The reluctant attorney marketer

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A marketing consultant recommends that solo business owners (or lawyers) allocate 4 hours per week to marketing.

You can get a lot done in 4 hours, she says.

I agree. But what if you don’t have 4 hours to spare?

And what if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t like marketing, and don’t want the expense or bother of outsourcing it?

Are you screwed? Should you give up and get a job?

No, and no.

Marketing is a lot easier than you think and you don’t have to spend 4 hours a week doing it.

You can bring in more clients with just 15 minutes of effort per day—if you are consistent. 15 minutes a day will help you get started. Do it every day and you’ll get better, faster, and more confident, and you’ll get better results, too.

You don’t need complicated or expensive tools. Email, the phone, a website, and your ability to communicate clearly are the only tools you need.

You also don’t need to talk to strangers, in case that’s something you don’t want to do. You can build your practice with the clients and prospects and professional contacts you already have.

Later, once you’ve built some momentum, you may want to put in more time or try some additional strategies. But don’t even think about that now.

Get started. Keep it simple. Put one foot in front of the other and keep at it.

Before you know it, marketing might just become one of your favorite things.

And if it doesn’t, you’ll be earning enough to buy some of your favorite things.

Here’s a good place to start

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The problem with your to do list is it’s a to do list

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I’ve been guilty of this myself. Creating a list of things I need to do each day, a collection of must-do’s and should-do’s and want-to-do’s, and rarely completely everything.

I would get the urgent stuff done but not necessarily get the most important stuff done, or even work on it.

And that was the problem.

I didn’t leave myself enough time to do “deep work” because there is a never-ending line up of other things I needed to do, and new stuff coming in every day.

I never got to the end of my daily list because my list was endless.

Productivity expert Mark Forster, author of Do it Tomorrow, which I’m currently reading, suggests a different approach. He says that instead of using an “open list” where new tasks are added as and when they come in, we use a “closed list,” meaning once we’ve made our list for the day, we add nothing to it.

If you get a call or email or remember something that needs your attention, unless it is a genuine emergency, you add it to your list for tomorrow.

This allows you to plan your day and allocate enough time to everything you have decided you will do.

Not necessarily everything you need to do or should do, everything you WILL do. And that’s an important distinction.

Your closed list is a commitment you make to doing the things on that list. It might seem like a minor difference but making a WILL DO list instead of a TO DO list forces you to decide what’s important and allocate enough time to do it.

If you’re frustrated with too much to do each day, this could be a simple way to gain some control over your day.

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If you don’t start, you can’t fail; you can’t succeed either

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What’s on your bucket list, your dream board, your list of someday/maybes? What projects have you been avoiding because they’re too big or you don’t have the time or you don’t what to do?

What would you love to do but have avoided because it’s important to you and you’re afraid you might mess up?

How about giving it a go?

If you’ve tried before and lost your way, how about trying again?

It’s not difficult. You only need to do 3 things:

(1) Do something. Anything.

Starting is the hardest part. Do something easy, something you feel almost zero resistance to doing.

Write a few ideas or questions, read an article, or set up a new file.

Focus on that first step, and nothing else.

Once you’ve taken that first step, you’ve started. You’re on your way.

(2) Take the next step.

It might be to write more notes or read another article. It might be to write a paragraph explaining to yourself what you want to do and why it’s important.

Whatever it is, the next step will be easier, because you’re not starting from scratch.

(3) Do something every day.

Make a commitment to yourself to keep going, and to do something every day.

Even 5 minutes.

But it has to be every day, or at least every work day.

Put it on your calendar or in your task or reminder app and don’t miss a day.

Some days, perhaps most days, you’ll work for just 5 minutes. Other days, you work for 30 minutes. What’s important isn’t how much time you give it but that you work on it every day.

Without fail.

If you work on it every day, your subconscious mind will understand that this is important to you and work on it when you’re doing other things. It will give you ideas, help you focus on the right things, and remind you to keep going.

Eventually, you’ll build build enough momentum to carry you through to the finish.

Even if you mess up. Even if it’s harder than you thought. Even if it takes longer than you imagined, eventually, you’ll get where you want to go.

Dale Carnegie said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

But nothing happens until you take the first step.

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A different take on Areas of Focus

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Most people who use a task management app or system separate their Areas of Focus (or Areas of Responsibility), so that when they’re working, they only see their list of work-related tasks, and when they’re not working, they see tasks or errands related to their personal life.

