Many of the top-producing attorneys we work with meet at the end of each year with their partners and teams to check the health of their marketing efforts, discuss threats and trends in their market and analyze the usefulness of their marketing strategies. The legal landscape is not static. Referral sources dry up, die or move away; you are joined by a new partner; legislation changes the services you provide; you take on a newsworthy case or you decide to launch a new practice area. These are just a few of the many changes that can occur over the course of a year in your firm. It pays to briefly stop and take a look backwards to see if a course correction is needed for the future.
A long time Atticus® client in the Midwest, working with his wife and partner, heads up a rapidly growing tax assessment firm. In spite of a crushing schedule, he understands the power of stopping once a year, gathering up his team and talking about what worked and what didn’t in the last year. It was particularly important to do this last year because the firm tried a couple of new marketing strategies. So they held a retreat focused entirely on assessing the results of their new client development activities.
In preparation for the retreat he conducted a return-on-investment analysis which showed in no uncertain terms that his investment in a new marketing assistant and the focus on new markets was paying off.
He then took it a step further and analyzed all of the marketing efforts they made the year prior. After listing all their various client development activities, he and his team scored each one based on two simple questions:
- Did this activity deepen his relationships with his referral sources?
- Did this activity bring in new business?
The activities he looked at included something he calls ‘lunches with lawyers’ (he receives a great many referrals from his colleagues); small gifts given over the holidays; sports outings with various property management companies; seminars directed at decision makers within targeted groups; enhanced client service efforts; attending an industry conference and sending out his annual newsletter.
After scoring each of these efforts he discovered the face-to-face activities delivered him the most direct business. After looking at everything on his activities list, he was able to make informed decisions on what strategies he’ll carry forward and which ones are best left as interesting experiments. He will move into the coming year armed with accurate data to inform his decisions.
Like this client, setting specific and measurable marketing goals on a regular basis, then analyzing your results, is one of the most important things you can do to ensure future success for your firm.
An end-of-the-year marketing retreat is a chance to:
- review your year-to-date marketing results
- focus on marketing successes and acknowledge team members for their efforts (encouragement of this kind goes a long way)
- educate partners or team members on new marketing strategies
- establish next year’s plan with marketing targets for capacity planning and budgeting purposes
- assess the cost-effectiveness of using different communications and advertising vehicles
Depending on what’s happened in your year, you may need to adjust your marketing goals to compensate for a lack of referrals, to feature a change in the services you offer or to publicize a new partner. Often what appears to be negative can be spun in a positive way. Plus, you’ll want to know what strategies worked and what didn’t — so you can do more of what did!