The Importance of a Marketing Plan? Because Your Marketing Plan is Your Roadmap to Success - ABA YLD 101 Practice Series

By Lynn Roberts

Imagine that you have a case that requires your attention every "working" day. You have thousands upon thousands of dollars invested in time and money. Your retirement and your children's health, education and welfare hinges on your success. Your ability to pay your bills, advance your career, and create personal wealth increases in direct proportion to how well you do with this one. Win or lose, you're looking at big stakes.

Now, consider this: would you develop this case and then take it to deposition, negotiation or trial without an outline or written plan?  

Finally, realize that this "case" is really your law practice. And the only way you're going to win is through excellent marketing. But do you even have a marketing plan? Have you outlined any marketing strategies or tactics? Conducted any marketing research? Profiled your target market? If you're like 95% (or more) of the attorneys I've talked to, worked with, interviewed, or heard about, the answer is "no." And if your answer is no, then your practice is running on "hit and miss" and by default, you're leaving good money on the table.

Your marketing plan is arguably one of your most important business tools - because marketing brings clients in the door and because clients are the backbone and lifeblood of your business. So, as a veteran solo attorney and a seasoned law marketer, I strongly recommend that you take the time to create a marketing plan. Success lies not in the complexity but rather the simplicity of your marketing plan efforts. The lists and questions below are some of the most important initial factors for you to consider in your marketing. Remember, you're not out to create a masterpiece marketing plan. Your success will best result from thinking about your marketing plan as both a process and a product - your roadmap to the practice you really want. Now, read on, and just do it.

Because, when you take the time to create a marketing plan, you maximize your return on your investment if . . .

You Gain Control of Your Practice
How do you gain control and direct your practice? First, you articulate your desires, stated as "intents":

  • What type of cases you intend to handle?
  • What services do you intend to provide?
  • What type of clients do you intend to work with?
  • What level of income do you intend to create?
  • What is your timeline for creating that income?
  • What type of marketing do you want to engage in?
  • What services do you want to provide? What do you really love to do?
  • Why? What can you do to increase more of what you love?
  • What resources (time + money) do you have available to . . .
    • Develop your services?
    • Research your target market?
    • Develop your marketing strategy and materials?
    • Market your services?
    • How and when will you deliver your marketing message and your services?

Then, conduct a SWOT analysis of you, your business and your marketing:

  • What are your strengths?
    • Personal
    • Business
    • Marketing
  • What are your weaknesses?
    • Personal
    • Business
    • Marketing
  • What opportunities do you envision?
    • Personal
    • Business
    • Marketing
  • What threats do you anticipate?
    • From your competition?
    • From the market in general?
    • From your specific target market?

Next, ask yourself how you can combine your intents with a realistic analysis of your strengths and weaknesses, your opportunities and the threats to your business.   

You Discover Valuable Client Information
This is your mother lode! The more you know about your target market, the more efficient and effective your marketing will be. You supercharge your marketing plan by gathering this information:

  • Who needs the services you want to deliver? (this is your target market)
  • Why do they need those particular services?
  • Why are you their best choice?
  • What specific benefits do you provide to the client?
  • What are your best methods (people, places, things) to reach the client?
  • Referral sources? Gatherings? Media?
  • How and when will you communicate your marketing message to your clients?
  • Where do your clients go? What do they read? What are their interests and goals?
  • How do your clients perceive you and what you do?
  • How accurate are your client perceptions?
  • How can you change negative client perceptions?
  • What words, concepts, or ideas most closely align with your clients?

You Construct Tangible Knowledge-Based Assets
When you create your marketing plan, you're setting yourself up to create an infinite number of "information products." These products start out as your marketing materials. They can then be used to for marketing, promoting and educating. Here are some marketing material examples:

  • Firm brochures, business cards, letterhead
  • Websites and blogs
  • Advertisements
  • Seminar outlines
  • Articles
  • Checklists
  • Substantive outlines
  • Newsletters
  • eBooklets
  • Handbooks
  • Guidelines
  • Case studies and special reports
  • White papers
  • Periodic communications

You Develop a "Marketing Mindset"
The process of focusing on your marketing program, your own intents, and your target market creates a marketing mindset. Your marketing mindset will influence your marketing plan by providing focus and greater creativity. As you construct your marketing plan, ask yourself:

  • How can you transform your substantive knowledge into marketing materials?
  • What opportunities can you create to get your marketing message in front of more clients?
  • Are there better methods to get clients than you're using now?
  • Are you missing any opportunities because of procrastination or narrow-mindedness?

You Create Your Marketing Message
Once you've answered the above questions, you'll have solid information that you can use to construct your marketing message - that sweet, "golden nugget of information" that you want your prospects to believe about you and your services. Your marketing message, when presented to the client, must answer these client questions:

  • Why should the client hire you?
  • What makes you different than your competition?
  • How do you deliver your services?
  • What benefit do you provide to the client?

You Draw a Roadmap or Navigational Chart for Your Business
Rather than relying on whimsy or chance, when you develop your marketing plan, you're actually creating a map or chart to use on a daily basis. You'll work more efficiently because you'll know where you're going. And if you change course, you'll be able to quickly make corrections. Consider these ideas:

  • Think big success
  • Use this article as a guide for beginning your marketing plan
  • Answer all the questions
  • Add at least one question of your own per section
  • Work on this at least 30 minutes each day, every day
  • Don't quit, ever.

Now, act fast. Get started. Don't wait. You know the importance of a marketing plan, so you are on your way to creating a prosperous and rewarding law practice. If you"d like a marketing plan designed for attorneys, go to www.LawyerLynn.com/marketingplan.html and download my free and easy-to-use marketing plan template. And send me email if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear from you. Lynn Roberts, lynn@lawyerlynn.com.   

Resources

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About the Author

Lynn Roberts, is a self-styled "Attorney-turned-Copywriter." After 10 successful years as solo lawyer, in-house counsel, and law marketer, Lynn turned her passion for rainmaking and writing to helping other lawyers. Lynn builds law firm business by writing copy and marketing. "Client-centered copy" provides the backbone for Lynn's copywriting success. This writing style clearly demonstrates how the attorney provides benefit to the client. Most attorneys market by talking about themselves; Lynn's copy emphasizes client concerns. Lynn uses the copy to create marketing and educational materials - brochures, websites, special reports, booklets, advertisements, biographies, case studies, or articles. Attorneys and prospects both benefit - client-centered copy builds trust, creates a level of comfort, and shows that the attorney has requisite knowledge. Now, start developing your own client-centered copy - get your Free "Attorney Marketing Plan" at www.LawyerLynn.com/marketingplan.

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