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.”