Run

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Building a business or law practice, especially from scratch, is best done quickly.

If you want to build yours, run, don’t walk. Sprint, don’t jog.

Here’s why:

  • Building fast gives you less time to think and more time to do. Once you have some sound marketing strategies in place, spend most of your time executing those strategies, not refining your plans or making new ones.
  • Building quickly means you’ll talk to more people, create more content, get more subscribers, do more presentations, and so on. You’ll have more opportunities to find things that work and get better at doing them.
  • Building quickly allows you to compress time, that is, to do in minutes what might otherwise take hours, by finding ways to do things faster and by productively using the spaces between activities that are often wasted.
  • Moving quickly forces you to adopt routines and simple daily activities, which are the building blocks for success.
  • Whether you are new or seasoned, the faster you move, the sooner you find bigger cases and/or better clients and referral sources (and employees), which lead to compound growth as first time clients become repeat clients and referrals lead to more referrals.
  • Moving quickly allows you to create personal momentum. You get faster (and better) at what you do, delivering more outcomes to more clients and bringing in more revenue and more success stories, which leads to more of the same.
  • Moving quickly allows you to discover flaws and eliminate them, make mistakes and fix them, and get better at what you do.
  • Fast is exciting, and excitement is contagious. You’ll be perceived in the marketplace as someone who is going places and doing things and attract people who recognize your pace and energy and want to work with you.

Don’t confuse “fast” with “busy”. They aren’t the same thing. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean being productive.

You can build quickly even if you aren’t particularly busy. But only if when you work, you run.

How to build your practice bigger, faster

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Leverage distrust

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The punchline: “Their lips are moving.” You know the joke.

But humor is rooted in truth, or at least beliefs about what is true and, right or wrong, many people believe lawyers can’t be trusted.

At the very leasts, they’re skeptical. They don’t understand what we do, we’re expensive, and they have a lot to lose.

This is an opportunity for you because you can leverage that distrust in your marketing.

Bring up the subject. Talk about why people often don’t trust lawyers. And what they can do to protect themselves.

In your next article or ad or presentation, you might use something like this as your headline or opening:

Is your lawyer lying to you? Here’s how to tell.

No, don’t use the punchline from the joke. Okay, use it if you can’t help yourself. But then teach your audience what to look for, questions to ask, and other information they can use to protect themselves from being taken advantage of.

Talk about the Rules of Professional Conduct. Malpractice insurance. Your state bar’s fund to reimburse aggrieved clients.

Talk about fees and billing—what to expect and what to do if something doesn’t add up.

Talk about your personal commitment to openness and fairness. You might share your firm’s pledge or your “Clients’ Bill of Rights”.

Explain the steps you take to in your practice to keep your clients informed about everything, and what your clients can do if they have questions.

Explain that while you handle the day-to-day management of their case, they make the big decisions, why this is so, and why this is better for them.

And provide a fair amount of social proof attesting to your trustworthiness: testimonials, endorsements, and success stories that speak to the subject.

They still might not trust lawyers in general, but they might feel better about you.

But. . . don’t overdo it.

Because if you talk about the subject incessantly, some people will think you have something to hide.

On this subject, a little bit can go a long way.

Because most lawyers don’t talk about it at all.

How to create an invoice clients’ trust

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The best productivity tools and systems

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If you’re like me, you enjoy watching videos about different productivity tools and systems.

That doesn’t mean we’re unhappy with what we’re currently using. Just that we’re open to new ideas and enjoy learning things we can use with our current setup.

And we’re curious. We like seeing what others use. Even how they have set up their workspace.

It’s fun. A pleasant respite from a hectic day.

And sometimes, it leads us to make a switch to a different tool or system, which increases our productivity and enjoyment.

But how do you know when you’ve found the right tool or system?

Actually, I have an answer. A rule of thumb I found languishing in my notes. I don’t know who said it but I wrote it down because it makes so much sense.

The system or tool that’s best (for you) is the one you don’t have to think about.

It just works. Seamlessly. Comfortably. You turn it on or open the page and go.

You don’t feel any friction. Or compelled to change anything. You’re busy doing what the tool or system helps you do.

And when you found it, you knew it was “the one”.

The app, operating system, or process that is a perfect fit. You don’t need to look at anything else.

But (if you’re like me) you will. Because you might find something you like better. Or learn something you can use.

And because it’s fun.

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Turn your writing into a client magnet

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One of your best marketing tools is your writing. Not just what you write about, but how you write it.

Yes, how you write it.

You might provide great information via how-to articles and posts. You might show prospective clients how you can help them solve a problem or achieve a goal. You might tell prospects what you offer, how you work with your clients, and why they should choose you.

