How to get lots of five star reviews and social media mentions

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I found out how my wife’s new dentist is getting so many testimonials and five star reviews. Yesterday, she got an email from the dentist that said:

“Would you please take a minute to let us know about your last experience with our office? You will be able to share this information with your friends via Facebook, or you may choose to keep your identity anonymous to everyone – including us.

Please answer a couple quick questions for us here:”

A link led to a survey page that prompted her to

  1. Rate the service with one to five stars for (a) Staff, (b) Facilities, and (c) Overall Experience
  2. Provide feedback by answering four questions:

1. “Did the staff take the time to listen to you?”
2. “Did the staff take the time to communicate with you?”
3. “Would you recommend our office to friends and family?”
4. “How long after your appointment time did you wait to be seen?”

There is also a box to add comments and another for suggestions.

You can then submit your review to be published anonymously, with your name, or your name and post it on Facebook. You can also keep your review private meaning it is sent to the doctor without any name attached. The patient is also prompted to refer other patients through the web site.

The dentist uses a service that automates this process for him.

So, a few thoughts come to mind:

  1. If you use a service like this (or do it yourself), you’re going to get a lot of reviews and mentions on Facebook. If you deliver great service to your clients, this could bring you a ton of new business through Facebook, through referrals, and by virtue of the positive reviews you will then be able to post on your web site.
  2. If you do this and you don’t deliver great service, you’re going to kill your practice. Of course if you don’t deliver great service, your practice is already dying; this will just speed things up.
  3. If you want to deliver great service so you can survive and prosper and get lots of positive reviews and referrals, set up something like this because it will force you to work hard to deliver great service.
  4. If you’re nervous about what your clients might say, do it in two steps. First, send clients a questionnaire and ask for feedback. Ask for permission to quote them by name, first name only, or anonymously. If they send back positive feedback, contact them again, thank them for taking the time to respond, and ask them to post their review on Facebook (or whatever). If the feedback is less than positive, apologize and ask what you need to do better.

When he was mayor of New York, the late Ed Koch, was famous for walking around town and asking people, “How am I doing?” He heard a lot of criticism and complaints from his constituents, but he also heard a lot of praise.

Your clients will help you grow your practice. All you have to do is ask.

If you want to earn more and work less, get this.

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New iPhone? Here are the apps I use and recommend

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A Facebook friend posted that they just got a new iPhone and wanted suggestions for apps. I just went through my screens and jotted down the apps I use the most and thought I would share them with you.

I’ve downloaded hundreds of apps, most of which I quickly abandoned. Some had a steep learning curve or were confusing. Some duplicated apps I already had that did the same thing, only better. And some I just didn’t like.

Of course everyone has different needs and preferences. This is just my list and it is by no means complete. Just the apps I use the most.

I’ve included a few excellent apps I don’t use that much. Dictamus is one example. You can replace your expensive dictation machine with this app. iA writer is another. I don’t do much long form writing on my iPhone. Small screen, small keyboard, old eyes. I make notes on my phone and do my writing on my laptop.

I try new apps all the time because I’m always looking for better and easier ways to do things, and because it’s fun. I like apps that are well suited for the job, and actively developed and supported. Many of my favorites are at or near the top of their categories.

I’ve organized my list by category. Please let me know (in the comments) if you use these apps, and if not, what you use instead.

Productivity

  • Evernote (Essential. Nuff said.)
  • Drafts (Great for quick notes that are uploaded to other apps (including Evernote).
  • Workflowy (I’ve been using this a lot lately; great for outlining. I use the web app mostly, and tweak my outlines on my phone; if you sign up for a free account through this link, you’ll get more free space (and so will I).
  • iA writer (Simple, distraction free writing with few options. Sync to Dropbox, iCloud, other devices.)

Business

  • Dictamus (Best dictation software; try the free version and you’ll see)
  • Jotnot Scanner Pro (I have others but mostly use this)

Utilities

  • Easy Calendar (Simple, quick to update)
  • Pocket Informant (Used this for a long time. Very capable, but more than I need; find it in Productivity)

News

  • Instapaper (Must have; anything saved for later reading, but not in Evernote, goes here)
  • Newsify (Google RSS)
  • Stitcher Radio (Live radio, podcasts)
  • Flipboard (News, social media feeds)
  • Zite (News, blog feeds, great for finding sources you don’t currently follow)
  • AppAdvice (For finding new apps and reading reviews)

Social Media

I have the native apps for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but don’t do much updating on my phone. When I do, I usually post from other apps (i.e., Drafts, Flipboard).

