Do you want to see something really scary?

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Lawyers sell hope and opportunity. We sell money at a discount. We sell relief.

We tell stories to show prospective clients what it will be like when they hire us to help them.

But we also tell stories of what it will be like if they don’t.

Fear is an important tool in our toolbox and we use it to motivate people to act.

We describe the worst case scenario, enumerate the potential losses, and estimate the potential expense. We dramatize this in our web copy and consultations, and it works. People sign up because they’re afraid of what might happen if they don’t.

So, use fear. Scare your prospects into taking action. You’re doing them a favor, motivating them to do something they need.

But. . . don’t overdo it.

Because if you scare them too much or too often, many people shut down.

They stop listening. They stop reading your emails. They cancel appointments.

So, how much fear is enough but not too much?

Publicly, meaning on your website, newsletter, articles or presentations, offer lots of hope and a sprinkling of fear. Let them know about potential risks or problems, share a story or two of things that went wrong for people in their situation, but don’t go into a lot of detail–or do it too often.

You want them to take the next step, not keep looking for a lawyer who offers hope and opportunity.

Privately, in a consultation or on the phone, you can give them more than a sprinkling of fear. How much, you’ll have to decide in the moment.

How much is at stake? What’s their level of sophistication? How do they feel about their current situation?

Ask lots of open-ended questions and get them talking. They usually tell you everything you need to know to get them to take the next step.

How to get more people on your list to take the next step

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I need to think about it. . .

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Ever have a prospective client tell you they’re not ready to sign up, they need “to think about it”? How do you respond?

Do you say something like, “No problem. Let me know if you have any additional questions”?

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s great posture. Don’t chase. Make them come to you.

But there’s something else you can do instead. You could find out what it is they want to think about and “handle” it.

The fact is, they’re not going to think about it. That’s just an excuse.

They need to talk to someone (and get their permission or buy-in), they don’t have the money (and may need to “find” it), they’re not convinced they need to hire an attorney (yet), or they’re not convinced they should hire YOU.

They came to you with a problem. There’s something stopping them from getting the help they need and probably want.

With a little probing, you may be able to find out what’s stopping them, address it, and get them to sign up.

Because if you let them walk, you have to assume they won’t be back.

They’ll talk themselves out of it, or get overruled. Or they’ll see a “better deal” offered by another attorney and grab it.

Take a minute to find out what they need to think about.

“Is it the fee?” Because that’s often it.

“Are you thinking you have more time?” Because they often tell themselves they do, hoping the problem will go away or they’ll find another solution.

“You told me you wanted/needed X; has that changed?” Remind them why they need your help.

But DON’T ask, “Do you need to clear this with your [spouse/boss/partner]?” because that’s something you should have clarified at the time they made the appointment. That other person should be seated next to them.

Your job is to help people. You can’t do that unless they sign up.

So, help them do that.

For lawyers: The Quantum Leap Marketing System

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Does your marketing plan need a tune-up?

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Repeat clients and referrals are your most profitable clients. Your marketing plan should include strategies for:

  • Retention (keeping clients happy, getting more of them to stick with you, and what to do to get them back if they leave)
  • Repeat business (getting existing/former clients to hire you again and/or more often)
  • Up-selling (getting more clients to “buy” your bigger packages/services)
  • Cross-selling (getting clients and prospects to buy your other services (yours and your partner’s)
  • Referrals (getting more clients, prospects, and professional contacts to refer new clients, and getting them to do it more often)

This is where you should focus most of your time and resources.

To a lesser extent, your plan should also include strategies for getting more prospective clients into your pipeline:

  • Traffic (getting more people to visit your web site/blog)
  • Opt-ins (getting more visitors to sign up for your newsletter, etc.)
  • Leads (getting more prospects to call or write or fill out a form
  • Conversions (getting more prospects to take the next step, i.e., ask questions, make an appointment, sign up)
  • Other (e.g., strategies for getting positive reviews and testimonials)

There are lots of things you can do to get more clients and increase your income.

How many of these are in your marketing plan?

