Simplicity is Key to Effective Law Firm Marketing Plan

On 13.12.11, In Resources, by Blake

simple law firm marketingDoes your firm have a marketing plan in place? Or is it hidden in a file somewhere and never looked at? The coming start of a new year may be just the right moment to create a new plan—and keep it up-front, where everyone can act on it.

Why have a marketing plan at all? A plan keeps you and your firm focused, with a clear direction about what’s needed to grow your practice. Without a clear plan, you’re stumbling in the dark, hoping to bump into success.

Think about how much your practice can grow using a plan that clearly identifies what products or services you sell, how you’re going to sell them and what you need to do to reach your target market.

An effective marketing plan doesn’t have to be a long, unwieldy or complicated document. The best plans are short, 1-2 pages at most. They work best if the structure and language are simple and clear enough for everyone in the firm—from receptionist to managing partner—to understand.

 Here are some essential components a law firm’s marketing plan should have:

Defined purpose. Of course you want to get more clients, but potential profits can come from other sources as well. In the marketing plan, consider expanding your objectives to include (a) increasing your client base in a new niche or practice area; (b) getting new business from existing clients; and (c) building a better sales pipeline to generate more leads.

Specific and concrete. No marketing plan whose stated purpose is to “grow the firm” will ever work. A successful marketing plan is tangible and specific, with goals that can be measured over time. Define the roles and tasks of everyone involved, as well as benchmark deadlines for getting things done. And name an individual who can take ownership of the plan (with the corresponding authority to make sure people get on board).

Get input. As with any business, your entire staff is part of the marketing process. So it makes sense to invite input from people throughout the firm as to how to implement the plan’s stated goals. The best ideas always come from unexpected sources.

Implement and follow-up. All too often, law firms draw up marketing plans and then ignore them. The plan is just the first step, not the end in itself. It’s your blueprint for growing the practice and will only work if you and your team work to implement its objectives. It’s a document that should be on everyone’s desk all the time. It’s the road-map to success.

Commitment. This follows closely on the heels of implementation. Throughout the year (or whatever time is covered in the marketing plan), be sure your firm’s leadership demonstrates commitment to the plan by referring to it in group sessions and one-to-one meetings. This keeps marketing awareness high and active. It also demonstrates that you are committed to making this plan work.

The best plans are short, 1-2 pages at most. If you design your marketing plan with the components listed above in mind, you should be able to start 2012 with a clear, driving vision of where your firm will be by year’s end—and beyond. Without such a plan, there’s really no telling how things will end up.

Interested in learning field-tested techniques that successful law firms use to grow their client base and increase billings? Find out more with “28 Marketing Secrets of the Top Law Firms.”

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