A critical marketing skill

Share

Marketing requires a number of skills. One of the most important and valuable is the skill of being able to look at things the way prospective clients and others do.

Most people could use a little practice in this area.

This morning, on my walk, I saw a sign pointing to an open house. The name of the agent was on the sign, along with her phone number. I noticed that the phone number had a 714 area code, whereas the open house, where I am, is in the 949 area code.

I’m pretty sure the agent doesn’t live in the 714 area. It’s too far. My guess is that the agent used to live in 714 but moved here and kept her number. A lot of people do.

Another possibility is that the property is a “one-off” listing she’s handling in my area.

Here’s the thing.

When prospective clients, buyers or sellers, see her 714 number, some of them might think, even on a subconscious level, that she’s not the best agent for the job because she’s not local.

That’s just silly, isn’t it? Most people won’t even notice the area code. Most of those who do notice won’t care.

But some will, and instead of putting aside their doubts (or asking her about it), they’ll go with another agent.

This won’t happen often. It really won’t. But if it only happens once every other year and you factor in the loss of repeat sales and referrals, over the next ten years she could lose a bundle.

I may sound a bit nutty for thinking this, but if you don’t at least think about how people might interpret your actions and messages, you’re not thinking like a marketer.

Nutty people buy and sell houses. And hire attorneys.

It’s important to consider things like this. As you create marketing documents, update your website, talk to referral sources and prospective clients, speak, write, email, or do anything else to communicate with the world, before you click the send button or open your mouth, take a moment to do a “safety check”.

Think about how people might interpret your message. Think about the words you use and the context where your message will appear. Consider the details and nuances.

Because if you don’t, somebody else will.

Make your website great again

Share

What do you want, exactly?

Share

In order to figure out what you want in your practice or any area of your life, it helps to first figure out what you don’t want.

Try this exercise:

Sit down in a quiet place and write, as quickly as you can, a list of everything you don’t want in your professional life. The things that take too much time, the things you hate, the things you don’t hate but would prefer not to do.

Don’t editorialize (or whine), just get it out and write it down.

It might be litigation, divorce, small cases, big cases, employees, partners, working for someone else, going to networking events, business travel, high rent, long hours, billing, collecting fees, unhappy clients, stress, too little income. . .

Don’t hold back. Write it all down. Nobody will see your list but you.

Keep writing until you can’t think of anything else.

Look at your list. It feels good to unload all of your burdens, even if it’s only on a piece of paper.

But you might also feel angry, as you see, in black and white, all of the things you have brought into your life and allowed to continue. Things that cause you anxiety, stress, time, and money.

Acknowledge those feelings and resolve to change the things that are causing you to have them.

You probably can’t eliminate all of the things you don’t like, or even most of them, at least anytime soon. But you can eliminate some of them and make some of them better.

Look at your list and decide what needs to go and what needs to change. Then, take a few minutes and make a new list. A list of things you want, based on your first list.

If you said you don’t want to handle divorce any longer, what do you want to handle instead? If you said you don’t want to chase clients to pay their bills, write down the way you want things to be.

Then, add to your “want” list anything else that comes to mind. Let your imagination soar. Do you want to work a 5-hour day and simultaneously double your income? Write that down. (NB: you can do that, as other lawyers and I can attest).

This is an important exercise because clarity is the first step towards change.

Plan, do, review. Start with this

Share

The number one reason most people fail

Share

Gary Keller, of Keller-Williams Real Estate and co-author of The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, said, “The number one reason most people fail is because they are unwilling to endure the monotony of success.”

Starting a new project or initiative is exciting. A few weeks later, when you’ve settled into a routine, the excitement will wear off.

Not much is happening. You’re bored. Going through the motions. Easily distracted. Ready to quit.

You’re being tested. Will you continue? Will you endure the monotony? Will you have faith and stay the course?

Success doesn’t happen all at once. It happens incrementally, sequentially, little by little. As you do the activities over and over again, they start to compound. Before you know it, you’ve reached a milestone.

You need to know that this is how it works before you begin.

If you’ve chosen the right goals, and the right activities to reach those goals, you will eventually reach them. It might happen slowly. You might not see it happening. You might get discouraged.

How do you keep yourself from quitting?

First, think about your goal and what it will mean to you when you achieve it. Meditate on it. Drink in the feeling. Understand that it may be hard but it is worth it.

Then, think about what it will be like if you don’t achieve the goal. Imagine how you will feel knowing you gave up.

Thomas Edison famously said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Don’t let that be you.

Marketing legal services is easier when you know the formula

Share

Why don’t you charge more?

Share

Some lawyers charge $1000 per hour. Some charge even more. Some charge flat fees and can earn $20,000 in a day. Some get bonuses or a piece of the action and earn more on one deal or one case than many lawyers earn in two years.

How about you?

How much do you charge? Why don’t you charge more?

