Bribing clients for fun and profit

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You can’t pay for referrals, but you can do the next best thing. You can “pay” people to refer subscribers to your newsletter or blog or channel.

One way to do that is to offer an incentive. Everyone who refers a new subscriber gets a mug or t-shirt or book. Or a special “invitation only” seminar you will conduct for their group.

You might combine this with a drawing. Everyone who refers a new subscriber gets entered, as does the new subscriber. You might structure it so anyone who refers 3 new subscribers gets a second entry. Or whoever refers the most new subscribers gets some other prize (assuming this is legal and ethical in your jurisdiction.)

Make it fun and you will get more subscribers, some of whom will hire you or refer you or otherwise help your practice grow.

What’s that? You don’t want to do that?

No problem. Just ask everyone on your list to share your content, forward your email, or promote the link to your sign-up page. Some people will do it without a prize or incentive, simply because they like you and want to help you (and their friends) and because you asked.

What’s that? You don’t want to do that, either?

No problem. You don’t have to ask anyone to do anything. Just make your content so good people will share it because it is good.

Provide value and your list will grow organically, and so will your practice.

But you might want to offer a mug just in case.

How to create a newsletter that brings in new clients

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What if I don’t play golf?

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Playing golf is a great way to meet other professionals and prospective clients and many lawyers do. But what if you don’t play golf and don’t want to learn?

Sorry, you’re out of luck. No clients for you!

No, there are many ways to meet prospective clients and referral sources that don’t require you to take up a sport or do anything that doesn’t appeal to you.

You can meet people at formal networking groups where professionals and business owners go to meet people, hear speakers, and exchange ideas and leads. You can also meet people informally, as you go about your regular day.

But you don’t have to do any of this. You can meet the kinds of people you want to meet through the people you already know.

Your clients and existing referral sources can introduce you to the professionals and business people they know and do business with.

Lawyers, insurance agents, financial planners, real estate brokers, of course, but also business executives and other influential people in their industry or market. If they’re consumers, they can introduce you to their friends and neighbors.

This isn’t the only way to network, but I can’t think of anything better.

You’re talking to people who know, like, and trust you and are willing to help you. They know people you would like to know, and all you have to do is ask.

But you have to help them help you. You have to tell them who you would like to meet, by name if you know it, or by occupation, business or industry, or other identifying factors.

Tell them who would like to know and ask them to introduce you, or ask them to tell their contact about your upcoming seminar, or about an article you just posted on your blog that might be helpful to them, or anything else that will connect you with the people they know.

This is a remarkably effective, highly targeted way to grow your network. And doesn’t require you to wear any funny pants.

Here’s how to get started with your clients

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Size doesn’t matter

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A tiny list of subscribers can make you a fortune. It’s true. You don’t need tens of thousands or even thousands of subscribers to your newsletter, blog, podcast, or channel.

For one thing, someone who reads or listens to your content won’t know they are among a handful. And can be as impressive as any other attorney.

Your article or post shows them you know what you’re doing. They see you understand their problem and have solutions. They hear success stories about how you’ve helped others in their industry or market. And they get a sense of what it would be like having you as their attorney.

Instead of merely telling the world the services you offer and asking them to trust in your ability to deliver results, your content proves you know what you’re doing.

You can also leverage your content to score interviews and joint marketing alliances with other professionals and influential people (who also don’t know you have very few subscribers).

You might start small but as you post more content online, you get more traffic from search and social sharing. Your list grows organically, bringing you more leads and inquires and new clients.

Regularly posting content makes you a better writer and marketer. It helps build your reputation. It helps you attract referrals from lawyers in other jurisdictions who find you from afar. And it supports your speaking, networking, advertising, and other marketing efforts.

But even if nobody finds you online, your online content give you a place to send prospects and leads you generate from other sources. It also gives your clients a place to send people they know to find out more about you.

Your content is an online brochure of sorts, that speaks to your prospects on your behalf and shows them why they should take the next step.

You might post just 5 or 10 articles on your blog and never add another. But that’s more than enough to show the world you know what you’re doing and convince them to find out more.

How to start and grow a blog that makes your phone ring

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“Of course, the old foot-in-the-door technique” (Maxwell Smart, circa 1968)

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If you want people to do something, start by asking for something easier.

Asking followers on social media to Like and share your blog post, for example, makes it more likely they will eventually be willing to sign up for your newsletter. When they subscribe, it makes it more likely that they will eventually watch a replay of your webinar. When they do that, it makes it more likely that they will contact you for a consultation.

Not just because they learned something from your post or newsletter or webinar, but because they’ve become acclimated to complying with your requests.

Start small and eventually, you can ask for—and get—something big.

The thing is, while it’s better if they actually do what you ask, it isn’t always necessary. Just asking makes it more likely that they will eventually do that or something else you request or offer.

Give your clients some of your cards and ask them to hand them out when they talk to someone with a legal question. If you want a colleague to recommend you to their clients, start out by asking them to share the link to your latest blog post.

