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How to Write Your Own Marketing Plan (Part One)

By Patricia Yevics

This article is going to assume that you know there is value in marketing and practice development to continue to expand your practice. This is especially true for solo and small firm practitioners. My goal is not to convince you about the necessity of marketing but rather the necessity of having a plan that you have written and that you can easily implement on a daily basis. The goal of this article is for you to have a written marketing plan that you can use effectively to develop your practice.

The article is going to be presented in two parts. The first part is going to focus on preparing to write the plan. It will give you questions you must answer about where you are now so that you can determine where you are and where you want to be in the next few years. The second part will be in next month's issue and it will focus on how to implement and monitor your marketing plan. It will also give specific activities that you can do to develop your practice.

Having a plan is the single most important factor in marketing success. . You can work with a marketing consultant (although this is not necessary) or you can do the plan yourself or with other members of the firm. However, if it is not in writing, it is not a plan. It is just wishful thinking. The key to success is to go through the planning process and put it on paper.

Success happens the same way in solo and small firms as it does in mid-sized and large firms. It is planned. Being a solo and small firm practitioner is not an excuse for not planning to succeed in every aspect of your practice and marketing is one of those areas.

Some tips about the plan:

  • It must have specific goals, such as "I am going to take one referral source to lunch every two weeks".
  • It can be as simple as a marketing to-do list that you have with you or in front of you at all times or it can be a document that is the result of working with a consultant.
  • Regardless of how it is written or who is involved in the process, the plan must be easy to follow and monitor.
  • It must be fluid and reviewed continuously.
  • You need to monitor your tasks on a regular basis.

The hardest part of writing the plan is deciding where to begin. As you start to go through the process of writing a marketing plan, remember 80% of your time should be spent on relationship building and 20% on reputation building. The objectives of marketing are 1) to achieve visibility, 2) create an image 3) obtain referrals 4) cross sell services to existing clients and 5) obtain new clients. Your plan may want to include activities for all or just some of these objectives.

Before deciding on what activities you want to do to develop new business, you need to know some information about where you have been and where you are now. Here is your assignment. In the next month spend time getting the answers to the questions listed. Put the answers on paper. This is an important part of the planning process. If you are not willing to do get this information, you need to question your commitment to creating a workable and successful plan to develop your practice.


You need to take an inventory of where you are now and where you have been. This is a generic list of questions and issues. Some of the items may not apply to all types of practice areas. A criminal lawyer may not answer the same questions as a transactional lawyer. However, with some modifications, this exercise can work for all solo and small firm practitioners in all types of practice areas.

Current Levels of Expertise

  • What type of practice or what type of firm do you have now?
  • What are your practice areas?
  • Do you have other areas of expertise and experience?
  • What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
  • In what legal areas have you been most and least successful?
  • Do you like the type of law that you practice?
  • Are their other areas of practice you would like to consider?
  • Are their areas of practice you would like to stop doing?
  • Are their areas of practice that are no longer as profitable as they once were?
  • Have some areas of your practice become too saturated with other practitioners?

What are Your Needs

  • What are your financial goals? How much additional revenue do you wish (or need ) to generate?
  • Will you be able to generate the additional work necessary to meet these financial goals and still maintain a high level or service?
  • Will bringing in more business create a need for additional staff?
  • What kind of practice would you like to have five years from now?
  • Do you want to work more or less hours within the next 5 years?

Who are Your Current Clients

  • What type of clients do you currently have? Classify them into groups such as practice area, age, location, occupation or other categories defined by your type of practice.
  • Is there a "type" of client that you serve most?
  • Which clients are most profitable?
  • Which clients are least profitable?
  • Which practice areas are the most and least profitable?
  • Which clients refer you business? Which clients have never referred you business and do you know why?
  • Unless you have a niche practice, which clients use you for a variety of services?
  • Do any of your clients come to you on a recurring basis? (This may not be appropriate for all practice areas.)
  • How did your current clients come to you?
  • Why did your clients choose you over other attorneys?
  • Which clients have you enjoyed working with most? Least? Why?
  • Have you recently lost clients? If yes, do you know why?

Other Questions and Issues

  • How are you viewed in the marketplace?
  • Who is your current competition? Is it local or statewide?
  • If you were to develop a new practice area, are there others in your area who also practice that type of law?
  • Can you expand your geographic boundaries to obtain clients in other parts of the state?
  • What type of firm do you want to be? What type of clients would you like to obtain? Either list the qualities of the clients your would like to have or specific clients you would like to represent.
  • What are your other business referrals? Who refers you the most business?
  • Who refers the most and least profitable business?
  • Have you ever referred business to other professionals who have never referred you business? If yes, why?
  • In which organizations are you currently active? From which organizations have you received any type of business? From which organizations have you received positive public relations?

List 12 activities that you have participated in within the past year that were for marketing purposes and which, if any, have resulted in some type of business.

You have one month to complete this assignment. You should be able to get much of the financial information from your time and billing package. You could have a staff person begin to gather the client information. Ideally in a small office you should have everyone participate in the process in some way. You could discuss some of the information at a brainstorming lunch.

Next month in Part 2, we will identify specific goals or outcomes for a period of time, what types of activities/tools/tasks must you use or engage in to make your plan work, help you budget your time and resources realistically. And determine a way to monitor your progress.

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