What would your clients think if they saw you working?

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If your clients observed you drafting their documents, speaking to the other party’s lawyer, or arguing a motion on their behalf, do you think you might do things a little differently?

Scientists say you would.

It’s called “The Hawthorne Effect” and it refers to a phenomenon “in which individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.”

When you’re part of an experiment or study and you know you’re being observed (and measured), for example, you work harder or faster, take fewer risks or more risks, and otherwise change what you do in order to better your outcome.

If you have partners, for example, you are accountable to them and no doubt this makes you work harder than you otherwise might.

Because someone is watching.

How could you use “The Hawthorne Effect” to improve your performance? You could get a workout partner or coach and have them hold you accountable. A daily check-in and report is very likely to improve your performance.

You could “go public” with some of your goals, announcing them to people who would care if you don’t reach them. Knowing they are watching will undoubtedly drive you to reach those goals.

Another way to use “The Hawthorne Effect” to your advantage would be to systematically record your results and compare them to previous efforts. Write down how many calls you made this week, or how many words you wrote. Record the number of new clients you brought in this month, and every month from now on.

If you’re not tallying your activities and results, then “nobody” is watching you and you are unlikely to modify your behavior, at least not consistently. When you start documenting your numbers, however, you will naturally push yourself to improve those numbers.

Even though you’re the only one who is watching.

Need more clients? Referrals are the best way to get them

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Have you done your marketing workout today?

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You don’t have to fall in love with marketing any more than you have to fall in love with exercising. You keep doing it because you love the results.

Do it long enough, however, and you might fall in love with the marketing itself.

At some point, your brain will associate the positive results you’re getting with the activities you’re doing. You’ll get a chemical rush in much the way you do when you exercise. Eventually, you’ll do the activities as much for the enjoyment of doing them as for the results.

When that happens, you won’t have to force yourself to do the activities, they will be a natural part of who you are and what you do. When you wake up in the morning, you won’t think about legal work necessarily, you’ll think about writing a blog post or calling someone to invite them to lunch.

How do you get to that point? You keep at it, a few minutes every day, no matter what else is going on in your life. You get your marketing workout done, no matter what.

You do the laps. You do the reps. And you keep doing it, over and over again, until the day comes when you realize that you can’t keep up with all the new business you’re bringing in.

Like exercise. One day you look in the mirror, and you don’t recognize yourself.

Like exercise, the hardest part is getting started. After that, the hardest part is to keep going, to get through the pain and the desire to quit, until it’s a part of your daily routine.

Here’s how to do that:

MAKE A COMMITMENT  

Schedule marketing time on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself and don’t miss your appointments. If someone wants to see you or talk to you during that time, they’ll have to wait until you finish your appointment.

START WITH EASY

If you’re completely out of shape, don’t start training for a marathon, start with a 15 minute walk. Keep a list of easy things you can do that are marketing related, things like writing down names of people you want to talk to or ideas for articles or blog posts or presentations.

GET A WORKOUT PARTNER

Like a trainer at the gym, find someone who will hold you accountable to getting in your workout, but also someone with whom you can share ideas and cheer each other on.

KEEP A JOURNAL 

Write about your tough days and your doubts, your victories and goals. Take notes about your execution. Write down ideas.

STUDY MARKETING 

Read, takes courses, and never stop learning. Associate with other professionals who value marketing and do it every day.

REWARD YOURSELF

Take pride in your progress. When you hit a milestone, treat yourself to a nice dinner or a weekend getaway, or buy yourself a new toy.

THINK LONG TERM

Don’t measure results in days or weeks, give yourself months or years. If you give yourself a year before you evaluate your progress, it won’t matter if you mess up today. You’ll shrug it off and get it right tomorrow.

Eventually, you’ll see a breakthrough and you will literally be a new person. Like many formerly out-of-shape people who start walking and eventually get into the best shape of their life, you’ll find yourself saying, “I’ll never go back”.

Marketing is easier when you have a formula and a plan 

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It’s a blog about nothing

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Remember the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry pitch a show to a studio head? “What’s it about?” the boss asks. With a smirk and dramatic pause, George says, “Nothing. It’s a show about nothing!”

No they didn’t sell the show. That wouldn’t have been funny. Better we should laugh at our pals and their madness.

But we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the value of “nothing”.

In keeping with my assertion that you can write a blog post or email about anything, or nothing, I’m going to give it a shot. I’m going to take a random idea and see if I can fill the page with something interesting and useful.

