Consider offering your clients a maintenance contract

Share

We just got bids on a new heating and air conditioning system for our house. A couple of the vendors pitched us on their maintenance contracts. For $100 to $130 a year, they will come to the house three times per year to inspect everything and do minor servicing. If something needs repairing or replacing, you get that at a discount.

It’s a good deal for the consumer, although probably not necessary the first few years when everything is under warranty. I think one of the vendors was willing to give us the first year free.

It’s a good deal for the vendor because (a) it gives them first crack at getting hired for repairs, (b) it gives them the opportunity to get referrals, (c) it gives their service techs something to do when they’re not doing big jobs, and (d) it brings in revenue.

Could you do something like this? Offer your clients some kind of service or maintenance contract? If you handle small business matters or estate planning, no question this is something to consider. For other practice areas, maybe not.

A maintenance contract allows you to regularly get in front of clients and do issue spotting. You get to see if their documents need updating, and you also find out what other work they need, in their business or personal life.

If it’s something you don’t handle, you can refer it to other lawyers and other professionals (e.g., CPAs, financial planners, consultants, et. al.) who have agreed to offer discounts and other perks to these referred clients.

Clients get work done they might otherwise delay on taking care of, to their detriment. They get a good deal, too.

Also, you get face time with your clients once or twice a year which can only strengthen your relationships with them. They may not need any work themselves but you will undoubtedly get referrals.

Then there is the additional revenue this will bring to your coffers. If you have 200 clients paying you $200 a year, that’s an additional $40,000 a year, not counting any additional work or referrals.

If you don’t like the idea of charging clients for this for some reason, or your practice area doesn’t allow you to provide enough value to your clients to justify a fee, e.g., you handle personal injury only, consider offering this service to your clients at no charge.

You see them once or twice a year, or talk to them on the phone, or send them a form to fill out and then call them. If they need your services, they get to hire you at a discount and/or they get some added benefit.

If they don’t need your services but they need something else, you will refer them to high quality professionals (or businesses) with whom you have already negotiated a “special deal”.

Would a PI or criminal defense client avail themselves of this benefit if it were free? Why not give it a try and find out?

Lawyers are complicated; marketing is simple

Share

The lifetime value of a client

Share

Most lawyers invest more time and money in acquiring new clients than in retaining existing ones. And yet the cost of retaining clients is a fraction of the cost of acquiring new ones.

If you want your clients to keep coming back to you, the first thing you need to do is to realize that it’s worth making them happy.

And it is.

Your average client is worth so much more to you than what they pay you for their initial engagement. Their value is an average of all of the fees they are likely to pay you in the future, over their lifetime as a client.

Some clients won’t come back because they don’t need you again, but others will hire you frequently. Some will have small cases, others will have big ones.

And every client can send you referrals, which also count towards their average lifetime value.

Once you understand that the client who pays you $5,000 this year might contribute an average of $150,000 to your bottom line over their lifetime, you will appreciate why it is worth investing in them.

If you only look at the $5,000, you might resist the idea of spending $50 per client per month to stay in touch with clients via a newsletter, birthday cards, and small gifts. If you look at their lifetime value, however, you might look for ways to invest even more.

Consider the cost of acquiring a new client. Take everything you spent last year on anything that could be considered marketing (and don’t forget the value of your time) and divide that number by the number of new clients you signed up.

If you spent $2,000 to bring in one new client who pays you $150,000 over their lifetime, you did well. So I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to bring in new clients. Just that it’s more profitable to keep your existing clients coming back.

It’s also much easier to get existing and former clients to hire you. They already know you and trust you. You don’t have to find them or convince them that you can do the job. If they need your services and you kept them happy in the past, you don’t have to do much to get them to hire you again.

The most effective marketing strategy for any professional is to make an ongoing effort to keep their clients happy. Find out what they want and give it to them. Encourage them to tell you how you are doing and what you could improve. Find out what they expect of you and do everything you can to give them more.

Because over their lifetime, they are worth a fortune to you.

Share

The best way to close a presentation

Share

Yesterday I talked about the best ways to open a presentation. Today, I want to talk about the best way to close a presentation.

Many presentations close with a summary of the key points made during the talk. You tell the audience what you want them to remember, perhaps numbering them in some fashion, and that’s fine.