Whether or not they do that, when you later ask them to introduce you to their accountant, they should be more open to doing that.

You can start by asking for anything. Ask people to recommend a restaurant or a good book, to tell you which of two headlines or titles they prefer, or to fill out your survey.

The more you ask, the more you (eventually) get.

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A penny for your thoughts

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Lawyers are paid to think. We solve problems, come up with ideas, figure out strategies, and put these to use for our clients and for ourselves.

We often get some of our best ideas while we’re doing other things. When we’re working on another case, driving, playing a game, listening to a (boring) lecture, or mindlessly washing dishes, our minds are busy working on other things.

But we don’t have to wait for serendipity to solve problems and generate ideas. We can make it a habit to schedule thinking time each day. I do that every day and think you should, too.

Once a day, for 5 minutes or 15 minutes, sit quietly, close your eyes, do some breathing exercises if you want to, relax and think.

Think about your life, your work, your family, your problems, your dreams.

I do this in the morning, first thing. Before coffee, when my mind isn’t terribly engaged, I sit in my comfy chair, listen to meditation music, and let my mind wander.

My thinking time helps me discover new ideas, find solutions, clarify my thoughts, remember things I need to do or fix, and when I’m done, I feel calm and centered and ready for the day.

Sometimes, I start out thinking about a specific situation. A problem I’d like to solve or avoid, a goal I’m working towards, or things I’m planning to do that day. Other times, I just sit quietly and let my mind take me where it wants me to go.

I keep paper and my phone nearby and record my thoughts and ideas. Sometimes, those ideas feel so “right,“ I stop thinking and start working on them. These often turn out to be some of my best ideas.

I’ve also found that by having regular thinking time, I’ve conditioned my mind to bring me more ideas and solutions throughout the day, while I’m doing other things.

I got the idea for this post when I was making coffee.

You’re a professional thinker. Schedule thinking time each day. Try it for a week, see what happens, and what you think about that.

I think. . . you’ll be glad you did.

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Simple dimple

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Let’s face it, marketing can be a pain in the behind. There’s a lot to learn (and keep up with), a lot to do (and/or supervise people who do them), expenses, compliance issues, and the cost of our precious time.

Which is why a lot of people hate marketing. Including me.

But we do it because of the results it delivers and the lifestyle this affords.

But there’s marketing and there’s marketing. It’s not all the same. I don’t do anything I really detest and you shouldn’t either.

Because when you force yourself to do something you hate, you resent doing it, cut corners, and get poor results. Not to mention the ill effects of constant stress.

When it comes to marketing (or anything else), it’s always better to do things you enjoy or are at least comfortable enough to continue doing. And if you can’t find strategies out of the tin that fit that description, choose something and find easier ways to do it.

For me, easy means simple. Certain methods may be more profitable, but if it’s not simple, I don’t do them. I’m not willing to pay the price for complexity.

In my practice, as a young (starving) lawyer, that meant focusing on referrals. It was simple. It meant doing good work, treating people right, and staying in touch with everyone.

I could do that. And I did.

Later, I gave my clients handouts (reports, referral cards, etc.) they could share with people, and did some other things to generate even more referrals.

But I always kept it simple.

We have more options for marketing today, but referrals should always be at the top of every lawyer’s list. Your clients and business contacts can send you all the business you can handle, and/or introduce you to people who can.

Once you’ve got referrals squared away, you can add other strategies. A content-rich website or blog and/or a newsletter are also relatively simple.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather write something once a week than go to a weekly meeting.

More good news.

You can build a very successful practice using just one or two effective strategies. Find something that’s simple and appropriate for your practice, temperament, and resources, and once you’ve chosen them, stop looking. At least for now.

Instead, get better at implementing those strategies. They may be all you need.

How to get more referrals from your clients

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More content or better content?

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The answer is yes. Because both play a part in driving traffic and leads and subscribers and clients.

But if you have to pick one, I’d recommend quality because this does the heavy lifting.

More content (properly optimized) will attract more visitors, but it matters little if those visitors don’t stick around to read your content or sign up for your offers.

Ah, so quality is the secret sauce? Don’t just tell them about your services, explain the law, tell them about their risks and options, show them how things work, and give them hope?

Is that what I’m saying?

Yes. Do this, because that’s what they came looking for, and that’s what will get them to keep reading and consider hiring you as their attorney.

But there’s something more important than the information you deliver. It’s what will convince them to take the next step.

I’m talking about you.

Because clients buy you before they buy your services.

It doesn’t matter how good your content is, how much of it you provide, or how many come to see it, if they don’t like what they see and want to hire you or find out more.

Tell them your story. Let them see your personality. Show them your photo, your bio, your accomplishments, and most of all, your voice.

Let them hear you speaking to them from the page, showing them you understand what they’re going through and want to help them. Let them see your strength, your wisdom, and your character. Let them get a sense of what it would be like working with you, having you by their side as their advisor and champion.

