As the end of 2017 is fast approaching, (yes it will be here before you know it, Christmas is just around the corner) we all need to take a long look at our “to do” lists for 2018 and then really start planning for the New Year.  For those of you who attended PILMMA in September, you are a little bit ahead of the game – you’ve already started this process.  Your minds are racing and you’ve hopefully already started taking many of the millions of ideas that you learned in Nashville back to your firm and have started implementing them.  Or, like so many of us, you took them back with the best of intentions, got overwhelmed with emails and actual work and are no further down the list than you were the day you returned.  So now I am here to give you a swift kick in the b…!  There is no time like the present!  And, actually the holidays with the downtime, the countless hours of football games and commercials, should afford you plenty of time to brainstorm, be creative and put pen to paper without tons of email and phone interruptions from clients and staff.  Right.

The number one question: What did I get done? I find that this is the best place to start.  Take a long look at the list of what you got done and that should help lead you to what you need to do.  Next, look for what you really see as your biggest hole, what seems to missing?  Are you connecting well with your current and past clients?  How is your follow-up?  Do you really think you/your firm are the first name that pops into their minds when someone asks them for a referral?  What about your colleagues who don’t practice PI, Med Mal, Products Liability or WC?  Are you “the one” they always pick up the phone and call with a case or question?  Then think about the overall “client experience” you give to your clients.  How do you think they’d rank it? Do you think it is seamless and professional?  Is it the “WOW” client experience it really should be?  Is your “brand” completely integrated, synergized and unified in everything that you do and all of the communications you put out? Does your brand really fit and describe “who you are”?  Is your marketing driving a Mercedes or a Gremlin? Do you put yourself out there to prospective clients as an expert?  Do you have a client kit, a website video, a blog, a FaceBook re-purposing campaign, a book?  Do you have the time to write a book? How is your website? Your SEO? Your social media?

Now think about your budget – what resources to you have internally that you can allocate towards your marketing – personnel, finances, your own time, etc?  What resources do you know of externally that you can pull from?  Have you considered a line of credit?  Would you?  Is it even in your comfort zone?  If not, that’s OK too.  But, are there other areas within your current budget that you can adjust to make room for more marketing and client experience costs.  Have you considered how your firm can expand to handle more cases?  Have you considered adding another practice area?  If so, which one best fits with your brand?  Again, what costs are associated with this expansion so that you can keep your client experience top notch?  What are the best demographics for growth in your area?  Are there better practice areas that can serve those growing demographics?

Now, take your first list of holes and your list of resources and marry them up.  This will help you start to build your strategic marketing plan – at least it will get you thinking about where you need to start and what you have on hand and what you need to look for outside of your resources, where you need to get help and how you need to budget for them. Then, think it through and make a strategic and sustainable marketing plan.  The most important thing about developing and growing your practice is that it be a sustainable plan.  You don’t want this to crash and burn.  Doing something, anything for 1-3 months is worse than not doing it at all.

So, now that I have given you a friendly reminder – go enjoy the holiday gatherings with family and friends, the presents, the traditions, the endless hours of travel and the many blessings we have to be thankful for this and every year!  Then take the time to wind down 2017 and get geared up for 2018 so that you can make it your firm’s most successful year yet!!!!  Thank you for letting me and LMA be a part of your growth and development over the past year.   I look forward to continuing  to help you stay educated, informed and on top of the latest law firm development and marketing trends in the year to come!  Happy Holidays!!!