Marketing professional services: strategy vs. tactics


Marketing professional services requires both strategies and tactics. A strategy is a process or plan. Tactics are specific actions for implementing that plan.

You may have several tactics you use to effect a given strategy. For example, your strategy may be to build your reputation in your community, target market, or among other lawyers. Your tactics may include doing charitable work, issuing press releases highlighting key victories, or teaching CLE classes.

Most attorneys employ similar strategies because we have similar objectives. We want to meet new prospective clients and referral sources, grow our lists, and generate more repeat business and referrals. Where we differ is in our tactics.

And that’s okay. You get to choose. You may like meeting people through social media while the next attorney prefers pressing the flesh. For most strategies, there are several tactics to choose from. You can do any or all.

If your strategy is to offer value to prospective clients so they (a) find you, (b) learn how you can help them, and (c) get to know, like, and trust you, there are many ways to accomplish this. You can conduct free seminars, offer a newsletter, put content on a blog, advertise a free report, create youtube videos, or engage with prospective clients via hangouts.

If your strategy is to meet and build relationships with centers of influence in your target market, your tactics may include general networking (e.g., Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, etc.), networking at niche-specific events, joint venture marketing, speaking at luncheons, or asking your existing professional contacts to introduce you to their counterparts.

If your strategy is to get more referrals from existing and former clients, tactics include educating them about your “ideal client,” making it easy to give referrals (e.g., outlining the process, providing a form), creating hand outs they can deliver to people they know, and endearing them to you by delivering more value and service than they expect.

If your strategy is to build your list of prospective clients, you can accomplish this through guest posts, keyword rich blog content, improved landing pages, and offering an incentive (i.e., a report) to encourage opt ins.

In my opinion, all of the above strategies are important, if not essential for building a professional practice. But there is enough variety in the tactics to allow each attorney to effect those strategies in a way that suits their practice and preferences.

In your planning, start with strategies. Decide what you want to accomplish. Then, choose from a menu of tactics. Infuse those tactics with your personal brand and style to create a plan of action that is both effective and well suited to you.

Once your plan is working, you can expand on the scope of your tactics (e.g., add more content to your site, find more places for networking), add additional tactics to your marketing mix, or both.

For a simple marketing plan that really works, get this. If you will be marketing online, get this.


Marketing plan for lawyers: getting ready for the new year


I’m being interviewed later today by a reporter for the Canadian Bar Association. She’s doing a story about what young lawyers need to do to prepare for the new year. I plan to tell her the same thing I would tell any attorney. Just follow these three simple steps:


The first thing you should do is to figure out where you are. A good way to do that is with a “S.W.O.T. Analysis”–figuring out your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.


Are you in danger of losing a good client? Are unreasonably high expenses causing cash flow problems? Have you been accused of doing something wrong that’s hurting or may hurt your reputation?

If there are holes in your ship, plug them so you can continue your journey. Do what you have to do to eliminate threats and minimize potential losses, but don’t dwell on them. Deal with them and move on.


Are you deficient in any areas of knowledge? Do you need to improve certain skills? Do you need more referral sources, more clients, or better clients? Are you attracting clients who can’t or don’t pay? Do you need to get better at getting retainers? Is your bookkeeping a mess?

Figure out where you are weak and then look for solutions. Take courses, ask other lawyers for help or advice, buy equipment, delegate or outsource the problem so you can focus on your strengths and opportunities.


What are you great at? Find something you excel at and leverage it to make it even bigger and better. Focus your time and energy on taking something that’s going well for you and build on it.

If you get good results with a certain type of client or case, you should focus on getting more of those clients or cases. That may mean eliminating other practice areas or turning away clients who don’t fit your ideal client profile.

In the marketing arena, if you are good at networking, do more of it. Ask your contacts to introduce you to their colleagues. Find a second networking group if you have the time or a better group if you don’t. Work deeper within the organization to gain even more influence. Volunteer for committees, take on more responsibilities.

If you like the Internet, create more content, learn about SEO and social media, do more guest posts, and start creating videos.

If you like to write, write. If you like to speak, speak.

Look at your skills and your preferences and focus on them. What do you do best? How can you do more of it and get even better at it? How can you leverage it to get an even bigger return?


