Meh

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I watched the Windows 11 “reveal” video and was underwhelmed.

Some nice updates, but nothing special. Nothing game changing.

I like the new aesthetics. I like that the OS runs faster. I like the new “snap” feature. But I didn’t see anything that had the wow factor.

I wanted a killer feature. Something so big and exciting it would persuade Mac folks to consider switching to Windows.

Mac folks, you can stop laughing now.

Alas, Windows 11 doesn’t do anything I can’t already do. It won’t bring me coffee in the morning or tuck me into bed at night.

No killer feature.

What’s your killer feature? In your law practice, I mean.

What’s one thing you do that makes you stand out from other lawyers? Something that differentiates you and helps people remember you?

I’ll give you a minute to think about it.

I don’t expect it to be amazing. Just different.

It could be as simple as always having a plate of fresh-baked cookies in your waiting room.

No, that probably won’t persuade anyone to choose you as their attorney. Then again, billions of people are going to upgrade to Windows 11, including me, and their cookies aren’t even fresh.

How to differentiate yourself from other lawyers

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Why you need original content and how to create it

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Many lawyers use canned content on their website and blog, articles provided by the company hired to create the site or from third parties. The problem with canned content is:

  1. It is generic, written to appeal to “everyone” instead of the specific clients you want to attract. When you appeal to everyone, you usually appeal to no one.
  2. The information might be accurate and helpful, but it is relatively bland, uninteresting and unlikely to hold readers’ attention.
  3. There is no “you” in the content, nothing to show readers what you do or how you can help them. Readers want to know what it would be like to work with you.
  4. It’s just information; there’s nothing there to engage readers and inspire them to take the next step.
  5. It doesn’t help your SEO since the same content appears on other websites.

The solution is to create original content. Fortunately, that’s a lot easier than you might think.

Original content doesn’t mean writing something that’s never been written before, as if that were even possible. You can write about the same topics and present the same information that other attorneys write about, you just do it in your own way.

In fact, you could literally take someone else’s article, canned or otherwise, and use it as a template for you own. Change the title, the words, the order, and the length, and you should have an article that qualifies as original for SEO purposes.

Of course that doesn’t mean your article will be interesting, engaging, or make readers want to learn more about you and your services.

To do that, you need to personalize the article. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

  • Use examples from your own practice—cases, clients, situations—especially those that show you “in action,” doing your job. Quote your client, the judge, or opposing counsel. Nothing canned about that.
  • Give your opinion. Tell readers what you think, what you like, what you recommend, and why.
  • Disagree with conventional wisdom. “Other lawyers tell you X; here’s why I tell you Y.”
  • Give both sides of the argument. Explain that each case is different. Use “if/then” language to protect yourself, and invite readers to contact you to ask about their situation.
  • Add details from your personal life. Even something as simple as, “The freeways were jammed this morning and I was almost late to court.”
  • Reference your other content about the subject.
  • Invite readers to comment, share their own stories, or ask questions.

Personalized content gives readers something interesting to read, shows them who you are and how you can help them, and stimulates them to take the next step. Which is kinda the point.

How to use the content on your website to get more clients

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Busy, busy, and more busy

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I’ll make this brief, in case you’re one of those perpetually busy folks who don’t have time to read an article about the perils of unbridled busyness.

A thought or two to chew on, and then you can get back to work.

Being busy with things that “move the needle,” that is, things that help you make significant progress towards your goals, is not a bad thing. Neither is being busy doing things that make you happy or give your life meaning.

Everything else—low value tasks, not-too-important projects, admin work, should not take up a lot of your time. You need that time to do important things.

Examine the things that are keeping you busy and make them earn their place on your calendar, task list, and in your mind. If something doesn’t make the grade, off with its head.

What about things that don’t contribute a lot of value, but still need to be done?

Maybe there’s something you can do about those, too.

For each “mandatory” task, take a minute and ask yourself:

  • Does it really have to be done? It might cost you something to not do it but it might be worth the price.
  • Does it have to be done by me? If not, delegate it.
  • Does it have to be done now? If not, postpone it and examine it at a later date. It might no longer be necessary, or you might have found a better way to do it.
  • Can I get some help so I don’t have to do everything myself?
  • Can I automate it, now or for next time?
  • Is there a way to do this more quickly?
  • Is there a way to make this easier?
  • How can I get more value out of this?

Being busy may be something you want clients and others to see, because busyness is often associated with success. But if you’re busy all the time and not getting the results you want, something has to change.

I suggest you start by making everything that’s keeping you busy earn its keep. Hopefully, you’re not too busy to do that.

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Keys to effective goal setting

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Despite all that has been written about the importance of goal setting and how to do it properly, many people get it wrong. For a long time, I was one of those people.

When you follow “the rules” and are continually frustrated with your results, its easy to think, “Why bother?” and give up. Which is what I did.

Eventually, I figured out why my goals weren’t working for me and made some changes. Those changes made a world of difference and I offer them to you:

  1. Set behavior goals, not outcome goals

It’s fun think about all of the goodness that awaits us once we achieve our goals, and it’s okay to do that. It’s okay to dream. But while dreams might point us in the right direction, they don’t help us to get where we want to go.