Other

I also have (and use) Youtube, Google, and Kindle. I have several apps for document downloading, storage, (Dropbox, etc.) and editing, but I prefer to use their desktop or web app equivalents. I listen to Pandora and Spotify. I don’t download games any more, but I do play Words With Friends.

So that’s my list. How about yours?

Let me show you how to grow your practice and your income. Check out The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Marketing takes up too much time? I wrote this post in 15 minutes

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In the interview yesterday, (replay), I said that if you (the viewer) got nothing else out of my comments, I hope you are inspired to commit 15 minutes a day to marketing. Even if all you do is sit and think, or write down ideas, or read some articles. I said that if you do that, eventually you will pick up the phone and make some calls or write something that could be considered marketing-related. Like a blog post, article, or email.

You can do a lot in 15 minutes.

I wrote this post in 15 minutes. Sure, most of my posts take longer but I have the time. You might not. That’s okay. Short posts are fine.

How do you write a blog post in 15 minutes? You start with an idea and write it down. In this case, “writing a blog post in 15 minutes”. You open up something to write in. I write my posts in Evernote. And you begin writing. Put down your thoughts. Share a couple of tips or resources. Give your opinion on something related to your area of expertise.

Three or four paragraphs and you’re done. I’m at 200 words at this point. My posts are usually in the 300 to 500 word length. Length isn’t critical, as long as you have said what you need to say.

Then, edit. Make sure the thoughts flow. Not hard, really (pauses for a sip of coffee, reads. . .). Looks pretty good. Time to publish. Copy and paste into WordPress. Add some tags and hyperlinks and I’m done for the day. Elapsed time: 14 minutes. And what do you know, this post is now just over 300 words.

If you missed the interview yesterday, you can watch the replay here. It was about an hour so you might have to watch over the next four days. If you don’t have time, just order The Attorney Marketing Formula and call it a day.

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Is Goofus or Gallant managing your law firm?

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The children’s magazine, Highlights, has a cartoon feature, Goofus and Gallant, which teaches kids the right and wrong ways to handle different social situations. Goofus is irresponsible and selfish; Gallant does the right thing. At a cross-walk, for example, Goofus ignores the elderly person while Gallant offers to help her cross the street.

If Goofus or Gallant were managing your law firm, they might illustrate the right and wrong ways to behave with Do’s and Don’ts like the following:

  • DON’T do something just because there’s money in it; you can make money at a lot of things
  • DO what you’re good at; if you aren’t good at it, you won’t be successful
  • DON’T do what everyone else does; be different–it will be easier to stand out
  • DO what you enjoy; chances are it’s something you’re good at
  • DON’T offer what people don’t need; if people don’t need what you do, what you do is a hobby
  • DO offer what people want; people buy what they want, not what they need
  • DON’T compete on price; there will always be someone who charges less
  • DO provide more value than anyone else; that’s what people pay for
  • DON’T use marketing tactics you don’t like; you’ll only do them poorly
  • DO give new marketing tactics some time; you might find you like them after all
  • DON’T try to eliminate risk; without risk there is no reward
  • DO follow the advice of successful people who have what you want
  • DON’T assume that hard work is the recipe for success; it’s just one of the ingredients
  • DO use the 80/20 principle to get a bigger return on what you do

Is Goofus managing your practice or is Gallant? Are you doing the Do’s or the Don’ts?

If things aren’t going well for you, there’s another Highlight’s feature you might want to know about. On the back cover is something called “What’s Wrong?” It is a picture of a normal scene but with several out-of-place or incorrect objects. The reader is instructed to find “what’s wrong with this picture?”

Sometimes, you might want to look at your practice and ask yourself that question.

If you want to learn essential marketing Do’s and Don’ts, you need The Attorney Marketing Formula.

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How to get your email deleted (aka, don’t do this)

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One of the email lists I subscribe to starts every email with, “Hello everyone,” and every time I read that I get a little bit annoyed.

I’m not everyone, I’m just me. I don’t care if there are 1000 people getting the same email, when you write to me, write to me. Use my name or just start writing.

