The first (and only) rule of prioritization

Share

You’ve got a lot of options. Goals, plans, ideas, things to do. And you want to prioritize them so you know what to focus on.

But you can’t prioritize a list of options. You can only have one priority.

One project, one goal, one thing you decide is most important to you right now.

Everything else? Not your priority. Everything else has to wait.

Many people understand this conceptually, but don’t do it. They work on too many things in parallel and disperse their energy in too many directions. They usually take longer to finish things this way and are more likely to get poorer results.

Imagine if you worked on only one thing at a time and gave it all of your brain power and physical energy. “I’m doing THIS,” you say, you get to work on it and continue until you finish.

Think about how liberating and empowering this would be, and how good it would feel to focus on “Plan A” and not even think about “Plan B”.

Yes, you have other obligations, other things you need to do in the course of your day. You can’t spend all your time on your priority.

No. But you can commit to never letting a day go by without doing something related to your priority. And it if you have chosen the right priority, you will.

If building a successful law practice is your priority, you will work on marketing every day

Share

Quick, write this down

Share

I don’t know if David Allen originated the idea of ubiquitous capture, or merely popularized it (and I’m too lazy to look it up), but it’s something I do and recommend.

In a nutshell, it means being able to capture ideas and thoughts and things to do, wherever we are and whatever else we might be doing—so we don’t forget them.

Because we will forget them if we don’t.

I know, some say that if it’s a good idea, we’ll think of it again. They also say most of our fleeting thoughts aren’t worth spit, so don’t worry about capturing everything. But I’m not so sure.

Besides, the more we practice the art of capturing ideas, the more ideas our brain will produce, so even if most of our ideas aren’t useful, we’ll get more that are.

I don’t know if there’s a scientific basis for this, but it sounds good to me, so that’s what I’m going with.

So, I have apps on my phone and computer which allow me to jot down or dictate the idea and save it to my notes program or task program, for later processing and action. I’m sure you do, too.

I also keep a pad of paper and pen nearby my desk and side chair, because it’s often quicker to capture an idea the old-fashioned way.

But here’s the thing. The ideas I capture with a pen often feel different from the ones I capture digitally.

I can’t explain it. There’s something about how it feels to scratch words on paper and the movement of my hand across the page that feels more organic. It’s as though I’m more closely connected to those thoughts; they are the product of a deeper part of my brain.

And no, writing with a stylus on glass isn’t the same. At least for me.

Studies tell us that taking notes on paper fosters better understanding, and those notes are remembered longer, too. So there must be something to it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my apps. I love dictation. I’m a digital guy most of the time. But when I want to get something down quickly, and especially when I don’t quite know what I think or what I want to say, I often reach for a pen to figure that out.

So, boys and girls, don’t throw out your legal pads just yet. But okay, you can get them in other colors.

Share

Hmm, what shall I write about today?

Share

Continuing my quest to equip you with a never-ending supply of ideas for your blog or newsletter or other content, or rather strategies for finding ideas, comes something so simple, you might kick yourself for not thinking of it.

To wit: Amazon’s best sellers lists.

The non-fiction best sellers lists are updated daily or hourly and are an accurate indication of what people are buying and reading.

Which means, if you write about those subjects, they’ll want to read that, too. Not only that, if you post your article online, you will help readers to find your article (and you) via search engines.

Instead of trying to guess what people want to read, let Amazon (and other bookstores) tell you exactly what they want to read.

Start by looking at books about legal subjects, of course. But also look at books on subjects that might interest your target market.

For business clients, that would include topics specific to their industry or niche and the people in them. But also general business books, because every business wants to know about marketing, productivity, leadership, sales, and a ‘ho bunch more.

Consumers are interested in a long list of subjects: insurance, debt, credit, investing, and the list goes on.

You’re in business, and you are a consumer. Find something that interests you and you’ll probably have something that will interest your readers.

