Slaying the perfectionism dragon

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A short article on the Entrepreneur.com website caught my attention. In “Start Before You’re Ready, Really,” the author urges us to launch our new business, project or idea before we are, or it is ready.

You can set up a quick Facebook page instead of a website, or a simple (ugly) web page just to get something “out there”. Run the idea up the digital flagpole and see who salutes it.

The author started her new business with just one strategic alliance partner (referral source), who sent her enough business to help her get her business off the ground. Had she waited until she had ten or twelve referral sources, she may still be waiting.

No matter what you do, you can improve it later. Even if you do wait before you launch, there will always be things to improve. So why wait?

Get something out there now and fix or improve it later.

I salute this idea. Hard as it is to show your ideas before they are fully formed, edited, vetted, and groomed, you must. If you wait, you’ll never be ready. In your lifetime, you will produce only a fraction of what you could.

I’ve done this many times. I’ve put up terrible web pages. Announced businesses and books when they were merely ideas. Advertised courses before I was finished writing them.

Some of my best stuff came because I put it out for the world to see before I was ready. Turns out, they were closer to being ready than I had thought. What’s a few typos among friends?

There’s nothing like a deadline to get you crackin’. Once you announce or launch or publish, you’ve got a deadline. You’re committed. You’ve got to finish it, or fix it, and you do.

The alternative is to pay homage to your perfectionism and wait until everything is right. That’s how so many people die with their music in them.

The most important part of any project is getting started. Whatever it is you want to do, do it. Give yourself permission to do it badly. You can fix it later. You can make it better. Or you can cancel it start something else.

There is greatness in you. Slay the dragon and let your ideas soar.

For a simple marketing plan that really works, get this

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Where I get some of my craziest ideas

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When I began my quest to learn about marketing legal services, there weren’t many books available on the subject. There were the usual ABA assortment, with advice for big firms, and some books on starting a new practice (thank you, I know how to order business cards), but nothing that was immediately usable to me.

I didn’t need theory, I needed to know what to do today to bring in some business tomorrow so I can pay my rent on the first.

Hungry for ideas, I turned to books written for other disciplines.

I read books written for retail store owners, insurance sales people, and real estate professionals. I read books about cold calling, copy writing, advertising, direct mail, speaking, writing, and sales.

I read everything I could find in the library that remotely pertained to marketing and advertising, and bought countless more at the bookstore.

Much of what I read didn’t apply to marketing legal services, but I got some ideas. Eventually, I found some things that worked.

Reading broadly, outside of the legal realm, helped me gain perspective and grow as a marketer. I still do this and I suggest you do the same.

Of course today there are a lot of books and blogs about marketing legal services. But when we only read in one area, we risk growing stale. Mix it up a bit. Read books and blogs written for other professionals and businesses. Learn how they go about marketing, advertising, sales, and management.

Read about personal development and leadership. Even if you have no employees, you are still a leader–of your clients and professional contacts and in your community.

When I started a network marketing business, I learned about a different kind of marketing. The genesis of some of the crazy (crazy good) ideas that infuse my writing about marketing legal services is network marketing.

Speaking of network marketing, have you read my new book, “Recruit and Grow Rich”? Even if you have no interest in network marketing, you might want to pick up a copy. One of the reviewers (an attorney whose name you will recognize) said many of the ideas in the book apply to almost any type of business. Another reviewer called it a “must read for attorneys”.

Anyway, I’m raising the price soon so now would be a good time to get the book:

http://recruitandgrowrichbook.com/kindle

Outside the US, go to your amazon store and search “Recruit and Grow Rich”.

If you’ve read the book and liked it, and haven’t yet left a review, I would appreciate it greatly if you did.

It doesn’t have to be long. Just a quick “here’s what I thought”.

Every review helps me. And helps others decide if they should read it or not.

If you insist on reading about marketing legal services, star with this

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If your law firm were a sports team

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Your clients want you to win. They are cheering for you and will celebrate with you when you win their case or favorably resolve their issue.

