Do you go to the office on Saturday?

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When I was practicing, I would often go to the office on Saturdays. Even if it was only for an hour or two, I was able to get a lot of work done because there were no interruptions or distractions.

No ringing phones, no appointments, no secretaries bringing me papers to sign, updating me, or asking questions. Just one block of quiet time and nothing else to do but concentrate on the work.

I would dictate letters and pleadings and instructions, review documents and make notes, and chew my way through a big pile of files. The quiet also allowed me to dive deep into problem files I might not want to look at during the week.

A few hours on Saturday allowed me to catch up on work that had piled up during the week and get ready for the upcoming week.

I often brought files home with me but it wasn’t the same. Unless I had court on Monday and had to prepare for it, those files usually sat unopened.

Once in awhile I would go to the library or a coffee shop and do some work in a different environment. But nothing beat the office, especially when I had come in a little later and knew the air conditioning was going to be turned off at 3pm.

I know, if you’re successful, you shouldn’t have to work on weekends. Or so some say. All I can tell you is that I was successful because I worked on weekends, even if it was just for a few hours.

Building a law practice is easier when you know the formula

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It’s cheaper to keep a client than to find a new one

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Before you invest another dollar or another minute looking for new clients, do yourself a favor and invest in retaining the ones you already have.

It’s cheaper.

They already know you and trust you. They already know what you do and they’ve seen you do it. You don’t have to go looking for them and woo them. You don’t have to do much to get them to hire you again.

Make sense?

So how do you retain clients? For starters, make sure you don’t chase them away.

A recent survey revealed that 23% of “customer complaints” are about rudeness or bad attitude. Hey, that’s an easy one to fix. Be nice, and if you’re already nice, find ways to be nicer.

Next on the list: don’t ignore them. Clients may run away from a rude lawyer, but most clients drift away from the lawyer who doesn’t pay attention to them.

If you ignore your clients, they may forget your name or the reasons they hired you and be easily seduced by the next lawyer who comes along.

That’s also easy to fix. Stay in touch with your clients.

What’s that? You’ve already done the work for them and they are unlikely to need your services again?

Silly boy. Have you forgotten about the referrals they could send you? Have you forgotten that those referrals are  easier to sign up than prospects who hear about you through an ad or online search?

Are you forgetting that if they refer you a client with a legal matter you don’t handle, you can refer them to another lawyer and earn their referrals in return?

Are you ignoring the other ways clients can help you like sending traffic to your website or telling their friends about your free report?

You worked hard to attract prospective clients. Once they hire you, you don’t have to do nearly as much (or spend nearly as much) to retain them.

Is there more to client retention than this? Sure. There are affirmative things you can do to strengthen your relationships and make your clients an advocate for your practice.

But let’s start with being nice and staying in touch.

Your clients want to send you referrals. Here’s how to help them do it

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Would you rather have more clients or higher-paying clients?

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Yesterday, I did a consultation with a lawyer who has a high-volume/low-fee practice. I asked him, “Would you rather have 50 new $1,000 clients each month or two $25,000 clients?”

I wanted him to upgrade his practice towards the higher end of the client spectrum. You have less overhead, less stress, and less work to do to produce the same income. And you don’t have to compete with everyone and his brother because there is no competition at the top.

I pointed out that he already had a suitable niche market, a certain group of business owners who could provide him with referrals and introductions to other professionals who serve that market.

He said he would need to take CLE classes before he could do this. I suggested that until he was proficient, he could associate with another lawyer who has the experience.

He also said he would need to hire another attorney to handle some of his current caseload, and he’s willing to do that.

So he has a plan.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Niche marketing is smart. Here’s how to do it

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How to become a better and faster writer (and why you must)

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Lawyers write, usually every day. But the writing we do for our work usually leans towards the boring and mundane. We use formulaic language, if not actual templates, and while our writing usually gets the job done, in terms of quality, it’s nothing to write home about (pun intended).

