Thinking small pays big

I’ve written before about the wisdom of regularly examining your expenses and ruthlessly cutting them. All those $5 or $25 per month charges may seem insignificant but they add up.

When you cut them, you not only reduce your overhead and increase your net income, you increase the overall value of your practice because one of the most important elements in the value of your practice is your cash flow.

Cutting $20 per day off your expenses will increase in net income of $600 per month. That may increase the sales value or borrowing power of your practice by five or ten times that amount.

It also frees up cash you can invest in marketing.

The same dynamic applies to increasing your income. Adding a few hundred dollars per month to your (net) income via additional fees will similarly improve your bottom line.

So, what if in addition to targeting bigger cases and clients you also paid attention to bringing in some smaller ones? All those $1000 fees also add up.

A few new small clients per month might allow you to hire more staff or buy more ads which could bring in many times what they cost. And, don’t forget that smaller clients and cases can lead to bigger ones.

You should also regularly consider your options regarding increasing your fees. A five or ten percent increase in your billing rates or fees could have a profound effect on your net income.

Don’t obsess over any of this but if you want to increase your net income, don’t ignore the little things.

Because every dollar counts.

How to increase your fees without losing clients

How to get paid more for your services

If you want to earn more than other lawyers in your field and do it more consistently and with less effort, I have some advice for you:

Target people with money.

Not the low end of the market. Not the price shoppers. Not merely people with problems you can fix but people with problems you can fix who have the money to pay for the solutions you offer.

Capice?

Hold on. In order to land this type of client, you need to persuade them that you can give them what they want.

What do they want?

They want an expert. A lawyer who specializes in problems like theirs and clients like them.

They’re willing to pay more for that lawyer because they believe a specialist has a higher degree of knowledge and experience and, more than anything else, they want a lawyer they can count on to get the job done.

They want to know that if they hire you, you will take care of the problem, without unnecessary delays or complications.

They’ve buying peace of mind, and they’re willing to pay top dollar for it.

There are many ways to convince these clients you can do the job, but the simplest way is to get referred to them.

The referring party, client or professional, essentially vouches for your expertise and reliability.

You don’t have to persuade the client you can do the job, the referring party does it for you, in great part simply because they are referring you.

So, if I were in your shoes, I’d do what I could to make referrals the core of my marketing.

And, in order to get referrals to clients with money, I’d make sure I got some clients with money and made friends with professionals who represent clients with money, so they can refer their friends and clients to me.

Because you get referrals to clients with money by targeting clients with money.

This will help you get more referrals

Maybe you need a new box

“Think different,” Apple used to say in their ads. Today, everybody tells you to “think outside the box”.

Maybe you’ve tried that. You’ve tried coming up with different ways to promote your services but you’ve run out of ideas.

Maybe you need a new box.

Instead of promoting yourself or your services, aka your box, how about promoting something else. Something you don’t promote now. Something that’s not you.

Like a book.

Write and promote a book and let the book promote your services.

With your book in hand, you can do things you may never have considered regarding your services.

Like cold calling someone to tell them about your new book and offering to send them a review copy.

Like advertising your book, maybe even at a discount (egads!)

Like setting up a table at a trade show and selling your book.

Like conducting a contest and giving away copies and cash prizes.

And other things you wouldn’t be caught dead doing as a lawyer.

As an author, you can do these things (or hire someone to do them), because these things are normal in the world of books.

It’s a different box.

So, when people hear about your book, they want to hear more about you.

Bloggers hear about your book and want to interview you.

Event planners hear that you’re an author and want you to speak at their event.

Your book gets reviewed or mentioned and people visit your website to learn more.

People read your book and want to talk to you about their case or issue.

So, there’s your new box. Write a book (it’s a lot easier than you think) and self-publish it (also easier than you think), and start promoting that sucker.

If you want some help, let me know.

Lawyers are big babies

Lawyers are cautious creatures, as they should be, but their cautious nature often prevents them from reaching their potential.

We see it all the time.

We see lawyers emulate their competition because it seems like the smart and safe approach, but you can’t stand out from the crowd when you are a part of it.

We see lawyers majoring in minor things, making incremental improvements in what they already do instead of trying big ideas that might help them achieve next-level growth.

We see lawyers settle for low hanging fruit, targeting average clients and charging average fees, instead of reaching for the sweetest fruit that’s a little bit out of reach.

