Practice Tips – Articles Category

The Four Pillars of Marketing™

Hello! My name is Terrie Wheeler, and I am excited to be a Featured Expert in the area of legal marketing on As this is my first blog post with Women Lawyers Online, I would like to share a little bit about myself and my background, and lay the foundation for the blog posts I will be writing in the future.

I have been helping lawyers attract new clients for over 24 years. I spent 12 years in three large Twin Cities law firms as a marketing director, and in 1996, started a consulting firm,Professional Services Marketing, Inc. (PSM), helping professional services firms develop targeted strategies to grow their practices.  In 2007, I launched an innovative new web-based tool for lawyers, www. Market Your Law The site replicates my individual marketing coaching process for lawyers.

I earned a master’s degree in business from the University of St. Thomas (MBC) in St. Paul, MN, and love to write and speak nationally on topics related to marketing best practices for lawyers.  I enjoy nothing more than sharing my expertise with others, facilitating lively discussions on marketing legal services, and introducing great people to one another. I am excited to share my expertise with the Women Lawyers Online community! approach to marketing is built around PSM’s Four Pillars of Marketing™.  The Four Pillars of Marketing™ represent the foundational areas every marketing plan needs to address. 

The Four Pillars of Marketing™ for lawyers are:

Pillar #1: Retain and Grow Relationships with Existing Clients
Pillar #2: Attract New Clients and Develop New Business
Pillar #3: Increase Name Recognition and Awareness
Pillar #4: Create Targeted and Effective Communications

A well balanced marketing strategy requires a well balanced allocation of marketing activities. In future blog posts, I will use the four pillars of marketing as a way to discuss marketing planning and to organize various marketing strategies that lawyers pursue. Below are listed the four pillars of marketing, along with corresponding legal marketing strategies:

Pillar 1

Retain and Grow Relationships with Existing Clients


  • Client Satisfaction
  • Client Service
  • Cross Marketing
  • Referral Source Development

Pillar 2

Attract New Clients and Develop New Business


  • Networking
  • Targeted Business Development
  • Proposal Development
  • Market Research
  • Trade and Professional Association Involvement

Pillar 3

Increase Name Recognition and Awareness


  • Advertising
  • Brand and Identity Development
  • Public and Media Relations
  • Trade Shows
  • Community Involvement
  • Social Networking

Pillar 4

Create Targeted and Effective Communications


  • Strategic Communication
  • Marketing Database and Information Management
  • Website Development
  • Event Planning
  • Online Marketing

My next blog post will discuss tips for marketing your law practice in a tight economy, and will be organized around these four pillars of marketing.

7 Success Strategies: Part 7: Be A Little Selfish

“In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel ‘burnout’ setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw andrestore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.” ~ The Dalai Lama         

This article is the seventh and final in a series called “7 Strategies of Successful Women Lawyers.” I have enjoyed sharing each of these strategies with you, and I hope that you have applied some (or all!) of them to your lives and seen meaningful results.

This l success strategy is “Be a Little Selfish.” The other six strategies have been more about external activities—ways of thinking, ideas for taking action. But in the midst of all that action and movement, it is critical that we take time to care for and nurture ourselves. By being “selfish,” I mean to give you permission to focus on yourself and your own self-care. This kind of self-care can take many forms, yet the important part is that we take time away, restoring and rejuvenating ourselves, so that we can fully “showup” in our law practices and in every part of our lives.

There is a reason that flight attendants ask us to put on our own mask first in the event of an emergency. When I first flew on an airplane and heard that suggestion, I thought, “How selfish!” Now I realize that it is sage wisdom: we are no good to anyone else if we haven’t taken care of ourselves.

As women (and especially for those women who are also mothers), it is hard for us to feel “selfish” and take this time for ourselves. We may feel that time away from others who need us—our partners, our children, our friends, or others—is taking away from them, depriving them of something. The fact is that when we take this precious time for ourselves, we are actually giving something to them. We are giving them the gift of our full selves, a better version of ourselves than the stressed, anxious, and irritable pre-self-care version.

The word “selfish” has a negative connotation. In fact, the dictionary defines it as “concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.” Other words for “selfish” are: inconsiderate, thoughtless, grudging, uncharitable, self-indulgent, and greedy. But selfishness doesn’t have to go to these extremes; in fact, you may become all of these things as a means of coping with your stress! Taking a little time for yourself to recharge your batteries is necessary to preserve our sanity.

