The start of a new year—along with pretty much any other date—is a good time to assess your marketing position and plan for the future. What’s going well? What isn’t? And how to distinguish critical information from the superfluous? One time-tested approach is to do a SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Here are the basics.
- Strengths. What are your strengths in your marketplace? Put another way, what distinguishes you from your competitors in a positive way? Do you have roots in the community going back generations that you can call on for networking? Perhaps you have specific industry experience in the business community where you now offer legal services. Did a 2011 achievement bring a modicum of fame you can leverage to publicize your expertise?
- Weaknesses. This might be the converse of your strengths, but not necessarily. Perhaps you have a strong corporate practice but would be more competitive if you were able to offer intellectual property capabilities as part of your acquisition services. Or maybe you’ve been stymied in your efforts to expand your health care practice by the absence of trained staff to handle Medicaid work. Those are weaknesses that lead right into …
- Opportunities. What’s new? Is there a new law or development that cries out for your expertise? This could be anything from compliance with new consumer protection laws to end-of-life options. One way to see the changing scene with a new eye is to go to a magazine rack and buy three publications you have never read before. Consider creative legal solutions to the concerns of the market niche that the publication addresses. What legal issues will this demographic face? Could it be profitable to offer to resolve that issue? How would you reach out to that market? There’s your opportunity. Can you become the expert on medical marijuana, tattoo parlor zoning regulation, cell phone contract issues? Tax law is always changing. If it is an area of your expertise, consider how to convey a sense of urgency to current and potential clients to seek your help now.
- Threats. Recognizing threats early and planning to meet them can spell the difference between a thriving and a failing practice. If your practice area is being driven to oblivion by changing law or economic conditions, it’s time to recognize the handwriting on the wall and plan to segue to a more lucrative area. If yet another white-shoe law firm from the big city is opening a local branch, don’t ignore the potential impact. Instead, analyze how you may be affected and consider what steps to take.
The only thing constant is change, goes an old saying. And change is what creates opportunities and threats. So plan to capitalize on your strengths, minimize your weaknesses and take full advantage of change in 2012.
Teddy Snyder is an attorney and structured settlement broker with Ringler Associates. She has practiced law for 33 years, including 10 years as principal of her own firm. Her B.A. cum laude is from State University of New York at Buffalo, and she earned her J.D. at Loyola University School of Law. Teddy is a frequent speaker and has written four books on law practice management, including Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 3rd Edition, available at www.ababooks.org. In 2011, she was inducted as a Fellow in the College of Law Practice Management.
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