You may be able to get away with boring writing in much of your work, but you won’t get away with it in writing that is intended to bring in that work.

Articles, blog posts, presentations, letters to prospective clients and to other professionals we’d like to know must hew to a different standard. It needs to be interesting and compelling and anything but boring.

Because if someone isn’t required to read something we wrote as part of their work, or because it will otherwise benefit them, they either won’t read it or if they do, they won’t act on it.

Your dull and poorly written article won’t inspire anyone to call you. Your dry as kindling presentation won’t inspire anyone to make an appointment.

If your marketing-oriented writing doesn’t engage readers and draw them to you, you might as well not bother.

You can hire copywriters or ghostwriters, or you can learn how to do it yourself.

Writing every day will help. So will writing first drafts quickly and not editing until they’re done. There are other ways to become a better writer but there is perhaps no easier way than to write about topics that interest you.

Write about subjects you are passionate about. Write about things that inspire you. Write about what turns you on, or what pisses you off.

When you do, you’ll be able to write quickly and easily. You’ll become a better writer. And you will attract more clients who like what you say and how you say it.

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How’s that Pokemon thing working out?

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Pokemon Go is big, or so I hear. I really wouldn’t know. I had to ask my wife what it was because I’ve paid almost no attention to it. Based on what I’ve heard about it, it’s definitely not my thing.

How about you?

Do you use, or at least try, the latest apps? Do you follow the latest trends?

Sometimes? Never? What’s a smartphone?

I read somewhere that there are four types of people:

  1. Innovators. They’re the first to do, adopt, or promote something.
  2. Early adopters. They see the trend and jump on board earlier than most.
  3. Late adopters. They wait until many or most are doing it, saying it, or using it.
  4. Dinosaurs. They rarely adopt anything new.

Or something like that.

Me? It depends on the thing. I was on board early with Evernote but I don’t own an iPad. I was one of the first to create a marketing course for attorneys and I started a blog before it was fashionable, but I do almost nothing on social media.

How about you?

I would guess that most lawyers are late adopters but I think we all need to be flexible. Some things are worth exploring early on, even if we don’t adopt them. Some things are worth our time and energy because they make us more productive or they’re just plain fun.

And then there’s Pokemon. I’m pretty sure I’ll take my first selfie before I download that one.

The best way to build your practice is to master the fundamentals

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What are you, chicken?

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What are you afraid of? C’mon, you know there are things you should be doing to grow your practice that you don’t do because of fear.

You don’t ask clients to help you, for example, because you’re afraid of appearing weak. You don’t approach prospective clients at a networking event because you’re afraid of rejection. You don’t delegate enough of your work because you’re afraid nobody can do the job as well as you.

You can overcome your fears if you want to. The first step is to imagine yourself doing the thing you fear.

See yourself clicking the button and sending your clients an email asking them to forward it to a friend, or to share your new post with their social media contacts.

See yourself in the physical act of doing the thing you fear and you will be on your way to overcoming that fear.

The second step is to imagine the results. See yourself getting new clients as a result of your email, and see the big smile on your face as you realize that you made that happen.

Nice.

Now, the third step. Do the thing. Send the email, make the call, talk to the person.

Mark Twain said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

At first, your knees may tremble. You may need to hoist a pint or two. You may do it poorly. But you can do it, at least once, and if you can do it once you can do it again.

Eventually, your fear will either be completely gone or so diminished that you can do the thing at will.

Now, here’s the thing. The things we fear are often the very things we need to be doing. The things that allow us to grow quickly and reach our full potential. So don’t ignore your fears. Hear their message. Acknowledge their value. And then show them who’s boss.

How to get your clients to send you referrals

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Developing the marketing habit

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When an activity become a habit, it becomes automatic; you do it without thinking about it. Eventually, through repetition, you get better at it and you get better results.

That’s true of the exercise habit, the reading habit, and the marketing habit.