We see lawyers stifling their productivity by riding the wave of perfectionism, not realizing that done is better than perfect.

We see lawyers working hard and staying busy, because that’s what’s expected of them, instead of looking for ways to achieve exceptional results with less effort.

It’s fear. Fear of failure, fear of being different, even fear of success.

Are you guilty of any of this?

You can’t change overnight but you can change. You can adopt a new mindset, one that values being different and the lessons taught by failure.

A mindset that says success doesn’t depend on the elimination of all risk but on the intelligent management of it.

A mindset that focuses on what you want instead of what you think you’re supposed to do.

Fear can be tamed. Optimism can be learned. Success is available to all.

Even lawyers.

If you’re ready to get to the next level, this is how you get there

Calculation fatigue

That’s the title of an article in this month’s Chess Life magazine. The sub-title is, “The dangers of delving too deeply into one particular variation”.

The article is an examination of a botched game by a strong player, a game that might have been awarded a brilliancy prize but for the player’s errors occasioned by following one idea too far and losing the central theme of the game.

What does this have to do with practicing law? Everything.

Because lawyers (and other very smart people) often do what this Grandmaster did. They focus too much on the details, the minutia of a case or an issue, and sometimes lose a won game.

I’ve done it. I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve done it, getting lost in researching an issue to the nth degree, perhaps, making a big deal about a small point.

You see it during oral argument when the judge or jurors eyes glaze over and you know they’re didn’t follow your last point, or no longer care.

You see it in marketing. You get bogged down in choosing better keywords or creating better funnels, months go by and thousands of dollars have been spent and you find you could have gotten better results with something simpler.

You see it in a lot of websites. A would-be client visits, hoping to learn something about his problem and what you can do to help him and is confronted by a library of information. There’s too much to read, he doesn’t know where to start, so he leaves.

(NB: keep the library but hide it and link to it for those who want more information.)

We see it in presentations where we try to make too many points and leave no stone unturned and we simply confuse the audience (and a confused mind says no).

What should we do? We should periodically stand down from business as usual, put aside all the small stuff and focus on the big picture.

The strategy, not the technique. The main argument, not the “Hail Mary” we throw in just in case.

You started practicing with a few simple ideas and you did okay. If you’ve found yourself getting off track lately, a return to fundamentals might be just what you need to reset and revitalize your practice.

It might even earn you the brilliancy prize.

The Attorney Marketing Formula can help you get back on track

It’s not how big it is. . .

I’m talking about your list, of course. Having a big one is important to many people but, like other things in life, it’s not how big it is, it’s what you do with it.

If you have a small email list but you get a lot of new clients each month from it, you’re a stud. If you’ve got a huge list but nobody signs up, well, don’t go bragging about the size of your list.

Okay, I’ve milked that analogy enough. Oops, maybe not.

Anyway, it’s a valid point. It’s not the size of your list that’s paramount, it’s how responsive it is.

You want your subscribers to read what you write, not ignore your emails because you give them too much to read or your message isn’t relevant to them.

You want a list that looks forward to hearing from you because your emails are interesting or fun to read and never boring.

You want a list that engages with you, by replying to your questions and responding to your offers.

You want a list of people who like and trust you so that when they need you (or know someone who does), they don’t hesitate to contact you or refer you.

So yeah, grow your list. But don’t obsess over size and don’t worry about having a small one.

If you want to know how to build a responsive list and get more clients with email without spending a lot of time or money, that’s what my email marketing course is all about.

Details here

What are your clients saying about you?

Wouldn’t you like to know what your clients and professional contacts tell people about you and your practice?

Are they saying good things? Accurate things? Powerful, amazing things that get people interested in working with you?

Are they telling their friends how you saved the day and rescued them from dragons, how you gave them an incredible experience and made them fall in love with you?

Are they helping people understand what you do and the kinds of problems you solve? Are they telling people why they should choose you instead of any other attorney?

What would you LIKE them to say about you?

What words would you like them to use to describe you and what you do? What stories would you like them to tell?

Take some time to think about this and write down 3 or 4 sentences, “sound bites,” or stories you would love people to share.

Once you have these, create a plan to get people to start sharing them.

One of the things on your plan should be to give your clients an experience that lives up to the amazing statements you would like them to say about you.

