Most Clients Find Lawyers Through the Internet, but. . .

Share

Findlaw conducted a survey about how people go about finding a lawyer. To nobody’s surprise, the top two answers were the Internet (38%) and referrals (29%). This compares to results of a similar survey they did nine years earlier which found that only 7% used the Internet and 65% asked for referrals.

(If you’re curious, only 4% use the Yellow Pages, compared to 10% in the earlier survey).

So, yes, everything you’ve heard about having an Internet presence is true.

You know my position on this: even if they don’t find you through the Internet, you need a website to showcase your talents so that if they find you through any means, including referrals, they can “check you out” online. This includes YOU sending them to your site.

The survey says nothing about the type of case or engagement, fees, or other criteria. It just says most clients find lawyers through the Internet, but “most” doesn’t mean “best”.

I maintain that the best clients, the ones who pay the biggest fees, ask the fewest questions, and remain loyal over time, come from referrals, not the Internet. Clients who use the Internet to find attorneys tend to be price shoppers, harder to please, and fickle.

You need an Internet presence, and you will get clients that way. But Internet marketing will never replace referral marketing for building a law practice, no matter what the survey says.

Marketing online for attorneys. Click here.

Share

Lawyers: the world’s second oldest profession

Share

We’re mouthpieces. Clients pay us to advocate their position. We don’t have to believe in what our client wants, or like them personally, we do their bidding. Kinda like the world’s oldest profession.

Now, now, don’t get your panties in a festival. I’m being real here. We don’t care if our client is ugly or smells bad, we only care if the check clears. We do our jobs. If we don’t, we’re out of business. Besides, if we don’t do it, some other shyster will, so all our righteous indignation and standing on principle is for naught.

At least that’s what some people think.

The truth is, we can decide who we will and won’t represent. We don’t have to represent anyone who shakes a bag of money in our face. We can refuse to take cases and causes we don’t believe in or represent any client who needs our help. And we can make a fine living doing it.

But I don’t want to talk about policy or the image of the profession. I want to talk about marketing.

At some point, you should have written a description of your ideal client. (If you have not and you need help doing so, get The Attorney Marketing Formula.)

Once you have decided on your ideal client. . . Don’t keep it a secret.

Tell people what kinds of clients you want to work with. Publish this on your website. Let everyone know.

Practice areas are easy: here’s what I do, here’s what I don’t do. (But I know a lot of other lawyers, so if you have X problem, give me a holler and I’ll introduce you to a lawyer who can help.)

What’s more challenging is describing clients by industry or demographics.

You represent only men or only women, only landlords or only tenants. You represent clients in certain industries or of a certain size or market sector.

“Yeah, but if I declare to the world that I represent clients in the automotive industry, I won’t get hired by clients who manufacture appliances.”

What you have to realize is that this is a good thing.

You may not get appliance manufacturers, but you’ll get more from the auto industry. They will be attracted to you because they see you are dedicated to serving them. They’ll see that you understand their needs and speak their language. You have helped others like them, so it’s obvious that you can help them, too.

We may be the world’s second oldest profession, but this doesn’t mean we have to represent everyone who can pay.

Specialize in the clients you represent. And don’t be afraid to announce it.

Choose a target market. If you don’t know who to choose, choose anyone. Jim Rohn said, “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.”

On the great road of life (or business), some choose the left side, some choose the right side, and both can do well. The ones who stay in the middle of the road are the ones who usually get run over.

This will help you choose your ideal client and target market. 

Share

Remember presentations better by structuring your content

Share

Matt Abrams is an expert on public speaking and a lecturer at Stanford. In a recent article, he says you will be better able to remember presentations by “structuring your content,” rather than presenting it randomly.

He explains:

“Having a structure helps you remember what to say because even if you forget the specifics, you can use the general framework to stay on track. For example, when using the Problem-Solution-Benefit structure–which is good for persuading and motivating people–you first lay out a specific problem (or opportunity), then detail a solution to address the problem, defining its benefits. If you are in the middle of the Solution portion of your talk and blank out, recalling your structure will tell you that the Benefits portion comes next.”

Not only does the structure give you a framework for recalling how the information fits together, I can see how it helps your audience better understand and remember your message.

