As we hurtle into 2022, I’d like you to read this article and reflect on some things that you are not going to do for the year ahead. An anti-New Year’s Resolution, if you like?
I’d like you to pause, look backwards and review what you did in 2021 in terms of marketing and ask yourself “What worked? What didn’t? How do I know?”
Please notice that I didn’t say “What do you think worked?” or “What do you believe worked?” I’d like you to wrestle with the data and hard facts of what worked and what didn’t. What should have worked and why it didn’t, what we can learn from it and if we try again or write it off as a sunken cost. Your wellbeing and business success in 2022 depends on it.
Why do we need to look backwards? Well, every lawyer and marketer, consultant and in-houser that I speak to is busier than ever: meetings before the school run, Zoom calls with an eye on the clock, burning the candle just to stand still. My sense is that that needs to change. I’d like you to do less and earn more. Yes, really.
How am I going to earn more whilst doing less? For the legal sector, it’s essential to get the balance between the time we spend winning work and the time we spend billing. Come to think of it, that’s true of any sector. To make that balance work for you, you’re going to need to market the work you do the best for the clients you do it best for, time and again: it’s called sweet spot marketing. It takes guts not to take on work that’s not quite a fit for us.
Exploring the reasons as to why lawyers don’t do this is probably the basis for a whole different article. But at least part of the time, it’s because we’re worried about where our next meal is coming from, we feel that saying yes is our only hope of paying the bills. But this is where we are falling short.
The problem with the passing bird strategy is that the work is always on the other person’s terms. The price, the scope, the deadlines. You won’t get famous, wealthy or have time to spend with your family as a generalist.
What if we reversed the traditional model and enabled work to flow towards you based on your expertise? Work that you didn’t need to negotiate price on? That would be good, right? What if others sold on your behalf this year? If your messaging was so clear that people said “It’s Simon you need to speak to about that.”
This method not only has the potential to bring you more of your ideal clients, more profitable work and free up more time, it also gives you permission to relax. To have clarity and set boundaries.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But yet, over 20 years, time and again I have witnessed people wasting their time, effort, tears and energy pursuing the wrong work at the wrong price for them. Truth be told, I have done it myself.
Let’s try something different in 2022. Let’s make sure that all of our BD, marketing, PR and social media efforts are done with a purpose in mind, an end goal, an objective.
Assuming that you already know your target audience and your key messages (if you don’t, that’s for another time) then you should use the following process to build your BD and Marketing plan for this year.
Start out by working out what income or revenue you need to take home or get promoted.
Be honest with yourself, take out of the equation what clients are already paying you (what you’ve most likely settled for) and think about what you really need to earn in order to enjoy your work again, to make sure that you can achieve the hallowed status of ‘work life balance’. Or what targets do you need to hit to make sure that you can get that promotion this year?
Work out how many deals/cases/transactions you need to win to be able to do that (in addition to any existing retained work you already have).
Once you have your ideal pay in mind you can then work backwards from this, piecing together the jigsaw of how you get there. You can start to formulate what your ideal clients look like, how many of them you need and where you’re going to find them.
Now ask yourself: how many meetings or coffees do I need to have to win those that matter?
Using your experience and previous data from client wins, think of how many meetings you have to have before people say yes. Your win rate might be one in three or one in two. Whatever it is, sit down and think about it. If you need to secure four new clients in the first quarter of the year, how many meetings does that mean you need to set up for success?
Let’s take our business as an example. One of our strengths is working for female law firm founders, so if we decided we needed two of these accounts to meet our financial requirements, we’d work backwards from here. If our success rate is for instance, one in two new clients from every meeting to sign a deal, we’d need to meet four founders for coffee to hit our quota.
Then ask yourself, how many events do I need to attend/host/speak at in order to meet enough people to invite to have a coffee with me?
It’s now time to ask, where am I finding these people? Because we’ve worked out our ideal client and where their interests lie, it’s going to be clearer to know where to find them.
If we use ourselves as an example when we’re looking for female law firm founders we’d use our data to guide us again. If we work out that from attending a webinar we secure one out of two coffee meetings we set up as clients, we need to figure out how many webinars we need to attend to get these conversations in our diary.
We’d look at going to the amount of webinars necessary, perhaps even attending several webinars in different sectors, ranging from Women In the Law UK or Impact Innovation events and we’d also be casting our net towards law marketing events. In order to want to meet for coffee, the chemistry also needs to be right. That narrows down the field as, frankly, we’re not everyone’s cup of tea. We’re okay with that, but it does quickly whittle down a seminar room full of people to, maybe, a pool of a dozen or so to ask for a coffee.
Now ask yourself, how many articles, videos, emails etc do I have to author in order to get the room to be full at the event/be invited to speak?
You can now calculate how much marketing and communications efforts you need in order to get the room full at the events or webinars you’re speaking at.
This is where you can use your niche topics to target the right audience through specific media, blogs, social media posts, videos and email marketing.
You’re no longer casting a huge net starting with communications because you’ve reversed the flow and you’re working backwards – you know exactly who you need to reach, what you need to talk to them about to secure a meeting, where they are going to be to agree to meet with you and why you’re doing it.
When we do this all of your activity and effort stacks up to drive your BD, whereas if we use the old method and start with communications you don’t know where you’re going to end up and this uncertainty can lead to accepting contracts that underpay you and take up more of your time.
Clarity brings clarity, when you start with your ideal client and earnings in mind and follow the thread all the way to how you’re going to do it you can strategically win your clients, without draining yourself financially and emotionally.
It can feel relentless at first, but if you keep beating the drum on the same topic with your goals in mind, you’re going to guide people clearly towards you. You’re not boring people or being repetitive (although your inner critic might like to tell you that) you’re being clear, boundaried and targeted with your goals in mind.
It’s no coincidence that it comes to you when you put it out there. Let 2022 be the year where you can genuinely say that you enjoy your work, and hey you might even get to shut your laptop without the added anxiety before Eastenders begins.
Simon Marshall, founder of TBD Marketing Ltd