Give them some new stories to tell.

People are talking about you. If you’ve ever received word of mouth referrals you know that’s true.

This is a way to get a lot more of them.

More ways to get more referrals

Closing the deal

Lawyers need to be good closers, right? There are many sales techniques and scripts we can use to do that.

But most lawyers don’t use them.

Most lawyers simply deliver information to the prospective client, showing them what they do and how they can help them.

They tell them about the features and benefits of the services they offer, they tell them their options, they share some examples or stories and answer frequently asked questions.

But they don’t close.

No scripts, no techniques. At most, after they’ve presented the information, they ask the client, “What would you like to do?”

But you know what? That’s a closing question. A soft one, to be sure, but if you’ve done a good job of educating the client about what’s at stake and what you can do to help them, you probably don’t need anything else.

Are you relieved?

You can let the client sell (and close) themselves.

Besides, you don’t want clients who feel like they “got sold” or who regret signing up, do you? If they’re a good candidate for your services, they’ll make the right decision for them, which is also the right decision for you.

On the other hand, every lawyer should learn some basic sales skills, including how to close.

Because not every prospective client will do a good job of selling themselves and may need a little help from you.

And that’s really what sales is about: helping people make good decisions.

When you’re ready to take a quantum leap in your marketing. . .

5 Ways to Grow Your List

If your marketing has gotten complicated and you find yourself doing less and hating it more, it might be time to get back to basics.

Here goes:

One of your most important marketing tasks is to continually build your list of prospective clients and professional contacts. This is essential because of attrition. The list you had yesterday won’t be big enough or “ready” enough tomorrow.

You know there are many ways to build your list and, no doubt, you’ve used some of them in the past.

The question is, what are you doing now?

In case you aren’t doing much (or anything) right now and you want a place to start or re-start (or expand) your list building activities, here are 5 simple but effective options to consider.

Networking

You connect with people (prospective clients, referral sources, centers of influence) in your target market, find out what they want and how you can help them, and build a relationship with them, leading to engagements, referrals, and joint venture marketing activities.

Social media

This is “networking” done online.

You find groups of people in your target market, learn about the groups and the people in them, introduce yourself, and then take your “conversations” offline, e.g., phone, meet for coffee.

And/or, you can offer a free report or another lead magnet to people in the group and send them to your web page to opt-in to your list.

Advertising

If you have more money than time, advertising is a great way to scale up your list building and lead generation. There are many ways to do it and many experts who can advise you and help you set up and run your campaigns.

Media exposure

Find podcasts, blogs, and publications in your target market and get yourself interviewed. You can also submit articles and guest posts and comment on existing posts and articles.

Leverage existing contacts

This is the easiest and a great place to start. Ask the people who are already on your list to share your content, invite their friends or colleagues to your webinar or event, check out the content on your blog, or subscribe to your video channel or podcast.

So, there you go. A few places to start (or re-start) your list building.

Of course, having a list doesn’t mean you’re done. You need to stay in touch with the people on your list.

I recommend email.

Life is tough and then you die?

All our lives we’ve been taught to work hard, face our fears and fight for what we want. We’ve been told that nothing good comes easily.

Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Napoleon Hill said, “Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle”. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Every step. . .requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle”.

In a recent piece, even Leo Babauta at Zen Habits advocates that we “move towards what we resist”.

“Find the thing in your business or personal life that you know would be powerful for you, but that you’re resisting doing. Move toward that,” he said.

I’m confused. I thought Zen was about letting go of struggle and resistance.

I’m also confused about the notion that we should ignore what our gut is telling us. It’s there for a reason, isn’t it?

Short term, we can “feel the fear and do it anyway”. We can make the call, review the document, or work on the project for an hour, even when we really don’t want to.

But long term and big picture–your career, life decisions, relationships–shouldn’t we listen to that little voice in our head? It might be telling us we’re headed in the wrong direction.

How about a compromise?

Instead of ignoring our gut and pushing forward in the face of fear, or listening to our gut and doing nothing we fear, how about looking for a way around what we fear, a way to get where we want to go and “enjoy the journey”.

I vote for that.

Because the idea that our entire existence here is meant to be hardship and struggle doesn’t work for me.

And if we can find a way to make things easy, or at least easier, why wouldn’t we?