Abrams says his favorite structure is, “What?-So What?-Now What?, which can help you not only in planned presentations but also in spontaneous speaking situations such as job interviews.”

What: Your message or claim

So What: Why it matters; the benefits if it is accepted

Now What: What to do next; the call to action.

I like this, too. It can be used for formal presentations, papers, briefs, articles, letters, oral arguments, and blog posts. You can also use it to help a client understand where things are in a case and why they should follow your recommendation.

The article has additional tips on public speaking, including how to practice a presentation.

For more ideas for structuring reports and other content, see my 30 Day Referral Blitz

Share

The Fortune is in the Follow-up

Share

One of the most important aspects of marketing any business or professional practice is follow-up. For many, it’s also one of the most challenging.

Because they must, most attorneys have a process for communicating with existing clients. This process is driven by the demands of the case or legal matter. Copies are mailed, calls are made to discuss strategy, progress reports are sent on a pre-determined schedule. Once the case is settled or the matter is completed, however, follow-up is often done haphazardly and too often, not at all.

And then there’s everyone else.

  • Prospective clients
  • Former clients
  • Referral sources/professional contacts/”friends of the firm”
  • Prospective referral sources
  • Bloggers/editors/publishers
  • Meeting planners
  • Etc.

Each category has a different purpose. Following-up with former clients, for example, can lead to repeat business, updates, referrals, traffic to your website or sign-ups for your event. Following-up with bloggers can lead to guest posts, interviews, and links to your web content. Following-up with prospective clients can lead to new cases or engagements but can also lead to referrals.

Within each category are individuals who are further along in their relationship with you and thus more likely to respond to your contact. There are also individuals who have more potential than others, e.g., a prospective referral source who is well known in your target market, a prospective client who could bring you a lot of business, etc.

I’m sure you appreciate the value of following-up with these people. You know that former clients are your best source of new business (repeat, referrals). You know that staying in touch with prospective clients is good for business.

But how do you manage everything?

You start by creating lists. There are many software solutions for doing that. Pick one. Import your existing database or create new lists manually. It is time well spent.

Add a code or tag or field to each contact in your database so you can sort your lists by type and date range and other criteria. For example, you should be able to do a sort and find a list of former clients with whom you haven’t spoken OR emailed in more than 90 days.

Now what?

You’re almost there. The hard part is done. Now, you just need a plan for staying in touch with everyone. There are three parts to the plan:

  1. Schedule. How often will you contact them?
  2. Media. Will you use email, phone, regular mail, or social media?
  3. Content. For example will you send them personal emails, a general newsletter, or both?

You’ll probably find it easier to start with one category. Create a plan for following-up with former clients, for example. Once that’s done, you can consider other categories.

Once you have things set up, flag key individuals for customized follow-ups. You’ll want to call certain people more often, for example, or call some people but only send email to others.

This may seem a daunting task but if you take it step by step, you can do it. Once you have, you’ll be glad you did.

Marketing is easy, when you know The Formula

Share

How to get your work done on time

Share

The statute runs on the ninth, so we get the complaint filed by the eighth. We have to, so we do.

What about things that don’t have a deadline? We put them off. We procrastinate. Especially if it’s something we don’t want to do.

But we know this is a bad habit and we want to overcome it. So we make up a deadline. A firm date when we will have the work done. We put it on our calendar. It’s in writing. We see the due date coming up. We’re determined to beat the deadline.

But we don’t.

The day comes and goes and we don’t do the work. We were probably busy doing things that had a real deadline.

I read about a study that confirms what we already know: self-imposed deadlines don’t work. At least for things we really don’t want to do. We procrastinate for a reason, and writing down a deadline doesn’t eliminate that reason.

There is a solution. A way to make a self-imposed deadline work.

You need a deadline AND a penalty for missing it.

When you set a deadline, tell someone. Someone who will hold you accountable.

Tell your client when the work will be done. Promise to deliver it on that day. Put that in writing. You don’t want an unhappy client. Or a client who thinks you are incompetent. Or a client who sues. So you get the work done. Because you have to.

If you really have a problem with procrastination, put in your retainer agreement that the work will be delivered on the date promised or there will be no fee. Or, 10% reduction for every day it is late. Or some other costly consequence.

