Put all your eggs in one basket, just make sure it’s YOUR basket

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I constantly beat the “focus” drum–do a few things and do them well, don’t spread yourself too thin, don’t try to be all things to all people.

I agree with Mark Twain who said, “Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.”

On the other hand. . . you’ve got to be smart about things.

You shouldn’t rely on one client for 100% of your business, no matter how much business they give you.

Things happen. You think you’ve got it made in the shade and then the client hires someone else. Or they grind you on fees, knowing you have no choice. I spoke with an attorney yesterday who is now “starting over” because this very thing happened to him.

Neither should you rely on one marketing platform or methodology.

Also yesterday, I learned that a Facebook friend of mine had his account shut down. I don’t know what he did to incur the wrath of the Blue-and-White Devil. Insulted someone? Promoted something “too much”? All I know is that hundreds of his Facebook “friends” have signed a petition asking that he be allowed back.

It’s touching to see this outpouring of love, pleading for this man’s digital life. It’s also frightening to imagine that if he loses his appeal, his business might be in big trouble.

I thought about what I would do if this happened to me. If my account was shut down, would I lose business? Go out of business?

No. Not at all. I don’t depend on Facebook, or any other social media platform. I get some business through social media, but I don’t depend on it. Having my account shut down would be inconvenient, but not insurmountable. I would open a new account and start over.

Or not.

Truth be told, I find social media to be depressing. I really wouldn’t miss it.

I’ve got my blog and my email list and I have complete control over them. Nobody can tell me what I can and can’t post. I can insult anyone I want to. Nobody can shut me down.

So yes, put all your eggs in one basket. Just make sure you own the basket.

Want a simple marketing plan for your law practice? Get this.

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What you focus on is what you get

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You can’t be successful at everything. If you’re smart, you’ll make a big list of everything you’d like to do this year, narrow it down to ten things, and then choose just 3 or 4 goals or objectives to focus on this year.

That’s what Steve Jobs did with Apple.

The key to success is focus. Choose a few things and spend most of your time on those.

I have one major business goal this year. If I accomplish it, it will transform my business and I will be a happy camper. To achieve this goal, I have two big projects I’m working on. Depending on how things go, I might take on a third project, but no more. To achieve exceptional results, I must stay focused.

It’s not a lack of discipline that keeps us from achieving our goals. It’s a lack of focus.

Clarity gives us focus. If you are clear about what you want to accomplish in the next few years, you can focus on the work that will help you get there. If you are unclear about your future, your focus will be fuzzy and your efforts will be scattered and inconsistent.

Clarity gives you focus and focus gives you momentum.

So, what do you want? What are 3 or 4 goals or projects you intend to focus on this year?

You may not need 3 or 4. You may need only one. A major goal that will decidedly advance you towards your long term vision.

Perhaps that one goal is to reach a certain income level. If you achieve this, it will take care of a lot of other goals. If you increase your income enough, you don’t need a separate goal of paying off back taxes, for example.

Now, with goal in hand, you can focus on achievement. What do you need to do to accomplish this goal?

You can accomplish anything you want in life, you just can’t accomplish everything. Get clear about what you really want and focus on that. Because what you focus on is what you get.

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Need more time? What would you do with it?

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I just upgraded my modem and my download speed has literally doubled. And yes, I can tell. Everything opens faster. Pages scroll faster. Videos are smoother.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Also, the old modem was starting to go down frequently, requiring a re-set. Lately, this had been happening almost every day.

I’m on my computer most of the day and I figure that by swapping out the modem, I’m saving several minutes a day. That got me thinking about what else I might do to save more time.

What if I could consistently “find” 15 minutes a day, by cutting things out and speeding things up? Counting weekdays only, this would give me an extra 5.5 hours of month I could use for other things.

How about you? If you had an extra 5.5 hours per month, how would you use the time?

If you bill five hours a day, or the equivalent in flat fee work, you would be getting an extra billable day per month. Let’s say that’s $1500 to you. What could you do with an additional $1500 of found money?

Hire a part time employee? Buy more ads? Pay down debt? Move to a bigger office?

Perhaps you could use the time to learn a new skill. Catch up on your reading. Or go for a walk after lunch.

How about using that 15 minutes a day for marketing and bring in some new clients each month?

