Size doesn’t matter


I’m talking about your list of professional contacts. It’s the quality of your contacts that count, not the quantity. A list of 10,000 people who might recognize your name (or might not) isn’t nearly as valuable as a list of 100 who will take your phone call, reply to your email, or smile when they see you. 

You know, people who know you.

Because if they know people who need your services, or know people who know people who do, you’ve got it made. Even if it’s not a big list.

 Because it’s not who you know. . . it’s who THEY know. (And will introduce you to).

Do you know a professional or business executive who is influential in your target market? Do you know them well enough to ask for a favor? 

Great! Ask them to introduce you. 

If you know the name of someone they know you’d like to meet, ask them by name. “You mentioned you know Jack Bigtime. I’ve heard good things about him and would love to meet him. Would you be silling to introduce us?”

If you don’t know anyone they know by name, ask by category: “Do you know anyone who (describe the kind of contact you’d like to meet).” If they say they do, ask for a detail or two to get them thinking about them, maybe ask how they know them, and then ask if they would introduce you.

If they ask why, tell them the truth—you want to expand your network. Just an introduction. Not marriage. One professional meeting another, the way it’s done every day. 

You may have to talk to a few people to find someone who knows someone who would be a good fit for you and will introduce you (or let you mention their name), but all you need is one. 

Because one will lead to two. And that can lead to dozens. 

Yes, you could play the “quantity-leads-to-quality” game most professionals play, work like crazy and eventually meet someone who’s a good contact for you. But the “quality-leads-to-quality” game is much more fun, and productive. 

Here’s how to do it


Marketing fundamentals for attorneys


There are lots of ways to market legal services but (news flash) you don’t have to do all of them. A few basics are all you need to build a successful practice and if I were you, that’s what I would focus on.

You can do more, but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to? 

Okay, what are the fundamentals I’m talking about? 

  1. Repeat business. Serve your clients well, make sure they know about all the services and benefits you offer, and stay in touch with them before, during, and after their current case or matter. 
  2. Referrals. Teach your clients and professional contacts how they benefit when they refer others to you and the easiest and best way(s) to do that. You can ask for referrals, but it’s usually easier (for you) to mention that a case or client you’re talking about (in your newsletter, for example) was referred to you and how much you appreciate your client or colleague for doing that. 
  3. Third party validation. Make sure your clients, prospects, and professional contacts see the benefits other clients got by hiring you. Gather reviews, testimonials, endorsements, and success stories, and feature them in all of your marketing content.  
  4. Build relationships. All of your clients and professional contacts should hear from you regularly, via your newsletter, holiday message, or personal email. Spend personal time (in person or on the phone) with your best clients, referral sources, and closest professional contacts. 
  5. Lead generation, not branding. If you do any advertising, direct mail, networking, writing, speaking, blogging, or any other marketing to the “cold market,” i.e., people you don’t know), don’t make it “one shot”—capture their email, stay in touch with them, tell them more about what you do and how you can help them (and people they know), and never stop doing that. 

The key to building a successful practice is maximizing the lifetime value of your clients, and these fundamentals are how you do that. 

The Attorney Marketing Formula


Beyond FAQs


The FAQs page on your website gets a lot of views because prospective clients want information about the law and about your services. They use your answers to those questions, and how you answer them, to decide to continue reading and take the next step towards hiring you. 

Bottom line, FAQs (and your well-thought out answers) are good for business. 

Some say you shouldn’t tell them too much because the more you tell them, the more questions you answer, the less likely they are to contact you (or hire you) because you’ve already given them the answers they seek.

And the more likely it is they’ll find something they don’t like and cross you off their list. 

And never tell them how to “do it themself”. Answer some things they say, not everything, or they won’t need you.

I say it’s just the opposite. The more you tell them, the more you sell them.

The more value you give them, the more likely they are to see the value of working with you. “If she gives away this much free information, she must have much more information (and help) available for paying clients.”

