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?

How would the person I wish to be act today?

In his newsletter, writer James Clear challenged us to consider this. I think it’s a good question.

It’s a good question because it forces us to think about where we are right now and where we want to go in our personal development.

What skills or habits do we want to acquire or improve? How would we respond to different situations? How would we like to be known?

Not so easy to figure all that out. But important.

It may help to consider people you know or people from history you can use as models.

What were their values or core beliefs? How did they conduct their life? What did they accomplish that you want to do?

You don’t need to accept anyone whole cloth. Take the best of them and ignore the rest.

John F. Kennedy had many faults, for example, but there was also much to admire about him.

The other reason this is a good question is that it forces you to think about your behavior. If you have a meeting or phone call coming up, you can take a moment in advance to see yourself in your mind’s eye acting like the person you wish to become.

Nicer, tougher, or a better listener, for example.

At the end of the day, ask yourself how you did.

Did you behave like the person you wish to become? If not, note what you need to do to correct course.

Who is the person you wish to become? How would he or she act? Did I act that way today?

Good questions for your journal.

Yikes, found this on Yelp

We were looking for a roofer and had several bids. Before we chose, my wife looked at reviews for the candidates.

One roofer who was in the running had mostly excellent reviews. But one review stood out, which I’ve edited slightly to protect the guilty:

“[The owner] wouldn’t even go on top of the roof to take a look, making excuses that it’s a 3-story building and that ladders are heavy. He then proceeded to quote me for a repair, which I called him on for not even going to the roof to take a look. I’ve never seen anyone look so dumbfounded, like I was just supposed to roll with it?”

Okay, an issue. But something that could be fixed, right?

The owner of the company didn’t try to fix it, however. Instead, he posted this response:

“Wow, what a cheap shot coming from a loser that can’t even take a verbal roof quote, let alone pull the trigger and get it fixed. What would make you think I owe it to you. You got a simple quote with a guarantee. . . to fix 1 simple leak. . . But then again, what would you know about maintaining a roof, you’re just a Big Crybaby.”

Needless to say, we crossed this roofer off our list.

His response is practically a master class in how NOT to respond to a bad review. How many jobs has he lost, and will continue to lose, because of it?

I have long said the best way to handle a bad review is to ignore it. Let the weight of the good reviews “bury” the stinkers.

Given the current state of “the world,” today I think I would revise that and admit that there are times when you simply have to respond.

I’m not going to give you any guidelines about when you should or shouldn’t do that, however. I’ll wimp out and simply say, “it depends.”

But I will say that if there is a review you believe needs a response, you probably shouldn’t do it yourself.

Have someone respond on your behalf. (No, not your lawyer.) Someone in your office who will remain calm, cool, and collected and make you look good.

Someone who won’t sound defensive or argumentative or make excuses.

Someone who will provide a thoughtful and caring response, apologize if appropriate, offer to make things right, and then invite the client to continue “the conversation” in private.

So it doesn’t turn into an online battle, and so you can indeed make it right.

You may not be able to placate every unhappy reviewer, but you can show the world that you tried.

Client relations made simple

Here’s your plan

What if there was a law firm that provided top-notch, added-value legal services instead of the “me-too” services most lawyers offer?

What if there was a law firm that understood what their target market and prospective clients wanted–not just their legal needs but also ways to improve their business or personal life–and worked diligently to provide this?

What if there was a law firm that dedicated time each week to improving their workflow, systems, tools, and other processes?

What if there was a law firm that had highly effective marketing strategies in place that consistently brought them traffic, leads, subscribers, and new clients?

What if there as a law firm that worked hard at making every client feel appreciated so their clients never left them and went out of their way to send them referrals?

Now, what if a law firm like that moved into your area and targeted your clients and future clients?

Don’t let this happen to you.

Don’t wait for other lawyers or firms to pose a threat to your livelihood.

Do something now, to make sure YOU are the one to beat.