If you don’t win, they will be disappointed, but they will accept it, as long as you put up a good fight.

I’m sure you do your best for your clients. You advocate and argue and try every angle. You stay in shape mentally, so you can perform at your peak. You come in early and stay late, to prep for the game. You give your clients your best efforts.

But do your clients know this?

Do you let your clients know everything you do for them? Can they see your effort?

When a sports fan watches a game, they see the players in action. They see them execute strategy, take the shots, and suffer the blows. You need to show your clients no less.

That means documenting everything. It means explaining everything. It means putting everything you do in context, so they can see why you did it one way and not another.

Legal services aren’t like dry cleaning. The client doesn’t just drop off the clothing and pick it up when it’s done. Legal services involve important issues and great expense. When a client hires your law firm, they need to see what they are paying for and they are paying for your effort.

Your clients can live with the fact that you didn’t score the goal. But they have to see you take the shot.

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Promote a local organization or event, not your law firm

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Me me me. Look at me. Call me. Hire me. I’m good. I’m really good. Hire me. Tell others about me. Like me. Share me. Love me.

Uh, no. Well, maybe. But listening to you prattle on about yourself is such a turn off. I don’t know if I want to have anything to do with someone who is so self involved.

When your marketing message is all anyone hears from you, it can become tiresome. People tune out. They label you as just another self-promoter. Nothing special here.

Talk about something else. At least once in awhile.

Perhaps you are involved with a local charitable organization that’s doing good things. Wow, you’re helping them? That’s very cool. Tell me more.

Get involved in your community. Organize an athletic event for children at your local park. Volunteer for your local blood drive. Join a committee. Get involved in a fund raiser.

And promote that, not your services.

You’ll get people listening when you speak. At some point they’ll say, by the way, what do you do?

You’ll meet other centers of influence in the community. They’ll also ask, what do you do?

You’ll have a good reason to reach out to other professionals and business owners and ask them to help. Can they donate, can they volunteer, can they mention the event on their website? Yep, what do you do?

Find something going on locally that you believe in and offer your help. Promote a local organization. Start an event. Pass out fliers, promote it in your newsletter, mention it when you speak.

You can do well by doing good.

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Lawyer networking and the 80/20 rule

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Lawyer networking–is it a good use of your time?

Some say that formal networking (the way most people do it) is a low yield activity. They say that the people you meet at chamber of commerce and other formal networking events are unlikely to have much business to give you. They are networking because they need business. The ones who have plenty of business, and thus plenty of referrals to give you, are not at the events, they’re at the office helping their clients.

I’m not sure I’m willing to accept this as a universal truth, but let’s say it was true. If you’re thinking about networking as a means to grow your practice, does this mean you should reconsider?

No. It means you need to approach networking with a different agenda.

One way to do this is to forgo meeting most of the attendees at these events and instead focus on meeting the organizers and speakers. These people know the people at the events, and many more who aren’t. They can steer you towards prospective clients and other professionals who might be a good match.

Meeting these centers of influence allows you to leverage your time. You will have to work just as hard to build a relationship with them as you would with anyone else, but if you are successful, that relationship could yield far more results than a relationship with someone who is just starting out.

On the other hand, networking with people on their way up can also be a good thing. They may not have much business to give you right now, but if you stick with them while they grow and become successful, they could become good clients or referral sources.

Spend 80% of your networking time courting high-value connectors and centers of influence. Note that these people are probably sought after by others who want to know them and may also have attorneys to whom they are already committed. These people may be a tougher nut to crack, but if you are successful, they could open many doors for you.

Spend 20% of your networking time building relationships with people who can’t do much for you now, but might someday. They may be small potatoes, but in a few years, they may be so busy, you’ll never have a chance to meet them.

The Attorney Marketing Formula helps you create a plan for marketing your practice

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What is the ideal length for a blog post?

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What is the ideal length for a blog post? No, I’m not going to give you a clever answer about it being long enough to get the job done. There actually is an answer.