You sell legal services; you’re not in the information selling business. So give them lots of information. As you educate them, you show them the scope and depth of your knowledge and experience, and upir generosity in giving away all that information. They’ll still need to (and want to) talk to you (and hire you) for advice and help with their specific situation. 

One way to do this is to add “SAQs” to your FAQs. Questions they should ask but usually don’t.

Not only will they get more information they need to know, you’ll prompt them to identify other issues and questions they didn’t know they need to ask. And thus, identify more reasons they need to hire you.

As Steve Jobs said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Clients don’t know what to ask until you until you tell them. So tell them. 

Do that and you won’t need to tell them why you’re better. They’ll know.


Reverse marketing


When I opened my practice, I looked at my skill set and experience, choose services to offer, and went looking for clients who needed those services. 

That’s how most lawyers (and businesses) do it. It’s also why they struggle. 

It’s much easier and more effective to do things in reverse. 

What I should have done (and eventually did) is to first choose the clients and market I wanted to serve, and only then choose services to offer them. It’s more efficient that way and much more likely to be successful. 

For one thing, you don’t have to hold yourself out to “everyone” and let “everyone” decide if what you do is right for them. Knowing what types of clients and markets you want to work with, you can (and should) tailor your marketing to the specific needs and wants of those clients and markets. 

Do you want to work with small businesses and professionals, big businesses, or consumers? Which industry, market, or niche? 

Do you want to work with clients who want premium service and will pay more to get it, or clients who want low cost, no frills services?

Do you want to work with clients who have lots of legal needs or clients with fewer but bigger matters? 

Figure this out first and then figure out what to offer them and how to package and promote it. 

You’ll have a lot less marketing overhead, a lot less competition, and a much higher “closing” ratio. You’ll also attract more word-of-mouth and referrals and build a much more lucrative practice. 

Use your existing “best” clients and markets and create a profile. Based on that, create content for your website, blog, or social channels, and marketing documents and offers, with examples, stories, and industry-specific language that will resonate with the people in that market.  

You’ll attract clients that are a good fit for you, and “weed out” clients who aren’t.  

You’ll also attract more referral sources and opportunities (speaking, networking, writing, joint ventures) who see you as a good fit for them and/or their clients. 

Market in reverse. Life will be good.

How to choose your ideal client and target market


3 steps to your next client


Any time you engage with a prospective new client, or an existing or former client about a new matter, there are 3 steps to follow.

First, you need to find out the PROBLEM—what happened and what they need or want. They tell you their situation and you ask questions to find out the details and the solution(s) they’re after.

Second, you explain the solutions you offer—your services, how they work, and how the client will be better off by hiring you (BENEFITS). At some point, you talk about fees, costs, the timetable, and other details they need to know. You also tell them (or remind them) about their risks if they delay or do nothing.  

Third, you tell them what to do to get the solutions and benefits you provide (the “call to ACTION”), e.g., fill out a form, make an appointment, talk to someone, or sign the agreement and pay you, and you ask them to do that (or what they want to do).

All 3 steps can occur during your first meeting or conversation or over a period of time. 

You may also need to provide additional information, answer more questions, respond to objections, talk to another stakeholder, do some research, and follow up multiple times, but ultimately, the path from prospect to client always includes these 3 steps. 

Some steps will be easy, almost effortless. Some will take lots of work and time. But you can’t skip any step, so make yourself a checklist and use it. You’ll be glad you did. 


Why didn’t they hire me?


When a client doesn’t sign up, you need to find out why. Because it might not be too late to get them to change their mind, and because you need to know if there’s something you need to fix for the next client. 

Was it something you said or did? Something you didn’t say or do? Did a competitor offer something better? 

Clients say “no” for a variety of reasons: 

  • They didn’t believe or trust you
  • Your presentation or initial meeting was lacking or a competitor’s was better
  • They think you charge too much (and didn’t think it was worth it)
  • They think you charge too little (and it made them question your experience or ability)
  • You don’t have (enough) good testimonials or reviews to suit them
  • The competition has a bigger staff or a better website; the client thought they were more successful or experienced and a safer choice 
  • It might be the services you offer (or don’t) and how they you describe them.