So think of your self-care as an investment you make in yourself and a gift you give to others. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not suggesting seven massages a week and hours of bathing, reading, and luxuriating while your loved ones forget your name and your practice falls apart. I believe you know what you need to do—you need to find enough time to do the things that restore you, nurture you, and bring you back into balance with yourself. Listen to your body and mind; you will know when you have invested enough time in yourself to be fully of love and service to your family, friends, colleagues and clients.

TODAY: Do something that fills you up. Go for a walk. Sit and enjoy a cup of your favorite tea while being fully present (no multitasking here!) Take a few minutes to just breathe deeply and remember all you have to be grateful for in life. Whatever it is, make the time to restore yourself so that you can be at your best, for yourself and for those around you. It’s a win-win, so remember to be a little selfish once in a while!  




7 Success Strategies: Part 6: Always Be Learning

“I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”  ~Abraham Lincoln

This article is the sixth in a series called “7 Strategies of Successful Women Lawyers.” With all of the powerful strategies and techniques that successful women l employ, I am revealing the top seven ways I have seen successful women lawyers create and enjoy their own “real success.

This success strategy is “Always Be Learning.”

It’s true that the most successful people in society are also the most voracious learners. When you visit the home of a fantastically wealthy person, chances are very, very good that you will find a well-stocked personal library, full of materials not only on business, but also many kinds of personal development, such as physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Personally, I have an addiction to books. I love them. I can’t stop buying them, reading them, and checking them out from the library. My personal library grows almost daily, and rather than rid myself of books, I simply invest in new bookshelves.

What about you? What are you feeding your mind? Any kind of information that you seek is available to you via books, recordings, or the internet. Need to learn more about marketing? Hundreds of marketing books await you. Feeling like you have let yourself go physically? There are countless books and resources on physical fitness. Anything and everything you wish to learn about is available to you, oftentimes absolutely free.

Even though the wealth of the world in terms of information, guidance,and advice on practically any topic is available, most people never take the time or make the investment to learn new skills. Most people are content to stay right where they are, not developing, not growing, not becoming more than they were yesterday. Most successful business people and others have autobiographies or biographies written about them. You don’t even need to know these people personally—just pick up a book about them to learn their secrets to success. browse the library or a bookstore, and you can see how many books are sitting on the shelves, waiting for you to pick it up. If you’re not sure what book is best, go online and read book reviews that everyday people are writing, not the ones that come from the publisher. You’ll get much more realistic feedback from the gal at the salon than some canned, upbeat sales tactic.

There are materials available to you on any skill you want to possess and any attribute you wish to acquire. But you must take the time to read and learn and apply the wisdom you receive.

The most successful people I know never ever stop learning. They are on a constant quest to become more, to learn more, to perfect their craft and skills, and to improve themselves personally. So always be learning. In this day and age there is no excuse for allowing yourself to remain ignorant on a topic that would bring you growth. Stop making excuses, get a library card, and get learning!

TODAY: What are you feeding your mind? Are you learning new skills that will improve you financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and in your practice? If not, why not? Pick a topic that you want to learn more about and then get to a library or bookstore to get the resources you need to improve yourself. There’s no time like the present to grow your mind, your intellect, and yourself!

7 Success Strategies: Part 5: Keep the Best, Ditch the Rest“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” ~ Peter Drucker

This article is the fifth in a series called “7 Strategies of Successful WomenLawyers.” There are so many strategies that successful women lawyers, CEOs and other leaders use to propel them to success, but the ones I am identifying in this series are some of the top techniques I see consistently used by peak performers.

The number five success strategy is “Keep the Best, Ditch the Rest.”

While taking what I call “right action” is the key to making progress and experiencing success, sometimes I watch people drive themselves crazy taking what they think is “right action” without taking any time to reflect and evaluate how those actions have been turning out for them. Evaluation is your best friend in this process, and a critical element to success. Be sure that your evaluation criteria is sound though, otherwise you’ll get off the path to right action!

In fact, sometimes the only way to know if an action is, indeed, a “right action” is to do it and then evaluate it to see if it got you the results you desired. If it did, GREAT! Do more of it. If it did not, think about why it didn’t get you the results you wanted. Could you improve upon the action you were taking? If yes, improve your action, and try again. If you can’t really improve the action and it doesn’t look like the results are going to change, then STOP doing it. Don’t keep taking action that seems right, but in actuality is not getting you the results you want.

