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.


How to be successful today, and also tomorrow


In a previous post, “The one thing you need to know about success,” I noted the dichotomy between the premise that success is predicated on doing what you like doing (and avoiding what you don’t like doing) and studies which show that the ability to delay gratification is an accurate predictor of future success. I suggested that these conclusions aren’t really in conflict because thinking about your future success can be as enjoyable, if not more so, than the actual achievement.

Blogger Derek Sivers writes about the delayed gratification study and agrees that “future focused” people (i.e., those who can delay gratification) are the most successful, but notes that they may miss the enjoyment of the present. Similarly, too much focus on the present “can rob life of the deeper happiness of accomplishment.”

For true happiness, Sivers notes, we need to be flexible:

The happiest and most effective people are balanced: equally high in future-focus and present-focus, and viewing the past as positive. When you have work to finish, be future-focused. When your work is done and it’s time to relax, be present-focused. During family holidays, be past-focused to enjoy family customs.

He also says that our focus changes depending on our circumstances. “Cavemen needed a full present-focus at all times to survive in the wild and find food each day.”

When I started practicing and had no money and no clients, my circumstances forced me to delay gratification. I had to learn how to “survive in the wild and find food each day.” Like the caveman, I was not focused on the future, I was focused on eating. You can’t think about a five year plan when your rent is due next Tuesday.

If you want a marketing plan that really works, today, not five years from now, pick up a copy of The Attorney Marketing Formula. You’ll thank me later.


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.”