First thing that pops into my head: shopping. Here goes.

I’m not a shopper. If I go to the mall with my wife, you won’t find me trying on clothes. In the past, you’d find me at a bookstore. Today, I’ll hit a computer store, but only for a few minutes. Mostly, I find a comfy chair, read and watch people.

Basically, I do nothing.

But that’s okay. What I like to do at a mall and what my wife likes to do are different. We’re different people. One person’s gourmet meal is her husband’s poison.

We need to remember this in selling our services.

Not everyone will see the need or the value of what you offer. Some will say yes, some will say no, and some will say, “Ah, get me out of here, there’s an attorney talking!”

We must also remember that the ones who say no do it for different reasons.

One prospect may say no to your estate planning services because she thinks you charge too much. Another might say no because she doesn’t see the need or the urgency.

I spoke to a young woman recently who had a baby eight months ago. I asked if she and her husband had updated their will (knowing they probably didn’t have one at all). She told me they were going to wait until after they had a second child before doing that.

Yep, that’s what she said.

If you are an estate planner, what would you have said in response?

The point is that you need to know the different reasons prospective clients say no to your proposition and be prepared to address them. You can handle an “objection” by presenting the information as part of the pitch or on your website, etc., or you can address it when they vocalize it. (NB: it’s better to handle an objection before it comes up.)

The point is that people are different and so are their reasons for saying no. If you want to sell more of your services, you need to figure out those reasons and do something about them.

So there you go, a post that started out about nothing and turned into something. Sweet! I’m calling my buddy Art Vandelay and letting him know.

What to put on your website

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Get better at writing by invoking your inner couch potato

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One reason I’m able to turn out emails so quickly is that I’m lazy. I get ideas from lots of sources but I primarily write what’s in my head.

I don’t slow down to do research, or spend time looking for graphics. I don’t stop to ask myself if I’ve addressed the subject before or worry about contradicting myself. I don’t spend time hunting down every typo.

I just write. Fast. You can, too.

It doesn’t matter if you said something before. This time, you’ll say it differently. But even if you don’t, no worries. Repetition is the mother of learning. Your readers might not have absorbed your message the first time, or the 31st time. Maybe this time, they will.

Your readership is constantly changing, too. Every day, new people come to your website or blog and subscribe to your list and they’re hearing your words for the first time.

Marketing isn’t solely about delivering information. That’s part of it, but an even bigger part is that you are regularly touching the lives of the people on your list. You know, the people who can hire you or send you referrals. Yeah, those people.

Write a few paragraphs and tell people what you’re thinking or how you feel. Share an idea or comment on someone else’s. Ask subscribers questions, ask them to do something, or just say hello.

Stay in their minds, and their mailboxes and they will hire you (again) and send you referrals and traffic and promote your events.

Write a lot, and write quickly. It will make you a better writer. Writing quickly allows you to bypass the filters in your brain that tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, or that tell you you’re not good enough.

Just write, okay? Don’t worry about what comes out. Emails aren’t briefs or white papers or reports. Nobody is expecting you to be scholarly or brilliant. Besides, you know more than your readers do and they won’t know if you left something out or got something wrong.

Stop trying so hard. Get lazy and write something.

Want ideas for blog posts and emails? This is what you need

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Two “musts” for every lawyer who wants more referrals

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Some smart wag said that if you’re not getting enough referrals, there are only two reasons. “Either you don’t deserve them or you’re not asking for them.”

Let’s talk about this, shall we?

What do you have to do to “deserve” referrals?

Is it enough that you do good work, deliver good “customer service,” and charge reasonable fees?

No. This is expected of every lawyer. If you want more referrals, you need to do more than what is expected.

Look, you can’t depend on your clients telling people about how great you are if you merely do what they paid you to do.

It’s like buying a new car. When it does what it’s supposed to do, i.e., get you where you want to go safely, comfortably, and economically, that’s fine. You might tell others about your new purchase, you might not. If someone asks about the car, you’ll tell them. Otherwise, who knows?

If you buy a car that puts a big smile on your face, however, a car that has a bunch of extras and cool features, a car you can’t wait to show off to the neighbors, that’s different.

To get more referrals, you need to put a smile on your clients’ faces.

Give them more value and a better experience than other lawyers deliver. Surprise and delight them, give them more than they expect, and your clients will be much more likely to tell their neighbors about you.

This isn’t difficult. Little things make a big difference. But you have to want to do those little things, not because you see them as a means to more referrals, but because you enjoy putting smiles on your clients’ faces and hearing them say thank you.

