Stop talking about yourself all the time

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Not everyone in your target market needs your services right now. Not everyone is ready to hire you. Not everyone has someone they can refer.

Someday? Sure. Just not today.

So when they talk to you or read your blog post or email, a lot of what you say goes in one ear and comes out the other.

They may hire you (again) someday. They may love you like a brother. But if they don’t need your services right now, they probably aren’t interested in hearing you endlessly talk about what you do.

What if you talked about something else once in awhile? What if instead of talking about what you do and promoting your practice, you promoted someone else?

Do you know any real estate brokers? Anyone you think highly of and openly recommend? How about promoting them?

Write a post or article about them. Interview them. Put one of their cards in the envelope when you mail invoices and attach a sticky note saying something nice about them. Put a link to their website on yours.

When you hear someone talking about buying or selling property, tell them you know a great broker. When you speak with another professional, bring up the subject: “By the way, if you have any clients looking to buy or sell property, I have a great broker I can recommend”.

You could promote any professional you know, any contractor, car dealer, insurance agent, or small business. Do you have a VA you use and like? A graphic artist, video whiz, or website developer?

They don’t need to be a client, just someone you know and trust.

Why wouldn’t you do this? If you would recommend them when anyone asks for a referral, why not recommend them before anyone asks?

The people you talk to (who don’t need your services right now) may be looking to buy or sell a home. When you bring up the subject of a good broker, they may be all ears. They’ll appreciate you for helping them find someone and remember you when they do need your services.

They’ll also appreciate you for talking about someone other than yourself.

Oh yeah, the broker you promote? They’ll appreciate the hell out of you. And maybe they’ll promote you, too.

If you want other lawyers to recommend you, get this

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When the client is ready, he will find you. Maybe.

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Over the weekend I bought a piece of software I first looked at several years ago. I wasn’t ready to buy it back then, or maybe it wasn’t ready for me, but that was then and this is now.

I got it, set it up and fooled around with it all weekend. I’m happy. Yay me.

A few thoughts.

First, I didn’t go looking for this. I happened to find it again when I was looking at something else. I got lucky and so did the developer.

I was lucky because the software will help me save time and make money.

They got lucky because I found them again and I might not have.

I wasn’t on their email list so they couldn’t stay in touch with me and sell me on their product. They couldn’t tell me about updates and new features, prompt me to watch videos to help me see how I could use it, build trust by showing me reviews, make me special offers, encourage me to tell others, and all of the other things you can do when you have clients and prospects on an email list.

Had they done that, I might have purchased this a year ago. I might have told others about it, on my blog and newsletter, and on social. I might now be ready to buy something else they offer, aka “repeat business,” or recommend their product to other people I know, aka “referrals”.

Lesson: get thee an email list and stay in touch with folks.

Second, I found the software (again) not through search but while browsing through a site that recommends software in different categories. I recognized the name as something I had looked at before and took another look.

Lesson: find sites, blogs, directories, et. al., that sell to or advise your target market(s) and do something with them.

Show them what you do and how you can help their customers, clients, subscribers and visitors. Offer to write articles for them. See if they want to interview you. Comment on their blog posts. Share their products and services and content with your subscribers.

Your clients will appreciate you for telling them about things that can improve their life and the people who sell the products and run the sites will see you as someone they should work with and promote.

Third, I didn’t find this product through search, but I might have. Not by searching their name (I didn’t remember it until I saw it) but by searching keywords related to what the software does.

Lesson: use keywords on your site(s). Don’t obsess over it, don’t pay companies exorbitant sums to work voodoo magic, just use those keywords in your content.

That’s all for now. I’ve got to get back to playing with my new toy.

Turn your site into a client magnet

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Give your clients a piggyback ride

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Some professionals host events for marketing purposes—a party, picnic, seminar, fundraiser, golf tournament, and so on. They invite their clients and prospects and encourage them to bring their friends.

It’s a form of “member get a member,” an old-school marketing strategy that still works today.

But suppose you don’t have the funds to do this, or the time to organize it? Or you don’t know how to put it all together?

You can start small and host a “get acquainted” event in your conference room. Serve some food, pass out some information, and go from there.

Or you can piggyback on someone else’s event.

