A simple marketing plan for attorneys


Yesterday, I said there are two mistakes lawyers make in marketing their services: not having a plan and not executing that plan. Today, I want to help you create a simple marketing plan for your law practice.

Why simple? Because if it’s not simple, you won’t do it.

Forget complicated. Forget long term. A simple plan has a few steps and a short time frame–this month, this week, today. You can create this plan in a few minutes; you can execute the plan a few minutes a day. Short, sweet, do-able. Baby steps, followed by more baby steps.

Most plans are overwhelming. Pages of tasks and sub-tasks, market research, resources, footnotes. A simple plan fits on a sticky note.

So let’s get to it. Let’s create a simple plan and let’s use a magic number: three. Three things. Not seven or seventeen, just three. Why three? Because you can remember three things. You won’t even need a sticky note.

We’ll start with some objectives:

  • Three new clients a month
  • Three prospects a week
  • Three actions a day

Your goal is three new clients a month. (Feel free to adjust these numbers for your practice.) In order to get them, you’re going to get three prospects each week. In order to do that, you’re going to perform three marketing-related activities each day.

So far so good. Easy peezy.

Now, let’s brainstorm some ideas. Write down your ideas–this is not your plan, it is thinking on paper which will help you create your plan.


There are different kinds of “new clients”:

  • Never hired you before
  • Former clients who hire you again
  • Existing clients with new engagements

Choose one. Let’s say, “never hired you before.”


Let’s define a prospect as someone who looks at some information: a brochure, a web page, an ad, a recorded seminar–something that lets them see what you can do for them. Let’s say you’ve written a report on a subject of interest to your target market. Your objective for the week is to get your report into the hands of three people who have never hired you.

Again, simple, and do-able.


There are many ways to get information into the hands of a prospect. You can do that via

  • Phone
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Advertising
  • Snail mail
  • In person
  • Articles
  • Speaking
  • Etc.

Let’s use your existing network of clients and professional contacts as the conduit for distributing your report and phone and email to do that. So, here are your action steps, in preparation for executing your plan:

  1. Write a report.
  2. Make a list of clients, former clients, and professionals you can contact.
  3. Calendar 15 minutes a day for calls.

Now, here’s your plan:

  1. Monday through Friday, between 3pm and 3:15pm, I will call three people on my list.
  2. I will tell them about my report, confirm their email, and tell them I’m sending the report to them.
  3. I will ask them to forward the report to people they know who might be interested in reading it.

A simple plan. One you can do. One you will do. And one that will work.


Do you make these mistakes in marketing your law practice?


There are two mistakes you can make in marketing your law practice and unfortunately, most attorneys are guilty of both.

What are the two mistakes?

  1. Not having a marketing plan, and
  2. Not executing that plan.

As a result, most attorneys don’t do any marketing, at least not with any consistency. Let’s face it, if you don’t have a plan–a list of projects and tasks and a schedule for completing them–any marketing activities you do will be sporadic and isolated. You’ll never generate momentum or sustained growth.

Having a cool web site (or any web site)  may be good for your ego but if you don’t have any traffic to it, that’s all it will be. Traffic doesn’t happen by itself. You need a plan and you need some activity or that traffic will never materialize.

Don’t get down on yourself. The problem isn’t you. It’s not a lack of self-discipline, poor organization, or bad habits. You aren’t lazy and you don’t need to get motivated. What you need is a better plan.

You need a plan that is

  1. Simple (so you can do it), and
  2. A good fit (so you want to do it).

If you want to do something and you believe you can do it, you will do it. You won’t have to force yourself to do things you don’t want to do, you’ll do it because you enjoy it.

In his remarks to the 2005 Stanford graduating class, Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” A friend of mine puts it this way: “When you love what you do and do you what you love you’ll never work another day in your life.”

If you don’t enjoy being a lawyer, common sense says to either change careers or find some aspect of practicing law you do enjoy. That might mean a different practice area, different clients, or a job with a different firm. If you don’t, you’ll never be happy and you’ll never do “great work.” The same can be said for marketing.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to market legal services and you only need one or two. You don’t have to be good at networking AND writing AND seminars AND getting web traffic AND social media AND referrals. Pick something that sounds good to you or feels right. For once in your career, put logic aside and listen to your gut.

Maybe nothing feels right or maybe you don’t know enough yet about the different options. That’s okay. Make no decisions, take a step back and simply learn. Read, observe, see what others are doing. Soak it all in and eventually, you’ll find something that’s a good fit.

And then, you need a plan. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.


A marketing plan for lawyers–part two

In a previous post, we examined the four steps to creating a marketing plan. You learned that a marketing plan should be simple, and that it is an ongoing process, with most of the planning taking place on a monthly and weekly basis.

You also learned the importance of having a long-term vision statement and annual goals.

Before we move on to discuss monthly planning and daily activities, let’s delve a little deeper into the goal setting process.

There are six major areas of life–Career/Financial, Physical/Health, Family/Home, Mental/Educational, Spiritual, and Social/Cultural. For most people, happiness comes from having a well-balanced life, with success in all six areas.

This doesn’t mean you need to set annual goals in all six ares. Some areas may be going well for you right now, or there may be one or two areas that are more important to you this year. Throughout your life, your priorities will change and so will your goals. So, right now, if you want to focus on just one or two areas of your life, that’s fine.

For each area of focus, you should have no more than three annual goals. One is even better.

Sometimes, people confuse “benefits” with “goals”. For example, in the area of Career/Financial, you may have a goal to earn a certain amount of money, another goal to buy a new house, and a third goal to pay off your credit card balances. But the second two are really benefits to be obtained from the first goal, so, in reality, you have just one goal.