In James Clear’s recent article, The Scientific Argument for Mastering One Thing at a Time, he offers some observations about developing new habits, based on research:

1. You are 2x to 3x more likely to follow through with a habit if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you are going to implement it. This is known as an implementation intention.

2. You should focus entirely on one habit. Research has found that implementation intentions do not work if you try to improve multiple habits at the same time.

3. Research has shown that any given habit becomes more automatic with more practice. On average, it takes at least two months for new habits to become automatic behaviors.

Conclusion: it’s best to focus on one specific habit, work on it until you master it, and make it an automatic part of your daily life. Then, repeat the process for the next habit.

I have long preached the value of working on marketing every day for 15 minutes. I’ve said that you should schedule those minutes in your calendar as an appointment and keep that appointment. I’ve said, “you can use that time to do anything related to marketing, even if you’re only reading about it or thinking and making notes”.

But Clear suggests that you have a specific plan for working on your new habit. Is doing “anything related to marketing” specific enough?

When you are first establishing the habit, I think it is. Blocking out the time and doing something every day is the new habit. Being able to do anything gives you the flexibility to be bad before you get good.

Once the 15-minute habit is firmly a part of your routine, however, your plan should become more specific.

If you want to develop the habit of finding and reaching out to professionals with whom you can network, for example, work on that during your 15 minutes.

And only that.

Clear’s other points tell us to work on one new habit only, for at least two months. Once you have established your new habit, you can move onto others.

When I committed to writing daily emails, I wasn’t sure I could do it. Now it is automatic. It’s a part of me. I don’t have to think about it, I just do it.

My new habit has paid me many dividends, so, once you have developed your 15-minute marketing habit, if you’re looking for another habit to work on, you might want to work on writing.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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How do you know your email marketing is working? 

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You’ve started an email list or newsletter. How do you know your email marketing is working?

Well, you’re getting more clients. Year-to-year your numbers are growing. If you pay close attention, you realize that your growth is accompanied by less effort because frankly, writing emails is about as easy as marketing gets.

If you’re doing it right, you’re also hearing from subscribers who thank you for your emails. They like your tips and have benefited from them and shared them with others. They tell you that when your email arrives they read it first thing. They look forward to your emails because they know they contain valuable information, and even more, they are fun to read.

Note to self: make emails fun to read.

If you’re really doing it right, they tell you that you are the only lawyer they read, or that they only read a few lawyers’ emails and yours is definitely one of the few.

You also get questions they’d like you to answer. It’s called engagement. It’s also called giving people what they want, not what you think they want or need.

I know these things because I hear them from you. I appreciate your feedback and kind words. I also appreciate you for buying my products and hiring my services, and for sharing with me the results you are getting because of my advice. I also appreciate your telling other lawyers about me and my site.

All of these things come from or are greatly enhanced by my email marketing.

Now, how do you accomplish these things?

Frequency. Write as often as possible. Once a month is not often enough. Once a day isn’t too often.

Consistency. Whatever schedule you choose, stick to it.

Value. Give them information they can use. Tips, links, reviews, resources, ideas, examples, explanations, how-tos.

Entertainment. Make them smile, tell them stories that make them ask, “What happened next?”

Personal. Talk about the people in your life and the things that happen to them, and to you.

Relatable. Don’t talk about your BMW if your subscribers primarily drive Toyotas.

Original. Tell them things they don’t ordinarily hear from lawyers.

Surprising. Don’t be boring or predictable.

There, that’s not so difficult, is it? (See that, I asked you a question. That’s another thing you should do).

But don’t hide your wares. Don’t be shy about telling them to hire you or take the next step. Do it often. Every email isn’t too often.

They need to hear this. They expect it. And as long as you are also delivering value, they don’t mind it.

If you believe they need what you offer and will be better off by hiring you, you owe it to them to do whatever you can to help them get it. So tell them what to do, remind them why, and remind them what might happen if they don’t.