You’ll get the work done on time, won’t you? Yeah, you will.

You can do something similar with non-billable work or projects. Have you been procrastinating on your website? Tell your boss, partner, or spouse when the work will be done and ask them to hold you accountable.

If you have difficulty estimating when you can finish a big project, break it down into components and set a deadline for the first one. If you want to write a book, for example, set a deadline for completing the first chapter or the first draft. After that, set another deadline for the next component.

You can use penalties to finish any project or achieve any goal. I know a vegetarian who publicly promised that if she didn’t meet a certain goal, she would eat a McDonald’s hamburger every day for a month. Her goal was a big one, but yeah, she made it.

Get serious about marketing. Here’s help.

Share

Getting more bang for your content marketing buck

Share

If you have a website or blog, write a newsletter, or post anything on social media, you are engaging in content marketing. I just read an excellent article about the value of evergreen content for bringing a steady stream of traffic, in contrast to, well, non-evergreen content.

I’ve always been inclined towards writing evergreen content because I’m lazy smart. If you write about technology, as soon as it’s posted, it’s out of date. The same is true of many other timely and news-oriented topics. If you write evergreen content, however, it will bring traffic today and for years.

This doesn’t mean that one should avoid non-evergreen topics. They can bring a lot of short term traffic, which can lead to long-term followers and subscribers. When Steve Jobs abruptly resigned, I did a post that mentioned his resignation in the headline and got a big spike in traffic. I’m sure some visitors still read my blog today and that post still gets new traffic.

Evergreen content should be the foundation of your site, however. Make most of your content something people will always be interested in.

The article does a good job of listing what constitutes evergreen content (and what doesn’t), and it’s what you might expect. How to’s, authoritative answers to FAQ’s, and basic information that beginners search for qualify. Best of the year roundups, statistical pieces, and event-specific content don’t.

There are also some good suggestions for sharing evergreen content. I like the idea of creating an “evergreen hub” on my site, something I should have done a long time ago. This can take the form of a “start here” page or a “top posts” widget in the sidebar.

Anyway, you can access this article on this page. Let me know what you think in the comments to this post.

To learn more about online content marketing, get this

Share

The case against having too many business contacts

Share

Most business professionals seek to connect with as many people as possible. They equate quantity with effective marketing. In truth, quality is paramount. One high quality contact who is willing to help you is worth thousands of average contacts.

High quality business contacts are influential in your target market. They know the people you want to know and can introduce you to them. They can solve problems for you with one phone call. They can give you money-saving and time-saving advice that can help you take giant leaps in the growth of your practice.

High quality contacts are also open to working with you. But that isn’t a given. It is a privilege, something you earn by helping them or someone or something important to them.

First you have to meet them. The best way is to be introduced by a mutual contact. Another good option is to attend one of their speaking engagements and introduce yourself. Then, stay in touch with them and promote them and anything they offer. Court them, in other words, and in time, they may notice.

It takes work and it takes time, but it’s worth it.

The problem with average contacts is that they are average. They’re doing okay (or struggling), and the people they know are in the same boat. They may be willing to help you but they are limited in what they can do.

The other problem with having lots of average contacts is that it is inefficient. You shotgun your energy, spraying it in many directions.

Zero in on a few key people who are well-known in your market or community. Find a way to meet them, and then stay close to them. Join their groups, support their causes, promote their work. In time, you may be noticed, and then accepted. Soon, your efforts will start to pay off.

Do you know The Formula? Check it out, here

Share

Welcoming new businesses to your community

Share

My local Chamber of Commerce puts out a weekly email newsletter. It features upcoming events such as networking mixers, charity golf tournaments, and a meet and greet with our mayor. It also welcomes and lists new members. 

If I were still practicing, I would contact the new members, congratulate them on their new business, and welcome them to the community. If they aren’t a new business, I would congratulate them on joining the chamber.

If they are new, I’d ask if they are having a grand opening. If they aren’t new, I’d ask about any current sale or promotion. Then, I’d mention this in my newsletter and post it on my blog.