Okay. Now what about the asking part of the equation?

This is where it gets sticky for many lawyers. They try it once or twice, but get tongue tied, and never do it again.

What if there was a way to ask for referrals that was natural and comfortable for you and for the client? A few simple sentences about referrals that didn’t put any pressure on them but nevertheless set the stage for referrals?

Would that help?

What if you could ask for referrals without actually uttering any words? If you could give the client a document or send them a letter that did the “asking” for you. . .

Would that help?

If you ordered my new course, Maximum Referrals, you not only know that this is possible, you know how to do it. You also know what to do to deliver an exceptional experience that makes clients not just willing to refer, it makes them want to.

If you haven’t ordered yet, do yourself a favor and grab a copy.

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How to simplify your marketing

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If you have ever assembled a piece of furniture from Ikea, you know that some items are more complicated than others. Even with detailed instructions and proper tools, it’s easy to mess these up, or take much longer than you were led to believe.

The same is true of any task or project. The more complicated it is, the more moving parts or steps, the more likely it is that you’ll get it wrong.

Some tasks and projects are so complicated we put off doing them. Or we make the effort, get flummoxed and frustrated and swear we’ll “never do that again!”

Marketing legal services is like that. Do yourself a favor and make it simpler.

On the macro side of the equation, that means using fewer strategies, and for each strategy, fewer techniques.

Try lots of things, and then settle in with a few things that work best for you. That’s what I do, and that’s what I recommend.

On the micro side, you simplify your marketing by using fewer apps and targeting fewer markets. You use forms, checklists, and “scripts”. You memorialize your process, in writing, to make it easier to train new hires and temps and so that you can continually examine your process and improve it.

When marketing is simpler, it is easier and takes less time. You get better at it and get better results.

It’s the 80/20 principle. Figure out what works best for you and do more of it.

Simplify your marketing by doing more of fewer things.

Referral marketing is one strategy every lawyer should use. Find out how

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Referral marketing for lawyers–roots before branches

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Let’s say you want to get more referrals from your clients. Not a bad idea. Now, how will you go about it?

Your strategy might be to give your clients lots of attention, show them that you care about them, and make them feel good about choosing you as their lawyer.

Good. An excellent strategy. What techniques will you use to effect your strategy?

What will you say to them at their first appointment? What will you give them? What will you send them, and when? What will do, and how often?

Strategies before techniques. Roots before branches.

Strategies derive from your values and beliefs. If you believe it’s important to surprise and delight your clients with over-the-top service and extra value, if you believe that doing so will endear them to you and make it more likely that they will return to you, say nice things about you, and send you referrals, your actions will reflect those values and beliefs.

If you believe that giving clients lots of attention takes too much time and won’t produce more loyal clients or more referrals, however, your actions will be different.

If you believe that your clients can provide you with more referrals than they now provide, you will be more inclined to invest time equipping your clients with information and tools they can use to send you more referrals. If you believe that your clients do what they can and can’t do any more, you probably won’t.

What many lawyers do, I think, is implement certain techniques before they have firmed up their beliefs and committed to a strategy. They hear that it’s a good idea to send new clients a thank you letter, for example, so they do it, but their heart isn’t in it. They say the words, but they don’t feel the sentiment behind them.

Sure enough, when they speak to the client, their words and behavior often tell a different story.

Start by asking yourself what you want to accomplish and choose one or more strategies for accomplishing it, based on your values and beliefs. Only then should you examine the techniques that are available to you.

My new course, “Maximum Referrals,” can help you do that. It shows you both the strategies and techniques you need to build a successful referral-based practice.

Check it out, here.

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How to protect your referral fee when you refer cases to other attorneys

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I heard from a PI lawyer who had referred a case to another lawyer and was supposed to get one-third of the fee. When the case settled, the referring lawyer heard about it not from the lawyer who settled the case but from a friend of the plaintiff.

Not good.

Even worse, the plaintiff had another accident 4 months later. The same firm handled that case, which settled for $200,000, and they never told the referring attorney about it.

When he finally spoke with someone at the firm about the second case, the referring attorney was told that they don’t pay referral fees on “second generation cases/referrals”.

He asked if I think he’s entitled to a referral fee on the second case.

My take? In equity, maybe. In law, probably not. In the world of commerce, where screwing your referral sources is a great way to kill referrals (and your reputation), I think they should take care of you.

But they’re PI attorneys so I won’t hold my breath.

The bigger question is what to do to protect your referral fee in the future.

