Yesterday, I spoke with an attorney who is on the verge of burnout. I could hear it in his voice. After thirty years of practice, he’s struggling to attract clients, he’s stressed out and he doesn’t know what to do.
He tells me he’s competent and people like him when they meet him. “Put me in front of someone and they’ll sign up,” he said. He doesn’t do a lot of networking and admits he doesn’t get in front of enough people.
He has a web site and a blog for each of his five practice areas. He’s spent considerable time and money creating content for his blogs and optimizing them for search engines. Unfortunately, the clients who have contacted him through his site have had little money or were looking for free advice.
Within a couple of minutes, I could see his problem and told him what I thought. I could do that because his “ailment” is so common. Like many attorneys, he’s spread too thin and trying to do too much.
I told him he needed to slow down and get focused. Choose one practice area, the one he likes and is best at, and stick with it. His background is in business law. He doesn’t like doing divorces but that’s the kinds of clients his web site seems to be attracting so he added that to his repertoire. While you can’t ignore what the market wants, you are never a slave to it.
I also told him to specialize in the kinds of clients he represents. Some clients are better than others. They have more money and more legal work, the kind you enjoy doing, and you should concentrate on attracting them. Choose an industry or market niche where you have some knowledge and experience and own it. Everything is easier when you do.
His blogs have a lot of content but I suspect it is content created for search engines more than for real people. When you write for SEO purposes you often wind up with content that is mechanically correct but lifeless. When your content is organic, coming from your experiences with real clients, you attract similar clients who resonate with your message.
The process I recommended was one of subtraction: getting rid of most of what he was doing and starting over with a clean slate. Most of his good clients had come through referrals and that’s where they will continue to come from, once he stops trying so hard.
Marketing professional services should be a natural outgrowth of who you are. It starts with knowing what you want and giving yourself permission to have it, choosing your clients instead of letting them choose you.
Relax, do less, but do what you are, not what an SEO expert says you should be.