Commit (or re-commit) to creating and continually improving superlative marketing and management systems.

And get busy.

Because you never know how many other lawyers or firms are doing this right now. Or reading this right now and are about to get started.

This will help you create a simple but effective marketing plan

Gene Gene The Dancing Machine

Bet you know some successful lawyers who aren’t especially talented. They’re like Gene Gene The Dancing Machine on the old Gong Show.

They can’t dance but hey, they’re on TV.

Sure, some of them get on TV by saying and doing outrageous things. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about ordinary lawyers who don’t be-clown themselves in public but are still able to get the clients and make the money.

How do they do it?

Connections? Hard work? Luck? Are they smooth talkers, good at getting people to buy their act?

It could be any of these.

Or it could be they’re good at marketing themselves.

One way they do that is to find a niche and focus on it. They learn everything they can about that market and dedicate themselves to it. They identify some of the centers of influence in that market and get to know them.

They get a few clients and then leverage their relationships with those clients to get more.

They stay in touch with their clients and prospects, and with professionals in their niche, keeping their name in front of them, building their reputation.

That leads to introductions, word-of-mouth referrals, and more clients and professional contacts in the niche.

If they network, they do it with primarily with prospective clients and centers of influence in their niche. By going “deep” instead of “wide,” they are able to get more results with less effort.

If they speak or write a blog or create videos or other content, they make sure they tailor their information to the issues and people in their niche.

If they advertise, they target the people and problems in their niche and ignore everyone else, thereby lowering their lead costs and increasing the effectiveness of their ads.

In other words, they don’t try to compete with everyone. They focus their marketing on a small niche market and eventually dominate it.

They become the big fish in their small pond. And then, if they want to, they find another pond.

Something even untalented lawyers and dancing machines can do.

If you want help choosing a good niche market for your practice, The Attorney Marketing Formula is required reading.

Inbox zero problem–solved

I’ve been pretty good about maintaining inbox zero, that is, cleaning out my email inbox every day (or two).

Things I can do quickly, I do. Things that require more time or I want to save I forward to Evernote. Everything else gets trashed or archived.

Lately, I found myself getting behind. A lot. To the point that I didn’t want to look at my inbox anymore.

Last night, I took action. I added a label to 415 emails (from one guy) and archived them, leaving me with just 39 emails that I’ll handle today.

Yes, that’s a lot of emails from one guy. He writes seven days a week, more when he’s promoting something. I didn’t want to delete them because I get a lot of value from his emails and I want to be able to read them.

Never met the guy but I feel like I know him and I welcome his counsel.

Maybe you feel the same about my emails. You like them, you get information and ideas from them, but you can’t always keep up with me.

You might want to do what I did: label and archive (or put them in a folder) so you can read them later.

You won’t hurt my feelings.

And, if you write a newsletter, you might suggest this to your subscribers, in case they find themselves falling behind.

They can read you later, when they need your help, or when they see the boring dreck written by your competition and miss hearing your “voice”.

It’s not important that your subscribers read everything you write. What’s important is that they see you are still writing to them. See that you’re still helping clients, and still available to them when they need your help.

So, go ahead and write often. Just don’t write dreck.

My email marketing course shows you how to write emails your clients and prospects want to read.

Making sure the client understands

The only thing worse than explaining something to a client and finding out he didn’t understand you is not finding out.

You talked, they listened, but they lost you somewhere along the way.

If they let you know, you can repeat what you said or explain it further. But if they don’t tell you and find out later they misunderstood, what happens?

Bad Times at Ridgemont High, that’s what happens.

And they blame you. Even if you did a great job of explaining and they didn’t listen.

They might have been thinking about what you said just before this. Or worried about their legal situation. Or thinking about what they have to pick up at the market on the way home.

It doesn’t matter why they didn’t understand, you have to make sure they do, for their sake and for yours.

Especially if it is a complex issue or an important decision.

