SMART Marketing Goals for Lawyers

By Brandon Vogel

August 7, 2020

SMART Marketing Goals for Lawyers


By Brandon Vogel

The chance of landing a new client is 8 to 1. The chance of getting work from an existing client is 3 to 1.

This was one of several key takeaways delivered by Carol Schiro Greenwald, on the recent CLE webinar, “How To Create A Realistic And Effective Marketing Plan Despite COVID-19.”

Even with the coronavirus, Greenwald said it’s not the marketing activities that have changed; it’s how you use them. “You want to show how smart you are but you also want to show how personable you are,” said Greenwald. You are not just a brilliant lawyer; you’re a brilliant lawyer who wants to help people.

How to market yourself

The role of marketing is as a connector between what you do and who you do it for, Greenwald said. What makes it marketing, as opposed to knowledge-sharing, is that it’s designed to be focused on what you can sell and how you can make a living.

To start crafting you marketing plan, look to your existing client base, the key to your present and future success.

“Look at the ones who you like, those who are your best clients, and ask yourself why they are your favorite clients,” said Greenwald. “Look at what services they need. See which ones you can offer them. You are going to want to build out from them in your marketing plan.”

She said lawyers have to know what’s going on in their clients’ world, particularly with COVID-19.

“The world of mergers and acquisitions is very different from the restaurant world but COVID has turned everyone upside down,” said Greenwald. “It looks like the new normal is going to be anything but normal and I think it’s going to last for a long time.”

View the current landscape as a chance to provide opportunities, Greenwald advised. “People go to a lawyer when they have a problem or an opportunity. They come for a specific reason. They don’t just say ‘Goodness, I think I’ll call my lawyer today and see how he is.’ They call because something is impeding their progress or something looks like an opportunity but they are not quite sure how to take advantage of it.”

She explained that in marketing, clients are called, “low-hanging fruit,” because you are more likely to get more work from current clients than you are from anybody else.

“It takes less time and money than anything else. That’s because people hire people that they like and respect. You have already crossed that foundational hurdle if they are a client of yours,” said Greenwald.

“Now the question is how much do you know about them so you can get more work from them and be involved in what they do. That requires research and knowledge.”


The pareto principle states that 80% of outcomes results form 20% of causes. 80% of revenue comes from 20% of clients. In most law firms cases, it’s about 10% per Greenwald.

“When you are looking at a marketing plan you need to look at those 80/20s,” recommended Greenwald.

The best plans are not only relevant to where you want to go and what you want to do, but they are actionable. They have goals in them. They have times in them.

“There is no point in having a plan that says, ‘Ok, so I am a solo practitioner and I practice in intellectual property and I want to add seven clients in the next three months.’ Yeah, that’s nice but it’s not going to happen for you because it’s not realistic,” said Greenwald.

SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals force you to add realism to what you want. Goals are fine, but without steps to get there, they are still going to remain goals. Smart goals also give you a template for how to focus on business opportunities. They are going to help you reach those goals.


COVID-19 has made the attorney-client relationship even more important because everyone is scared, said Greenwald. “No one knows what is going to happen in two weeks let alone in six months. Everyone wants someone to listen. Be there even more for your clients. People are always testing you for authenticity. That sniff test goes on all the time. Never do anything you are uncomfortable doing because it will show in your body.”

For your target market, ensure that they understand the services you will provide. Learn about their price range and how they will find you. “Know more about your market than they know about themselves.” In some cases, smaller and deeper is better. Create a target persona and then build the marketing activities around that persona. Join organizations where your target audience goes.

She recalled one example of a lawyer who sent cookies with his final invoice. In turn, he became known as “the cookie lawyer,” but that personal touch gave him a competitive advantage and a clear identity to potential clients.

Lawyers can show their personal side through networking and meetings. She cited that it takes three seconds to make a first impression and eight meetings to overcome a bad one. You have two ears and one mouth so you will talk half as much as you listen.

Don’t underestimate tried-and-true tactics either, Greenwald said, particularly for those who are tired of videoconferencing.

“Phone calls and written letters are back in vogue,” said Greenwald. “What’s old is new again.”

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