Hey, there’s a thought.

The point is that a few minutes a day, every day, adds up. Over time, it could lead to dramatic results.

Think about where you might find that time, starting with upgrading your technology.

Then, look for other areas where you can cut out wasted time. A different route to work, shorter meetings, learning how to type faster, upgrading your office procedures.

You say you need more time to do what you need to do? This is an easy way to get it.

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If my dentist managed your law practice

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My dentist send me an email that said:

NORDSTROM GIFTCARD GIVEAWAY

INVITE A FRIEND AND WIN A NORDSTROM GIFTCARD!

Introduce friends, family and co-workers to our office, and when they come in for their appointment between now and February 19th, you will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 NORDSTROM Giftcard!

The rest of the message said when the drawing would take place and that the “New patient must complete routine exam, cleaning and x-rays to qualify for drawing entry. One entry per person seen in the office.”

Not bad. Get more referrals, total cost: $100.

Two things come to mind:

(1) You could use something like this in your law practice, and

(2) If you do, you can get more bang for your buck than my dentist

First, let’s put aside the notion that you can’t do something like this in a litigation practice. You can. Not necessarily to get clients immediately, although you might, but to build your email list, which will eventually lead to new clients.

Now, how could you get bigger results than my dentist?

For starters, how about something obvious like having the drawing for the referring parties instead of (or in addition to) the new clients?

Hello. . . ?

Yes, it’s nice that you’re going to enter my friend in a drawing if I refer him, but how about something for me? Give me a reason to think about this for more than the three seconds it takes me to delete your email. . . let me imagine that I might win this thing. . . let me get excited and start thinking about who I could refer. . .

Okay, what else?

How about not requiring the referral to actually hire you?

It should be enough if they only have a free consultation, or even if they just schedule one. Or only opt into your list.

The name of the game is getting people to know about you and how you can help them. It’s about building your list.

Get more people on your list and you’ll get more clients.

The prize doesn’t need to be won by someone who referred a client (or became a client). So what if the “winner” is someone who refers ten people, none of whom become an immediate client? As long as your list is growing, your practice will be growing.

What else?

Well, you might offer a bigger prize.

Assuming your margins are higher than a dentists (arguable, I know), you can afford to offer the winner more than $100. You may not have to, it’s true, because winning anything is exciting. But a $250 prize sounds much more exciting, especially at Nordstrom where $100 would only buy you one shoe. For another $150, you might get a lot more participation.

You could also offer more prizes, e.g., three or five winners. Or you could offer a big first prize and lesser value second, third, and fourth place prizes.

NB: if you’re thinking of awarding prizes based on the number of referrals, i.e., the winner being the one who refers the most clients, do your homework re possible legal and ethical issues.

One more thing.

How about promoting your drawing to people who aren’t your clients? Contact other professionals you know (and ones you don’t know) and offer the same deal. Why not offer this to anyone in town (through your blog, social media, ads or mailings, or word of mouth)?

Would it be okay if you got referrals from strangers, people who have themselves never hired you, people who only send referrals so they can get a shot at winning a prize?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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If John Wooden managed your law practice

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Basketball coaching legend John Wooden was known as a perfectionist. He believed that planning and preparation and attention to detail were the keys to winning. He expected the best from his teams and usually got it.

In his long career, Wooden proved that his methods worked. He left a legacy unmatched in the field of sports and we can learn a lot by studying his methods and his life.

But how much of what he teaches can we use to build a law practice? Can we demand as much from ourselves and our staff as Wooden demanded from his teams?

Let’s think about that in the context of the first client interview.

I suspect that Wooden would have us regularly drill on the questions we ask and the things we say, continually improving how we sound, our body language, and our timing. He would have us study the client intake form to the point where we could recite it in our sleep. He would have us practice everything several times a day.

Every minute would be scripted, every detail drilled to perfection. He would evaluate us not just on whether or not the client signed up but on how many referrals we got before they left the office.

Is that the standard we should seek?

Not in my book.

I’m not saying we can’t learn by paying attention to detail. We can, and we can use what we learn to sign up more clients and get more referrals. But I don’t believe we need to work that hard to get every detail right.