And while it might be something external, e.g., they hired a lawyer they already knew or were referred to, you should assume there’s something you can improve.  

How do you know? 

  1. Ask them. They may not be able to (or want to) tell you precisely why they didn’t sign up with you, but they might give you some clues.
  2. Ask someone who knows them what they want or need and what might turn them off.
  3. Ask someone who knows you for feedback about you and your practice.
  4. Ask someone to sit in on your next client meeting and tell you what they see that could be improved.

 There are always things you can improve: 

  • Your presentation or “pitch”. Is it persuasive? Believable? Does it touch on the right points and make the client feel like they are in good hands? Could you improve the opening or closing? Is it too short or too long, too much about you and not enough about the client?
  • Your website and marketing documents. Are they consistent with the image and professionalism the client wants and expects? Are they thorough? Persuasive? Do they inspire confidence?
  • How are clients greeted by you and your staff? How long are they are kept waiting? Are you and your staff friendly and genuine? Do you smile, make eye contact, shake hands, offer them a beverage? 
  • How do you describe your services? Do you explain the benefits or just the features? Do you explain enough or assume they already know? 
  • Do you have enough testimonials? Positive reviews? Bona Fides?
  • What do you send to prospective clients before the first meeting? How is your follow-up after the appointment? 
  • And much more

    Anything, large or small, could be the reason a client doesn’t hire you. Keep your eyes and ears open. And when you find something that could be improved, improve it.   

    You might be just one or two adjustments away from a significant increase in sign ups. 

    Because clients are people and people are weird. 


    Can you rely solely on repeat business and referrals?


    Yes, you can; many lawyers do. 

    They have a client base that trusts them and have enough legal work to keep them busy, and they have friends and business contacts they can and do refer. 

    Nice, isn’t it? 

    They don’t advertise, network, blog, do presentations, or do any other marketing. They can if they want to, and sometimes they do, but the growth of their practice doesn’t depend on anything other than doing good work for their clients and serving them well.

    It takes awhile to get to that point, so if you’re a new lawyer or don’t yet have a big enough practice to generate a steady stream of business, you’ll need to do other things until you get there. I did that when I started practicing. It was hard and took a good five years, but it was worth it. 

    Hold on. It’s easy to screw up. 

    Clients and their businesses die, you mess up and they leave, the economy throws you under the bus, laws change, competition steals the show, overhead can eat you alive, and other factors can change everything. 

    So, never take anything or anyone for granted. Assume the best, but be prepared for the worst:

    • Continually strengthen your relationships with clients, prospects, and business contacts. 
    • Ask for testimonials, reviews, introductions, and referrals, because they may not think to provide them if you don’t.
    • Create a website that tells people what you do and how you can help them and let it do most of the selling for you.
    • Build a list and stay in touch with everyone.

    Finally, continually look for new ways to bring in business and increase your profits, because you never know what the future has in store.

    How to talk to clients about referrals


    The 80/20 of attorney marketing


    How’s your marketing? Let me guess—some things you do work better than others, some don’t work at all, some strategies you enjoy, some you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole. 

    The Pareto Principle, aka The 80/20 Rule, can help. 

    The idea is to examine all of your options, do more of what works, and eliminate or do less of everything else. 

    The Pareto Principle says that in any endeavor, “a minority of inputs or actions tens to yield the majority of outputs or results” and that minority is often around 20%. If you use 10 marketing strategies in your practice, you’re likely to find that just 2 of those strategies bring you most of your new clients, repeat business, leads, referrals, etc.

    And if it’s not 20%, it’s probably close to it. 

    It’s not just the strategies you use, however. For referrals, you might find that 20% of your referral sources, whether clients or professional contacts, provide you with 80% of your total referrals. Knowing that allows you to give those referral sources more attention and increase your referrals.

    If you use paid advertising, you might find that 80% of your leads or inquires come from just 20% of your keywords or publications. You can significantly improve your results by spending more dollars on your best performing publications or keywords and less on the rest. 