According to research, ideal length is around 1500 words and takes 7 minutes to read. After that, readership drops off. Longer posts also attract more inbound links, which gives your SEO a boost.

There’s also an ideal length for posts on social media. Facebook posts should be 100-140 characters. Tweets 120-130 (to allow room for re-tweets). The ideal length for a podcast is 22 minutes, which corresponds with what I’ve heard is the best length for a live presentation. (After 20 minutes, attention drops off.)

They’ve even researched the ideal length of meta data like title tags. (This is starting to make my brain hurt).

Anyway, if you like numbers, check out this article.

Wait, this post is less than 200 words. It’s not ideal! What shall I do?

Maybe I’ll go hang with Seth Godin.

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The Better Business Bureau for lawyers: what are the benefits?

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What are the benefits of the Better Business Bureau for lawyers? More than anything: trust. Being able to say that you are a member in good standing of the BBB tells clients and prospective clients (and those who might refer them) that you are one of the good guys.

Being accredited by the BBB allows you to post their badge on your website and in your office, and use it in your advertising. If that makes even one prospective client choose you instead of another attorney, it will be well worth it.

To prospective clients, lawyers’ ads and websites all look pretty much the same. Clients look for anything that can distinguish you from your competition in even the smallest way. BBB membership could be just the thing that tips the balance in your favor.

Being a member also gives you verisimilitude when you talk and write about the subject of trust. As a member of the BBB, you are holding yourself accountable by aligning yourself with an organization that encourages feedback from the public.

The BBB doesn’t rate you in the same way that Martindale or AVVO might. An A+ rating from the BBB is easier to achieve than A-V, however, and more people are familiar with the BBB.

There are additional benefits to belonging, as this article points out. I wouldn’t count on getting any business through the directory or through these other methods, but you certainly might.

In a world that increasingly distrusts lawyers, anything you can do to foster trust is a good thing. Take a look at what your local BBB has to offer.

For more ways to build trust, get this

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Getting new clients with just one click

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Yesterday, I announced the publication of my new book. Even though it’s not related to marketing legal services, I sold a small boatload of books. If you bought one, thank you. If you did not see yesterday’s post, you can see the book in the Kindle store here.

I was able to do this because I have an email list. One email, click, and sales.

If you have a list, getting new clients can be just as easy.

Wait, what if you practice criminal defense, personal injury, or consumer bankruptcy, where something has to happen before people hire a lawyer? What good is having a list if the need for your services has passed, or has not yet occurred?

Good question.

Here’s the answer.

Let’s say you have a list of several thousand people who were at one time interested in what you do or something you offered. Your list may include former clients, prospective clients who never hired you, and many others with whom you crossed paths.  Putting aside the notion that out of thousands of people on any list, there is always somebody who needs your services, let’s look at what else that list can do for you.

Let’s start with referrals. The people on your list know people who need your help. Ask them for referrals. Or ask them to refer people they know to a web page where they can download your free report (and sign up for your list). Or ask them to refer people to your social media channels to follow you. Or ask them to forward your email announcing your new seminar to people they know.

You may not get “instant clients” this way, but on the other hand, you might. You will also get your name and information in front of a bunch of people who might need your help some day, or know someone who does.

Use your list to grow your list and use your list to grow your practice.

What else?

What if instead of promoting your own services or offering, you promoted someone else’s? Your former bankruptcy clients may not need you today, but they may need the services of an estate planning attorney. Or a financial planner. Or an accountant. Or an immigration attorney. A divorce lawyer. Business lawyer. Real estate agent. Insurance broker.

Find someone with a list and promote their services to your list. Ask them to promote you to theirs.

What else?

What if you write a book and put it up for sale. The book helps people with issues in your practice area. Book sales build your reputation and generate leads and inquiries for your services. You ask your list to buy it and promote it. Their efforts help you sell more books. The books help you sell more services.

Getting new clients is much easier if you have a list. If you don’t, there are other things you can do to bring in business, but you’ll have to do a lot more than click.