It doesn’t matter whether I handle business matters or consumer matters, or that they already have a lawyer. They have customers and vendors and business contacts who may need a lawyer, now or in the future. They joined the chamber to meet other businesses and some of those businesses might need a lawyer, or have customers who do.

I’d ask what kind of customers or clients they wanted and do my best to send them some referrals. I’d introduce the owner or manager of the business to other business owners and professionals in the market.

Do you think some of these business owners and professionals might also introduce me to other business owners and professionals they have met? Is it possible they might have some referrals for me? Do you think they might offer me some kind of special deal I could pass along to my clients and prospects?

Yes or yes?

How many other attorneys do this? Approximately zero. You can be the one and only.

You can start with a short phone call. Leave a message if you need to. Or send an email. Don’t pitch anything, just welcome them. If you speak to them, ask about their business. If you hit it off with them, meet them for coffee.

Marketing is easy. Lawyers are difficult.

Get The Attorney Marketing Formula and learn more about marketing legal services.

Share

Why I don’t obsess over SEO

Share

I take a rather relaxed approach to SEO. I pay attention to a few things like using keywords, but not at the expense of good writing, and by that, I mean writing that informs, persuades, inspires, and (at times) entertains.

I don’t study search engine optimization. I don’t hire consultants. And I don’t spend time contorting my posts to conform to arcane rules of the day.

Why?

First, I hate this kind of stuff. It’s boring. And frustrating. One day it’s this way, next week it’s something else.

Second, I don’t need to. Google is smarter than I am and they always find a way to figure out what I’m saying and who should read it. What they want more than anything is well-written, high quality information, and that’s what I try to give them.

A recent article over at the SearchEnginePeople.com blog, about five common SEO misconceptions, agrees that quality is king.

My favorite misconception is, “every headline needs a keyword.” I like this because I do try to include a well-searched keyword phrase in most of my headlines, but frankly, it often ruins an otherwise compelling headline.

Apparently, I can loosen up on the reins a bit. “If you can add a niche keyword in there, then all the better but don’t make that the be all and end all of your headline writing… A captivating headline brings click-throughs, links social shares and more traffic.”

There is a trade-off between being found (keywords) and being clicked (benefit rich headline). Apparently, if we write clickable headlines and high quality copy, Google will send us people who want to read it.

Content marketing for attorneys: click here

Share

Starting an email newsletter

Share

Quick, give me a legal tip. Something in your area of expertise you recommend I know or do.

Got it? Okay, write it down. Just the idea or title. Make a few notes if you want, but don’t spend a lot of time.

Congratulation. You now have the makings of an email you can send to your list. All you need to do is to take the idea and write three paragraphs that explain your tip.

Could you do this again? Could you come up with something for next week? A tip, a quick story, a recommended website? I’ll bet you could. Excellent. You have next week’s email.

You can post these on your website, too. Great! You’ve also started a blog.

Many attorneys hesitate to start a newsletter or blog because of the perceived immensity of the task. If you think in terms of a writing a few paragraphs, once a week, it shouldn’t appear so daunting.

You have a lot of knowledge you can share. Substantive law, procedure, advice. You don’t realize how much you know.

You also have a lot of experiences you can share. Interesting cases or clients, war stories.

You run a practice. People want to know about your employees, how you manage information, how you stay productive. What’s a typical day like? How do you open a new file? What do you do when you have a conflict? How do you keep track of deadlines?

You know other professionals who have information your clients want to know. You can ask them to share some of their knowledge with your readers.

You celebrate the holidays. Your readers enjoy hearing from you and sharing the joys of the season.

You have problems. People want to know how you deal with them.

You have goals. People want to hear what you are doing to reach them.

You have likes and dislikes people want to know about. Technology, books, movies, blogs and magazines.

Write something and send it off. Do it again next week. Pick a day when you’ll send your email and put it on your calendar. The whole thing, from start to finish, shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes.

Now, once you’ve done this for a few months, you can take your backlog of emails and load them into an autoresponder. When someone joins your email list, they will automatically receive these emails. Once a week, they’ll get something from you, perhaps something you wrote months ago. You won’t have to write new emails if you don’t want to.

Starting an email newsletter isn’t difficult. Just start. One tip, one thought, and send.

For more ideas for your newsletter or blog, get this

 

Share