And you should.

But other lawyers will say a lot of the things you say. So, unless you write in a way that makes readers feel an emotional attachment to you, you might struggle to close the deal.

There are many strategies for improving the effectiveness of your writing. Ways to make it more inviting, easier to read, and more persuasive. Study these strategies. Practice these techniques. They will help you get more new clients and repeat clients, more referrals, and more subscribers and followers.

But if you want readers to feel there’s something special about you, there’s something else you should do.

It goes beyond technique and better writing. It’s actually a marketing superpower. An elixir that will comple prospective clients to make an appointment, sign up for your list, or otherwise take the next step.

How do you acquire this superpower?

Research.

Find out what your market is interested in, what they know, and how they think.

Learn what frustrates them and keeps them up at night. Get conversant with the issues that abound in their industry or market. Be familiar with the words they use to describe their problems and desires.

When you do this, you can show prospects you understand them better than other lawyers who cross their path and talk about the law, but not about them.

Which is why you need to target a niche market and study it and the people in it.

When you write about an issue in that market and reference or quote someone prominent in that market, for example, someone your readers know about (or actually know) and trust, or when you’re able to talk about little details that only someone with a lot of experience in their market would know, your readers will see that you aren’t like other lawyers, you’re one of them.

Choose a niche market and study it. Your knowledge will allow you to write in a way that resonates with prospects on a deep level. You’ll be able to write in a way that makes their Spidey-sense tingle as they realize they’ve found the lawyer they’ve been looking for.

How to choose the right niche market for you

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It’s just a letter. From a friend.

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Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Or take a lot of time. You don’t need to invest in a lot of paraphernalia or time learning how to use it.

In particular, you can start a newsletter using your regular email and add recipients as bcc’s. Once you have several hundred emails, and are convinced you want to continue, you can use a service to automate everything.

So, no excuses. Write an email, as you would write a letter to a friend or client or business contact, and share something—an idea, some news, something interesting you saw online or heard around the water cooler, or just say hello and hope they are well, and click send.

Don’t promise to send another letter. Don’t commit to a schedule. The purpose of writing is for you to see how easy it is and how nice it is when people respond and tell you they like what you said or thank you or ask a question.

It’s about staying in touch with the people who are important to you. It’s about the relationship.

A newsletter is the best way to build relationships with hundreds of people simultaneously.

And while some of the people you write to might write back and tell you they want to talk to you about another legal matter, or have a friend who needs to talk to you, don’t expect anything like that to happen.

But don’t be surprised if it does.

Don’t make this transactional. Don’t offer anything or ask for anything. Plenty of time to do that later. If you decide to continue.

Right now, it’s about putting your toe in the water, not jumping in the deep end.

Right now, it’s about writing a letter to a friend.

If you’re ready to do more, this shows you everything you need to know

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Purple Rain(making)

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A question on social caught my eye: “What’s the best way for a lawyer to get a raise at their law firm?”

There were many suggested answers, such as finding a mentor, making alliances, working late, staying out of trouble, and so on. Basically, show the partners you are a team player and can bill 40 hours a day.

Nobody said, “Bring in more clients.” Which is the most obvious way to show your partners that you can fatten their bottom line.

A firm can always hire more worker bees to crank out the work and increase their profits. Good bees are valuable. The lawyer who brings in new clients (and keeps them), however, is worth their weight in Gold Pressed Latinum.

Look at it this way: if a firm decides they need to make some cuts, who do you think will be the last to go?

Right. The rainmaker.

And, when it comes time for raises, who do you think will get the biggest?

Right again.

Because partners are smart and know that if they don’t take care of their rainmakers, said rainmakers will take their marketing chops and go somewhere else.

So, that’s my answer to that question.

Prince’s song, Purple Rain, is supposedly about Armageddon. Which might be the fate of the lawyer who doesn’t understand the importance of marketing.

If you are in a firm and doubt this, go talk to a sole practitioner. They know.

Take your marketing to the next level

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7 truths about content marketing

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Content marketing is a simple concept. You create and disseminate helpful information to attract prospective clients and show them how you can help them. If you want to do this to build your practice but aren’t sure you have what it takes, here are some things to consider.

  1. You don’t have to be a great writer. If you can write an email, you can write an email newsletter or blog.
  2. You don’t have to be original. You can write about the same subjects other lawyers write about.
  3. You don’t have to write a lot. A few hundred words are plenty.
  4. You don’t have to write often. Once a week is enough. Do more if you can and you want to, do less if you don’t.
  5. You don’t have to spend a lot of time. You can do everything you need to do in one hour a week.
  6. You don’t have to do a lot of research. Or any. Write what you know, write what’s going on in your practice, write what you observe or think.
  7. You will never run out of things to write about. And, you can re-purpose your other content (presentations, interviews, memos), and/or write about subjects you’ve written about before.