You can browse by category or use the search box to search by keyword. You can stick with best sellers or drill down into niche topics, but either way, look for books that are selling well.

What then?

No, you don’t have to buy the books. Or download them via Kindle Unlimited. You don’t have to read any of the books, unless you want to. You can get plenty of ideas to write about by looking at:

  • The title. What solutions does the book promise? What will the reader learn or be better able to do as a result of reading the book? You might even use a variation of the book’s title as the title of your post or article.
  • The sales page. In particular, look at the headline and the bullet points. They should supply you with a plethora of ideas and might also be suitable for the title of your post.
  • The table of contents. Use the “look inside” feature to read the chapter titles and sub-titles.
  • The introduction. You can also “look inside” and read the first few pages of the book, to see how the author approaches the topic.
  • Reviews and comments. See what readers and reviewers liked about the contents of the book, what they didn’t like, and what they wanted to know that might not have been addressed.

In a few minutes, you should have enough content ideas to keep you busy for a long time. Hell, you might even have enough ideas to write your own book.

How to write an email newsletter that brings in new business

Share

Why we don’t do things we know we need to do

Share

We talk about how our clients don’t always listen to us, but there’s someone else who doesn’t listen to us.

Us.

We don’t always do things we know we should do. Things that are good for us, that serve our purpose and help us achieve our goals. Things we’ve told ourselves we need to do.

Marketing is a perfect example.

We know we should allocate time each week to doing things to bring in new business. Too often, we don’t.

We know the benefits of staying in touch with our clients and prospects and professional contacts. We tell ourselves we will, but we don’t do it, or do it enough.

We know we should network, keep our name in front of people in our niche, update our website, create new content, improve our skills. . . but. . . well, you know.

We’re rational. We know we have to bring in new business and that it’s not going to happen on its own. We also know we have the wherewithal to do the things we need to do.

So why don’t we do them?

Because we don’t really believe the story we’ve told ourselves.

In truth, we think we’ll be wasting our time or money doing things that won’t work, or won’t work well enough to justify that time or money.

Or we think we’re not good enough at the things we need to do and it won’t be worth the investment to get good.

It comes down to our beliefs. Because if we believed in the necessity and value of marketing (or whatever the subject) and our ability to do it well enough to get the results we seek. . .

We’d do it.

But we don’t believe it, so we don’t.

And therein lies the solution.

We need to change our beliefs.

How do you do that?

For some, more information is the answer. Learning the specifics of what to do and how to do it might be all they need to see the light.

For others, seeing what others have achieved might inspire them to take the plunge.

But many people won’t change their beliefs until they see their own positive results, which means they have to find a way to get started even though they don’t believe, and stick with it long enough until something positive happens.

What’s best for you?

That’s what you have to figure out.

Share

Never say this to a client

Share

You’re good at what you do. Perhaps very good. You’ve won a lot of cases, helped a lot of clients get great outcomes, and, objectively speaking, you are a damn fine lawyer.

Keep that to yourself.

Yes, you should be proud of your accomplishments, and you certainly want the world to know about them. But they shouldn’t hear about them from you.

Because saying these things makes you look bad.

You sound like you’re bragging, and nobody likes that, even if it’s true. Or you sound weak and needy, and that’s even worse.

You want your clients and prospective clients and professional contacts to know you are the best of the best. But they should hear it from other people.

Let them hear about your prowess via testimonials, endorsements, reviews, and world of mouth. Let them find out about your awards and glorious victories via third party articles about you and introductions of you prior to your presentations and interviews.

You can (and should) post everything on your website, but never utter the words yourself.

If you ever find yourself inclined to share your greatness with anyone, let it be in the form of a story—about your client or the case. You’re “in the picture,” of course, and it’s obvious that you were the facilitator of the win, but be the narrator, not the protagonist.

Capice?

I’ve had two physicians say to me, “I’m really good at (the procedure they were trying to convince me to get)”. I rejected both of them, not because of what they were selling but because they were selling.

People like to buy but they don’t like being sold.