For example, maybe it seems like you should be attending a specific networking meeting every week. So you go every week, like clockwork. You take the time, spend the money, and show up. Problem is—you aren’t making any good connections. You aren’t getting any clients. Do you just keep on keeping on? No—you must take some time to reflect and evaluate. Can you do something to improve your results at this event? Maybe you can come better prepared with business cards, a better introduction of yourself, or something else. Then do what it takes and try again. But if there is really nothing you can improve to get better results, then don’t be afraid to admit that this is something that is draining you of precious time and energy, and let it go. Find something else to invest your time and energy in that will give you a better return on your investment.

Just the same, sometimes there are actions we are taking that we know don’t even rise to the level of “right action” (said another way—habits or behaviors you secretly know are not moving you forward to your goals!) Are you wasting time on social media networks when you should be doing other things? Are you finding ways to fritter away time during the days on tasks that don’t need to be done, which ultimately prevents you from getting the right things done?

Reflect on what you are doing and the results you are getting. If you decide that the results you are (or are not) getting simply don’t justify the investment of time, energy, or money that you are putting in, then congratulate yourself for a fine learning experience, forgive yourself for any wasted effort, and let that energy/money/time waster go forever!

The most successful people I know are not afraid to take an honest look at what is working and what is not working and what stands no chance of working. Then they do more of what is working, and they get rid of the things that are not working. This increases their results and efficiency while reducing their frustration, waste, and regret!

TODAY: Get clear about what is working in your practice and in your personal life. Are there habits or actions that you are consistently taking that are not getting you results? Write them down then decide if theycan be improved. If you can improve them, do it and re-evaluate again in the near future. If they can’t be improved, ditch them and spend your time/money/energy elsewhere. ALWAYS BE EVALUATING, doing more of what works!

7 Success Strategies: Part 4: You Are What You Eat (In Every Way)

"The mind grows by what it feeds on." J. G. Holland

This article is the fourth in a series called “7 Strategies of Successful Women Lawyers.” While there are many things that successful women lawyers (and successful people in general) do that helps propel them forward, these are the top seven strategies that I see work time and time again.

This success strategy is “You Are What You Eat.” Better said, “you are what you consume”—in every way. Certainly we all know the “you are what you eat” adage as applied to our bodies. And it’s true—your body truly is made up of what you put into it. While I highly encourage clean eating and living (meaning eating as organically and naturally as possible) that’s not the main point of this article. There are other ways you take things in that affect you either positively or negatively, every day.

In a larger sense, we are what we consume. Let me explain: Our minds become the sum of the thoughts we think. When we focus on the things that bring joy, beauty, love and happiness into our lives, our lives and our outlook become more positive and pleasant. When we focus on disasters, illness, sadness and all of the other negative things we could spend our precious mental energy on, our perspective, and, consequently, our lives, take on a more pessimistic and negative reality.

Be very mindful of the “food” you feed your mind. Guard the doorway of your mind carefully, and turn off anything that is making you focus on anything other than what you want to think about and create more of in your life. This includes turning off the news, gently removing yourself from negative conversations, and avoiding needless worry and hand-wringing over that which you have no control whatsoever. 

2. Our spirits are nurtured (or not) by the spiritual “food” we consume. Like our minds, our spirit needs time and sustenance in order to thrive. Make time to read books and think about ideas that move your spirit, that elevate you to that part of yourself that is connected to something larger. Pray, meditate, walk quietly in the woods to connect with nature—whatever stills your soul and “feeds” your spirit. Be careful not to starve that most central part of who you truly are.

3. Our hearts are sustained by the relationships and people with whom we surround ourselves.There is a reason Jim Rohn, the business philosopher, once stated, “You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” Choose wisely the people with whom you associate. Do you spend time around “downers” who focus on all of the terrible things in life, making you feel drained and wilted after being around them? Or do you spend the most time with people who believe in you, lift you, and help you become the person you most desire to be? Find and create relationships that “feed” you, and be sure to “feed” others as well.

Thinking about what you “eat” or “consume” when it comes to your body, your mind, your spirit, and your heart (or relationship) can help you intentionally create the law practice and life you desire. Be vigilant. It takes time to become masterfulat this. But when you remember that “you are what you eat,” you’ll be much more careful about what you are putting into your life—in every way.

TODAY: Where in your life and your law practice are you “eating” things that are not healthy for you? Are you maintaining relationships that are toxic to you? Are you starving your mind and your spirit? Are you feeding your body things that make you unhealthy rather than giving you energy and strength? Go on a “diet”—only consuming those foods, thoughts, practices, and relationships that truly serve you and the person you are becoming. It’s challenging, but the end result is worth it!