To learn how to build a list and what to send it, get this.

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“Recruit and Grow Rich” ebook just released on Kindle

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How many ways can a lawyer create passive income? I’ll give you a minute. . .

The answer is not many. That’s the conclusion I came to over a decade ago when I was contemplating the concept of retirement. I realized that I would have to save or invest several million dollars to be able to retire and live off the interest or cash flow that those assets produced, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

Even if you earn hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, after taxes and expenses, most attorneys aren’t going to arrive at their retirement years with a big bucket of cash or a steady stream of cash flow.

When I admitted this to myself, I knew I had to find a plan b.

I started a network marketing business and began earning passive income. That income grew to over six-figures a year, which provided me with the retirement income I sought but had never achieved in over twenty years of practicing law.

I’ve written a book about it and it’s now available on Kindle.

It’s part “my story” but it is mostly training. It presents the system I’ve used to recruit hundreds of people (mostly lawyers) who wanted the same thing I wanted. It’s called “Recruit and Grow Rich” and it shows you how to work smarter in your network marketing business, instead of merely working harder.

If you have a network marketing business, or you have been thinking about starting one, this book could shave years off of your learning curve, and help you achieve your goals quicker and with less effort.

The first review came in, from an attorney, who said, “This book is an absolute must read for any attorney considering a network marketing opportunity.” He also said, “Building a network organization is counter-intuitive to the way attorneys have been taught to think and act.” He’s right.

Of course you don’t need to be an attorney to benefit from the lessons in this book. So if you know anyone who has a network marketing business, tell them about it.

Here’s the direct link to the book in the kindle store where you can get more information.

NB: You don’t need to own a Kindle device to read Kindle books. Amazon has free apps that allow you to read Kindle books on your computer, tablet or phone.

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Keep it simple, stupid

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One of the most valuable skills for any lawyer is the ability to make complicated subjects simple and easy to understand.

Simple communicates. Simple persuades. Simple sells.

KISS or “Keep it simple stupid” is a principle that acknowledges that most systems work best if they are simple rather than complicated. Simplicity is a key goal in design, where the concept originated; unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

If your website is filled with complex documents and analyses, you’re not doing your clients or yourself any favors. The same goes for your ads or marketing documents, speeches and articles. Unless you’re writing for other lawyers, and I would argue that even if you are, your number one goal should be to write simply and plainly.

Robert Louis Stevenson, said, “Don’t write merely to be understood. Write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.”

When a prospective client comes to your site, or reads your marketing document, they want to be able to quickly understand your message. Make it easy to read and easy to understand. Use lots of white space, short sentences and paragraphs, and bullet points. Use active verbs and vibrant word pictures. Illustrate your points with relevant stories and examples.

But simple doesn’t necessarily mean less.

When someone has a legal problem and goes shopping for an attorney, they want to see lots of information. Choosing an attorney is a serious undertaking. Most people want to make sure they make the right decision.

When I go shopping for a new product on Amazon, I read everything about the product. All the reviews, too. I’m sure you do, too. Why would anyone do less when shopping for an attorney?

An article on Forbes makes the case that because people are bombarded with too much information today, offering more information “isn’t working like it once did”. The author uses Apple as a paradigm of the “less is more” approach to marketing. Their ads are indeed simple, and I have no doubt they are effective. But selling computers isn’t the same as selling legal services.

Apple can get away with less information because people are familiar with their products and what they do. They see them everywhere. Their friends have them, and rave about them. All the cool people in movies and TV have them. Apple has a well-known reputation and doesn’t need to load up their ads or their website with an abundance of information.

Apple also doesn’t have any competition. Yes, there are many other computers available, but there is only one Apple.

Buying a computer is usually not an emergency situation. Hiring an attorney often is.

Buying a computer isn’t intimidating. It’s fun. I don’t think the same could be said for hiring an attorney.

Lawyers need to keep things simple, but don’t confuse simplicity with paucity. When it comes to marketing legal services, “more is more”.

What to put on your website. Go here.

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