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Don't Mistake Lawyer Marketing Activity for Effectiveness

Last week, a lawyer called to inquire about my services. She was frustrated because she'd spent the last year actively marketing herself and those activities had produced little new business. She wondered what she was doing wrong.

She relayed that in the last year, she had:

  • Founded the local chapter of an international association of lawyers in her practice area.
  • Organized four networking events for local businesswomen and the women lawyers in her firm.
  • Given two CLE programs for her local bar association.


My response: You must be exhausted!

This is the classic case of mistaking marketing activity for marketing effectiveness. She was devoting a lot of time to marketing, but the time was not focused on those people and activities that were likely to produce the kind of results she wanted.

She was focusing her time and attention on developing new relationships. Expanding your network can be an effective business development strategy, but it usually takes a long time to pay off and can be very time-consuming in the interim.

When a lawyer is just starting her career, this can be a great place to focus marketing energies.

In the case of this lawyer though, she had been practicing for over 20 years and had a bountiful Rolodex. Rather than focusing her attention on generating new relationships, I suggested she focus on nurturing relationships she'd already established.

Marketing to people who know you and your work almost always trumps marketing to "strangers." When you cement relationships with people already in your network, your marketing is more effective and you'll spend less time on business development.

Activities likely to be more efficient and effective for her were those designed to mine her existing relationships -- whether by setting up one-on-one meetings with past clients, sending articles of interest to past referral sources, or going to visit the office of a current client.

When it comes to your marketing, there's no such thing as a "good" or "bad" marketing activity.

Effective marketing produces results; ineffective marketing doesn't. What produces results for one partner in your firm, may not work for you at all (and vice versa).

To determine your own most effective marketing activities, answer these questions:

  • What marketing activities were you engaged in over the last year?
  • How long did each one take?
  • What results did the activity produce? (Remember that not all worthwhile activities produce immediate business. Some produce referral sources, visibility among prospective clients, or a deepened relationship with an existing client.)
  • Which activities were more efficient, given the results they produced?
  • Which activities were least efficient, given their results?


Put the efficient activities on your business development "to do" list and cross off the least efficient ones.

Don't get caught in the trap of mistaking activity for effectiveness.

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