If you don’t have a marketing plan, start here

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Gift cards for legal services

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Your clients can buy them for friends and relatives. Employers can buy them for employees. Business owners can give them to customers and prospects. Charities can offer them as a prize in their next raffle.

I’m talking about gift cards for your services, in specific monetary denominations or that cover the entire fee for designated services.

Or. . . for free consultations.

“Happy Birthday, Sis–use this to get your will prepared, on me”.

“I heard you want to start a business. Here’s $2500 in legal services from our good friends at The Smart Law Firm”.

“That’s a good question; I know a great lawyer you should talk to. With this card, you can get a 30-minute free consultation.”

And so on.

You can give them away yourself, perhaps in a drawing for everyone who signs up for your next event, or to thank your loyal clients.

You can promote them on your website, in your newsletter, and on social. You get to talk about your services and reinforce the idea that people trust and value you so much they hire you to help others.

You can use pre-paid credit cards, or a simple letter of authorization, and have this done in time for the holidays.

More marketing strategies than you will ever need

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Tiny habits — for the win

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I haven’t read BJ Fogg’s best selling book, Tiny Habits, but was intrigued by a quote from it:

“Celebrating a win–no matter how tiny–will quickly lead to more wins”.

Reading the sales page and some reviews told me the premise–that we can effect great change in our lives by making small changes to what we (repeatedly) do–our habits–and when we celebrate our “wins,” it leads to more of the same.

Ostensibly, that’s because it triggers the release of dopamine, causing us to crave more of the same.

We feel good so we repeat the behavior.

Which is, of course, what happens each time we check a task on our list as “done”.

What areas of your life would you like to improve? What are some tiny habits that will help you do that?

If you’re trying to improve your health, tiny habits might include drinking more water, walking 3 days a week, and eating smaller portions of food.

If you’re working on building your practice, your habits might be to write a blog post or newsletter article once a week, check in with 1 professional contact each week, and to smile more when you’re speaking to someone (on camera, etc.)

Okay. You’ve identified some habits you want to develop. How do you celebrate your wins?

A few ideas:

  • Chart them. Every time you do them successfully, note this on your calendar or in an app.
  • Congratulate yourself. Just say, “Well done” or “I did it again”.
  • Write about it in your journal.
  • Share your progress with your spouse or workout partner.

It might help to gamify it. “If I walk around the block 3 times per week for 90 days, I’ll treat myself to a new [toy of your choice].

What tiny habits do you want to develop? And how will you celebrate your wins?

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Little and often

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If you’re trying to tackle a big project and not making as much progress as you’d like, the reason may simply be that you’re trying to do too much too soon.

In his book, Do It Tomorrow, Mark Forster provides a series of fundamental productivity principles. Number three is “Little and Often,” his prescription for handling big projects or accomplishing big goals.

Forster says it’s easier to get things done if you do small parts frequently, instead of attempting to get it all done in a short period of time.

Little and often is how we learn to play a musical instrument or a new language, he points out. It’s how we develop any new skill or habit.

It works because it allows your brain to repeatedly return to and process the subject, assimilate new information and experiences and make new connections between them, providing us with new ideas and different ways to incorporate them.

I’m working on a book right now and while I have the time to power through it and get it done faster, I’m moving slowly, writing for an hour or two a day, and I know the end result will be better for it.

What are you working on right now that could benefit from “little and often”?

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Screening new clients before you take their money

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It’s one thing to “drop” a client who hasn’t paid or who has been a pain in your gluteus maximus. It’s something else to not let them sign up in the first place.

What do you do to eliminate problem clients in advance?

Do you talk to them on the phone before they’re allowed to make an appointment?

Do you do a background check? Ask for references? Do you accept new clients “by referral only”?

What do you ask at the initial interview? What red flags do you look for?

If you suspect they might be trouble, do you ask for a bigger retainer or require full payment in advance?

Do you do this yourself or do you have them talk to someone else first, e.g., your administrator?

And what, if anything, do you say or do in your marketing to filter out the bad apples?

Every practice is different. Criminal defense lawyers, we feel your pain.

Every lawyer is also different. You might be more relaxed than the firm down the street, or more careful if you’ve been burned before.