According to the 80/20 rule or The Pareto Principle, in anything we do, only a few things make a difference; most things don’t. If we get the few things right, we don’t need to obsess over everything else.

Let’s say that body language is one of the few things that make a big difference. (I believe it is). If we make eye contact, smile appropriately, and otherwise show the client that we are listening to them and sincerely care about helping them, we’re more than half-way home.

But this doesn’t mean we need to drill on every word we say, where we place our hands, or how we time our gestures. If you truly care about the people in your office, none of that is necessary. If you don’t, none of that will help.

With most things we do, good enough is good enough. Get the important things right, the 20% that delivers 80% of your results, and you won’t need to sweat the small stuff.

Wooden would probably disagree . He said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”

Yes, but what if you don’t need to do it at all?

Want to sign up more clients? Get this

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Bundling isn’t just for political campaigns

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I just got an email with a great offer on a “productivity bundle”: “For just $59.99, you can unlock one-year subscriptions to Wunderlist Pro, Pocket Premium, Evernote Premium, and LastPass Premium.”

If you’re interested, here’s the link.

Now, put on your thinking cap. How could you use bundling to market your services?

Find one or more compatible service providers–lawyers in different practice areas, (including lawyers in your firm), a CPA, a financial planner, or a business owner–anyone with a product or service your clients or prospects might want and need–and create a bundle that each of you can offer to your lists.

It might bring in more clients but it will definitely get your name in front of a lot of prospects and help you build your list. It’s also a great way to deliver added value to your clients.

You could offer a “entry level” service, a review package, or a maintenance contract. Or you could also do this with information products. (If you handle litigation only, this is probably your best bet.)

Your ebook, video course, recorded seminar, checklist, form set, or anything else, combined with something similar from other professionals, all bundled up and available for a small payment, or even free.

Of course putting this together is a great way to meet other professionals and start building a referral relationship.

Check with your handlers to make sure you are allowed to bundle services with non-lawyers. And note that some professionals (i.e., insurance, securities) probably cannot bundle their products, but they may have a service or information product that would work.

Talk to another professional and tell him or her your idea and see what they think. You only need one other participant to create a bundle, but I’m betting that once there are two of you, you will quickly find others who want in.

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Take a loser to lunch

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An excellent way to grow your practice is to spend time with other lawyers. Once a week, invite a successful lawyer to lunch and get to know about them and their practice.

Look for ways you can help each other, with referrals, introductions, promoting each others events and content, guest posts, and so on. Ask lots of questions about what they want and need and look for ways to help them.

But don’t stop there. Learn from their successes. Ask questions about how they market their services and look for ideas you can use to market yours. What do they do, where do they do it, how did they get better at doing it?

Jim Rohn said, “If you want to be successful, study success.”

Also keep your ears open for what hasn’t worked for them, or hasn’t worked as well. Learn from their mistakes.

If you can see what they’re doing wrong, offer suggestions on how they can improve. If they aren’t getting as much traffic to their website as they want to, for example, share what’s working for you.

On that note, every once in awhile you might want to spend time with unsuccessful attorneys. Find someone who isn’t doing well and take them to lunch. Ask about what they’re doing and then do the opposite.

More on joint ventures: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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If the IRS was in charge of your marketing

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In school, we had deadlines for finishing papers and projects and being ready for exams. If it weren’t for those deadlines, many of us would never have done the work.

Today, we have more deadlines. Statutes of limitations, court dates, appointments, CLE compliance due dates, bills to pay, tax returns to file, and many more. We also have deadlines tied to our promises to other people, e.g., when the work will be done or the papers will be delivered.

Sometimes we miss a deadline and suffer the consequences, but for the most part, the system works. It works not just because we are aware of the penalties for missing deadlines but because there is a specific date reminding us that something is due.

What about all of the other things we want to do, or need to do, that don’t have a deadline? Too often, we don’t get these done. They may relate to our most important goals but because there is no deadline, no due date, they get pushed aside.

Countless studies, which I am too lazy to look up, have shown that scheduling these “open” tasks dramatically increases the odds that we will do them.

Let’s say you set a goal to increase your income this year. Part of your plan is to bring in more clients by adding one blog post or article to your site each week. The weeks are flying by, however, and you haven’t written the first article, or you wrote one or two but aren’t keeping up.

