If You’re Pavarotti, Just Sing: Effective Business Development in a Solo Practice

“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.”      Marilyn vos Savant

In some of my earlier postings I discuss breaking client development into separate tasks and having participating attorneys only do those tasks they are most suited for.  The idea is to capitalize on the individual’s natural talents and strengths in combination with others to contribute to a well rounded marketing program.  While it makes sense, it’s not much help for the solo practitioner.  So what can a soloist do to develop business on his own, with no one to share in the heavy lifting?

The ideal law firm marketing plan has several components.  There will usually be some networking and expert positioning involved.  A well designed, active website with good search engine optimization is also helpful, among other things.  But what if you’re not a natural at all the various business development activities?  Does that mean that you are doomed to fail?  All evidence to the contrary.  There are more solo firms than any other firm size in the country and it is doubtful that all of their principals are good at all things marketing.  So what do successful solos do?

While I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up, in my estimation the successful soloist still focuses his development efforts on his strengths.  If you happen to be a great writer, but a not so great networker, you can still be successful in developing business.  The idea is to not only customize the marketing plan and strategies to fit the targeted clients you have defined, but to customize your plan to also fit what you do best.  For example, let’s say you have determined where your targeted clients gather and what publications they read.  Instead of spending most of your time trying to overcome your awkward resistance to breaking the ice at some sort of community association meeting, why not focus most of your efforts on writing?  Write some compelling articles that can be published for the group and you may not have to break the ice.  Someone will break it for you by asking for your opinion or to speak at a function.  You can do what you do best, and inadvertently get some help (i.e. breaking the ice) with what you are not so great at.

Another anecdotal observation is that most people who take the plunge and go solo tend to be more willing to go outside their comfort zones and try more things.  It’s a great attitude, but that does not mean that all activities should be equally conducted.  That would be like insisting Pavarotti (God rest his soul) dance while he was singing, since the combination of singing and dancing can be very entertaining.  While I cannot attest to Pavarotti’s dancing abilities, my guess is that he would not have been as successful entertaining if he split up his performance equally with a marginal dance routine.  As in entertainment, the marketing strategies should focus on the abilities that the solo excels in and then perhaps supplemented with what he does not.  Showcase your genius while supplementing with your mundane and you can still be very successful.  Too much focus on a mundane performance will only dim your brilliance.  So unless you’re Fred Astaire, just sing!