That’s because we can’t control our results. We can only control our behavior.

You can’t control how many clients will hire you or how much they will pay you, no matter how much effort you put into marketing. You can only control what you do.

So, set goals based on your activity–the actions you will take and how often you will take them.

Instead of goals based on increased income or how many new clients you’ll bring in, for example, set goals on:

  • The number of articles, presentations, or episodes you will create
  • How often you will email your list
  • How many introductory calls or emails to professionals you want to connect with
  • How many “touching base” emails you will send to former clients

When you build goals based on your own behavior, you have nearly complete control over those goals.

  1. Not too hot, not too cold

We like to think big, don’t we? We often set goals that are too big for us to handle.

If you find yourself regularly skipping days or weeks, postponing scheduled activities, or failing to put a check mark in the done column, you’ve probably chosen an activity goal that’s too big (or otherwise not right for you).

Your goals should be doable. A stretch, just out of reach, but not so difficult you almost never reach them.

But don’t go the other direction and set goals that are too small. That’s fine when you’re getting started and want to create the habit, but eventually, you need goals that allow you to make significant progress.

  1. Short-term is better than long-term

One year goals are too far down the road to be meaningful. Choose goals for the next 90 days or less.

What are your goals for this month or this week? What is your goal for today?

We live and function in the present. Day to day, week to week. That’s when we “do”. Long-term goals are dreams and we tend to romanticize them. Short-term goals are action-oriented. We either do them or we do not and you know this almost immediately and can correct course if you need to.

  1. Simple is better

The best plans for reaching your goals are short and simple. One page, one index card, one sentence on your daily calendar.

If your plan is complicated, you’ll spend too much time tinkering with it, or making excuses for why you’re not ready. You need to do more research, check out another resource, re-write or re-record one section.

Been there. Done that.

If your plan is simple, you can’t hide behind it and you’ll be more likely to take action.

At least that’s the plan.

How to make your phone ring

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Tooting your horn when your horn needs tooting

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When you win a big case, get an award, or achieve an important milestone, don’t keep it a secret.

Tell people about that great testimonial or endorsement you received. Tell people about the results you obtained for a client.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

Tell you clients and prospects about your accomplishments, because they want to know they are dealing with a lawyer who knows what they’re doing. It validates their decision to hire you or send you referrals, or tips the balance in your favor if they haven’t yet taken that step.

Share your good news, especially if it suggests you’re growing–your new hires, new offices, new clients, new services or new practice areas.

When you write a (new) book, start a video channel, update your website, start a newsletter, or get invited to speak at a prestigious event, let everyone know.

It’s not bragging if it’s true.

And if it’s true, it can help you.

On the other hand, while your clients and business contacts like knowing they work with a lawyer who is smarter than the average bear, nobody really cares that much.

It’s nice, but they’re a lot more concerned about themselves.

So, toot your horn when your horn needs tooting, but don’t lay on the horn.

Because that can get annoying. Maybe even make some people jealous.

How much is too much tooting? I’d focus mostly on the big stuff, the stuff that moves the needle, and the stuff that directly benefits your clients and contacts.

Tell them about cases you win that make new law or receive a lot of press. Tell them about your new office, your new services, or the new content on your website.

But don’t ignore the review you got from a client who thanked you for being so supportive and working hard to help them. Or the new software you installed that makes things easier for you and your clients.

And when you toot, make sure you look good doing it.

Be brief, say you’re honored or thrilled, thank the people who need to be thanked, and move on.

Toot well, my friend.

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Choose one thing as your main thing

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Legal marketing agency executive Jay Harrington recently said, “You don’t need to be on more than one social media platform, nor do you have to do all forms of marketing”. He says, “the more you diversify your approach to marketing, the less effective your marketing may be.”

I agree.

The reason? Focus. You can’t be good at everything and it’s better to be good at one thing than so-so at a lot of things.

The other reason? Time. Many attorneys spend no more a few minutes a day on marketing. Trying to conquer more than one platform or marketing strategy means spreading themselves too thin.

Think of it this way: it’s better to have a good conversation with one person you’d like to know than to broadcast a message to thousands, most of whom aren’t listening.

Even if you have a lot of help and/or a big marketing budget, you should should still concentrate on one or two things, not everything.

Choose one social media platform. Study it and the people who are good at it, learn all you can about it, and then work that platform.

Show up there every day. Add quality content. Engage with key people in your niche. Get your name known, build your list, and use that to build your practice.

It’s far more effective for you to invest a few minutes a day on one platform than to use staff or automation to post links and comments across many.

The same is true for any kind of marketing.

Don’t diversify. Focus. Get good at blogging or advertising, speaking or writing articles, referrals or SEO, social media or podcasting.

One thing, not everything.

You can diversify later, if you want to, but if you focus and get good enough at one thing, you might not have to.

Harrington says the starting point is to ask, “Where is my audience?” Where do they hang out, what do they read, how do they spend their time?

