How much is your time really worth?

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On my walk yesterday, I heard a doctor being interviewed on the radio. He was talking about his book. It was a one-hour interview and I wondered how much income he was giving up by not seeing patients during that time. 

When I got home, I checked the books ranking and saw that he was selling a ton of books. I guessed he probably earned $500 to $1,000 for the day. 

Was that a typical day or was there a spike in sales from his appearance on the radio?

Actually, it doesn’t matter. 

The book is clearly getting him a lot of exposure, and that exposure will bring him a lot of patients, and other opportunities to be interviewed. 

Promoting his book allows him to leverage his time and earn far more than he would have earned seeing patients for an hour.  

Which is how attorneys should think about all of their marketing. 

The hour you spend with a prospective referral source, for example, might open doors to an incalculable influx of new clients. Two hours invested in writing content for your website might lead to picking up a new client every month.

No, you don’t know if what you’re doing will work, or how well. You keep doing it, trusting that some things will work well enough to make it all worthwhile. 

In fact, if you keep doing “it” (marketing) long enough and consistently enough, you may eventually reach a tipping point where your practice starts growing at an accelerated rate. 

When that happens, when you’re bringing in more business than you can handle and your income is doubling and tripling, you won’t ask yourself if all that time you spent marketing was worth it.  You’ll ask yourself why you didn’t do more of it. 

The New Year is around the corner. Do you have a  marketing plan?


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Why I turned down law review

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In law school, I was invited to join law review. I turned it down, much to the chagrin of my father who thought I was making a mistake.

I did it so I could concentrate on school and the Bar exam.

I worked for my father in law school and the plan was that I would continue doing so after I graduated. So I didn’t need to add law review to a resume to get a job.

I got good grades and passed the Bar the first time. I don’t what would have happened if I’d had the additional burden of law review eating into my schedule.

Writing for law review would certainly have improved my research and writing skills, which could have helped me as a practicing lawyer.

So, did I make a mistake?

To answer that, I have to be honest about another reason I said no: fear.

I remember thinking, What if I’m not good enough? What if I can’t handle the work?

Yes, I knew I had been recommended by a professor who apparently thought I could handle it, but it wasn’t his ego on the line.

Unfortunately, I’ll never know if I could have handled it, so to that extent, I regret turning it down.

Throughout my career, I’ve successfully navigated more than a few challenges. Once I opened my own office, for example, I had to figure out how to bring in clients.

I had to do it, so I did.

Which makes me wonder, What if I hadn’t had a job waiting for me out of law school and needed to add something like law review on a resume?

What are you not doing because you don’t have to?

How to get maximum referrals

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Big plans start with small steps

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I did a coaching call with an attorney who is planning to leave the firm where he works and open his own office. He’s been planning this for a few years. 

I remember what it feels like to open your own office and I’m excited for him. He’s got a lot of promise, and a lot planned, and I think he’s going to be very glad he made this move. 

But there was one part of his plan that bothered me and I told him so. His plan called for him to immediately open two offices, followed soon by a third, in different cities many hours driving time from each other.

He has reasons for believing he can succeed in all three locations, and I have no reason to doubt this, but I told him he should start with just one. 

One office, get it going, make it profitable, hire help, and then explore opening office number two. 

Keep it simple. 

Simple means “something you can do”. Something he can do: open one office.

With some experience in opening the first office, some cash flowing and some help helping, he will have the knowledge and wherewithal to open the second office and make it profitable in less time and with less effort.

As for marketing, we talked about his many options, but here again, I suggested that he keep it simple. Other than getting his website up and running, that means continuing to do what he’s been doing to bring in business–an email newsletter. 

It is his primary marketing method and it’s working well for him. I gave him suggestions for expanding and streamlining what he’s doing, leveraging what he already knows and does to get to the next level. Given his experience, I have no doubt that he will do exactly that.

Start where you are with what you have. Good advice for marketing and opening offices. 

Marketing online for attorneys

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How to get more clients like your best clients

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Some clients are better than others. They have more work for you, they are willing to pay higher fees for better service, they treat you well and send you referrals.

Yes?

Ah, but while they may be better, they may not be your best.

Your best clients, your “ideal” clients, match a profile that you have decided is where you want to make your mark.

Your ideal clients have values that align with yours. They have needs and wants that you are better equipped to satisfy than most attorneys because you have more experience with clients like them. They have characteristics–personality, background, lifestyle, income–similar to those that identify your other ideal clients.

Your ideal clients provide you with your highest value and you want more of them. You’ll tolerate clients who don’t fit this profile but you target prospective clients who do.

