There is no doubt, in the current climate, that law firm business development and marketing activities are frustrating. This should not, however, deter you from the bigger picture – having a successful and profitable law practice.
Fortunately, law firm business development and marketing is not rocket science. Hard work – yes; rocket science – no. Equally fortuitously is the fact that law firm partners and business developers are able to bring to the task successful and proven growth strategies from other businesses and sectors to the legal market.
A case in point: recently I re-ignited a fitness program with my boot-camp instructor Adrian (who I previously wrote about here). Those involved in fitness like to practice what they call “zero sum” days. What this means is that the person will not go a single day without doing something that has an overall positive impact on their fitness.
Adapting and applying a zero sum days philosophy to your law firm business development projects is one sure-fire way to ensure you stay one step ahead of your competitors.
As is the case with a fitness zero sum days workout program, in order for your business development zero sum program to work, you need to:
- workout your end goal strategy: before you set off on this journey, make sure you have an end goal in plan. This could be to grow profitable revenue by 10 – 20 percent over the next 12 months. It could also be that you want to increase your client base by 5 to 10 clients. Whatever your end goal business development strategy is, make sure you have one as there is nothing worse than doing business development activities ‘on the fly’.
- play to your strengths: too often I see genuine business development efforts wasted by lawyers who do business development activities that they are clearly not comfortable doing. If you enjoy networking, then do this. If, however, networking is not your thing (and it really isn’t for some), either consider what your other options are or hire a coach to help you improve. Whatever you decide to do though, make sure you play to your strengths.
- make it fun: I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like to have fun. The interpretation of what constitutes fun may differ, but the element of fun is always there. The same approach should also apply to your business development activities. Let’s face it, business development is a dull drudge we all have to do, but the moment we introduce an element of fun it is no longer really a business development activity. Fun to you may be setting and exceeding targets. If that’s the case, do it. Alternatively, it may be playing golf. Again, if that’s the case do it. It really doesn’t matter that much what you do, provided you keep the plan and end goal in mind and the activity falls within the overall strategy.
- do a little workout every day: as is the case with the zero sum fitness program from which the title of this blog has been adapted, your zero sum business development program needs to include some kind of workout every day. Some days your workout will be longer and more strenuous (say, a network meeting or half-day presentation) than others (a day you make three phone calls to clients and prospective clients).
- bring it all together in a plan: finally, you need to bring all of this together in a plan. I like to advise people to use their Outlook calendar as their plan template. In this you can add all of your networking events, seminars, days you will publish articles or post blogs and on any “free” days left over you can include little mini-workouts, such as planning to have a coffee catch-up with someone or making a telephone call to see how a contact has been since you last spoke.
Having a business development plan in place that ensures you become the trusted advisor to your clients – in the mould advocated by David Maister and Andrew Sobel – takes hard work. It isn’t rocket science, but at the end of the day you need to implement a daily workout that is more proactive than all of your competitors if you want to stay ahead in this day and age.