Go where they are, get to know them, and let them get to know you.

Effective marketing starts with a plan. Here’s how to create yours.

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Why you should email often

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The other day, an entrepreneur I follow wrote and said he’s emailing daily again. He says it’s easier to email daily than to remind himself to do it occasionally.

Some readers might be turned off by a daily email, he acknowledges, but he feels it is the best way to connect and stay top-of-mind.

“I like to think of my emails like a little television show, where readers want to tune-in to see what happens next,” he says.

He also pointed out that writing daily provides him with a lot of content he can use elsewhere–on social media, in reports and handouts, blog posts and books.

Needless to say, I agree with all of the above. These are some of the reasons why I now write every week day, and why I recommend emailing at least once a week.

Not everyone will open all of your emails, and that’s fine. They regularly see your name and remember who you are and what you do. When they need a lawyer, they can quickly find your contact information or the link to your site in their inbox.

Contrast that with lawyers who only write once in awhile.

People don’t remember their name or that they signed up for their newsletter and typically let everything go to spam.

These lawyers are the ones who say, “I tried email but it didn’t work.”

Take it from me and my entrepreneur friend, email works. And emailing frequently works even better.

How to use email to get more clients and build your practice

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My latest productivity hack you might want to use

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You’ve heard me say, “Plan tomorrow before tomorrow begins”. Make a list of what you intend to do each day so you can focus on your most important tasks, instead of being distracted by whatever might come up.

Sometimes I do that in the morning. Usually I do it the night before, when things are quiet and I can think about what I want to do. The next day, I know what’s on tap and I can immediately get to work.

I get my important tasks done early in the day, which means that no matter what else I do (or don’t do) the rest of the day, every day is productive.

As you know, I write a blog post/newsletter article every weekday and have done so for many years. Writing the post doesn’t take long. I can usually crank out a first draft in a few minutes. What takes time is figuring out what I want to talk about.

And sometimes, that can take a minute.

Recently, I made a small change to my workflow that makes things easier. I choose the topic for my blog the night before.

I go through my notes and choose an idea. I jot down a line or two or some bullet points, things I want to say about the topic. I might also add a working title.

That’s all. But that’s enough, because the next day I don’t have to do any of that, I can just start writing.

I get my post done quickly and I’m on to other things.

Anyway, you can use this idea even if you don’t write a blog or newsletter. You can use it to flesh out any project or case you’re working on.

Gather up your notes and resources and make a list of tasks or steps to do the next day.

Who will you call? What will you say? What do you need to research?

When you plan and organize your day the night before, your subconscious mind works on your project or post while you sleep.

Which is why the next day, your work is easier to start and quicker to finish.

How to get more referrals without asking for referrals

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The quickest way to build your authority

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Many people assume that because you are an attorney you know what you’re doing. You’ve got a license, you’ve been vetted, you don’t have anything to prove.

Clearly, not everyone feels that way.

Your colleagues, sophisticated clients who want to hire the best of the best, business leaders who can send you referrals, promote you, and open doors for you, usually want to see more.

If you want them to see you as an authority, you can’t rely solely on your license.

To build your authority and achieve “expert” status, you typically need to do the kinds of things experts do–write for authoritative publications, speak to important groups, get invited to corporate boards, and represent top-tier clients.

You start by writing and posting authoritative information on your blog or website, along with success stories of clients you’ve helped.

You write guest articles and posts for blogs and newsletter in your target market.

You get interviewed by smaller publications, podcasts and channels, building your speaking skills, making new connections, and driving additional traffic to your website.

You teach CLE courses, serve as an arbitrator or mediator, join authoritative organizations, do charitable work and volunteer for their committees, and build your contacts and your bio.

And you use your existing contacts to meet other professionals and centers of influence in your niche, building strong relationships with key people who can help you get to the next level.

You can do these things, and you should, but it can take years for these things to bear fruit and, well, you’re in a hurry.

There is something you can do, right now, to dramatically speed up the process.

You can write a book.

Experts write books. You can, too.

You don’t have to wait years to become qualified to do it, or to be asked to do it, You can write it and self-publish it in the next few weeks.

Your book will position you as an authority. (An “author” is, by definition, an “authority”.) People will hire you and refer you and invite you to speak and write and join their group or cause because you wrote a book and other attorneys didn’t.

Writing a book is the quickest way to build your authority, and a smart way to build your practice or career.

Once you’ve written your book, promote it. Give it away, send it to everyone you know and everyone you want to know. Make sure your clients have copies for themselves and to give to friends, offer it to prospective clients, bloggers, editors, meeting planners, and influential people in your niche.

When you talk to someone who wants to know what you do and how you can help them, their clients, or their readers or listeners, stop talking and send them a copy of your book. Your book will tell them everything they need to know.

What to say when someone asks, “What do you do?”

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Would you write more often if you could do this?

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A blog post or newsletter can be brief. A few paragraphs, even a few sentences.

As long as you say something valuable or interesting.

Seth Godin and others do it. I just did it. You can, too.

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