Do What Pleases You: The Ultimate Marketing Plan (Process)

It’s time to develop your marketing plans for 2010. Or so it seems, as the Internet is full of new posts and articles on the topic. It is this blogger’s humble opinion that too much emphasis on a plan and not the process is futile. If you’re not fitting authentic activities into your flow, even the best laid plans may be worthless. Further, if those plans don’t include a commitment to getting sales training, the kind that will teach you how to convert your leads into clients, why bother.

Marketing Plans are Overrated.

(NOTE: Rainmaking should not be a sexist topic in my opinion and this post is not about female rainmakers. The next section is simply being used to illustrate a point.)

A recent National Association of Women Lawyers survey of women attorneys reported that 72 percent of the responding firms have no women among their top five rainmakers and nearly half of respondents have no women among their top ten.  Several groups and conferences are, once again, trying to help female attorneys figure it out.  One such conference break out session was reported in the December edition of Your ABA. (Linkedin version)

To help address the gender disparity, a panel of women rainmakers at “Generating Business … Different Styles, Different Approaches,” during the Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference last month, shared advice to help women lawyers develop business.

I read the article with interest hoping to glean something original, but I found the ideas quite predictable; easy to say, hard to do, and lacking focus on sales.

Panelist Julia Corelli of Pepper Hamilton LLP recommends that women first figure out where they are now, where they’d like to go and how to get there. Those answers should then be incorporated into a personal business development plan. Once created, that plan should be revisited often for retooling and for measuring progress.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder how many of those top 5 rainmakers in representative firms actually HAVE a written plan? And if so, how many would say the plan was the key to their success?  I’ve known my share of top rainmakers over the years and they don’t get there by drafting a personal business development plan.

They have a vision, they have financial goals, and they have a network.  And yes, they may have a written plan somewhere in the drawer—drafted for them by a CMO or a consultant. But, their success is not dependent on it nor is it being driven by it. If anything, the firm’s strategic plan drives their business development activities more than any personal plan. Getting to that point, though, is a process.

Exposure and Conversion.

In it’s most basic form, there are two parts to rainmaking: exposure and conversion.

When it comes to exposure, rainmakers typically;

  1. Know who they are.
  2. Know what they like to do.
  3. Fit those activities into their flow.

It’s just harder to do stuff you don’t like doing. So be bold and get those things that may be good-to-do-but-aren’t-authentic off your plan. Natural sells. Being natural, acting authentically, and essentially being true to yourself will win friends and influence people. Although you may set up some systems, for example, to check in on your network regularly and pencil into your calendar important events, dates, opportunities, your plan has to be a natural part of your work flow and your being to succeed.

Secondly, and probably most importantly, you can’t be a rainmaker if you don’t know how to sell. Rainmakers know how to get chosen, not just found, as my friend Mike O’horo has said a million times.

Getting chosen from among those found (selling) requires a disciplined decision-management process that is entirely distinct from marketing [networking].  If you can’t sell, all the getting found (leads) in the world is just wasted opportunity.

….It all ties in with our concept of Social Intimacy v. Professional Intimacy. The former is characterized by someone’s inclination to share increasingly sensitive personal information; the latter the analogous sharing of increasingly sensitive business info, e.g., strategy, operations, finance, etc. Lawyers are very good at — and expend consistent effort at — earning the former, but are effectively unconscious about the need to earn the latter, equally painstakingly over time.

Becoming a rainmaker takes time and it isn’t a plan, it’s a learned skill and a process. It’s about being a good listener and more. It’s about tuning into the messages you are receiving, not just what you’re hearing, and finding the need or the want. That’s what rainmakers do. Females, by nature, have some of the best receptors and most can empathize without effort. What they don’t have, I think, is the confidence to do something with that information; the kind of confidence that most male rainmakers employ, always. (Forgive the armchair psychology!)

2010 Marketing Plan

So, there it is. Your plan for 2010. Integrate your marketing activities into your daily flow. Be authentic and do what pleases you. Learn how to do more with the leads and networks you already have in place by studying the sales process and making it your own.

As my buddy, Heather Milligan writes over on the Legal Watercooler Blog,:

I don’t like marketing plans. For the most part, they’re too long, too complicated, too detailed, too focused on what you think someone else expects of you. They are too easy to forget, toss into a drawer and ignore. I do believe that they have a place, but I think they need to be as simple as possible if they are to be lived (see A Simple Marketing Plan).

Heather favors the daily goals and resolutions approach, and so do I. No more than 5 bullet points and stay flexible. Most of all, do what pleases you and others will notice your enthusiasm. A happy lawyer is a successful lawyer. (I’m not talking bubbly, smiley faces here, law is serious business, but do the activities you enjoy and be rewarded.) Confidence inspires confidence. Authenticity, being true to your self always shows through. And as always, success breeds success. But, it’s a process, not a plan.

What do you think? What does your marketing plan look like?

(There are a number of great resources for lawyers interested in learning more about selling. One resource I like is Legal Sales & Services Organization;

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