But one thing is certain.

You should think about this subject and create a plan, before the next prospective client calls.

Get the Check: Stress-Free Legal Billing and Collection

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The value of building an exceptional client experience

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It takes a lot of effort to attract good clients. It takes even more effort to keep them happy.

Is it worth it?

All of the time, energy, and money it takes to treat clients “better than they have a right to expect” is one of the best investments you can make.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Clients who receive exceptional service are far more likely to stick with you for the long term. Their lifetime value might be ten times what you earn on their first case or engagement.
  • Happy clients are easier to work with. They are less likely to cause problems, more likely to let you do your work.
  • They are more likely to be fee sensitive. You can charge more because you’re worth it, and your clients will usually pay on time.
  • Satisfied clients are willing to provide referrals. Clients who are thrilled with you go out of their way to find clients they can refer.
  • They promote your offers, share your content, and send traffic to your website.
  • And they provide testimonials and positive reviews.

As a practicing professional, you can do the minimum required to satisfy your clients or you can consistently look for ways to do more.

Most lawyers go for the first option, giving you the opportunity to stand out from the rest and build an incredibly successful, profitable and satisfying practice.

So, you tell me, is it worth it?

How to (easily) get more referrals from your clients

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Motivation follows action (not the other way around)

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YOU: I want to bring in more clients; I’ve made a list of 18 things I could do but I’m not motivated to do any of them. Do you have any advice?

ME: You’ve come to the right place, son. Pull up a chair and let me set you straight.

Now, the way I see it, you have 3 options:

Option 1: Make another list. Go find 18 more things you could do, and keep looking until you find something you want to do. There’s got to be something, right?

If not, go to option 2.

Option 2: Get out your checkbook. Pay someone to do something on your list for you, or babysit you and coach you while you do it.

If you don’t want to do that, you have option 3.

Option 3: Pick something on your list and do it anyway. Even though you don’t feel like it. Because research tells us that motivation follows action, not the other way around.

Pick something you hate the least, or pick something you hate the most so you can prove to yourself you were right, or pick something at random.

Just pick something, and start.

Do something, however small and insignificant, so you can say you started.

Because motivation follows action, not the other way around.

What will happen? Well, you might find it’s not as bad as you thought and decide to continue. You might find a way to make it easier or better. You might start to see some results, get excited, and say to yourself, “I wish I’d started this sooner.”

Or, you might hate it, in which case, you can choose something else and try that, or go back to option 1 or 2.

Those are your options. I hope this helps. I’ll put your bill in the mail.

How to create a simple marketing plan that works for you

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Where I keep things I’m afraid to throw away

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I just started doing something with my digital files and notes I wish I’d done a long time ago. I designated a place to put everything I don’t need now but might need or want someday.

I’ve set up folders and notebooks in my various apps and labeled them “Archives”.

My archives now hold:

  • Closed files
  • Inactive projects (not started, aborted, finished)
  • Notes/docs/audios/videos from old business ventures
  • Old tax, banking, and insurance docs
  • Backups of old blog posts
  • Other backups
  • Old docs/notes that could be mined for useful materials
  • Personal mementos
  • Articles, notes, pdfs that might be useful some day
  • Things I should probably throw out but don’t have time to read to make sure

The kind of stuff we used to put in storage or in the basement or attic. The kind of stuff we are unlikely to ever need but hang on to “just in case” (or because it’s required by law).

One blogger refers to his archives as “Things I’m afraid to throw away”.

Yeah, that stuff.

I used to keep most of this intermingled with everything else. After all, it’s just electrons, right? They don’t take up space?

But they do.

When we search or browse through current project materials, all of our old stuff is mixed in, distracting us and creating mental and visual clutter.

When you put them in archives, they don’t.

I moved more than 4000 Evernote notes into an archive “stack”. In G Drive, I’ve moved many gigabytes of documents, audios and videos into an archive folder. And I’m not done.

Everything is out of sight, but available. Which means all of my current materials are more accessible, easier to organize and use.

Now, about all those old photos. . .

Evernote for Lawyers ebook: get it here

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