Many people use just two top-level categories—work and personal. Others break down their responsibilities into narrower categories.

I have 3 businesses and separate my tasks according to which business they belong to. I have a fourth category for personal matters. This works well for me but I’m always looking for different methods, especially since there is a lot of overlap between the things I do.

The other day, I watched a video by someone who separates her tasks not by job or business or other area of her life, but by the activities she performs.

To illustrate, using her activity-based approach, a practicing lawyer might categorize his or her responsibilities into these 7 areas:

  1. CREATE (blog posts, newsletters articles, podcasts, videos, social media posts, books, ads, presentations, etc.)
  2. CONNECT (interviews, networking, joint ventures, social media)
  3. LEARN (marketing, CLE, productivity, personal development, writing, etc.)
  4. MAINTAIN (admin, risk management, IT, client relations, bill paying, investing, etc.)
  5. ROUTINES (planning, processing, calendaring, training; personal routines and chores–exercise, meditation, journaling, self-care, shopping, etc.
  6. LEISURE/SPIRITUAL (rest, fun, family, miscellaneous interests, charitable, etc.)
  7. WORK (cases, client work)

This got me thinking. I’m not yet committed to changing my top-level Areas, but I am looking at using tags or labels to identify my different activities and responsibilities so I remember to schedule and do them.

I thought I’d pass this along to you in case you’d like to do the same.

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Plan 9 from Mars

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We often do it. Spend too much time planning, too little time doing.

We want something, it’s important, and our fear of failure makes our inner perfectionist raise his fussy head and insist that we iron out all the kinks before we start.

It’s usually better to just start.

Because it’s not the plan that gets us there, it’s the work.

The plan gives us a place to start. A first step, maybe two or three. It gives us something to work towards, but we still have to do the work.

Nothing happens until you do.

The best way to achieve your goals: Start before you’re ready.

Write something, call someone, or ask someone for something. Take the first step, then the second, and see where it takes you.

You’ll make mistakes, spend too much money, get sidetracked with other things, but in the end, you’ll go further, faster, because you took action instead of trying to figure it all out.

If you want more clients, your plan should be to choose a marketing strategy and get busy.

You don’t need to learn everything you can about that strategy; you don’t need to figure out what you’ll do next week or next month, or even tomorrow, you need to take the first step right now.

Any step will do.

A simple plan for marketing your legal services

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If they say it, it must be true

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Clients pay for your advice but often don’t want to hear it.

They don’t want to hear bad news, expensive or painful solutions, or what they did wrong.

But hear it they must.

So, you have a choice. You can tell them what they need to hear or you can get them to tell themselves.

Because if you say it, they can doubt it and fight you or blame you; if they say it, it must be true.

So, you present the facts, the whys and wherefores, the options and risks, the process and costs, but hold back on telling them what to do.

Let them figure that out for themselves and tell you what they want to do.

Spanish philosopher Baltasar Gracian said, “When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see.”

Remind them what they told you they wanted (or didn’t want) and ask questions. Lots of questions.

Questions about what’s important to them, about what they would think or do if something happened (or didn’t), about what they would think and how they would feel.

Ask questions and repeat their answers back to them, so they can hear what they’ve said and how it sounds.

“What you’re saying is. . . is that right?” Keep doing that until they decide. Guide them, but don’t decide for them.

If they ask what you recommend, go over what they’ve told you they want/prefer/want to avoid, and let them respond.

Sometimes, they’ll ask, “What would you do in my situation?” or “What do you recommend?”

What should you do when they ask that?

What do you think you should do?

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Tell me about yourself

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Prospective clients ask about the law, their case, their options. They ask about fees and deadlines and process. They ask about a lot of things but they rarely ask about you.

Why you became a lawyer, what you like most about what you do, what you do best and what isn’t your cup of tea.

They usually don’t ask but you should be prepared to answer questions like these in case they do.

It’s also good to have answers to these types of questions to share with prospective clients, seminar attendees, and interviewers, even if they don’t ask.

Give people a few nuggets about what makes you tick.

Tell them about a case you had that was especially difficult and what did you did to beat the odds. Reveal something about something you may be embarrassed to admit but that helped you become a better lawyer or human being. Talk about something you are proud of and want the world to know, even if it has nothing to do with practicing law.

People prefer to hire and refer and work with lawyers they know, like, and trust. A simple way to foster knowing and liking is to share some insights into who you are and why you do what you do.

