Have you ever played one of those computer games that starts out with tonnes of upgrades, exciting additions and fun things to do, to be followed immediately by what can only be described as a massive repetitive grind?
Marketing can be a bit like that.
The Excitement of Beginning
While getting started can seem like the “hard part”, it actually comes with a degree of self-motivating excitement.
After all – you've typically had a non-existent or barely executed marketing strategy up to that point.
You're keenly aware that marketing can help grow your firm, and so a nice bit of acceptable tension is pushing you towards that point where you go “OK it's time to get going”.
You then do a series of fairly risk-free things – researching, discussing, mapping out plans, strategising strategies.
And before you know it (though not normally as fast as you might like) you're getting started with some kind of marketing strategy for your law firm.
Your quests at this point are things like “my sheep have run amok – please take 30 seconds out of your day to save them” for which you are rewarded with many good feelings, a new sword and 2 additional levels.
And so it begins…
Pangs of Doubt
You know that, in theory, organic marketing practices can take a while to deliver effective results.
Of course, knowing that in theory doesn't mean you necessarily internalised it, and somewhere deep inside you probably thought that your story would be different – that your great ideas for blog posts and instagram reels meant that you would be propelled to internet fame faster than those who came before.
But after a few posts, a few images, and a few weeks where you had to really struggle to get something published… you start to have this feeling in your gut.
It's called “doubt”.
Are you really doing the right things?
You knew it would be slow to start, but is it supposed to be THIS slow?
Are your blog posts interesting?
Is there some trick to make this go faster?
Are you doing something wrong?
Is this even worth it at all?
Truth be told, many new marketing programs fall completely off the rails during the doubt phase.
Sometimes this is because the doubts get the better of you and you decide you can't be bothered pushing through. It's all too hard, and you're going back to the coffee/lunch strategy.
Sometimes it's because one of the powers-that-be ignored (or never received) “the talk” about how long this could all take to be effective, and irrationaly believed… for no particular reason… that this campaign should deliver results in record time. When it doesn't they shut the whole thing down.
Whatever the case, there are a few things to do if you're afflicted by doubt.
First – be satisfied that what you're doing largely accords with best practice in the area.
Next – be self-aware about your execution. Are you just doing it badly? How can you improve (beyond practice)? What could you do differently? This doesn't mean making random changes all the time – it means being honest with yourself.
Finally – push the niggles. If you're doing something as well as you can (with a view to improving over time) and doing all the things that your research has revealed constitute best practice, then you're on the right track. The doubts are normal but will suck your energy and waste your time.
So if you're in the doubt phase, put your lawyer hat on – assess the situation, look at it logically, adjust if needed, and persevere.
Do you remember those semesters in law school when, in quick succession, you had to do Civil Procedure, Administrative Law and Evidence?
That's a bit what this part of your marketing program looks like – it has enjoyable bits, but a lot of it is just about putting in the work.
If it was a computer game, this is the part where you've stopped levelling up quickly and your quests all look a bit like “go and collect 27,000 rare flowers from the place that has no flowers in it and is surrounded by instant death”.
You're past the exciting initial phases, past the doubts, and now into the part where you just have to put the hours in.
Building a body of work, writing a book, mastering your workflow, and improving your efforts will all happen in this phase.
But it won't seem like they're happening.
Because what also happens in this phase is you getting super busy and still finding time to write articles, or your kids getting sick and you trying to record a podcast from home while they're “being quiet” in the background, or you running out of ideas for your content and having to come up with a bunch more.
Rest assured, however, that working through the grind is what will ultimately lead to success.
Putting in the effort, day in, day out, over an extended period of time is the single most determinative factor of pursuing a realistic marketing strategy.
Even if the results aren't obvious. Even if you're “not feeling it”. Even if you're busy for a season at work.
You'll have blips, and you'll have to kick-start yourself a few times, but holding fast to the path you set (again – subject to sensible decision making about whether you're just doing something wrong) is critical.
If you can get through this… the results will come soon.
The Tipping Point
I wish I could tell you – in months, years, article numbers of video posts when the tipping point was. When the grind starting fading out and the spoils of victory started ramping up.
But the truth is there is no set answer.
What I do know is… it happens.
There is a point at which the contributions you have made towards becoming known, liked and trusted with your target clients starts to pay off.
People start reaching out to you instead of the other way around.
Inbound enquiries increase.
Referrals go up.
Notoriety and speaking opportunities increase.
And all the things you hoped would happen sooner do, in fact, start to happen.
Set your Face like Flint
When you're embarking on a new course, it's good to know what kinds of “feels” you're going to have. The trick is then to deal with those appropriately.
If your marketing program is developed using good practice, and you're self-aware enough to know when you need to do things better, then realistically you don't need to freak out for a considerable period of time.
Just do the work. Get through the grind. See the results.