You’re worth what clients are willing to pay you (and you are willing to accept). If you would like to charge more but don’t think clients will pay it, stop and think for a minute: what if you’re wrong? What if you could charge more? A lot more. And get it, all day every day.

What would that do for you?

Would you be able to get rid of low-paying clients and work you don’t enjoy?

Would you be able to hire more employees and provide your clients with more value, allowing you to further increase your revenue?

Would you be able to improve your marketing and bring in better clients or bigger cases?

Would you be able to move to a better office that’s more appealing to higher-end clients?

Would you be able to open a second office and leverage a client base in another market?

Would you be able to upgrade your wardrobe and automobile, network with better prospects and professionals, and thus take your practice to an even higher level?

Would you have more time available, to improve your health, to be with family, and to do the things you’d like to do to build your career instead of grinding it out in the trenches all day?

Lots of things you could do if you were earning more. The question is, what do you have to do to earn it? How could you charge (a lot) more than you charge right now?

Make a list of ten things you can do that would allow you to charge higher fees or otherwise significantly increase your revenue. Narrow the list down to your top three ideas. Then, choose your best idea and get to work on it. Work on it every day. Make it your focus and keep working on it until you get it done.

When you’ve tripled your income, send me $100,000 as my fee for helping you get there.

That’s the way it works, bub. You get paid more when you’re worth more. And you ask for it.

One way to earn more is to improve your cash flow

Share

Who’s coming to your party?

Share

If you were opening your practice this year you might hold a grand opening. Invite friends and business contacts to come celebrate with you and get some information they can share with their friends and clients and business contacts. It’s a great way to generate some momentum, make some new contacts, and take the first step toward signing up a few new clients.

Well, guess what? It’s not too late. You can hold a grand re-opening party and accomplish the same thing. Only now, it will be better because you have actual clients and referral sources you can invite. You can use the occasion to introduce your guests to other guests, helping them make some new contacts and get some new business.

You can also use your grand re-opening to make some new contacts.

In addition to inviting people you know, invite people you don’t know but would like to. Invite prospective clients, professionals, business owners, and other centers of influence in your niche market or community. Invite people who can hire you or recommend you. Invite people who are influential with a big network of contacts you’d like to target.

It’s your party; you get to make the guest list.

Imagine what your practice will be like by next year at this time if you invite 50 centers of influence to your party this year.

Everyone loves a party. Start making your list.

Once you meet them, here’s what to do with them

Share

Different vs. better

Share

You often hear me urge you to tell prospective clients (et. al.) how you are “better or different” from other lawyers who do what you do.

What’s the difference?

“Better” means that you deliver more value or better results. It might also mean that you give your clients better service–making them more comfortable with you and the process.

And it might also mean that you do things for them that go beyond the core services you are hired to deliver. An example might be your reputation for helping clients find other professionals, vendors, or business connections, for matters unrelated to the legal work you’re doing for them.

Okay, what about “different”?

Different often means you do what you do in ways other lawyers don’t do it. You conduct the first interview personally, for example, instead of having a staff member do it. Or you make house calls. In communicating with your market, your job is to translate how your differences are  “better” for the client.

Being different is also a way to stand out in a crowded market. You might always wear purple neckties, for example; that’s different, not better, of course. But if people remember you via your signature color, you’ll have more opportunities to talk to prospective clients and show them how you are better.

Look for ways to differentiate yourself from other lawyers. Show them how you are better. If you aren’t better, be different. You do that by being yourself.

Ultimately, most clients aren’t going to hire you because you offer dramatically better legal services than other lawyers. They’ll hire you because of you.

How to earn more without working more: the formula

Share

Barf happens

Share

The cat threw up last night. At 3 am. By the time I fell back to sleep it was an hour later and I got up late.

I started writing (my first time block) about an hour later than scheduled. I just got back from my walk. I’ll get this post done and out to you, so that’s good, but I am behind schedule. I can absorb this into my admittedly not very busy day but if this happened to you, would you be able to do the same?

There will always be interruptions, delays, emergencies, illnesses and other things that throw you off schedule. The question is, what to do about it?

A few thoughts.

First, you have to understand that this is a normal part of life and you have to be okay with that. Don’t panic. Roll with the punches and carry on.

If you miss doing something completely, do it later in the day, double up tomorrow, or stay late and get it done. The occasional weekend make-up session is okay, too. If none of this is possible, don’t fret about it. And don’t get rid of the cat.

Second, build dams between your blocks. Don’t schedule blocks of time immediately following other blocks (or other appointments), give yourself a buffer. Ten or fifteen minutes between appointments or scheduled tasks should be enough to cover you most of the time.

Third, do what you can to minimize or eliminate interruptions, distractions, and delays, before they occur. Tell your staff when you won’t be available and not to interrupt you. Turn off your phone. Close unnecessary tabs on your browser. And keep track of the interruptions and delays that do occur and make notes about how to handle those situations when they happen again.

Because all you can do is all you can do. And because barf happens.

When was the last time you conducted a referral blitz?