This is a basic copywriting premise. Write to your reader in “me to you” language. Don’t call attention to the fact that I’m part of a list and you really don’t know who I am. Even if it is a newsletter and everyone knows it.

I open her email because she has some good things to say. But often, I delete her emails just as quickly. Why? Because her emails are ONE BIG FAT WALL OF TEXT.

Long emails are fine, as long as the content is good. But her emails make me work.

Long paragraphs with no breaks are hard to read. She should use short paragraphs. And short sentences.

Like this.

Break things up and make them visually inviting. Use bullet points and numbered lists. Let me scan the message and get the gist of it.

And then, get to the point. You don’t need to do a warm up, you’ve got my attention so tell me what you want to tell me.

The first sentence of an email is critical. It is a headline for the rest of the message. It determines whether I will read the second sentence, and beyond, so it must grab my attention by promising me a benefit or making me curious.

Of course I won’t be reading that first sentence if the subject line of the email doesn’t get my attention.

If the subject doesn’t grab me, I won’t open the email.

The subject of your email is the single most important sentence in the entire message.

One recent email from this woman had the following subject line: “Wow, another level”.

No, I don’t know what the email was about. I didn’t open it.

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Using teleconferences and audio messages to market your law practice

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I just hosted a conference call for my business partners. It was a twenty minute call with a guest speaker. We could have invited our partners to dial into the call live but in this case, we simply recorded it. We will give the playback number to our partners, but I could also download the recording and either email it or post it on a web page.

Teleconferences allow you to create the excitement of a “live event” for your clients or prospects, and recording allows you to make that event available 24/7.

Here are some uses for teleconferences:

  • Live seminars for prospective clients
  • Informational programs for clients
  • Training employees; instructing new clients
  • Creating audio brochures or reports
  • To capture testimonials
  • Creating information products you can sell or offer as bonuses

You can do one-one-interviews, group presentations with multiple speakers, or simple broadcasts, with or without caller participation.

Speakers use a different code to dial in so they can be heard. Participants can be muted, or they can be allowed to ask questions.

There are many free and paid teleconference services available. The paid services usually offer additional line capacity and features, but for most purposes, the free services work just fine. For today’s call, I used FreeConferenceCall.com, which allows up to 96 callers.

FreeConferenceCall.com has another free service for recording audio messages directly for playback. It works like voice mail, but there is no limit to the length of your recording.

I’ve used this to record introductory messages, aka “sizzle calls,” to generate interest in a product or service I was promoting, for training messages, to record live conference calls for permanent playback, and for FAQ-type messages.

You can get a single audio playback number, or one with “extensions” so the caller can press “option one for information, etc. . .”.) The free version requires callers to dial an extension to listen. There is a paid version ($5/mo.) if you want a direct dial number without an extension or pin number.

The audio recording service can be set for “playback only,” so callers can access information, or you can allow callers to leave a message. This can be used as a lead capture tool for advertised promotions.

I’ve used teleconferences and audio recordings extensively in my businesses, both the paid and free versions, and they are an excellent, low-tech way to communicate with a large number of people. If you have not used these services in your marketing, I encourage you to do so.

A good place to start: set up a free account and record a message, “Three Reasons For Hiring [Your Firm Name] for Your [Legal Issue/Engagement]“.

How have you used teleconferences and audio messages in your practice?

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How to use CLE to get new clients and new referral sources

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When it comes to continuing legal education (the mandatory kind), there are two types of attorneys:

  1. Those who take the classes only because they need the credits (98%), and
  2. Everyone else.

C’mon, be honest. If you weren’t required to do so, would you have signed up for most of the CLE classes you’ve taken over the years? How about if they were free?

Me neither.

But this is not a post about how ridiculous it is to compel professionals to do what the realities of a competitive marketplace already do. No, this is a post about how to make money with CLE.

Want to know how?

Okay, there’s a very simple way to leverage the time you spend taking CLE to grow your law practice. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you have to listen to the presenters and you have to take notes. No playing games while the audio is playing. And no multi-tasking, either. You actually have to pay attention.

Yeah, I know, I’m not doing a very good job of convincing you that this is a good thing, but it is.

So you take notes of the CLE programs you take and when you’re done, you write a one page summary of each class or each segment. Kinda like a brief. Actually, you can put it into any format you want: a summary, FAQ’s, case studies–whatever floats your boat. You can even record an audio if you want.

You with me?