Make a list of people you know and like and brainstorm ways you can improve and deepen your relationship. They can lead you to new clients and new referral sources. They can provide you with advice and ideas. They can send traffic to your website, provide content for your blog or newsletter, and promote your event or offer.

Make another list of people you don’t know who sell to or advise your target market. Make plans to approach them to see how you might work together.

Go through your notes and files and collect all of the ideas you have recorded for marketing your practice, improving your work product, increasing your productivity, or increasing profitability. Put a star next to your best ideas.


Once you know where you are, the next step is to determine where you want to go. What do you want to accomplish next year relative to your practice or career?

Instead of writing down five or ten goals, as you may be inclined to do, I suggest you write just one big goal. Come up with as many candidates as you want to but then, choose one big goal that gets you excited.

Selecting one goal will force you to focus on that one goal, and nothing else. The odds are that many of your candidate goals are related to your one big goal and are, in fact, stepping stones on the path to reaching it. If your goal is to increase your net income to $250,000, for example, other goal candidates, e.g., “bring in six new clients per month,” are action steps you need to take to accomplish your singular income goal.

Of course you will have additional action steps. You don’t just bring in six new clients, for example, you have many things you need to do to bring in those clients. And that leads us to step three.


Why a plan? Because you need to know what to do, silly. Because come the first of the year, when you’re ready to get to work, you need a list of projects and tasks that will move you forward towards your goal.

Why simple? Because if your plan isn’t simple, you won’t do it. You’ll get bogged down in detail. You’ll spend more time working with your lists and planning your plans, and have little time to get anything done.

So, figure out where you are, then where you want to be, and from that, write a plan for accomplishing it. Keep in mind that the plan you start out with will almost never be the plan that gets you to your goal. That’s because plans change, circumstances change, and you will change. And that’s okay. Your plan will get you started, and getting started is the most important part.

The Attorney Marketing Formula comes with a simple marketing plan for lawyers. And a lot more stuff you need to know.


A simple marketing plan for lawyers


The experts and gurus tell you you’re not doing nearly enough to market your legal services. They provide you with a laundry list of tasks you need to do and you had better do them, they say, or you will be left behind by your competition.

Screw ’em.

You don’t have to do everything. I certainly don’t. Not even close.

I write a daily blog post, I occasionally do some guest posts, and I spend about five minutes a day on social media. Okay, you got me, I also do a lot of reading. But I am not consumed with doing everything others say I must do. I don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, and you shouldn’t either.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” Teddy Roosevelt said. He was replying to a request for more guns and soldiers during the Spanish American War. His generals wanted more. He told them they were fine with what they had. You are, too.

Yes, there are other things I’m working on. Because I want to, not because I have to. I’ve got the basics covered.

You may be different. You may have more time than I do. Okay, let me re-phrase that–you may want to spend more time on marketing than I do. You may love posting and pinning and tweeting and commenting and sharing and instagramming. You may be a video stud or a mobile maven.

And that’s fine. It’s great, in fact. God bless you. You’re doing what you enjoy and it’s working for you. That’s the way marketing should be.

Because if it’s not, if marketing is something you loathe in all it’s forms and iterations, you shouldn’t do it. Why make yourself miserable? Partner up with someone who likes marketing. Or get a job.

Because marketing must be done.

If you want to do more, do more. Not because you see other lawyers doing more and you think you must keep up with them. Do it because it makes sense to you and you want to do it.

Start by learning about what’s possible. This blog is a good place to start. My course, The Attorney Marketing Formula, provides a system for marketing legal services and includes a simple marketing plan for lawyers. My other course, Make the Phone Ring, shows you how to do marketing on the Internet.

I mentioned Teddy’s quote in a previous post where I also quoted Mark Zuckerberg. He said we often start projects with the hard parts, figuring we can always do the easy bits. He says that instead, we should start with what’s easy. This way, we will have started and starting is the most important part.

If you start, you can get better, maybe even learn to like it. If you never start, that can’t happen.

Starting is easy. Starting includes things like reading and thinking and making notes.

So don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, or what anyone says you must do. You can market your services any way you want. Find out what’s possible, do something and see how it goes. And start with easy.