Two things. First, you need to have a written agreement that specifies what you get, not only on the original referral but on subsequent cases with the same client. Get this signed before you make the referral.

To be enforceable, it probably has to have reasonable limits (like a non-compete agreement), something like subsequent claims within two years of the original injury. (I’d also ask for a fee on any referrals from that client during the same period.) Ask around, find out the standard in your community. And be prepared to negotiate.

Second, your agreement should specify that you have a lien interest in these cases, and you should so notify the insurance carrier and/or opposing counsel on the first case. That way, when the case settles, your name will be on the check and they have to come to you to get your endorsement.

Your agreement can also specify a lien interest (and attorneys fees if not paid) on subsequent cases, but if you don’t know about those, it’s not as easy to protect your referral fee because you have nobody to notify of that interest until after the fact. Still, better than nothing.

And without an agreement, nothing is what you’ve got.

Hey, I’ve been there. I’ve referred cases to other lawyers and was screwed out of a fee when they settled. You live and learn.

My last piece of advice? Stay in touch with the client. Because you want him to tell you when he has another case, or he has a referral.

Be his “personal attorney” for life. His advisor. The conduit of all of his legal matters.

Think “clients, not cases”. And think about the referral as, “bringing in another lawyer,” not “referring out” to another lawyer.

I’d love to hear how other lawyers handle this subject. Please post in the comments.

Get more referrals from lawyers and other professionals: click here

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Why you need a referral system

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When you have a new client in the office, what do you say to him about referrals? Anything?

Do you give him anything to pass out to people he knows, to make referrals easier for him?

Perhaps you give every new client three extra business cards. That’s good. But when you do that, what exactly do you say? (It makes a difference.)

Most lawyers don’t have a well thought out referral system in place. They haven’t planned what they will give clients, what they will say, or when.

For most lawyers, referrals happen, when they happen. Or they don’t.

Spend some time today thinking about, and writing down, your system. What do you say (orally or by email or letter) to new clients? Current clients? And former clients?

What do you give them or send them?

Right now, if your system consists of giving new clients three business cards and saying, “Here are some of my cards, in case someone you know needs my help,” fine. Write that down. That’s your system. And any system is better than no system.

But you can do more.

Start thinking about what else you might do the next time they are in the office. Or what you might mail to them or include in your “New Client Welcome Kit”.

Write down all of the times during the case or engagement that you could do something or say something that might bring in more referrals.

Start with new clients, on their first appointment. Then consider what you can do at the end of the case or engagement.

After that, write down ideas for communicating with “old” clients.

Having a system for new clients, end of the case, and old clients, will probably put you way ahead of where you are right now, because you will have a better system than you do now.

Systems save time and make things easier. They produce better results, too, if for no other reason than they prompt you to do something on a consistent basis.

No doubt you get referrals now, but do you get as many as you want? As many as you think you could get?

If not, it’s time to create or update your referral system.

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What word or phrase defines you?

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The US Navy says its core values are “Honor. Courage. Commitment”. It is what they stand for, their ethical compass. It is also a promise, to themselves and to the country they protect.

What’s yours?

What is the one word or short phrase that defines you in the context of your career or practice?

What’s your thing?

Mine is “referrals”. When an attorney wants to know my core marketing philosophy, it is that every law practice should be built on a foundation of referrals.

When you hear my name, I want you to think “referrals”. That’s how I built my practice and if I could only teach you one marketing method, referrals would be it.

How about you? When I hear your name, what do you want me to think? What is the word or phrase that defines you and your core beliefs?

It might have something to do with your practice area, target market, or your reputation. It might relate to your biggest passion, a personality trait, your mission or long term goal.

Picture your word or phrase as a banner above the front door to your office or at the top of your website. What does it say? Write down the first thing you thought of.

Whatever it is, you don’t need to make it public. You may at some point, but this isn’t an exercise in creating an advertising slogan or marketing message. It is a way for you to go inside yourself and find your core.

Later, you might use it to create a slogan or commercial message. For now, emblazon it only on the insides of your eye lids–for your eyes only.

Look at it often and ask yourself how it makes you feel? Does it make you proud? Content? Excited? Does it feel like the right choice for you?

If it feels good, live with it for awhile. Eventually, but only if you want to, you can use it to fashion something for your clients and prospects.

My website banner says, “Earn More. Work Less.” That’s my promise. The benefits I offer.

It’s the “what”. Referrals are the “how”.

When you’re ready, this will help you create your marketing message

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