The next thing you do is distribute your summaries to people who might like to see them. You can send them to people you know or you can contact people you don’t know and offer to send them. Or any combination thereof.

To whom do you send them (or offer to send them)?

  • Your competition. You lose nothing by giving this information to other lawyers in your practice area(s). They still have to take the class if they want the credit but your gesture of good will is certain to be appreciated and remembered. They next time you need a favor, some information or advice, you’ll have a ready made list of people willing to help you out. And the next time they have a conflict of interest on a case or otherwise have to refer out a matter, you might just be on their short list.
  • Other non-competitive attorneys. This is where you can really score some points. Take that tax class you just completed and slant your summary for attorneys who don’t practice tax law but need to know something about it. Summarize the changes in SSD for PI lawyers. You get the idea. By delivering value to attorneys in other practice areas, you position yourself as an expert in your area and someone worth knowing. If nothing else, your summaries give you a great excuse to contact potential referral sources and initiate a relationship.
  • Other professionals/referral sources. Financial planners, real estate, insurance, CPA’s–other professionals need to stay informed about the legal issues that affect what they do. Your summaries can spare them the time and trouble of wading through a mountain of information they don’t need and will undoubtedly earn their appreciation.
  • Prospects/clients. Obviously, you need to make the information suitable for lay people and you’ll probably want to avoid mentioning where you got it, but educating your clients and prospects about the legal issues they face and the available solutions (that you can provide, of course) is always a good strategy.

There are other ways to use your CLE notes. You can turn them into articles and blog posts, reports and ebooks, talking points for a speech or seminar, and hey, you can even use it in your actual, honest-to-goodness legal work. Imagine that.

As you can see, with a little creativity you can leverage the time you spend taking CLE classes (and writing summaries thereof) to create some simple tools you can use to grow your practice.

Now, for extra credit, here’s something else you can do: send your summaries to the author or presenter of the CLE class. They may not have any use for it but they will be pleased that someone actually paid attention and took notes. You now have a new contact, a well-regarded attorney who might just know some people you would like to meet and who might be willing to make those introductions.

And hey, they might even give you the hook up so you can submit your own CLE program. If you do, let me know how many credits I can get. I need 36 units and I’m way behind.

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If I were starting my law practice today, here’s what I would do to bring in clients

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If I were opening a law practice today, my “marketing plan” would be very different than it was when I opened my office thirty-plus years ago.

The Internet changes everything.

So. . . here’s what I would do:

I would start by setting up a web site to showcase what I do. It would be my online brochure as well as a mechanism for networking and lead generation. It would be an information hub, the center of all of my marketing activities.

My web site would be a self-hosted WordPress blog so I could update it without depending on anyone else. I would spend less than $10/yr. for a domain, and less than $10/mo. for hosting.

I would keep things simple, with a clean, professional look. I would favor quality content over bells and whistles. The look would say, “competent, confident, accomplished and approachable,” because that’s what I would want if I was looking for an attorney.

I would add articles and other content to the site, to provide value to visitors and generate search engine traffic. I would continue to add content, seeking to make my site the most comprehensive in my practice area. When someone needed an answer, everyone would point them to my site.

I would make it easy for visitors to contact me through the site and I would encourage this. I want people to ask questions. My answers bring me one step closer to an appointment and a new client. Their questions and my answers would also give me fodder for new content.

I would add testminonials and success stories to the site, providing social proof of my capabilities and add a dramatic aspect to otherwise dry material.

I would set up a lead capture system, using an autoresponder to deliver an online newsletter. I would encourage visitors to subscribe so I could stay in touch with them. Over time, I know they will become clients, provide referrals, and generate even more traffic to my site through their social media channels.

Once my hub was set up, my focus would be to drive traffic to the site and grow my list. I would start by leveraging my existing contacts, telling them about my site and the benefits of visiting. I would ask them to spread the word to the people they know.

Every piece of printed collateral, including my business cards, would include a link to my web site. Every email I sent would link to the site. Every article I wrote would include a resource box and a link to my site.

I would become active in forums and on social media. I would do some networking and speaking to meet new contacts and to stay up to date with the news in my target market.

I would look for other professionals who target my market and propose writing for each other’s blogs and newsletters. If they were physically near me, I would meet them for coffee and explore other ways we could help each other.

I would regularly email to my list, notifying them of new content on the site and sending them other content I found that I thought they might like to see. I would stay in touch with them so that I would be “in their minds and their mailboxes” when they needed my services or encountered someone who did.