    The actual numbers aren’t critical. What’s important is that you examine your activities and your results, focus your time and dollars on the “precious few” activities that deliver the majority of your results, and ignore or do less of the “trivial many” that don’t. 

    So, you have to look at your numbers. But don’t be ruled by them. 

    If you’re good at something, speaking or writing for example, and you enjoy doing those things, do more of them, even if they don’t (yet) deliver big results. 

    Why? Because the most important and valuable part of marketing isn’t the specifics of what you do, or how you do them, it’s that you do something

    Anything that qualifies as marketing is good. Especially in a profession where resistance to marketing is so pronounced. 

    Doing any marketing is the “20% that delivers 80% of your results”.

    Because it will lead to new ideas, relationships, and opportunities that would otherwise never materialize.

    Do something you enjoy. Eventually, the numbers will come. 


    When a prospective client still won’t commit… 


    Usually, prospective clients let you know they’re ready to hire you or tell you why they aren’t. But sometimes, they can’t decide what to do. You can help them by getting them to focus on what’s at stake.

    The simplest way to do that is to (a) summarize what they told you they need or want, (b) what you told them about your solutions and benefits, and (c) the risks of waiting or doing nothing. Follow this with something like, “This (your services) seems to be your best option right now. What do you think?”

    When they aren’t ready to say yes, you want them to tell you what they’re thinking (questions, objections, fears) so you can respond and try again.

    If you have done that but they are still dragging their feet, ask, “Are you just in the information gathering stage right now, or are you serious about (fixing this problem, starting a business, getting this taken care of, etc.?”)

    If they’re “just looking” let them tell you that. Hearing themself say this might help them realize they might not get what they want and tell you to get started.  

    If they’re serious about solving their problem but still won’t commit, get them to focus on what’s at stake by pointing out what you’re hearing. “It seems like you’re not sure what you want to do” or “It seems like you’re not ready to do this right now” and ask a question that reminds them what is a take:

    • “Are you okay with not taking care of this until next year?”
    • “Are you willing to accept the risk of X getting bigger/worse?”
    • “If you wait, it may cost you a lot more (because). Is that okay with you?”

    If they want the benefits you offer, understand the risks of saying no or waiting, but still aren’t willing to commit, let them go. Tomorrow, they may think about what you’ve told them and the fact that you didn’t push them, their fear of loss may kick in and they’ll call you back. 

    And if they don’t, you can spend your time talking to prospective clients who are ready to go.  


    The problem with lists


    Everyone uses lists to record information and convey that information to others in a way that’s easy to follow. We use lists in our work, for research, opening and closing files, and every step in between. 

    We give our clients lists of things to do, and things to avoid, and lists of the steps we will take with their case, and they like knowing what to expect. 

    We also use lists in our marketing, so we can do things quickly and efficiently, in the right order, without having to think about what to do each time. And because our readers like posts that contain lists, we use lists in our content marketing.

    When a business lawyer publishes a post that promises, “21 ways to use the law to increase your bottom line,” for example, this usually attracts prospective clients in their market. “There’s got to be at least one or two of those ways I can use,” they think, and they read (scan) the post to find out.

    List posts work, and you should use them liberally in your content marketing. 

    Okay, so what’s the problem? 

    The problem is that because list-posts work and are easy to write, everyone writes them. Lawyers, consumer and business writers, bloggers, consultants, et al., know that list posts are popular (by looking at their statistics), and so they write lots of them. 

    Therefore, while you should use lists in your content, you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. 

    Use your knowledge and experience and credibility as a lawyer to write more thoughtful, in-depth content, the kind only a lawyer of your experience and standing can provide. 

    Clients prefer to read and hire experts. A thoughtful piece by an attorney who practices in the area they need help with is more valuable to them than a simple list by a blogger. 

    So, you need both. 

    Write simple list-posts to get traffic and opens, and authoritative posts to “sell” readers on following and hiring you.