New Year; Fresh Start to your 2004 Marketing Plans

Originally published in the January 2004 ABA Young Lawyers Newsletter

By Micah Buchdahl

Like most great resolutions that come with the New Year, "put more time, thought and effort into marketing me, my practice and my firm" always has the greatest of intentions. Alas, somehow, another year goes by bogged down with those pesky clients and partners demanding more billable hours. That great marketing plan never made it out of your desk drawer, did it?

The first thing to do to make 2004 different is decide how much time you can dedicate to marketing. There is no right or wrong answer. If you can do one hour a week, that is great. Regardless of your planned time allowance, pick an amount of time.

The second - an area that bogs down many great ideas - is to pick a realistic goal for the New Year. It might be to work your way onto a board of directors at a local charity or religious institution. This is a great way to market by doing good deeds (and getting a little ink and good networking alone the way). You might decide to create a CLE program and pitch it to a local provider. Write an article - for an industry publication, for your practice section?s newsletter, for the firm web site, or simply to distribute to clients. And I would be remiss not to suggest volunteering time for law-related non-profits, such as the ABA, and sections like Law Practice Management (where I have devoted time and enjoyed the two-way street that involvement and commitment brings). Whatever one or two things you pick for 2004, drive toward accomplishing them. Do not bite off more than you can chew.

The third item on your marketing checklist is to create a marketing plan for yourself - short, mid and long-term. Include things that will enhance your personal reputation and future rainmaking capabilities, as well as areas that will be recognized by your fellow firm mates and the firm as a whole as driving toward making everyone more successful. Some (smart) firms demand you create a plan before allotting your personal marketing or business promotions budget. Think in advance about where your money can be best spent. Avoid high-cost boondoggles (you know you?re only going to goof off), ?entertaining? pals (as opposed to clients that could bring you more business or prospects that can make you look awfully good down the road). Focus on low-cost, high-result spending - a high-impact sponsorship or donation, a meeting or event sure to be a networking success, an advertisement or advertorial that gives you some additional visibility. Think, plan, and spend those funds wisely.

Make 2004 the year you really market! No excuses!