The Say:Do Ratio in Legal Marketing

During my tenure with GE I had the great good fortune to work with the legendary Lloyd Trotter, the former corporate vice chairman, president and chief executive officer of GE Industrial Systems, and driving force behind GE’s operational prowess. One of the most enduring lessons I learned from Lloyd and his executive team was a simple performance metric: the “say:do” ratio, a measurement of commitments met.

Attorneys cannot guarantee a specific outcome, but they can commit to attaining high levels of client service.  Particularly for small and solo practices, a reputation for a strong say:do ratio in client engagement can be a powerful differentiator, helping firms win new clients, retain existing ones and support higher billing rates.

A few simple “starter” actions:

  • Make reasonable commitments on the timing of deliverables so you can always meet them.
  • Return messages promptly, even if you don’t have an answer. Respond, if for no other reason, to acknowledge receipt of the original message and communicate when you’ll have the requested information.
  • Don’t be late for meetings. Clients are paying for your time, be respectful of theirs.

What’s your “secret sauce” for maintaining a strong “say:do” ratio?


  1. Amen, Amen, Amen! Need I say AMEN AGAIN?
    Man, you nailed it — clients want us to treat them the way we want to be treated. The best book I have read on this was Raving Fans — and the best way to have raving fans is to do what we say we are going to do and be responsive to their needs. Nice succinct post!

    • Jay Pinkert says:

      Thanks, Shawn.

      So much time and money is spent on branding, while simple habits — and that’s all they are — are overlooked.

  2. So true Jay. All the branding in the world won’t make up for not delivering on the basics. You are exactly right — they are habits, and important ones that can no longer be overlooked in this new service oriented economy.

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