How do you do that? Besides putting it in writing and asking them to sign off?

You ask them to repeat back to you what you just told them.

Have them restate what you said and tell you that’s what they understood. Ask if they have any questions before you continue.

Hold on. You also need to do this when they say something.

Restate what you heard and ask them to agree that this is what they meant.

Then you can put it in writing.

Happy clients bring repeat business and referrals

How I annoy my wife

I saw this subject line in my email inbox today and I had to have it. I thought I’d add it to my list of headlines and subject lines and ideas and use it someday.

Hey, why not today?

And why not write this without reading the other guy’s email?

No peaking. Write your own damn email.

Actually, I get a lot of writing ideas from the emails in my inbox and suggest you do the same. But today, I thought I would challenge myself to write this with nothing to go on but the subject line.

So, how do I my wife? Let me count the ways. . .

I’ve been married a long time. If my wife wrote this, I’m sure she would have a long list. I thought about letting her write a “guest post” but realized I’d have to untie her and feed her and I’ve got a busy day.

And, there you go. The first thing that annoys my wife (I know she would say) is my warped sense of humor.

Sometimes silly, sometimes stupid, often inappropriate.

I get a lot of groans. And I am often reminded that I’m repeating something my grandfather used to say decades ago and, oh yeah, it wasn’t funny then, either.

But, I make her laugh often enough that she hasn’t left me. Or poisoned me.

(I can’t stop.)

Another thing I do that annoys her is talking incessantly about an idea or a project I’m planning, to the point where she (rightly so) tells me, effectively, to [do it] or get off the pot.

Okay, that’s all I’m going to fess up to. Now, would you like to know how she annoys me?

Yeah, right. Remember, I’ve been married a long time. That didn’t happen with me telling tales about things my wife does that annoy me.

Not that there are any.

So, forget that. It’s your turn.

But I don’t want to know how you annoy your spouse, I want to know how you annoy your clients.

What do you do that irritates them?

Ask yourself. Ask your staff. Ask your spouse. (Trust me, they know, even if they never come to your office.)

And ask your clients.

You probably have a few close clients you can talk to. Encourage them to be honest with you. Or, send out a survey and allow them to respond anonymously.

Because it’s important to know these things, so you can clean up your act.

Because you don’t want your clients to leave you. Or poison you.

Need more ideas for your newsletter?

Small and frequent

If you play online games, you know the developers of those games tend to reward you with tokens and banners and prizes of some sort. They give you small rewards frequently, rather than a big reward less often.

And you like it that way.

Each time you get something–a prize or acknowledgment of your progress–you get a small hit of dopamine. It feels good. The more often that hit is triggered, the more likely you are to continue to play that game.

You like getting to the next level in the game. You like the anticipation and the sense of accomplishment. You keep playing because there is always a next level.

But you also like it when the app gives you something unexpected.

If you don’t play online games, you may find other ways to get small and frequent reinforcement in your life. Checking off done tasks on your todo list, for example.

Knowing this, you might want to do something similar with your clients and prospects.

That is, give them reasons to feel good about you and what you’re doing for them more often.

What could you do between the start of the case or engagement and the time you settle or present the deliverables?

What could send them? How could you engage them? How could you recognize or reward them?

Each time you call your clients or send them something, assuming you’re not delivering bad news, they get a hit of dopamine. In part, because you didn’t deliver bad news, but also because your communication reminds them that they made a good decision when they chose you as their attorney.

Put on your thinking cap and brainstorm ways to touch the lives of your clients more often. Do the same thing for your prospective clients and business contacts.

A good place to start is with information. Instead of sending “everything” all at once, break it up into smaller pieces and send them more often.

Don’t make clients wait until the end of the case to hear from you. Don’t make prospective clients wait weeks or months to hear from you.

Contact your clients and prospects more often. You’ll probably find them getting hooked on you.

A simple way to connect is with an email newsletter