Offer of proof:

I’ve written about this subject more than a few times in the past, I didn’t do any research, this post is under 300 words, and I wrote it in 34 minutes. I’ll read it over to make sure I don’t sound like a blithering idiot, post it, and get on with my day.

If you’d like to know how to do the same, check out my course on email marketing

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Do your clients like you?

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It’s not a must, but it can make a big difference. Because, given a choice, people prefer to hire a lawyer they know, like, and trust.

Trust is most important and requires the most effort. Before people hire you, you want them to hear good things about you, both online and from people they know. After they hire you, you want to show them you keep your promises and get results.

Trust, baby. For a lawyer, it’s what’s for dinner.

Knowing isn’t difficult, but takes time and effort (and money) to get your name and story in front of people often enough so that it is familiar.

You can get a lot of clients with knowing and trust and many lawyers do. But “liking” is where the magic happens.

When prospects like you, they are more likely to choose you. When clients like you, they are more likely to become repeat clients, share your content, and send you referrals.

For some lawyers, however, likeability is a challenge.

Don’t worry, I’m going to give you a simple way to put a smile on people’s faces when they hear your name or see your face.

What’s that? You say your clients already like you? They love you to pieces?

Great. Read this anyway. You never know when it might come in handy.

Okay, what’s the simplest way to get people to like you?

Make them feel that you like them. Because people like people who like them.

Yeah, but what if you don’t like them? You’ll take their money and do the work, but you’ll never be their bff.

What then?

Find something you do like about them and focus on that. Even if the only thing you like is their checkbook.

Greet them (and their checkbook) with a handshake and a smile, make them feel you understand their problem, you can help them and you want to do that.

Like you do with any client.

Put the parts you don’t like in a lockbox and throw away the key.

But there’s something else you can do to make them like you, even if you still don’t like them.

You can simulate “liking” by getting them to talk about themselves (not just their legal issue).

Get them to tell you about their work, their family, or anything that interests them. Because when someone does most of the talking, they tend to like the person they’re talking to.

So, don’t hog the microphone. Let them do most of the singing.

Ask questions and listen. Ask follow-up questions and listen some more.

And, if they happen to share something you have in common with them, make sure to let them know.

Because people like people who not only like them but are like them in some way. Even if it’s just rooting for the same sports team or being fed up with inflation.

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Addition vs. subtraction

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In a recent newsletter, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, offered a different way to think about how to planning your time. He said

“If you’re searching for more time this year, start with a clean slate and choose what to add to your days rather than starting with a full schedule and trying to figure out what to eliminate.“

Pretend you’re just starting out. In life or in your practice. What are a few must haves for you? If you had those, what else would you want?

You can also use this approach to re-build your project or task list, your budget, or your goals. Start with a clean slate and add things that are most important to you. If you could only work on one major project this year, for example, what would it be?

You can also use this to simply the list of tools you use to do your work.

I currently use 3 different note-taking apps. I like them all and use all 3 daily, for slightly different purposes. If I wanted to simplify my workflow, it would be difficult for me to choose which app or apps to eliminate.

If I was starting from scratch, however, I know which one I’d start with.

Truth be told, I’m sure I would soon be back to using all 3. Which is okay with me. At least I would have made a conscious decision to do that instead of continuing to do it out of habit.

If you’re rebuilding your marketing mix, start here

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Better notes

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There’s a lot being said right now about how to take more effective notes. It’s all good, but it can be overwhelming trying to implement everything.

If I could give you one piece of advice on this subject, it would be this:

Use the notes you take as soon as you take them.

Use them immediately in an article, on a case, or in planning your projects or your day. And if that’s not possible, annotate them to use later.

Summarize what you read or heard. Put the ideas in your own words. Add notes to your notes that provide context–what you think, examples that explain and expand on the points, or contrast them.

In short, make notes, don’t just take notes. Your notes will thus be more valuable to you when you eventually use them.

It might help to make a habit to record (at least) 3 key points for every note. I did that recently when I read an article about best practices for extending the life of your laptop battery. As soon as I finished the article, I wrote:

  • It’s okay to keep the laptop plugged in all the time
  • Draining the battery does more harm than good
  • Heat is the enemy; keep the laptop/battery cool

I also recommend writing down how you might use those notes in the future, e.g.., for a case or client, in a book or blog post or presentation, to improve your website, to add to a form letter, etc. Add tags or links or move them to the appropriate folder.

Do it while it’s fresh. If you wait until later, you might forget what you thought and have to start from scratch.

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