Hilburn and Lincoln Motor Cars as two luxury brands that have successfully embraced the everyplace concept. J. Hilburn offers customers the chance to meet with one of 3,000 stylists across the country to do a personal fitting, and Lincoln provides a pickup service when customers need to take their car in for repairs. These brands go beyond typical customer service and almost serve as their customers’ personal assistants.
From Price to Exchange
No longer can a company slap a brand name on a product, mark up the price and say it’s aspirational. Luxury brands need to provide customers with a valuable exchange—and affluent consumers will be willing to pay for it. Whether that exchange provides the customer with expert knowledge, appreciation or time savings, it has to make the customer feel like they’re getting something that enriches their lives. Socially conscious companies that allow customers to give back with every purchase are particularly good at this. Danziger mentions TOMS’ and Warby Parker’s “buy a pair, give a pair” model as an example.
From Promotion to Evangelism
If customers want meaningful, life-affirming products from their favorite brands, it’s no wonder that they can become fanatical when they actually get them—and that fanaticism is a powerful promotional tool. These days, many luxury companies are seeing significant results through “brand evangelism” (otherwise known as good, old-fashioned word of mouth). That doesn’t mean there’s no room for traditional advertising, public relations or endorsements, but there’s no question that word of mouth drives sales. Danziger mentions Apple, a classic example of a company that turns its customers into evangelists (and makes quite a profit from those loyal customers).
Most of the time we are swamped, so any time we have a slow day it’s a welcome relief. It can feel a bit odd, though, when you get to the office and there’s nothing urgent that needs to be done. What exactly are you supposed to do all day?
Slow days are an opportunity to catch up on some of those forgotten-about marketing tasks—the items that need to get done eventually but keep getting put on the back burner. They can often be accomplished in only an hour or two, but their impact can be huge. Here, we’ve narrowed down some of the top rainy day marketing tasks from Lawyerist.