Or at least you should.

Not just because you want more of them but so that you can appeal to them more effectively in your marketing.

When you try to appeal to everyone based solely on legal need, as most attorneys do, you dilute your message and diminish your results.

If you want your best clients to find you and hire you, focus your marketing so that it speaks exclusively to them. 

Most attorneys are “an inch deep and a mile wide” in their marketing. They aren’t intentional and they don’t focus.

Don’t do that.

To build a practice comprised primarily of your best clients, figure out what your ideal clients look like and show them why you are their ideal attorney.

This will help you create a profile of your ideal client

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Instead of setting goals next year, I’m doing this

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I know you’re ready to think about your goals for next year. Ready to put pen to paper, chisel to stone. 

Before you do that, think about the goals you had for the current year. 

How’d you do?

If you’re like me, you missed a lot of things and you’re not happy about it. You set big goals because you want to accomplish big things, but you’re tired of falling short. 

It’s discouraging. It makes you want to lower your goals, or do away with them completely.

Don’t do that. You need goals. You need to have a place you want to go.

Robert Heinlein said, “In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

I agree. But next year I’m going to do something a little different.

I’m going to call them “projects” instead of goals. 

Projects don’t define us the way our goals (and “life’s purpose” or “long-term vision”) do. If we don’t meet a project’s objectives, we adjust and carry on. Or we move the project from “active” to “inactive” or “pending”.

We’re in charge of our projects, unlike goals which seem to be in charge of us. 

Projects? Goals? Yes, these are just words, but words frame our thoughts and infuse them with emotions that attach to those words. 

So, no goals next year. Just projects. 

I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  

Plan your marketing with this

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Start before you’re ready

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Endless research. Planning. Preparation. Waiting for inspiration, the killer idea, the right timing.

Enough. It’s time to do something. It’s the quickest way to find out if your idea is any good, the best way to gain feedback so you can improve it.

John Goreman said, “Success isn’t about knowing more, it’s about acting on imperfect information.”

I know, you’re afraid of failure. Wasting time, losing money, embarrassing yourself. You want to do this right, or not at all.

Hey, I go through this with just about every project. My left brain keeps reminding me of all the things that can go wrong.

I put the doubts and fears in a lockbox and get on with it.

If you don’t do that, you never find out how far you could go.

So enough with the planning. Do something. And give yourself permission to create dreck.

One thing I’ve learned: dreck can be fixed.

You can take something that’s terrible and improve it. You can even make it great. But you can’t fix something you never start.

Another thing I’ve learned is that things have a way of turning out okay. They’re usually not as bad as you feared, in fact, they’re often damn good.

Look at all of things you’ve done in your life, all the completed projects, milestones, and accomplishments.

You’ve got some, right?

You can get more.

My advice: Look at your list of ideas. Take the one that scares you most, the one that looks too big, too risky, or too expensive, and put it at the top of your list.

It’s probably the one you should start next.

Notice I said “start,” I didn’t say “do” or “complete” or “launch”.

I said start.

Take the first step and see where it takes you. If you like what you see, take another step.

One foot in front of the other until you get where you want to go.

If you get lost, you can do more research. And start again.

If getting more clients is on your list, here’s where to start

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Be happy. Get rich. Part deux.

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Last month, I shared a quote from Albert Schweitzer, who said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

“Actually, science says he’s right,” I said. “By mapping the brain to identify dopamine production they found that pleasure results in greater productivity.

I reasoned that, “When you feel good about what you’re doing, you give it more energy. You work harder and get better results.”

How it works might be open to debate. But I’m convinced that it works.

Another attorney who would tell you the same is my friend, Steve Emmert, who shared something I’d like to pass along to you:

Thanks for this note, my brother. It reminded me of something I reasoned out many years ago, before I decided to specialize in what I love doing.

I perceive that there are four kinds of jobs. Type A is one that pays you well, and you love doing it. That’s ideal. Type B makes you happy even though you aren’t getting rich. Type C doesn’t make you happy, but it makes you plenty of income. And Type D makes you neither happy nor wealthy, but it’s the best job you can get.

Many years ago – you know the story, because you told it – I knew I wasn’t happy in what I was doing. A quick check of my bank balance told me that I wasn’t starving, but I was nowhere near rich. That meant that, by default, I had a Type D job. I decided to transition to Type B, and spent plenty of time planning, then building, and then growing it. Guess what? I missed my target. I wound with a Type A career, by accident. Who knew? I mean besides Albert Schweitzer.