The best way to sell a client on your abilities is to have the client sell themselves. And that’s best done before the appointment.

Which is why we post everything on our website and equip our clients and contacts with information so they can do the selling for us.

When you’re speaking to anyone, the only selling you should do about yourself should be done by how you comport yourself.

Show the client you understand their situation. Restate the facts, explain the law, point out their risks and their options. If any of those options are risky or expensive, clearly explain the what and why and how.

Be clear and thorough. Most of all, be confident.

Because your confidence tells the client you’re good at what you do. And because if you’re confident, they will be confident. And they won’t need you to tell them you’re good at your job.

Share

Quality or quantity? Yes.

Share

When it comes to writing a newsletter or blog, posting on social media, or otherwise connecting with prospective clients and the people who can refer them, what’s better, frequency or length?

Should you write longer posts and publish less often, or post shorter pieces more often?

Let’s think this through.

You need quality, because that’s why folks subscribe and follow you, and because you want them to see that you know what you’re doing.

You also need quantity (frequency), because you want to keep your name in front of people.

But you’re busy and can’t afford to spend all day crafting brilliant prose, and even if you have the time, you don’t want your readers and followers to think you do.

So, how about a comprise?

You might write a “longer” post, at least a few paragraphs of original thought, once a week. On other days, as you can, you fill in with brief comments, observations, quotes, and links to other people’s posts.

Quality and quantity, for the win.

If you’re not doing anything now, or you don’t publish consistently, start small. Post an inspiring quote once or twice a week, for example, to create the habit of posting; after a few weeks, you can do more.

Whatever you decide to do, put it on your calendar and/or in your task management app, because trust me, you won’t remember.

How to build a law practice with email

Share

Another simple content idea

Share

I bought an iPad. Yes, my first. You know how it is, you don’t know you need something until you get it (or someone lets you try it) and you realize what you’ve been missing.

Anyway, as part of my research into “if” and “which one” and “ways to use it,” I saw some videos made by law students who are using iPads for note taking and studying. They explain the apps and accessories they use, why they chose them, and how they use them.

Basically, they’re doing product review videos for a niche market.

Which prompted me to tell you that if you use and recommend any tech tools or apps, and workflows and best practices for using them, you could record product reviews, and post them on your blog or channel.

Most product review videos follow a pattern:

  1. Describe the product/model/version and features
  2. Explain what they like
  3. Explain what could be improved
  4. Compare the product to other options
  5. Explain if they recommend it, for whom, and why
  6. Tell where to get it

Product reviews lend themselves well to video, as you can demonstrate the product and give it a face (yours). You can instead do “faceless” screen capture videos.

If you’re not up for doing videos, you could write a blog post or newsletter article, with or without images, or simply mention the product and your recommendation on social. (Be sure to tag the relevant company when you do.)

And if you don’t want to do product reviews, or share your workflows, you could do something similar by writing book reviews.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have fun doing it. Because if it’s not fun, it’s work, and you have enough of that already.

Share

4 simple rules for getting more out of the books you read

Share

Tim Denning, prolific author and blogger and reader of books, answered a question about how to get more out of the books you read. Lawyers obviously read a lot and might want to note Denning’s rules, all of which I agree with and practice.

His first rule is to “stop finishing books”. If you’re not getting anything out of a book, or getting enough, move on.

“Don’t waste your life on crappy books,” he says.

I routinely do this with ebooks that don’t deliver on their promise. In other words, most of them. I’ve donated hundreds of paperbacks to the library bookstore, many of which I barely touched.

I spend a lot on books but following this rule has saved me a lot of time, and I have to score this as a net profit.

My corollary: Books are like a meal. Just because you paid for it doesn’t mean you have to consume it.

Next, Denning says he focuses primarily on the first few chapters of a non-fiction book, where, he says, the author will provide the best bits in an effort to hook the reader. “The rest of a book is filler,” he says.