Another way to close is to tell another story that illustrates those key points.

Stories can dramatize your message and create an emotional response in the listener. People tend to remember the stories you tell long after they have forgotten the facts.

You might combine these two techniques–summarize a few key points, then tell a story that reinforces them.

Another good way to close is to say something that echoes something you said at the beginning. Finish the story you began early on, or provide another startling statistic.

One of the best ways to end a presentation, and something I do in almost every presentation I give, is to tell the audience what to do.

Tell them to fill out the paperwork. Tell them to visit a web page. Tell them to like your page. Tell them to buy.

What do you want them to do after they leave the presentation? What do you want them to do while they’re still in the room?

They’re listening to you because they want to learn something. What do you want them to do with that information?

You’re delivering this talk to gain a new client, subscriber, supporter, or follower. What should they do to take the next step?

The same idea applies to written pieces, mostly. Close with a call to action. Tell them what to do. Tell them why.

When you tell people what to do, more people will do it.

Like this:

If you’re reading this in an email, please forward it to three attorneys you know. If you’re reading this on the blog, please like, tweet, or share.

And this:

Your friends will thank you for thinking of them and how they might benefit from this information. I will appreciate you, too.

So thanks for sharing. You’re a good egg. And thanks for listening. You’ve been a great audience.

 

Share

3 sure-fire ways to start a presentation

Share

In any presentation or piece of writing, the first words spoken or written need to get your audience’s attention. Those first words are your headline. They tell people, “look at this–this is important”.

If your audience knows you and trusts you to deliver something they will value, you can jump right in and say what you want to say. That’s what I did at the start of this post.

But in other situations, you need to do more.

You can’t go wrong by promising a benefit in your headline. Tell people what they will learn or gain by reading or listening. The title of this post does that by promising to show you 3 sure-fire ways to start a presentation.

But there are other ways to get attention. Here are 3 of the best:

(1) Tell a story

Start your talk or article with a story. People like stories because they are about people and things that happen to them. They keep reading or listening to find out, “what happened next”.

Start with a story about a former client, for example. What happened to him? What did you do to help him? How did it all turn out?

(2) Make a provacative statement

Say something unusual or shocking, something people don’t know or don’t expect you to say. You might share a surprising fact, for example, or a statistic related to the subject of your talk.

If I was speaking about identify theft, for example, I might say, “Most people think identity theft means that someone has stolen your financial information. The truth is, there are five different types of identity theft”.

This gets the audience thinking about what these are, and whether they might be a victim of one of them.

(3) Ask an probing question

Questions work because they bring the reader or listener into the conversation. If you start your talk by asking, “When was the last time you updated your Will?” your audience starts thinking about the answer to that question.

Questions asked at the beginning of a presentation also make the audience continue to listen or read, to find out the answers.

With that in mind, would you like to know the best way to end a presentation? I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Share

Is working on weekends counterproductive?

Share

It’s Saturday morning (or Sunday) and you’re the only one in the office. You’ve wearing shorts and a teeshirt and haven’t shaved. That’s okay. You’re not going to see any clients today.

You put on a pot of coffee. It’s quiet. No phones ringing, no voices down the hall, and you can think. Maybe it’s too quiet, so you turn on the radio and get a background buzz of music or talk radio.

You’ve got a blizzard of files and papers on your desk. It’s been a busy week and you’re behind on a bunch of things. You push everything into one or two piles to clear some work space on the desk, and you dig in.

In a few hours, you’ve gone through most of the backlog. You’ve dictated letters and instructions to your secretary. You’ve dictated a declaration for a motion that needs to be filed next week. You’ve reviewed some older files and made notes about what needs to be done. You’ve reviewed and signed invoices that are ready to go out. You’ve signed checks to pay bills.

Finally, you filled your briefcase with files you need for court on Monday, turned off the coffee pot and radio, turned off the lights and went home.

Nicely done. It feels good. You’re looking forward to dinner and a relaxing evening with the family.

I remember this scenario well. I went through it often. Once every month or two I went to the office and got caught up and organized. I’d get a week’s worth of work done in a few hours.

But I knew guys who were in the office every weekend. They came in early and stayed late. Not just when they were prepping for trial–it was a regular work day for them. They would see clients and put in a full day.

That’s too much. You’ve got to recharge. You’ve got to have a life outside of work.