One way to do that is to find a professional a business that targets your market and is holding an event and talk to them about joining forces. You might pay for half of their convention booth, for example, or pay a fee to have them pass out your free report to passersby. You might offer to speak about tax issues at their investment seminar. Tell them that in return, you’ll promote their event to your clients.

Or you can do it informally.

Perhaps a Tony Robbins event is coming to town and you plan to attend. Announce to your list that you’re going and invite them to join you. Encourage them to invite their friends or clients who might also want to attend.

The more the merrier.

There may be 3000 people at the event but your group of 20 can get together at the breaks, go to dinner together, meet and compare notes. You get to meet some new prospective clients or referral sources, without doing anything more than promoting someone else’s event that you were already planning to attend.

You could do the same thing with a golf tournament: “a bunch of us are going to play. . . come join us and invite your clients and prospects. . .” You might spice things up by offering your own prizes–whoever has the most people join them, the lowest scoring foursome, or a random drawing for your group, for example. Or give everyone who comes some kind of freebie or special offer.

Every summer, our city has a “concert in the park” series with music and food. If there’s something like this in your area, you could promote it. “Join me, it’s going to be fun! I’ll be near the hot dog stand and I’d love to see you. Bring your neighbors and come say hello.”

Keep your eyes open for events someone else is doing and think about how you can piggyback on those events. If nothing else, it gives you an opportunity to contact your clients and prospects (to tell them about the event) and keep your name in front of them.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula

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Is free a viable marketing strategy for lawyers?

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Four or five years ago a business partner bought me a magazine subscription as a gift. After a year, the subscription ran out. I didn’t renew it but I continued to get the magazine each month, and still do.

It’s no secret why the publisher continues to mail the magazine to lapsed subscribers. They earn most of their money through advertising, renting their list, and selling other products. The more “subscribers” on their rolls, the more they earn.

Business 101.

So how can you use this strategy to build your practice? What can you give away that will bring you more clients and more revenue?

How about your services?

Do you have (or could you cobble together) a free service that is likely to lead to paid services? Example: a free simple will package, because a certain percentage of those new clients will need a trust or other services.

More examples: first hour free, first collection case free, free incorporation, free consultation.

Like the magazine publisher, it’s not how much you give away, it’s how much you earn on the back end.

Onward.

Do you volunteer time on committees or to raise funds for a cause? If not, you might look into doing that, not just because you want to help the organization or cause but because you get something in return.

You get to meet people who can hire you, refer you, or introduce you. You get invited to write or speak or be interviewed, exposing you to other people’s clients, customers, and subscribers. You get to be seen in the public eye, associated with a worthy cause.

Yes?

Okay, what else can you give away?

Information. Reports, books, videos, blog posts, articles, and so on. Give them away and get traffic to your website, new social media followers and newsletter subscribers, and new clients who consume your content and sell themselves on hiring you.

Give away lots of information and get lots of traffic to your website, new social media followers and newsletter subscribers, and new clients who consume your content and sell themselves on hiring you.

They read, they like, they call. They also share with other people who need your help.

So yeah, free is a viable marketing strategy for lawyers. And yeah, that’s free advice I’m giving you.

Legal marketing made simple

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The easiest way to increase your income

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How much do you spend to acquire a new client?

If you don’t know, go through your paid bills for the last 12-18 months and tag everything marketing-related: advertising, direct mail, websites, networking groups, newsletters, software, outside services, signage, marketing assistants, and everything else.

Add it up. These are your hard costs.

Next, look at your calendar and figure out how much time you spent on marketing activities: networking, writing articles, blog posts, and emails, conducting interviews, creating and delivering presentations, meeting with referral sources, posting on social media, and so on.

Assign a dollar value to that time and add the result to your hard costs.

Take your total marketing expenses and divide by the number of new clients you brought in. The result is your average cost to acquire a new client. If a new client is worth $10,000 to you, you can make an intelligent decision about how much you’re willing to spend to acquire them.

Next, go back and look at the breakdown of your expenses. Assuming you track where new clients come from, (please say you do), you’ll be able to increase your profits by managing your marketing expenses.