When he said I told his story, he was referring to the book I published based on the interview we did, wherein he shared many other pearls of marketing and practice-building wisdom.

It’s a good read, no matter what your practice area. It might be just what you need to create a Type A practice.

Read it free on Kindle Unlimited

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The thrill is gone. Here’s how to get it back

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Remember what it was like when you started practicing? Everything was new and exciting. Every day brought new challenges and opportunities.

Now? Not so much.

You’re doing okay. You know what you’re doing and you are comfortable doing it. But you’re a bit bored, the practice isn’t growing, or something feels off.

You want that spark again. You wan’t to grow but you can’t find the energy or the ideas.

Maybe I can help.

See, that excitement you felt when everything was new was primarily based on fear. And that doesn’t exist anymore. If you want to breathe new life into your practice, you need to get back to where you were when you were new.

When you didn’t know if you were going to make it. When you weren’t sure if you knew enough or were good enough or could bring in business fast enough.

When you were worried about losing everything.

Yeah, that kind of fear.

Offered for your consideration. . .

  1. Go buy some advertising. Spend more than you think you should. If you’ve never advertised before, this should put a shiver in yer timbers. If you’re a seasoned advertiser, change your messaging. Go with something daring, something that makes you swallow hard thinking about what people might say.
  2. If you can’t advertise, spend a bunch of money and hire an in-house marketing person or an outside consultant. Someone who will shake things up and force you to get out of your comfort zone.
  3. Another option: offer a new service. Either your own or partner up with another attorney and offer their services to your clients.

Something new. With an element of risk. That’s what you need to reanimate your slumbering practice.

Okay, one more: run for office.

Throw your hat in the ring. Get behind a microphone and say something half-way intelligent or completely unintelligent, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get to meet some new people and take the chance of embarrassing yourself.

That’s what I thought. That advertising thing is starting to look good, isn‘t it?

This will help you come up with a plan

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Breakage

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Retail stores allocate a percentage of their revenue for breakage, to cover losses due to damaged, defective, or stolen inventory.

They also use it as a warning signal. If they allow 2% for breakage, for example, and they have a month or a quarter with 3% breakage, they know they have a problem with something (or someone) and can look into it.

Lawyers should also have a breakage fund. Your accountant may have already set this up for you under “contingencies”.

Contingencies cover uninsured losses: claims, deductibles, lost deposits, bad checks, embezzlement, write-offs, and so on.

If you don’t already have this, consider it. Allocate, say, 1% of your net revenue, to cover contingencies. Deposit the money in a separate account, to prevent yourself from dipping into it.

If you sustain a loss, you’re covered. If you don’t, you can move the funds into savings or another account.

There’s another type of contingency fund you might consider.

Call it a “mad money” account. Or a “don’t worry so much” account.

You can use it to buy the deluxe version of something you want when you can only justify the basic version.

You can use it to buy things you want but don’t need.

You can use it to cover a loss when you buy something you never use or that breaks and can’t be returned.

Without guilt. Without giving it a second thought.

If you’re the type that beats yourself up when you make a mistake, this might be for you. If you’re typically tight-fisted about your budget, this might be for you.

Put $100 a month or $200 a month or $500 a month into a “I don’t care” account and use it to cover mistakes, flings, extravagances, and losses.

Take some chances. Live a little. Don’t worry so much about mistakes.

Breakage happens. But now, you’ve got it covered.

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No, I guess I can’t handle the truth

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I heard a radio ad for a nutritional supplement. The ad began with, “Studies show the average person needs ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day.”

I don’t know if that’s true but it doesn’t sound true. Or maybe I don’t want to believe it because there’s no way I’m going to eat ten servings of fruits and veggies every day (and I like fruits and veggies).

In marketing, you can’t depend on the truth. Your premise or promise has to have verisimilitude—the appearance of truth or, “the quality of seeming real,” according to Merriam-Webster.

If it doesn’t, it will be rejected, or require a lot more proof than you have or are prepared to offer.

The ad then compounded the problem, claiming their product supplies the nutritional equivalent of 30 servings per day. Maybe it does. But coming on the heels of their first statement, I’m still riding the “I don’t buy it” train.

What could they have done differently?

They could have said “studies show that 7 out of 10 people don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables each day,” (if that’s true) and then talked about their product.

I’d buy that.

Or they could have said, “If you’re only eating three servings of fruits and vegetables per day, studies show you’re not getting enough of the vitamins and minerals you need. . .”

I’d buy that, too.

And then, I might listen to the what they’re selling.

Tell the truth in your marketing. Unless the truth sounds unbelievable.

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