Apparently, what most of us intuitively understand has a scientific basis in fact. According to a study, “productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that there’s no point in working any more.”

Working on weekends once in awhile is fine. If you’re working every weekend, however, you might want to consider whether it’s worth it because the odds are it’s not.

Share

The one thing that made the difference

Share

In an interview yesterday I was asked what was the one thing that made the difference in my career. What was it that helped me become successful.

Back then, I said, meaning back when I was starting out and I was broke as a joke and just wanted to pay my bills, marketing made the difference.

When I learned how to bring in more clients, and better clients, everything changed.

Later, when I was making lots of money but had no time for anything but work, the key to my success as a sole practitioner was getting comfortable with delegating. This is difficult for many lawyers because we are very uncomfortable relinquishing control. But I did it and it allowed me to work only 3 days a week.

My income, went up, too, because I had more time for marketing and to improve my office’s systems.

In more recent years, the “one thing” that has made a difference for me has been passive income. When money comes in no matter what you do, even if you don’t do anything, well, it doesn’t get better than that. This allowed me to retire from the practice of law and do things I’ve always wanted to do.

So here’s my advice. If you need more money right now, study marketing. Get good at it. Make it your focus. Find something that works well for you and go “all in”.

If you have money but no time, hire more employees (or outsource) and learn how to delegate.

I know it’s hard but it gets easier. When I ran my practice, I resolved to do “only that which only I could do”. To my pleasant surprise, I found that there was very little that only I could do.

Delegate as much as possible and use the free time for more marketing, to improve your office’s work flow, and to have a life.

And if you have reached the point where you’ve got a handle on the money and the time, start thinking about what comes next. You might never want to retire or move onto to something else, and that’s okay. But knowing that you have enough cash and investments or passive income to do so, is a very good thing.

Marketing is easier when you have a plan

Share

Charging clients more because you are worth more

Share

I heard from an attorney who says he gets tongue tied speaking with prospective clients about fees and tends to lean towards charging less. Even then, he’s afraid they will think he charges too much.

I told him to write out what he would say to them if he was confident about his fees–why he charges what he does, the benefits he offers, why he’s worth more than other lawyers, and so on.

Write it, read it, contemplate it. And then post it, or a version thereof, on your website so that prospective clients will be able to read it before they ever speak to you. They will understand that you charge a bit more but you’re worth it.

You might want to try this, too. Write down all that you do for your clients, from soup to nuts. Write down all the little things you do to make their experience with you as comfortable as possible. Write down all of the things you do to help them achieve a successful outcome.

You don’t have to post all of this on your site but you do need to see the value in what you do. You need to understand why you are worth more.

But what if you don’t believe you are worth more?

Then you have work to do. Because if you want to charge higher fees than you currently charge, if you want to charge more than other lawyers charge, you have to believe that you are worth more.

If you believe it, you won’t have any trouble talking about fees. You will do it confidently. It is a selling point for you. You want clients to know that when they hire you they get incredible value for what they pay.

Charging clients more comes down to believing you are worth more.

But keep in mind that when it comes to something as abstract as fees for professional services, value is relative and perception is everything. You’re worth what clients are willing to pay and you’re willing to accept.

No more and no less.

Share

Can you be successful doing work you don’t love?

Share

Can you be successful doing work you don’t love? If you define success in material terms, I think you can. But success is not just about money. To be truly successful, you have to be happy.

And here’s the thing. When you are happy, when you love your work, financial success is much easier to achieve.

You don’t have to push yourself to get up early. Mondays are your favorite day of the week. You can’t wait until your next speaking engagement, trial, or networking event.

When you love what you do, the work is almost effortless. Problems seem smaller and easier to resolve. You don’t have to work hard to find clients, you attract them, in droves.

When you love what you do, you are happy, and when you are happy, you love what you do.

What if you don’t love your work? What if it’s just okay?

You eliminate or marginalize the things you don’t like and do more of the things you enjoy.

You can delegate, outsource, and partner. You can change practice areas, client types, and target markets. You can get rid of the marketing techniques that make your stomach churn and replace them with things that come naturally.

You can also give it time. You may learn to love your work eventually. As you hear sad stories about friends who have lost their jobs and can’t find any work, for example, you might start appreciating things you previously took for granted.

