As promised, here are the particulars of the planning process we discussed today. This will refresh your memory, and fill in any blanks in your own note-taking.

First, thank you all for joining us for the final Lunch with the Coach of 2011. After a holiday hiatus, we’ll resume these webinars Jan 12, 2012.  Click here to register for the series and receive an individual invitation to each webinar.


I’ll characterize the thousands of attorney marketing plans I’ve seen over the past 20 years as lists of random activities, i.e., the “What” of a plan. What’s usually missing, that causes predictable failure:

  • The “Why” and “How”
  • A goal, overall purpose, and metrics other than net new business, which is a trailing indicator that usually appears late in the cycle, making it too hard to tell if you’re on the right track or need to make adjustments
  • Strategy, i.e., a broad explanation of how you’ll pursue the goal
  • Alignment with personal strengths & weaknesses (Read “Now Discover Your Strengths” from the Gallup Organization)
  • Consideration of investment: Time, money, other resources
  • Division of labor: What you’ll do personally, what you need help with or should out-source because, even if you’re good at it, it’s not the best use of your time and attention
  • A stakeholder alignment process (for group planning)

Begin with a SWOT analysis:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Decide how you’ll prioritize your 2012 focus among these four challenges:

  • Exploit strengths
  • Shore up weaknesses
  • Exploit opportunities
  • Neutralize threats

Now, what’s in it for you? If you’re successful with your plan, how will your world be better at the end of 2012?

  • More revenue?
  • Different mix of work, clients?
  • More personal time?

Visualize these differences. If you can’t, you’re probably being too vague or abstract. Examples of vague goals:

  • “Stronger client relationships”
  • “More business”
  • “Better business”
  • “Different kinds of cases”
  • “Higher rates”
  • “More robust referral network”

What do any of these mean? Nothing, really. If this is your goal, how will you know when you’ve reached it?

Write down the measurable specifics of your vision. Example:

  • Add $50,000 in employment work from company XYZ
  • 30% of work at fixed fee vs. hourly billing
  • Raise hourly rate to $300/hr by
  • Hourly Mix: 60% at current rate $225/hr; 40% at $300/hr re: channel partner issue
  • 2000 LinkedIn connections
  • No weekend work
  • Quit at 3:00pm every other Friday for “me time”
  • Attend 80% of daughter’s extracurricular activities

The Why: Define why it’s so important to accomplish these goals. How will you be better off, specifically?

Cost of Doing Nothing:

  • What will happen if you don’t accomplish them? Does it matter?
  • What penalty will you bear?
  • Is this penalty tolerable? Until get to “no,” plan isn’t done.
  • The “why” makes the difference between a pointless plan and one that you’ll actually put forth effort to fulfill.

The late John Kenneth Galbraith said that planning was simple:

  • Decide what you want
  • Decide what you’re willing to give up to get it
  • Get on with it

14 Specific Steps for Lawyers:

  1. Define the problem that’s most rewarding for you to solve. Not legal problem, but the underlying “people” behavior that turns into a legal problem.
  2. Define an opportune market segment where that problem is prevalent but not played out.
  3. Define what you want, your mission: work, revenue, personal.
  4. Identify your motivation and purpose: The “Why”
  5. Define your strategy, i.e., explain roughly how you’ll go about getting what you want.
  6. Define obstacles to getting what you want.
  7. If any of the obstacles in #6 relates to ignorance or inexperience, get help now. Repeat: get help now. (Hint, hint. RainmakerVT is a convenient, affordable form of help.)
  8. Assess what it will take to overcome the obstacles
  9. Assess your ability to do that. This goes back to your Strengths & Weaknesses.
  10. Investment budget: Decide how much time and money you’re willing and able to commit to the mission. Does that seem realistic in relation to the goal? Are you trying to get a $500,000 return on a $5000 investment? That usually can’t happen.
  11. Based on #10, decide which tactics you can sustain. Not “do once,” but “sustain.”
  12. Define the smallest number of tactics that will produce enough impact to decide the outcome. Concentrate most of your resources on those.
  13. Define how you’ll monitor and measure those factors so you can make mid-course adjustments.
  14. As Galbraith said, “Get on with it.”


  1. SWOT analysis
  2. Mission
  3. Visualize “desired state” vs “current state”
  4. Specific goals; visualizable
  5. Why?
  6. Consequence of failure unacceptable? (Must get to true “no”)
  7. Essence of plan: Goal; Price; Action
  8. Specifics = the 14 points above

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RainmakerVT offers a practical, 16-step process to guide you to a successful plan: Creating a Marketing Plan That’s Actually Useful

For help defining impact, consequences and motivation, go to The Cost of Doing Nothing