Because there is no deadline, you’re not doing the work.

It’s not that you can’t do it. If you knew that you had to get the work done by a certain date or the IRS would seize your bank accounts, you would get the work done.

So, give yourself a deadline.

Decide when you will write those articles and schedule time on your calendar specifically for that purpose. Make an appointment with yourself and tell your staff not to schedule you for anything during that time.

When Thursday at 4PM rolls around and you see on your calendar that you have an appointment to write your weekly post, you’ll be more likely to write it.

Tell yourself that you can either write it or sit at your desk and stare at the wall for 60 minutes. Your “client” (you) has paid for that time. So no Facebook or reading or anything else.

You can also impose penalties for missing your deadlines. You might authorize your accountant to automatically send $1,000 to a politician you detest if you fail to send the accountant a copy of your completed post by the due date.

You can also reward yourself for making your deadlines. For each post your write, for example, you get to watch another episode of your favorite TV show.

But while penalties and rewards can help, just having a deadline will often be enough.

Try it. Choose something you need to do and put it on your calendar. Give yourself a deadline for getting it done. I’m betting you’ll do it, but just in case, I’ll tell the IRS to keep an eye on you.

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Starting is the key to finishing

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I’m about to start a big project, a new marketing course. I’m excited about it but the immensity of it all weighs on me.

When I think about all of the work I have to do, I feel resistance. I want to do other things instead. So, I don’t think about all that I have to do. Instead, over the last several weeks, I’ve been making notes and working on my outline.

The project isn’t something I “plan” to do, I’m already doing it.

Yesterday, I talked about how you do big things by doing lots of little things. How I wrote 1009 blog posts and created an online marketing machine not by writing 1009 posts but by writing one post and then writing another. Once I wrote the first one, it was easier to write the next one.

It turns out there is a scientific basis for this, called the Zeigarnik Effect. “Just get started, because humans have an instinctive drive to finish a task once they’ve begun it.”

The Zeigarnik Effect is “a tendency to experience automatic, intrusive thoughts about a goal that one has pursued but the pursuit of which has been interrupted. … That is, if you start working toward a goal and fail to get there, thoughts about the goal will keep popping into your mind while you are doing other things, as if to remind you to get back on track to finish reaching that goal.”

Is there something you’d like to do but find yourself procrastinating? Start it. Do something, even if it’s just five minutes. If it’s something you need to write, write just one sentence.

You can write one sentence, can’t you? Do it. Write one sentence today. Tomorrow, write another sentence. Keep going, one sentence at at a time, until it becomes a habit.

But here’s the thing. Once you have started, you probably won’t stop. You’ll write more than one sentence. You’ll work longer than five minutes. This too has been confirmed scientifically. Once we begin something and realize that things aren’t as hard or intimidating as we thought they were, we tend to continue.

Go ahead and try it. Go through your list of projects, pick one you have been putting off, and do something on it (anything) for five minutes today. Or write one sentence today.

Because starting is the key to finishing.

Need ideas for blog posts or newsletter article? This will help

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You get a lot done by consistently doing a little

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I just passed the 1000 blog post milestone. 1009 to be exact. That’s 1009 ways someone could find my blog through search engines. 1009 snippets of my wisdom that could convince a visitor to follow me. 1009 pages someone might share with their connections or link to from their blog.

It’s a body of work that brings prospective clients to my virtual door and convinces them to do business with me.

Sound good? Sure. And daunting. If you had told me a few years ago that I would write 1009 posts, I would have thought you were crazy. And yet here I am.

How do you write 1009 posts? You don’t. You write one post, and then you write another.

You get a lot done by consistently doing a little.

That’s why I say you can successfully market your practice in as little as 15 minutes a day. It’s not how much you do today necessarily, it’s what you do in the aggregate over time.

If you have some big projects you’re thinking about tackling, don’t let their immensity put you off. Any project, no matter how big, can be broken down into bite size pieces. Isn’t that how we eat an elephant?

Also, the more you do something, the better you get at it. I’d like to think I write better today than I did a few years ago. I’m also faster. I can knock out a blog post or email in just a few minutes.

What do you want to accomplish this year? Okay, hit the deck and give me 15 (minutes).

Do you know the formula for marketing your law practice? Here it is

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