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What you can learn from Tony Soprano

Aside from being one of the best television series of all time, the HBO series, The Sopranos is often cited as a great study in management style and organization behavior. With this said, while ironic, there are several lessons that law firms can take from Tony Soprano’s management style and apply to their marketing efforts.

Be Hands-On. Tony always knew what was going on with his crew and was never afraid to be hands-on when decisions needed to be made. This same principle holds true with law firms and their marketing efforts. Often senior partners don’t want to get involved in their firm’s marketing decisions, and instead, put the responsibility on an Associate or Marketing Director who knows little about the firm’s strategic direction and has no authority to make decisions. When this happens, the process bogs down severely or fails outright, because the plan is not aligned with the firm’s over-riding strategy and there has been little buy-in from the decision makers. Tony would never let this happen, and while his methods were extreme, there was never a doubt that the buck stopped with him. While you don’t need a baseball bat to be hands-on, you do need to be hands-on. 

Hold People Accountable. There was always accountability with Tony’s crew, and associates that did business with the Family.  Again, this concept must be applied to law firm marketing efforts. Often critical decisions that must be made linger for weeks or months; vendors don’t follow through on promises or commitments; and the marketing efforts don’t pay off as expected. To this end, Tony Soprano understood 2 things – You have to invest money to make money; but that once the money is invested, accountability is needed to make decisions, get things done, and see a positive return on that investment.

Cut Your Losses. With above said, there were times that Tony just had to cut his losses. While no one likes to have to do this, there are times that your marketing initiatives just aren’t paying off, and its time to try something else. Even the best marketing plans that have a strong alignment with the strategy, and are backed by analytical data aren’t always foolproof. There are many aspects that you, your marketing committee or creative team can’t control, and sometimes things just don’t work as planned. In these cases, you may have to tweak the plan or move on to Plan B. Remember, just because one initiative didn’t work, this doesn’t mean that your marketing is a failure. However, the only way to know is by being able to measure results, which brings us to the last aspect of Tony’s style.

Track Results. Tony tracked results. He knew who his earners were, he knew which investments were bringing a positive return, and he didn’t let emotions come into play.Again, this same principle holds true for your marketing efforts. The only way to truly know if your marketing is working is to track the results. How many unique visitors are coming to your website? Are you getting increased activity from PR efforts? Is your referral database growing? Are you getting new clients and increased case intake? These are the ways to track whether your investment is successful. If someone in your firm or your marketing agency isn’t tracking these types of information, you won’t know who or what should be whacked.

Follows these four principles and you won’t end up wearing cement shoes, when it comes to your marketing plan.