Meg Charendoff.
Meg Charendoff.

So, how did 2017 go for you?

Last year at this time, I wrote about ditching New Year’s resolutions for your marketing and business development in favor of building good habits.

In the glow of the “fresh start” that a new year promises, a list of resolutions seems like a great idea. But resolutions are often under-defined or overly general intentions–bring in more new clients, grow my book of business 10 percent–rather than specific or well thought-out strategies or objectives. And as good as good intentions are, they’re often too vague to be actionable or not based in what is actually going on in your firm.

That’s also why many marketing plans fail to achieve the results you want–all (good) intention, no strategy or follow-through. On the other hand, good marketing habits, practiced over the course of the year, do succeed, generating real, measurable results.

So how did you do with the five good marketing habits I recommended for 2017?

The “identify your objectives” habit. The end of the calendar (or fiscal year) is a great time to identify your marketing or business development successes and failures (because we all have them), and reevaluate your objectives going forward.

What were your biggest and best successes in 2017–and how did you achieve them? Did your clients, lawyers, professionals and staff rave about anything this year?

Dig deeper into that RFP win, successful event or new client that you landed. Were they in line with the objectives that you set last year at this time. If they were, congratulations–and keep up the good work. Consider who and what made those successes possible and how you can replicate them in the New Year.

If there weren’t in line with your stated objectives, consider how these successes should shape this year’s objectives. Do they indicate an emerging area of opportunity for you to pursue, or were they one-off events that don’t require a change of focus or direction?

The alignment habit. How well did you align your marketing strategy with your objectives this year? As I noted last month, you need both “Big S” strategy–your overarching, brand-driven strategy–and “small s” strategy–your plan for executing on your Big S strategy. Both should be aligned with your objectives. On a micro level, the alignment habit means that you evaluate every single marketing opportunity to see whether it fits your strategies and your larger objectives. Does this opportunity put you in front of people in your target audience or people who influence them? Does it showcase your experience or help you gain an entry into a new practice area? Is it likely to give you a good return on the time and resources that you have to invest?

The leverage habit. Did you get all the mileage you could out of every piece of content you created? Did you leverage every marketing opportunity to the max? Were you efficient in your content creation–repurposing or repackaging good content for other platforms and uses–or did you waste a lot of time “reinventing the wheel” and creating new content for each platform. Or worse, did you stick to one form of communication and ignore the rest?

The leverage habit is really simple. All it takes is 20 or 30 minutes to do a few things every time you write or speak on a topic: Post a link to the content to your firm’s website, add it to your bio, email it to appropriate clients and others in your network, send it to appropriate media contacts, post content on LinkedIn and use it on social media, and consider how you can repurpose or repackage for another opportunity.

The better bio habit. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it (over and over) again. Clients and prospects view lawyer bios as the most important pages on a firm’s website. Yet most lawyers fail to keep their bios up to date, going months–even years–without looking at their bio. Fess up: how many times did you review your bio this year? Does it list your publications, speaking events, representative matters, awards and honors? Is it accurate and up date? Regular review of your bio is much easier than a wholesale rewrite at the last minute when you need your bio for a pitch, RFP or presentation.

The “get out from behind your desk” habit. How much time did you spend working on your practice – rather than in your practice–this year? It’s hard–but so important–to take time away from paying client work for marketing and business development. In today’s hyper-competitive market lawyers need to stay visible and “top of mind” with target clients. If you want a steady pipeline of work, you have get out from behind your desk and engage with the larger world.

Spending only 15 minutes a day connecting with your network and engaging in larger conversation with your clients and colleagues can reap big rewards. Instead of working through lunch at your desk every day, consider taking a “working” lunch (or breakfast, coffee or drinks, whatever works for you) to network.

While writing and speaking take up a lot more than 15 minutes a day, they can reap enormous benefits. In surveys with in-house counsel, BTI Consulting found that clients see educational opportunities–client-focused CLEs and other (nonsales) presentations–as one of the highest-value services their lawyers can provide.

Don’t wait until the confetti hits the floor to undertake your review of 2017. The sooner you examine what worked–and what didn’t–over the past year, the sooner you can start implementing those essential habits for a successful and prosperous 2018.

Meg Charendoff, the principal of CREATE: Communications—Media—Marketing, is a lawyer, writer and marketing professional who works with law firms and lawyers to develop compelling content for their marketing and business development. She can be reached at meg.charendoff@create-cmm.com or 215-514-3206.