The SMART way to do marketing

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Published on 5/5/08

For too many lawyers, the idea of marketing is daunting because there are so many potential clients, so little time to reach them and so many options for pursuing them.

Marketing can only be approached practically with a narrow focus that creates a profile of your ideal client and develops a strategy for this target, not everyone. It requires defining the location, demographics, occupation, financials and other characteristics of clients who will give you the work you want.

An excellent acronym, SMART, details how to build an effective plan with the right details:

  • Specific: The real marketing issue is not getting more billable hours, it's what kind of specific billable work you want and what it contributes to your future.

  • Measurable: If you can't measure your marketing efforts by specific number of contacts made, clients added and billable time gained, you'll never know what you've done.

  • Achievable: Set near-term targets that are realistic and continually raise the bar.

  • Reasonable: Don't set yourself up for failure with unreasonable expectations about potential revenue or number of clients added.

  • Timely: Give yourself an adequate timeframe that still imparts a sense of urgency.

Such a marketing plan defines what your practice really is (or should be) and who best can use those services. This can change over time, depending on how your skills and interests evolve, how the economy is doing and many other factors.

Learn where to find your target market and think about how you can best reach the members of this market to let them know that what they need is within your scope of abilities.

The key is to provide information to others that you have that which they need (of course, you first have to know that they know that they need what you have to offer). If they don't know they need what you have to offer, you have an entirely different marketing challenge.

Once your target clients are defined and you know where they are, then the tactics come into play — brochures, blogs, speeches, articles, audio products and all the rest.

Make sure that your tactics are in tune with your target. For example, if your target audience is not focused on using the Internet and searching the web on a regular basis, then blogging is not so meaningful to them and may not be a worthwhile marketing tactic for you.

There is no one tactic that will cover the waterfront of opportunities to communicate with your marketplace. It becomes a question of your comfort zone, your creativity, your time availability and your pocketbook.

Don't fret the small stuff. Don't worry that you're not doing it "right." Don't worry that others may seem to be "ahead" in the marketing game. Stay within yourself and focus on who you are, what you can do and what you want to do.

If you need guidance from others, seek it. Otherwise, take one step at a time and you will reach your marketing goals.

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