John Wooden.jpeg

This is the time of year when many lawyers belatedly begin thinking about the year. Perhaps your firm requires you to submit a business plan, marketing plan, or both. No matter what spurs you to do so, most lawyers struggle with (and dread) this basic function. The result is a last-second slapdash list of random marketing activities with no underlying goals, strategy, or structure. It becomes a piece of paper that allows you to check off the planning box and forget about it until the next year. It's time to rethink this exercise.

Q: What will your business development practice do for you this year?

A: Exactly what you plan for it to do for you.

Conversely, having no plan guarantees frustration, wasted time and money, and a persistently uncomfortable feeling that your marketing and sales efforts are reactive, rudderless and out of control.

The late Hall of Fame basketball coach, John Wooden, was fond of this quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin: "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."  For our purpose, let's change one word, which gives us:

"By failing to plan, you are planning to fail."

Forget all the elaborate, complicated planning that you may have seen or read about. A legitimate, useful plan requires only that you go through a logical exercise that begins with your goal and engineers backward:

  1. Goal: What you're going to accomplish, expressed in specific, measurable terms
  2. Deadline: by when will you accomplish each goal
  3. Source: Where/who that business will come from.
  4. Specific market segment: description of your buyers
  5. Why those companies will need to hire you (Door-Opener problem)
  6. Who the buyers are within the companies in the sector you'll target
  7. Strategy: the essence of how you'll go to market and accomplish the goal
  8. Marketing tactics: the activities you'll engage in to generate enough legitimate sales opportunities to accomplish your goal
  9. Sales activity: ratios to assure that you have enough activity to succeed. The only number you have to pay attention to is the last one.
    • 8 clients, which requires 
    • 24 legitimate sales opportunities (33% closing), which requires
    • 200 relevant conversations, which requires
    • 2000 call attempts, which requires
    • 40 call attempts per week for 50 weeks, which requires
    • 5 call attempts per day
  10. Budget: This won't happen by magic; you'll have to commit sufficient resources or forget about succeeding
    • Time: total hours per week
      • hrs per day outbound phone calls during prime time
      • hrs per week writing/publishing during off hours
      • hrs per week maintaining marketing/sales systems, info
      • hrs per week developing, polishing biz dev skills
    • Money
      • Consultant support
      • Training
      • PR
      • Travel

Yes, this is what it takes. It's simple, but neither quick nor easy. If it was quick and easy, everyone would already be doing it. To borrow from Bob Knight, another Hall of Fame basketball coach:

"Everyone wants to win, but not everyone is willing to prepare to win."

Now that your eyes are open, start your thinking engines.

Mike O'Horo

For detailed, step-by-step guidance to create a working plan, get RainmakerVT's "Create a Marketing Plan That’s Actually Useful"

To learn how to manufacture a network of the prospects you most want -- without leaving your desk, get "Expanding Your Network from Your Desk."

To identify and exploit a problem that reliably drives demand for the work you want most, get "Door-Opener: Associate Yourself with Problems that Drive Demand for Your Service."