Share

Taking a look at ‘time blocking’

Share

Not long ago, I mentioned my horror at the idea of using your calendar to schedule your entire day (in 15-minute increments). Apparently, some folks do that. More power to them. It’s not for me.

On the other hand (when you’re a lawyer, it’s good to have more than one hand), I’ve recently been reading about how some people use their calendar to manage their day and what they do makes sense to me. Instead of breaking up the day into bite-sized segments of time, they schedule blocks of time that are dedicated to important projects or groups of tasks. Because it’s on their calendar, an appointment with themselves, they do them.

When I first heard about this, I balked because, being invested in GTD, I see the calendar as a place to record appointments and other must-do time-oriented tasks.

Once I saw how other people use time blocking, however, I realized that it’s not inconsistent with GTD, as long as you are committed to keeping those appointments with yourself.

Anyway, here’s what I’m doing right now.

I scheduled a one-hour block for writing. I do that first thing.

I scheduled a second block for my walk. I was already walking every day so this was just a matter of putting it on the calendar.

And I scheduled a third block for writing my blog post/email and doing other tasks associated with the business such as answering email.

By 11 am, I’m accomplished my MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) for the day. I’ve got the rest of the day to do other tasks, do more writing, read, work on small projects, take a nap, run errands, or whatever.

So far, so good. I like getting my MIT’s done early. If that’s all I do on a given day, it’s a good day.

Do you use time blocking? GTD? How do you use your calendar to manage your day?

Share

20 calls a day

Share

I listened to a podcast featuring a sales trainer for a very successful real estate broker. He said his brokers are asked (required?) to make 20 calls a day. They can do more, but 20 calls are the minimum expected of them.

I assume these calls are to property owners who might be open to selling. The goal is to get a listing appointment, or failing that, to find out when the property owner might be open to that and scheduling a date to contact them again. They would also ask for referrals.

The sales trainer said that consistently making 20 calls a day allows the brokers get enough listings and sales to earn a substantial income.

Okay, 20 calls a day (five days a week) is not difficult. I would think you can get it done in an hour or two, leaving enough time for appointments and other things agents do.

Can lawyers do something like this? Yes and no:

Problem: Lawyers usually aren’t allowed to cold call prospective clients

Solution: call prospective referral sources. Introduce yourself, ask about their practice or business, invite them to meet you or offer to send them information. See Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals to learn what to say and do, with lawyers and with other professionals.

Problem: Lawyers don’t have time to make 20 calls a day

Solution: Make 10 calls. Or 2.

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls on your behalf.

Solution: Calling is best, but email can work too.

Problem: Lawyers don’t want to make calls

Solution: Have someone in your office make the calls, or send emails.

Contacting prospective referral sources (or prospective clients if you are permitted to do so) isn’t the only way to build a law practice, just as it’s not the only way to build a real estate business. But it is one of the best.

Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals

Share

The year everything changes

Share

15 minutes a day. You’ve heard me repeatedly preach and pound on that theme. I’ve told you that you can make a lot of progress towards your practice-building goals with just 15 minutes of marketing effort per day.

“Put it on your calendar, as an appointment with yourself,” I’ve said, “and keep that appointment. If someone wants to see you or talk to you during that time, they’ll need to wait until you’re done with your appointment.”

So, are you doing it?

If not, it’s a new year and it might be a good time for you to start.

I don’t know how I could possibly make this any easier for you—it’s only 15 minutes, after all—but I’m going to try. But you have to meet me half way.

Let’s start with some affirmations. This is you talking:

  1. “I want to get more clients, and better clients, and increase my income.” Go ahead and say that. Out loud. Click your heels 3 times, and say, ‘there’s no place like home’. Okay, you can skip the last part.
  2. “I understand that marketing is vital to the growth of my practice and I am ready to do it.”
  3. “I can work on marketing 15 minutes every weekday and I am committed to doing it.”

Are you with me? Are you ready to do this?

Remember, I’ve said (more than once) that you can start anywhere–sitting and thinking about marketing, reading about marketing, writing down marketing ideas, names of people to contact, or anything else. And, if you don’t know what to do, it’s okay to do nothing. Sit and stare at a wall. Just keep that appointment with yourself and don’t do anything else during that time.

Yes?

Okay. I think you’re ready for the missing piece of the puzzle. The key that unlocks the door to creating your new habit.

Get out your calendar. Not your task list. This is an appointment, remember?

Open to the week view and schedule a 15-minute marketing block, for tomorrow, as the first appointment of the day. Make it repeat every weekday.

The key is to make this your first activity. Before court or any other appointments. It’s important, right? You’re committed to it, right? So it should be done first thing. That way, you’ll get it done. You’ll also affirm to your inner child (the one who doesn’t want to do this) that it is important and you’re doing it.

Now, keep that appointment. Do it for two months and watch what happens. I promise, if you do that, you’ll see amazing things happen.

Make this your new habit of the new year and this will be the year that everything changes.

Key marketing strategies

Share