Your clients will be grateful that you helped them finally do what they knew they needed to do but didn’t. They’ll be glad they chose you because, through your emails, they believe they know, like, and trust you. They’ll be glad to know that if they don’t need you today, you’ll be there tomorrow when they do.

And you and your bankbook will be glad that they’re glad.

Email marketing will make your phone ring. Here’s how

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What makes content shareable?

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You’re ready to write a blog post, article, or social media post and you want your subscribers and followers to share it. What should you write that will make that more likely to occur?

We know that sex and scandal and other tabloid-esq topics sell, but that’s off the table. Humor and human interest (kittens, babies, sports, games) are highly shareable, and you can write about those things occasionally, but only occasionally.

What then? News? Opinion? World events?

Sometimes. But your best bet is also the simplest. Write about your area of expertise.

Write about legal problems and solutions. Write about the law and procedure, the timeline and processes, the benefits of taking action and the risks of waiting too long. Describe your services and the pros and cons of each.

Answer the questions prospective clients and new clients frequently ask you. And write about the questions they should ask you but often don’t.

Show people what it’s like to work with you by describing what you do and how you do it.

Write about your clients and how you have helped them. Write about people you know who didn’t get help and are now paying the price.

Educate people about what they can do themselves. Teach them when they should talk to a lawyer and what questions they should ask them.

Write about solving problems, preventing problems and mitigating consequences when problems occur.

If you have a consumer-oriented practice, you can also write consumer-related topics such as buying the right insurance, saving money, retirement, taxes, etc. You can also write about issues and developments in your local community.

For a business-oriented practice, write about marketing, management, productivity, and issues and developments in your target market’s industry or niche.

No matter what type of practice you have, you can also write about personal development because everyone reading what you write is, unarguably, a person.

This is the kind of content that people will share with friends and colleagues and co-workers and family, because they know they need it or they know they would benefit from it.

And that’s all any of us could ask.

More ideas for creating shareable content that will make your phone ring

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Out of sight, out of luck

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One of the main reasons people who could refer you business don’t do so is that they “don’t think about it”. They’re busy and have other things on their mind. Unless they have a legal need, they don’t think about you or your services.

Out of sight, out of luck, me bucko.

You can change that, and get more repeat business and referrals, by doing the following:

1) Stay in touch with them

The easiest way to do that is via email. One of my subscribers, an associate in a firm that severely limits his ability to do any marketing, told me that he now emails his clients and prospects and referral sources every two weeks.

He writes about legal matters, and also about what he’s doing in his practice and, I suppose, in his personal life.

He’s staying “in their minds and their mailboxes” and getting repeat business and referrals, and lots of it.

He tells me, “It has worked like a charm. When you write email blasts “right where they live” you are reaching out to them, and many think it is personal. You establish your credibility. You establish a reputation.”

2) Talk about referrals

Another reason you don’t get as many referrals as you could is that you’re not talking about referrals. There are many ways to do that, but one of the simplest is something I suggested to the lawyer mentioned above: put a blurb at the bottom of your emails asking the recipient to forward it to their friends, colleagues, etc., who might like to receive his updates. Spell out what those people should do if they want to be added to the list.

People read your wisdom, tacitly endorsed by the friend or colleague who forwared it to them. They like what they see and want to see more. They ask to be added to your list. You stay in touch with them and they hire you and send you referrals.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

You can make this work better by using an autoresponder to manage everything and offering an incentive to join your list–a report, ebook, or a collection of some your best prior articles–but you don’t have to.

3) Make it easy to refer

Many clients and contacts come close to referring but don’t do it because they don’t know what to do. Do they tell the referral about you and give them your number? Do they send the referral some information about you, and if so, what should it be? Do they tell you about the referral? If they do that, what will you do?

Of course, when it comes to making it easy, “forward this email” is about as easy as it gets. Your contacts don’t have to refer people to you, they can refer them to your content and then your content refers you.

Get this if you want to learn how to get more referrals

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