In my experience, this is mostly true, but not always. If the opening chapters don’t get me, I usually skim the next few and often find some gold; if I don’t, off with its head.

Denning’s third rule is something I do only occasionally but think I should do more: “Go to the table of contents and read the chapters that appeal to you.”

Meaning, skip the chapters that don’t.

Sometimes, I start with the chapters that grab me, and come back to the others.

I like to give the author (and reviewers) the benefit of the doubt. I keep thinking I’ll find a nugget or two in a chapter that seems less relevant, but if I’m honest, it doesn’t happen often enough to justify reading an entire book to find those nuggets.

Last rule: Re-read the books you love.

100% agree.

I always get something new out of a second or third or fifth reading of a good book. I highlight my highlights, make notes in the margins, and write my own “permanent” notes in my notes app.

Books are like a meal. Good books are like a feast.

Share

Your core work

Share

Yes, you perform legal services that deliver solutions and benefits to your clients. That’s your core work. That’s what you’re paid to do.

But that’s not the whole picture.

You can’t deliver those solutions if you don’t have clients who are willing and able to hire you.

So your work necessarily includes marketing.

Even if you aren’t required to do any “outside” marketing, you are responsible for keeping your clients happy so they will return and refer. You must invest time and other resources to do that. And while you can delegate some of it, you can’t (shouldn’t) delegate all of it.

You also have other responsibilities. You may not have to do the billing, bookkeeping, compliance, and other admin work, but you have to know what needs to be done so you can supervise the ones who do.

Here’s the truth some lawyers don’t want to admit: the practice of law isn’t just a profession, it’s a business.

Unless you work for someone else, or have partners that take care of the business side of the equation, you can’t practice your profession without building and maintaining the structure and systems that make the business run.

Your “areas of responsibility” include other things besides your core work.

As you sit down to plan the remainder of this year and the beginning of next, I urge you set goals for each of your areas of responsibility, choose appropriate projects that will help you achieve those goals, and schedule tasks you are committed to doing to move those projects forward.

Spending a little time thinking and planning will help you focus and do the work that matters most.

You’ll be able to run your business, so you can practice your profession, maximize your income, effectively use your time, and enjoy peace of mind, knowing you’re on top of everything.

How to create a simple marketing plan that really works

Share

Wham, bam, see the cashier

Share

I went to a new optometrist last week. To my surprise and delight, I was treated like a valued patient, not a commodity, as many doctors’ offices do.

I had an appointment and when I arrived, the young man behind the counter made eye contact and greeted me by name. I can’t be sure, but I think he had a smile under his mask.

I’d already filled out most of the paperwork online and was escorted to the exam room, get this, 2 minutes after I arrived.

The entire staff was friendly and treated me with respect. They made small talk while the machines came to life. They even laughed at my jokes.

And it was the most thorough eye exam and consultation I’ve ever had.

The appointment wasn’t just for a new prescription. I have an issue that needed addressing. The doctor patiently explained everything and answered all of my questions. I was there for nearly 90 minutes.

Before I left, I thanked the young man who greeted me for being so friendly and making me a priority instead of my insurance card. I also told the doctor about the great job he did and thanked her for her own patience and thoroughness.

When I saw an ophthalmologist for the same problem earlier this year, the doctor explained almost nothing, talked mostly to her assistant rather than me, and was done with me in 10 minutes.

Over the years, I’ve written about some of the less-than-stellar experiences I’ve had at doctor’s offices. I complained about having to wait (a big pet peeve of mine) and then being rushed through the exam or procedure.

Their time is valuable, but so is mine.

Now, I’m writing about an office that gets it right. No wonder they have a long list of 5-star reviews. They’ll continue to get my business and my referrals.

What does it take to achieve this?

Perspective.

Seeing your patients (clients) as your top priority. Giving them the time and attention they need and treating them like human beings, not livestock.

Show them you appreciate them, even if your accountant says you can’t afford it.

And remember to laugh at their jokes.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

Share