If your ads are working, you might increase ad spending. If you’re wasting time with networking, you might cut down on the number of groups you belong to.

By far, the easiest way to increase your income is to focus less on acquiring new clients and more on retaining the clients you already have.

Repeat clients (and the referrals they provide) come to you at very little cost. You’ve already paid to acquire the client. From this point forward, what they pay you is nearly all profit.

Referrals are the quintessence of profitability. Here’s how to get more

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It’s time for you to come out

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I know, you didn’t go to law school to become a sales person. But guess what? That’s exactly what you are.

When a client hires you, money is paid, services are delivered—a sale takes place. You make that happen. You sell legal services.

Be proud.

You help people. You provide solutions to their problems. You remove or ameliorate their pain. You protect them, make their lives better and safer and more prosperous.

Tell people what you do. Don’t make them guess. Don’t make them ask. Tell them.

You don’t have to be pushy. You don’t have to hard sell, manipulate, or unduly frighten anyone into buying your services.

Just tell them what you can do for them.

Tell them about the problems you solve and the benefits you deliver. Tell them how you have helped other people with the same problems. Tell them what happens when they hire you. Tell them why they should hire you instead of anyone else.

Give them information. Encourage them to contact you if they have questions. Tell them what to do when they’re ready to take the next step.

If you’ve told them all this before, tell them again. Never stop telling them because you never know when someone might be ready to take that next step.

Is there more to selling legal services? Sure. There are techniques that can make the process easier for you and for the client. And you should learn some of those techniques.

But the most important part of selling your legal services is continually telling people how you can help them and that you’re only a click or a phone call away.

Learn the basics of attorney marketing

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If marketing was easier would you do it more?

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Marketing is hard. I don’t have the time. It takes too long to get results. I don’t like [marketing activity]. I’m not good at [marketing activity]. I tried [marketing activity] and it didn’t work. I already do [marketing activity]; I don’t need to do anything else. I’m not a sales person.  I don’t need marketing, I get clients by being a good lawyer.

Wow. You really don’t like marketing.

And yet. . . you want to get more clients and increase your income.

You want to buy nice things and send your kids to good schools. And maybe not work so hard so you can stay healthy and live longer.

Remember free time? You had it once for about two weeks before you started law school. Yeah, some more of that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

And let’s not forget retirement. Crazy, I know. But still. . .

Let’s cut to the chase. You want money and the time to enjoy it. You can have them. Through marketing. That’s how I did it. That’s how you can do it.

What’s that? You say marketing is hard? You don’t like it? You don’t have the time?

Enough with the whining.

Okay, let’s make a deal. If I can show you how to make marketing a little easier, would you agree to do some?

Sweet.

Let’s start with something simple. Like sending birthday cards to your clients. You know, the people who help pay your mortgage?

Yeah, those people.

You already do that? Well look at you, you sly devil. You’re marketing. I won’t tell anyone. It’ll be our secret.

Just to make sure, you sign the cards yourself, right? In blue ink so the client knows it’s a real signature? Maybe add a personal note, like, “How did Joey do on that test?” so they know you’re thinking about them and actually wrote the card yourself?

I know, it’s hard. You might have to sign three or four cards a day. Risk getting paper cuts and glue poisoning from licking all those stamps. Yeah, use a real postage stamp, not the meter. And hand-write the name and address on the envelope. No labels.

The personal touch. Showing your clients you know who they are and you appreciate them.

Yes, that’s marketing. A few minutes a day. But oh so powerful.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula

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You learn to practice law by doing it

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In law school, you learn the law, not how to practice law. You learn that by doing it.

Studying, answering questions under the glaring eye of your professor, and taking tests are important. But only when you start clerking do you begin to learn what it means to practice law.

You watch other lawyers negotiate, argue motions, and take depositions. You draft documents, talk to adjusters, and sit with clients and fill out forms. You immerse yourself in the environment of a real-world practice and do many of the things that lawyers do.

When you pass the bar and take your first job as a lawyer, you do more and learn more. If you open your own practice and have to sink or swim, that’s when you learn the most.

Learning how to practice law is a process and it takes place over time. The same is true of learning how to manage and grow your practice. Unfortunately, not much (or anything) about that is taught in law school. You won’t learn much from clerking, either.