Or you might see your current situation as a stepping stone to something else.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t dwell on the negative aspects of your work. Focus on the things that make you feel good.

Think about the things that are going well and come easily to you. Think about your accomplishments and victories. Think about how good it is that you are paying your bills and that you have the time and space to turn an okay situation into something great.

Focus on the things that make you happy in your work because what you focus on grows.

Success is easier when you have a plan

Share

How to write faster than you thought possible

Share

I wrote the first draft of yesterday’s blog post in 5 minutes. I also wrote the first draft of today’s post in 5 minutes.

If you want to write faster, here’s how to do it:

STEP ONE: CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC

Choose a topic you know well. If you need to research your subject, do it before you sit down to write.

What do you want to write about? What point do you want to convey? Write down your topic.

My topic yesterday was, “How to promote an event or offer”.

STEP TWO: TURN IT INTO A QUESTION

Take the topic and turn it into a question. Why? Because when it is in question form, your subconscious mind gets to work and searches for answers. The question primes your mental pump and the words start flowing.

My question was, “How can I promote an offer or event?”

STEP THREE: WRITE DOWN 3 “SEED WORDS

Think of three words related to your topic. Whatever comes to mind. These may change as you start writing but these 3 words will help you start.

My seed words yesterday were, “Excitement,” “Urgency,” and “Repetition”. They became the three points I wrote about to answer the topic question.

STEP FOUR: WRITE NON-STOP FOR 5 MINUTES

Set a timer and write. Don’t stop to correct spelling or do any editing. Just write, as quickly as you can, until the timer goes off.

I’ve heard that most people who do this will write between 200 and 400 words in 5 minutes, and that’s what I did. When the timer sounded yesterday, I had written 269 words.

The 5 minutes flew by for me. I had more to say so I continued writing for roughly another two minutes.

STEP FIVE: EDIT

Using this method, you will probably find that your first draft is quite good and won’t require a lot of editing. I found that to be true.

I did some cutting, added a thought or two, edited, and changed the title. Total time from start to finish was around 20 minutes. That included time to make notes about what I was doing, in preparation for today’s post.

Not too shabby.

By the way, although this method is meant for writing short pieces, you could also use it to write longer pieces. Yep, in 5 minute increments.

So, how many posts, articles, and emails could you write if you use this method to write your first draft in 5 minutes?

Why not try it and find out?

Need ideas for topics? Get this 

Share

3 Keys to promoting your event or offer

Share

So you want to get people to register for your seminar, hire you for your service, or buy your new book. What should you do?

Promote it.

Promoting isn’t announcing. Announcing is merely stating the facts. Promoting has an emotional element to it. Here are 3 keys to promoting your event or offer.

(1) Get excited

If you’re not excited about what you are promoting, you can’t expect anyone else to get excited. If they’re not excited, they’re probably not going to look at what you’re offering, let alone sign up.

Start by asking yourself why you are excited about your offer. What’s new about it? What’s different? What will it allow people to do that they can’t do now?

Put your thoughts on paper or record them. Tell people why you are excited and, more importantly, make sure you sound excited.

Don’t go over the top, and don’t make up things. Just share how you feel about it.

Instead of just saying that you are excited, illustrate it. For example, you might say that as soon as you heard about this, you ran to your laptop and started writing. Or at breakfast, you couldn’t stop talking about the upcoming seminar, “just ask my wife!”

(2) Urgency

Tell people why they need to act immediately. Tell them why they should not delay.

What will they gain by taking action now? What will they lose if they don’t?

If there is limited seating or phone lines or quantities, tell them, and be specific. If you’re offering an added benefit for the first ones who respond such as preferred seating, additional bonuses, or lower pricing, tell them.

Make sure they know why they shouldn’t wait, and then tell them what to do: go here, do this, do it now.

(3) Repetition

Don’t tell them once, tell them several times.

They may not have received your email, or read it. They may have been busy with other things and forgot. They may not realize that what you are promoting is as good as you say it is, or believe you when you say you’re not sure it will be repeated.

So tell them again, and tell them in different ways.

In one version of your message, appeal to their desire for gain by emphasizing the benefits. In another message, appeal to their fear of loss by telling how many others have signed up or how many seats are left.

Get excited, use urgency and repetition to promote your event or offer and you’ll get more people signing up.

Share