Archive for April, 2011

My husband ran the Boston Marathon on Monday. Even as a spectator, it was a pretty amazing experience. Steve finished with a PR of 2:50:26, placing him 646 overall out of 27,000 runners. He smiled the whole time he was running.

Training for the race was time consuming. He qualified last October at the Chicago marathon. Since then, he’s had a plan in place that included weekly running goals for mileage and for time, group runs with friends who have more race experience than he does, and weekly visits to an active release therapist to help keep him healthy.

He did this while balancing work and family obligations. It was hard work, but he set a goal and was determined to see it through.

One of the biggest excuses I hear about marketing and business development is that there is not enough time. I say excuse not because I don’t think people are busy. We are. We all have demands on our time and we have to prioritize.

But time is a funny thing. There is never enough of it. But when you really want something, you’ll find a way to do it. You can find away to make it to your kid’s ball game. You can find a way to write that article for an industry publication. You can find a time to take your client to lunch.

And once you do all of that, you can think about running a marathon. After all, isn’t that what life is anyway?


Diving in

Author: Debra Baker
April 15, 2011

It was a good week at work. One of my clients launched a major business development initiative. Another finalized materials for a marketing campaign to promote a new service line. A third got through a tedious set of meetings in preparation for a CRM deployment.

I even got my taxes done.

All of these projects — especially my taxes — could have been done weeks ago. What got in the way? Excessive planning.

Listen, no one believes in planning more than me. I’ve made a career out of  it. But when it comes to marketing and business development, there are times when planning gets in the way of progress.

Plans are not legal briefs. They do not require you to spot every single issue at hand — just the most important ones. They don not require every potential objection to be anticipated. They just need to be rational.

Plans are a simply a road map that define what you want to accomplish, how you are going to go about doing it, and what success will look like when you are done. If something doesn’t work, you can alter the course or change the approach to improve the results. For marketing and business development, the journey is half the fun.

Some times you just need to dive in and do it.

On iPads, change management and the trust fall

Author: Debra Baker
April 6, 2011

My birthday is today (yay me!) and my husband gave me a new iPad2 as a present. It’s very shiny and has a pretty blue cover that folds backward to create a computer stand. I know it is going to make my life easier and more fun both for work and at home.

I’m also a bit intimidated by it.

I’m pretty tech savvy and no one makes it easier to learn technology than Apple. But it is still different. I’m going to have to think about the “stuff” I do each day using my computer, cell phone and other technology devices, and figure out how/if I can do them better with the iPad. If I want to get the most bang for my buck, I’m going to need to do things different than how I do them now.

It’s really about change management. Even when change is good, it can still be hard.

Probably the toughest environment to manage change is inside a law firm. There are so many easy ways law firms can make themselves better — more efficient, more responsive, more effective — yet taking those steps seems to be so hard.

Take CRM technology. Client relationship management systems are probably the single most effective way to collaborate with your partners and take a disciplined, strategic approach to business development. But it requires many people doing things different.

Consider launching a new marketing initiative that will allow you to differentiates your firm and generate new business opportunities in a way that none of your competition is doing. If you’ve never done it that way before, it’s still hard.

Embracing social media, letting go of law firm directories, saying goodbye to unprofitable clients… Like the iPad, all of these things offer benefits but law firms are still slow to embrace them.

Let’s face it, change is a trust fall with the future. There are no guarantees. But do you want to sit from the sidelines while the competition boldly dives back, or do you want to experience the potential of what is out there?

I’m diving in. Hope to see you on the other side of my new two-way camera.

Friday Musing — Second dogs and lateral integration

Author: Debra Baker
April 1, 2011
Star Loves Legal Marketing

Star waiting for Sophie

My dog Star hasn’t made an appearance in my blog in many months, but I’m thinking about her today because we are contemplating a family addition — a new dog.

It wasn’t exactly planned. My friend just moved from a house with big yard in Denver to an apartment in Los Angeles. The move is great for her but it hasn’t worked out well for her dog, Sophie. So she and her son are bringing Sophie down to San Diego on Saturday to meet Star. If the meeting goes well, we may just take her in. We’ll just have to see.

Star loves everyone, but bringing a new dog into our home on a permanent basis is unchartered territory for us. There are a lot of variables at play. Some things you can see on the surface. Others take longer to uncover.

So we’ve put together a “dog integration” strategy. We’re going to start with a meeting. If that works out, we’ll do a week. The dogs can get to know each other. We can find out if they are compatible, see if it is a fit for Star, and see if it is a fit for Sophie.

It got me thinking about lateral partner hiring. It’s a tough business bringing in a new equity partner. While there are certain “check the box” things a firm can seek out in a potential candidate, there are a host of issues relating to culture, leadership, commitment and communication that can’t be uncovered during the “dating” process.

With lateral hires there are no trial runs. Law firms have to make the best decision they can with the information they have at the time and take their chances.  The best they can do is develop a comprehensive lateral integration plan to facilitate the transition.

My money is on the dogs.