Hiring and supervising employees, billing, insurance, compliance, and 101 other things, but especially marketing, without which you won’t have a practice, all require time to learn and become proficient. It’s up to you to learn it on your own.

And yet, most lawyers don’t take the time to learn these things. They dive in and see what happens.

That’s how I did it. There were no courses on marketing when I began practicing. Very few books. No consultants, at least none that I could afford. I didn’t know any lawyers who were willing to take me under their wing and teach me what to do.

I learned marketing by doing it. And you know what? That works, too.

Today, there are more options that make things easier. Lots of books and courses. You can learn how to set up your own website by watching youtube videos and complete everything in less than an hour. You can hire people to teach you what to do and to do much of it for you.

But you have to do something.

Don’t let a lack of experience stop you. As soon as you know enough to start, start. You’ll figure out the rest as you go along.

Don’t let fear stop you. As Mark Twain said, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.”

But do something. Because you learn how to practice law by doing it.

Start your marketing with the Attorney Marketing Formula

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Follow up until they buy or die

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How many times do you follow up with a prospective client? Over what period of time? What do you say, what do you do, what do you offer?

Do you call, to see if they got the information you sent them? Do you send a letter or email to follow-up after a free consultation? Do you send a note to thank them for attending your seminar?

And what do you do after that?

Following-up is different from staying in touch. Follow-up is planned in advance, a natural series of “next steps” after initial contact. When you follow-up with a prospective client (who might be a former client or even an existing client with another matter), you fan the flames of their need for help and guide them towards taking the next step.

Decide in advance how you will follow-up so you can execute without thought or delay.

Work out all of the steps. What will you say or do, what will you send them, how often?

Someone emails you or fills out the form on your website, asking questions. How will you respond? What will you invite them to do? How many times will you follow-up? Over what period of time?

Someone attends a seminar but doesn’t make an appointment. How will you follow-up? What will you offer? If they don’t respond, what will you do next?

Someone needs help but they have a small window of time. They need to hire an attorney this week or this month or it will be too late. You need to do more follow-ups in less time and you need to be more urgent. What will you say? What will you do?

Figure it out. Have the letters written, ready to send, before the next prospective client contacts you.

At some point, follow-up will blend into staying in touch. The initial courtship will have run its course and the client has either hired you or they have not. You shift gears from follow-up to staying in touch, but you don’t stop. You never stop.

You keep your name in front of them, reminding them that you’re still available to help them with their problem or with something else. You follow-up and you stay in touch until they buy or they die.

Because you never know when someone will finally be ready to take the next step.

Get more prospective clients so you can turn them into actual client. This will help 

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You get what you pay for and so do your clients

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I buy a lot of books. I also download a lot of free Kindle books. Many free books are excellent. Most are not. And since you “pay” for books not just with money but with the time it takes to read them, paid books are usually a better value.

There are exceptions. Some great books are free because they are on a promotion. Some paid books are over-priced because you’re paying a premium for the author’s celebrity or the higher costs associated with being published by a major publisher.

But when it comes to books, you generally get what you pay for.

How about when it comes to hiring a lawyer?

Many clients believe that better lawyers charge higher fees because they’re better lawyers. They have more experience, greater skills, and deliver better results. Clients are willing to pay more for that experience and those results, and fear they won’t get them if they hire a lawyer who charges (a lot) less.

Sure, many clients don’t appreciate this distinction and will opt for the lowest fees. But unless you operate a “discount” law firm (and you shouldn’t), you should avoid these kinds of clients.

Some lawyers take advantage of the “perceived value” concept and charge more than they’re worth. But I find that more lawyers charge less than they’re worth, less than the market will bear.

Most lawyers don’t raise their fees, or raise them high enough or often enough, fearing they won’t be able to compete. When most of your competition does the same thing, it drags down everyone’s fees.

Most lawyers charge what other lawyers charge because they’re doing what everyone else does. They offer the same services and do nothing to give clients a reason to choose them instead of their competition.

Show prospective clients that you are better or different and you won’t have any competition. You’ll be able to charge what you’re worth.

It’s called differentiation and it’s the key to marketing your services.

Here’s how to differentiate yourself

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