You heard me right! It’s the end of another year – time to reflect on what worked well, what didn’t work at all and what will work next time. I know the idea of creating plans for the coming year can be daunting.

I’m sure more than a few of you are audibly groaning while reading this… But I promise you, it’s time for business development planning.

Before you decide to stop reading, let me suggest a peace offering. This might be on the edge of appropriateness, but I love Flight of the Concords and their song Business Time is entirely unrelated to what we’re going to chat about here.

Hopefully it kept you from leaving or at least got that little jingle stuck in your head.

It’s that time of the year when we start to look back and ask ourselves, “what worked?” Which makes it the perfect time to start planning for success for the new year.

Get Attorney Buy-in Early

Let’s face it, as a marketer, your role is to help facilitate planning but these aren’t really YOUR business plans (although you should totally build a plan for yourself – more on that some other time).

If you want to see business plans created, thought through and completed before you go the way of the dodo,  you need to get your lawyers on board. The sooner the better.

Building a solid plan takes time, so you’ll need to start talking about due dates and goals as soon as possible. Planning during the holidays can be a trick so consider starting in October or building your plans through December so you’re planning in January.

Start Small & Take Little Steps

Trying to build up an entire business plan over the course of a week or two is both daunting and time consuming. Break it up into little bite sized pieces. Maybe start with creating sections and work on a different section at a time. Not sure what sections to tackle?

  • Top 5 client expansion: Build out tactics on how to increase the work from clients you already have
  • Target 3 new clients: Who do your attorneys want to work with this year?
  • Events, Seminars, Conferences: Where do your attorneys want to be this year? (P.S. It should be wherever the clients are.)
  • Thought leadership: Where and how will you showcase your attorneys expertise? Blogs? Journals?

Try building out an hour a week for a few weeks to work on each section, get attorney feedback and once you’ve got piece tackled, move onto the next one.

Tailor To Your Firm

Saba Shakoori of McManis Faulkner, writes that tailoring is key to building a business development plan.  Your plans should keep the skills of your attorneys in mind.

No matter what makes them tick, it is your responsibility to determine the value of their interests.  Then you must create a strategic plan that takes advantage of their skills, while benefiting the firm.

Ask your attorneys what they’re passionate about and then build that into their plans.

Ask Around & Get Outside Ideas

I was asked on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago (by someone I’d never met), if I had a good BD Planning template. She was newer to her position and just wanted to see what was out there. I shared what I had and asked a few of my LMA buddies if they also had examples to share with her.

I regularly see best practices for planning tossed around on a Facebook group I participate in, Legal Marketers Extraordinaire.  Shoot, I got this idea for a blog post by skimming through this Facebook group.

Who do you know who can brainstorm planning ideas with you?

Just Get Started

No matter how late in the year it is, start planning. Cordell Parvin felt like Thanksgiving to New Years was light on legal work and did his planning then. Even a plan done in the last weeks of the year is worth it – do it!

Don’t get to the end of next year and wonder how the year passed you by. Get in your planning before the business hours are over.


Cropped photo credit: Unsplash user iDriss Fettoul