Right now, I have just one area of my life I’m focused on and I have one goal in that area. There are many benefits to be derived from achieving that goal and there also many sub-goals I need to hit before I will achieve it. This works for me and you should do what works for you. (You can always change your goals.)

For each annual goal, follow these five steps and you will be well on your way to achieving them:


Make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T.–Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Tangible. Write your goal in the present tense, as though already obtained, make it specific, and attach a date. Since we’re focused on marketing, here’s an example of a S.M.A.R.T. financial goal: “I’m excited that I am now earning a net income of $15,000 per month, or more, in my law practice, by or before December 31, 2010.”


List (a) the benefits to be obtained and (b) the losses to be avoided by achieving this goal. It’s important that you understand the value and importance of your goals and have some emotional investment in them.

Benefits to be achieved

  • Pride, feeling of accomplishment
  • Pay off debts
  • Increase savings, build for the future
  • Hire another paralegal, gain more free time
  • Reduce stress

Losses to be avoided

  • Cancelling next year’s vacation
  • Moving to a smaller office


List (a) “Possible obstacles” to obtaining the goal and, for each obstacle, (b) “Possible Solutions”.

One of your obstacles is “you”. No doubt there are things you need to learn, things you need to do more of or get better at, or things you need to stop doing. What are they? What obstacles have prevented you from achieving your goal in the past? And what are some possible solutions? (Your goal is not S.M.A.R.T. unless you list possible solutions because without solutions, you can’t move forward.)

Possible obstacles/Solutions [Examples]

  • Obstacle: Me–my lack of patience. Solutions: Read Dale Carnegie, other books, find a mentor who has overcome that obstacle
  • Obstacle: Not enough clients. Solutions: Study marketing, set up a blog, join networking group.
  • Obstacle: Not enough time: Solutions: Find a “time management” system; hire another paralegal.

This will help you identity actions you need to take on the way to achieving your goals and help you identity sub-goals and projects you need to tackle.


List specific action steps you need to do to move you forward towards achieving the goal. Schedule target dates for each of these steps and put these dates on your monthly calendar.

These four steps will help ensure that you have meaningful goals, specific action steps and target dates for their achievement.


This goal setting process should be reviewed and re-written each month, at your monthly planning session. Ideally, this will take place a day or two before the end of the previous month. “Always plan next month before next month begins.”

Each month, as you make progress towards your goals, circumstances will change and your plan will change. As you move forward, you will conduct a weekly review of your monthly plans and make adjustments to your daily activities. We’ll talk about that in our next post on this subject.


A marketing plan for lawyers–a lot simpler than you think

Do you have a marketing plan for your law practice? I’ll bet you don’t. Most attorneys tell me they haven’t had the time to write one and they don’t know where to begin.

The good news is it’s a lot simpler than you think and you can get the most important part done in about an hour.

Most people think a marketing plan is a detailed, step-by-step blueprint for building their business or practice. Yes, plans like this are written every day, but a complex plan is neither necessary nor effective.

You can’t accurately predict what will happen six months or a year from now. There are too many variables. Effective marketing plans are written on the battle field, in real time. As circumstances change, the plan changes, and the plan you start with is almost never the plan that you end with.

Don’t get me wrong, a well planned life is a successful life, but most of the planning is done on a shorter time line–month to month and week to week. The planning process has the following elements:
  1. Long term vision
  2. Annual goals
  3. Monthly plans (and weekly reviews)
  4. Daily actions
You can do the first two in about an hour.

Start by writing a vision statement for the next five years (or ten). Where do you want to be? What do you want for your practice and personal life?

With respect to your practice, how much do you want to be earning? What do you want to be doing, in terms of practice areas, niche markets, and types of clients? Do you want a big, busy practice or something smaller but equally remunerative (e.g., fewer clients, less overhead)? Do you want partners or do you want to work for a firm? Maybe you’d like to be retired from practicing and doing something else. Or practicing part time so you have more time for travel and for your family or anything else. What do you want?

Think big! Turn on your dream machine and don’t limit yourself in any way. In five years, you can accomplish just about anything, so don’t hold back. You are the architect of your life, so make it a good one.

Take about thirty to forty-five minutes and start writing. A few paragraphs to one page is all you need. Write in the present tense, as though you are already living your vision. Some people like to describe their birthday, five years in the future: what they are doing that day, who they are with, what they have accomplished, what they are looking forward to.

Remember, there are no restrictions. Short of defying the laws of physics or being completely unrealistic, you can be, do, or have whatever you want. Don’t be logical about this. No, “yeah, buts. . .”, this is your dream for the future and you should make it as exciting and delicious as you want.

Once you have your vision statement, you know where you want to go. Everything you do hereafter will be designed to move you forward towards that vision.

The next step is annual goals. You can have goals for different aspects of your life–professional, spiritual, physical, and so forth, but within each category, one goal is usually best (and no more than three).

Read your vision statement and choose an annual goal that will move you forward towards that vision in a meaningful way. Write down that goal.

In about an hour, you will accomplished something that perhaps you have never done before. The most important part of any plan is to know the destination, and now you know!

Get out your calendar and find another hour some time before the end of this month. With your vision statement and annual goal(s) in hand, you’ll be able to effectively plan next month. I usually do this on a Sunday morning when it’s quiet.

I’ll talk about the monthly plans and daily actions in another post, but I want to leave you with a key to effective planning. If you do nothing else but embrace this concept, you will be incredibly effective in your growth and levels of achievement. What is the key? It’s this: “Always plan tomorrow before tomorrow begins. And always plan next month before next month begins.”