Tell them about your values, your philosophies, your raison d’être.

Yes, people mostly want to know about what you can do to help them, their clients, friends, readers or listeners. But they also want to know something about the person who will do the helping.

If you’re in doubt about how to say it, tell a story. Tell them about something you did and what it meant to you or about a client you helped, how they were better off because of it, and how you feel about that.

What you do and how you do it are important. Just as important is why.

How to take a quantum leap in the growth of your practice

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Just because it’s free doesn’t mean anyone will buy

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You offer a free consultation. A free ebook, report or other download. A free seminar, or even a free introductory service.

But just because it’s free doesn’t mean you’ll get any takers. You have to sell your freebies as much as you do your paid services.

Prospective clients don’t want to load up their hard drives with useless reading material that’s little more than a sales pitch for an attorney’s paid services. Or consult with an attorney who won’t give them any meaningful advice and will only push them to sign up.

And that’s what most prospective clients think about your free offers.

It’s up to you to show them the benefits they get by downloading your report or booking an appointment.

What will they learn? What will they be better able to do? What do they get and why should they trust you?

Give them the details. And tell them how other clients have benefited by downloading your report or speaking to you. Better yet, show them testimonials from those other clients so they can hear it from them, not you.

In the eyes of a prospective client, nothing’s really “free”. You’re asking them to spend their time and/or risk making a mistake.

They’re afraid. They don’t know you. They don’t trust you. And other lawyers offer the same freebies you offer.

Ease their concerns. Show them it’s safe to give you their email address or some of their time and show them how they will better off if they do.

Because just because it’s free doesn’t mean anyone will buy.

Get more clients and increase your income: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Learn, do, teach

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You learn about marketing. You do it and get good at it.

Life is good.

Life gets even better, however, if you take what you’ve learned and teach it to your professional contacts.

Teach them some things you’ve learned about marketing professional services, from me and others.

Teach them how to identify their target market and ideal client, and why it’s important to focus.

Teach them how to get more referrals from their clients and their professional contacts.

Teach them about using content to attract more prospects and show them what they can do to help them.

Teach them about the power of staying in touch with clients and prospects and the best ways to do that.

Teach them by sharing information and by the power of your example. Tell them what you’ve done to bring in new business, repeat business, bigger cases and better clients.

Share your process, your forms and checklists. Show them how you market your practice without spending a lot of time or breaking the bank, and how they can do the same.

As you do this, they will also learn more about you—your target market and ideal client. They’ll learn how to recognize them and the best way to refer them.

As you do this, you will train a small army of new referral sources for your practice.

They’ll appreciate you. They’ll want to help you. And they’ll have more clients or customers coming in that they can refer to you.

And they will, since no other lawyer is helping them this way.

This will help you identify and approach prospective referral sources

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A better way to ask for referrals

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Asking for referrals is easy. But the way you ask can make a big difference in the results you get.

Mary Kay Ash taught her distributors the right way. She said,

“When asking for a referral, don’t ask if they know someone who wants what we’re offering. Instead, ask for someone who has a problem we can solve.”

Why is this better? Because it gets the listener to focus on their friends’ problem or desire, not your products or services.

When you ask a client this type of question, in their mind’s eye they can see their cousin who is in a bad marriage or their friend whose daughter just had a baby and might need to prepare a Will. They might know an entrepreneur who needs to incorporate or a business owner who has mentioned having trouble with his employees.

If they say they know someone, ask them to give their friend your card.

Still, this may not be right for your practice area, or it may feel too aggressive.

In that case, another way to ask is to do a “referral bypass,” and yes, that’s something I just made up.

Instead of asking for a referral to a prospective client, ask for a referral to a professional or business owner who sells to or advises people in your target market.

The kinds of people who may know people who need your services, now or in the future.

When they say they have a friend who sells insurance to medical professionals (if that’s your target market), ask for a few details and if the friend sound like someone you might like to know, ask if they would introduce you.

Or, tell them you’ll look them up and ask if it would be okay to mention their name.

Contact the referral, introduce yourself, tell them you have a mutual friend or client or colleague, and ask them to tell you more about what they do. If all goes well, at some point they’ll ask you to tell them more about what you do.

What do you say when they ask that question? How do you answer when someone asks, “What do you do?”

There’s a right way to answer that question and you can read all about it in my book, How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less.

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