Because this, more than the quality of your information, is what will persuade them to take the next step.

How to create content that does most of the marketing for you

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PARA 2.0: How I organize my notes and documents (for now)

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I’ve been using the PARA method to organize my notes and documents since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. It’s simple and works well for me but a couple of weeks ago I made a small change and while it’s too early to tell, I think it might turn out to work even better.

PARA was conceived by Tiago Forte and was featured in his course, “Building a Second Brain,” which was recently released as a book.

PARA, is an acronym for 4 top-level categories or folders in a filing system, with folders for (P) Projects, (A) Areas, (R) Resources, and (A) Archives.

Projects are groups of activities you’re working on with a specific goal and deadline. Getting this year’s tax returns ready for filing, buying a new home, hiring a new clerk, for example.

Areas are distinct ongoing segments of your life, such as your practice, finances and investments, family, and health.

Resources are subjects that interest you but may not be immediately useful for one of your projects or areas. This might include general information on marketing or writing, templates and forms, or ideas for your blog or newsletter.

Archives is a catch all folder for storing completed projects or anything else that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories.

Like many people, I added two additional folders to my setup: an Inbox and a Journal (for daily notes and ideas).

So, what did I change? And why?

Instead of using PARA as my top level folders, I now use folders for each Area of my life: Personal, my business, and two additional businesses; I kept the Inbox, Archives, and Journal folders.

Each Area has 3 sub-folders: FILES, PROJECTS, and RESOURCES.

FILES are letters, receipts, contracts, pdfs, notes, and other documents related to that Area.

PROJECTS and RESOURCES for each area are the same as before, but specific to each Area.

Before, all projects were in a Projects folder. Now, each Area has its own Projects folder, as well as Files and Resources folders.

A small change, but I did it for a good reason (for me). When I’m working on a business project or digging through resources I might use for one of my businesses or in my personal life, I only want to look at Projects or Resources specific to that Area.

Separating things this way helps me focus and makes it easier to find things. I might spend most of the day in one Area and not look at any of the others. I might work on personal matters on Saturday and not look at work until the Monday.

I like this new way of organizing, but I also liked the “regular PARA setup. I don’t know which way I’ll finally settle on, or if I might find something I like even better.

Do you use PARA? Have you changed anything? What do you think about my modification?

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A better way to prioritize your day

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If you’re like most people, you plan your day by first looking at your calendar. You note upcoming meetings, appearances, and appointments and see how much time you have between these to do everything else.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The problems is, when you prioritize your time this way, you might not have enough time or energy to do other things you need to do.

I’m talking about highly leveraged tasks and projects that help you achieve your most important goals. The kinds of things that often require your complete focus but don’t get it because you’re too busy in meetings and taking care of what the day puts in front of you, and too tired afterwards.

So I want to suggest a slight change regarding how you prioritize your time. As you make your schedule, schedule your most valuable tasks first.

This is the philosophy behind “time blocking”. Scheduling blocks of time on your calendar for your most important tasks, to make sure you don’t use that time for anything else.

It’s a philosophy that says, “I’m going to schedule (and do) my most valuable tasks first, and if I have time left, I’ll schedule appointments and meetings.“

But you don’t have to time-block or work off a strict schedule to do this. You can accomplish the same thing by working from a list with your most important tasks at the top or flagged or tagged to show their priority.

Wouldn’t it be nice to show up at meetings knowing you’ve already completed your top priorities for the day?

The first step is to decide what is most important to you. What you want to be, do, or have.

The second step is to figure out what you need to do to be, do, or have that and put that on your calendar or list.

If your top priority is to bring in more clients and more income, work on that first. This will help.

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Is it worth ‘getting to know’ your clients?

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They hire you. They pay you. They’re happy with your work. But they don’t talk to you again until they have another legal issue.

They have no reason to contact you, but you have a reason to contact them.

Building relationships with your clients is one of the best ways to bring in more clients and cases, increase your income, and expand your network, with less effort or expense than anything else you could do.

Want more referrals? Stay in touch with your clients. Want to know who they know (and could introduce you to)? Stay in touch with your clients.

Have you ever signed up a client, asked them who represented them on their previous case, but they couldn’t remember? They couldn’t remember because their previous attorney didn’t stay in touch with them after they completed their case.

I’ve signed up a lot of clients who would have gone back to their previous attorney if they had remembered their name.

But don’t just stay in touch with your clients, get to know them personally. Find out about their business and personal life. They’ll tell you what you can do to help them.

If you someone needs help with a tax matter, for example, you can send them information and refer them to a tax professional they can trust. If a client tells you their business is struggling, you could introduce them to people (customers, advisors, vendors) who can help.

Things you might not know if you just did the legal work and called it a day.

Is it worth taking your valuable time to do this? As someone who built a big practice primarily through repeat business and referrals, I would say it is.

No matter what kind of practice you have, you’re in the people business. If you want to get to know more people, get to know the ones you already know a little better.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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