I would let people know I appreciate their referrals and thank those who have provided them in the past. I would suggest other ways they could help me, i.e., forwarding my emails to their friends and contacts, promoting my seminar or other event, or introducing me to people they know that I should meet.

I would look for ways to provide added value to my list and even more so to my clients. I would give them information and advice, but not necessarily in my practice area or even anything legal.

I would smother my clients with attention, exceeding their expectations in every way possible, because I know the best way to build a law practice is with referrals from satisfied clients and other people who know, like, and trust me.

Wait. . .  the Internet doesn’t change everything. Marketing is the same today as it was thirty years ago. The Internet just makes it easier, quicker, and less expensive.

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Prioritizing tasks: what do I do first?

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Many productivity experts today avoid using the term “time management” because in truth, we cannot manage time. The only thing we can manage are our priorities.

If you have a list of tasks (“todos”) that’s longer than Joe Biden’s gag reel, you may be wondering how to prioritize that list so that you get the most important things done.

“What do I do first?” you ask.

Of course only you can answer that question (unless you’re married–just kidding, dear. . .).

The challenge is in looking at everything on your list within the context of a single day. There’s too much to do and it is overwhelming.

I’ve written before about how I use the concept of “MITs” (Most Important Tasks). Every day, I choose three MITs from my greater list and focus on those. If I get those done and I have time for more, I’ll go back to my list and choose another, but if I don’t, I’m satisfied because I completed the three most important tasks for the day.

I also wrote about how I use MITs in my Evernote for Lawyers eBook.

I first learned about this concept in “Think and Grow Rich”. Napoleon Hill tells the story of Ivy Lee who was doing some consulting work for Charles Schwab, the head of Bethlehem Steel. Schwab told Lee that the biggest problem he had was making his managers more effective in the use of their time. Lee said he would give him the solution to his problem and Schwab agreed to try the system for a few weeks and send Lee a check for what he thought the idea was worth.

Lee told Schwab that at the end of every day, his managers should write down their top six priorities for the following day. Then, they should put the list in the order of importance. The following day they should begin with the first task on the list and work on it until it was completed. Then do the second task on the list and repeat this until the end of the day. Any unfinished tasks should be put on the list for the following day.

Schwab tried the system. In a couple of weeks, he sent Lee a check for $25,000, the equivalent of $250,000 today.

Whether you choose three MITs or six top priorities, the idea is the same: select from your greater list a finite number of priorities and work on those first. You may have a large list of important tasks but importance is a relative term–some things are more important than others.

Another popular method of prioritizing tasks, which could be combined with MITs, is the method taught by Franklin-Covey. The idea is to go through your task list and assign a priority to each item:

A—urgent and important
B—important but not urgent
C—urgent but not important
D—not urgent or important

At the beginning of each day, start on your A’s first. If you get those done, move to the B’s, then the C’s.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything we need to do. We can reduce our anxiety and increase our effectiveness by prioritizing our tasks and working on the most important things first. “What is the the most important thing you need to do right now? Don’t worry about everything else.

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How to get clients if you hate networking

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I don’t like networking. It doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s not my “thing”.

I know how to do it. I’ve done it enough. I just don’t enjoy it. I’d rather talk to someone on the phone or in a one-on-one setting over a cup of coffee.

Does that make me a bad person? Does it doom me to marketing failure?

No, not at all.

Marketing is (or should be) a mechanism for you to express yourself in a natural way. Marketing isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a mold you must contort your body and soul to fit.

So if there is some aspect of marketing you don’t enjoy (and you’ve given it a fair shake), don’t do it. Life is too short to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous marketing. Or whatever.

It doesn’t matter how well others are doing with a particular strategy, or how many goo-roos are touting the latest and greatest tool or technique. You have to do what’s right for you.

If you don’t like networking–don’t do it. Speaking give you the willies? Cross it off the list. Social media got you tied in knots because you don’t want to “talk” to strangers online? Choose something else.

If you force yourself to do things you don’t enjoy, you’re not going to be very good at them anyway, so what’s the point? Go try a lot of things, pick one you like, and go nuts with it.

Okay, I know there’s someone who’s dying to ask this: “What if I’ve tried every type of marketing and I don’t like anything?”

The answer to that is simple: get a job.

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