So, how was your 2018?
It feels like yesterday that I wrote my first column of the year “Looking Back to Move Forward: Five Steps for Marketing Success in 2018,” advocating that building good marketing habits will serve you far better than making resolutions that are all but forgotten by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around.
While I still I believe that good habits year-round will bring you success, this time of year does lend itself to the contemplation and the unique promise of “better next year.” (Unless you’re Jewish like I am, in which case you actually get two New Years.)
So why not take advantage of it with these six ideas.
- Look back to move forward.
It’s still a good idea a year later. So, pour yourself another cup of coffee (or glass of wine), take a deep breath, and think back over the past year. Where did you meet or exceed—your business development objectives? (You did set some objectives, didn’t you?) Really take the time both to savor your successes and analyze how you accomplished them.
How can you build on what you did in 2018 in the coming year?
Now, as painful as it may be, think about what didn’t work this year. As I talked about in my article “The Best Laid Plans of Marketers: What to Do When You Don’t Get the Work,” failure is always disappointing and painful—and not just to your bottom line. It can seriously damage your confidence, if you let it.
But it can also be instructive, if you’re willing to really unpack it.
I suggested asking for feedback, where possible, to figure out what happened from the client’s perspective. (Update to my article: I did ask for feedback on the failed pitch and didn’t hear anything back.) But even if you don’t ask for or receive any feedback, the experience most certainly contains some valuable information if you’re willing to look objectively at the situation.
- Get ruthless.
Not with your competition, but with yourself.
Do you feel like you worked really hard at your marketing and business development this year? I hear you.
Working on your practice is sometimes as hard—or harder—than working in your practice.
It’s time consuming and stressful, especially when you have client work to get accomplished.
I believe that you can achieve better visibility for you and your practice by doing less work, as long as you are ruthlessly committed to spending your time only on those marketing opportunities that align with your business objectives and that put you in front of your target audience, and saying a firm no to the rest.
Even if you’ve been practicing the alignment habit (remember that one?) you may still have been tempted by the shiny offers to write or speak, or to be part of a trade or industry group or committee dedicated to worthwhile endeavors.
The New Year is the perfect time to recommit to valuing your time and effort, and dedicating it only to those activities might really make a difference.
- Market to your colleagues.
Do other lawyers in your firm know what you do? More to the point, can they convey what you do accurately and positively to their clients?
I’m betting you said “yes, of course!”
Are you sure?
Since I wrote “What Your Partners Don’t Know Can Hurt You,” in April 2017, it seems that more and more firms have recognized that cross-selling is one of the most efficient and effective business development tools for revenue growth. Makes perfect sense. While the pie of legal spend may—or may not—still be shrinking (depending on which study you’re reading), deepening and broadening relationships with existing clients by selling more and different legal services to them is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Here’s the thing: It’s your responsibility to make sure that your colleagues across the firm have the information they need to sell your knowledge, skill and expertise to their clients.
So, don’t assume that your colleagues know what you do, how you do it, or the clients you do it for. Get proactive about marketing to your colleagues.
You’re the expert in what you do. They’re the experts on their clients. Give them the right information to transmit your marketing message to their clients. As I’ve said before: they need to be able to identify the business and legal challenges where your expertise might be helpful to the client and they need have enough information to introduce you and get the client’s agreement to a meeting with you. After that, it’s your opportunity to win the work.
- Get just a little more social.
You know you should be on social media, but maybe you couldn’t bring yourself to do it this year for whatever reason.
I know; I get it.
As I pointed out in “Oh Snap! Protecting and Promoting Your Practice on Social Media,” social media is where your clients and your competition are meeting each other (and you’re not). Social media has great benefits—and it also has risks and rules that you need to be aware of.
So start small—and safe—by spending time on social media listening and not engaging. Lurking is actually a great way to get comfortable with the landscape—whether LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook—with very little risk. And you’ll be in great company—according to the Greentarget/Zeughauser 2018 State of Digital & Content Marketing Survey, 77 percent of in-house counsel who use social media do it in listening mode only.
- Review and update your bio.
You didn’t really think I was going to end without mentioning your bio, did you? Even if (despite my best efforts) you haven’t been adding newsworthy information—publications, speaking events, representative matters, awards and honors—to your bio regularly, and even if you haven’t reviewed your bio once this year, you can still hit the ground running in the new year by taking an hour or two before the ball drops to review and revise your bio. Don’t know where to start? Take a look at my last article “Advice on How to Have a Great Bio at Every Stage of Your Career,” for my suggestions on what to put in—and what to leave out—of your bio.
- Just do it.
I know, I know. It’s cold. It’s dark at 4:45 p.m. And there are many more festive things to be doing this time of year than thinking about marketing. But while it’s tempting to put off implementing any marketing plans until (less festive) January, don’t wait. Start now—and be ready to have a successful and prosperous 2019!
Meg Charendoff, the principal of CREATE: Communications—Media—Marketing, is a lawyer, writer and marketing professional who works with law firms and lawyers to develop compelling content for their marketing and business development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-514-3206.