Countless hours are about to be spent in meetings, on conference calls, and in early morning or late night hand-wringing sessions among law firm and professional service leadership. The focus? Identifying strategies and creating plans that solve a glaring deficit in business development progress.

Risking sounding negative this early in January, here is what will happen.

The focus will be on tools and tactics. In a never-ending-quest for that silver bullet, the grand ideas of 2013 will be dismissed (along with resources invested) in deference to a new flavor-of-the-day solution.

Plans will be critiqued. Goals will be reset.

Old ideas will be recycled, repackaged and become new again.

In the throes of first-quarter-fears and doldrums, new responsibilities and commitments will arise.

And if history is an indicator, a similar deficit in measurable progress will be the subject of another round of meetings, conference calls, and strategic sessions a year from now. If not sooner.

Break The Cycle of Business Development Disappointment

First — in this discussion the issue is rarely the tools.

An arsenal of tools can enhance or detract when it comes to successful law firm and professional service business development. A solid website, quality content marketing, top-line media and public relations, advertising — all can be important. All can play a role.

But no matter how much we invest here, the arsenal of tools is not the key to success.

Those firms that achieve consistent business development and marketing successes begin with a calculated, strategic investment in relationships that change the arithmetic. And wise investments here begin with crystal clear target identification.

Target identification gives shape to the arsenal of tools — resulting in a website that speaks the language and addresses the concerns of your best prospects. It leads to the content for advertising, PR, blogs and social media that instigates conversations and is part of a relationship map. Clear target identification is the first step toward a productive plan.

And here’s the toughest part. Effective targeting begins with a clear understanding of who you are, and how that relates to market direction and needs. This provides the framework and direction for a truly strategic BD effort.

Want to break the cycle? Begin with a strategy that is:

  • Based on a clear understanding of the market;
  • Addresses a specific market need you are positioned to meet;
  • Identifies specific targets / prospects.

With targets clearly identified, the investments you make in an arsenal of tools and specific plans will be more than a one-year one-off. And the meetings a year from now can focus on taking full advantage of bridges built to new opportunities.