How is the diet (or other strategic projects) going ...?. (first published in The Law Society Gazette)

In a blog published on the Law Society Gazette website, Sue explains where law firms go wrong and how, with support, patience and clear goals, you can make those New Year resolutions stick.

I often liken strategic marketing projects to a diet. Implementing a new system for CRM, client satisfaction, business development or cross-selling requires a fundamental change in behaviour and these projects sometimes fail for the same reasons that a diet can go off the rails.

Success in a diet ultimately boils down to doing less of the things that have a negative impact (eating mince pies) and more things that have a positive impact (exercise). Similarly for a strategic project to be successful, staff cannot continue doing things in the same way as they always have done. We all benefit from support, and if the whole family wants to get into better shape or the firm needs to improve client satisfaction, then the head of the family or firm cannot carry on as before without undermining progress.

We can be impatient for results. In manufacturing companies, there can be huge capital expenditure and recruitment costs before a single new widget rolls off the production line. In the legal profession, the value of time spent advising clients is billed almost instantly and there is an expectation of a similar payback on marketing initiatives. It is important to recognise that real commitment is required to achieve results. When someone says 'I have tried every diet or marketing technique and none of them work', then it is likely they lack Thomas Edison's ‘stick-to-it-iveness’.

Setting a clear target and measuring progress towards it regularly will help to maintain momentum. There will always be hurdles along the way, such as a wedding party or a problem with the IT system, but that should not knock you off course and deter you completely. Implementing a CRM strategy appears to be one of the hardest nuts to crack for many law firms, and this is often because participants get too caught up in the minutiae and forget about the benefits that they set out to achieve.

Just as you should be wary of every new diet fad, you should beware of the latest marketing hype - remember that speakers at conferences are often there just to sell their product. Distracting you from your main objective is as helpful as the friend who says 'you don't need to lose weight'.

The American entrepreneur Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, emphasises that effort should not be measured just by the amount of time you spend on something, but 'effort is measured by setting goals and getting results ... either you make the commitment to get results or you don't'.

Best wishes in all your objectives for 2016.

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