Not all clients are created equal

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Some clients are worth more to you than others. I’m not just talking about billing or cases or revenue, or even the value of the referrals they send you—or could.

I’m talking about the people they know and could introduce you to. The doors they could open for you for networking, speaking, and publishing content. The information they have about their industry or market or local market, information that can lead you to opportunities you didn’t even know existed.

I’m also talking about the value these clients represent to you by allowing you to be seen with them. When important people in your niche see you interviewing other important people in your niche, for your blog or channel, the value of your “stock” tends to go up.

Because we are known by the company we keep.

Hold on. If you primarily represent consumers, if your clients don’t have the status and connections we’re talking about, you’re not out of luck. Your professional contacts can also provide this value.

Your homework: identify 5 or 10 of your top clients and/or professional contacts and go to school on them.

Study them and their business or industry. Find out more about what they do, how they do it, and who they know. Figure out what they can do for you (or your clients), and. . . what you can do for them.

What do they need? What do they want? What are their problems and goals?

If you can, interview them. Spend more time with them. Tell them you want to get to know better. Ask questions and take notes.

The things you learn will help you take your relationship to the next level.

Your research will help you do a better job for them as their lawyer, and for your other clients in that niche or practice area, and help you assist your inner circle in ways that go beyond your core services.

Good for them. Good for your other clients and contacts. And good for you.

There you have it. Off you go. You’ve got people to talk to and notes to take.

Make sure you have a copy of this in your backpack

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Give ’em the pickle

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Your client asks you for something extra. It’s small but you would be justified billing for it.

Don’t do it. If at all possible, give it to them, no charge. Because you are in a service business and that means keeping your clients happy.

At least that’s what Bob Farrell, founder of Farrell’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor, would tell you.

“Give ’em the pickle,” Bob would say.

The other day, I watched a video about Farrell’s, which I remember from my youth. They had a big menu and a huge selection of outlandish ice cream dishes, all served up with a big dose of fun.

The video told the story about a regular customer who always asked for and got an extra pickle with his hamburger. One day, he asked a new waitress for an extra pickle but she insisted on charging him for it. He left the restaurant and wrote a letter to Bob Farrell, complaining and vowing never to return.

Farrell wrote back, apologized, offered the customer a coupon and encouraged him to return, which he did.

Farrell began training his employees and corporate staff on the importance of going the extra mile to take care of customers. His “Give ’em the pickle” policy and training was a big success for Farrell’s and many other companies that adopted it.

It’s the little things we do for clients that make a difference. The little things are often the reason clients return to you with their next legal matter, and the reason they tell their friends about you.

So, when they ask for something extra, look for ways to give it to them. The cost to you is negligible compared to the lifetime value of the client (and his referrals).

But don’t wait to be asked. Client’s appreciate the extra touches–your handwritten thank you note, personally greeting them in your reception area, or calling to see how they feel after their latest medical procedure.

Whether or not a client asks for something extra, look for ways to give ’em the pickle.

Treating client’s right is the key to repeat business and referrals

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The most important element in marketing legal services

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What’s the most important thing in your marketing?

Trust.

Whether it’s with client relations, nurturing prospects, building relationships with professional contacts or building your reputation in your niche market or community, trust is everything.

Because without it, nothing else matters.

People may know and like you, but if they don’t trust you, they’re not going to hire you, refer you, or help you.

Yes, it is that simple.

How do you create trust? Start by keeping your promises.

Show up on time, call when you said you would call, deliver your work product or updates on schedule.

Do what you said you would do, and what reasonable people would expect you to do.

Another way to build trust is by being consistent.

Consistent quality, for example, shows people you’re a professional and can be counted on to get the job done.

Consistently showing up in their inbox is another way to build trust. Especially when you consistently deliver relevant, valuable content.

Your content shows people you know what you’re doing and have helped other people with the same or similar issues.

It shows people that many others have trusted you, suggesting that they can trust you, too.

Consistently showing up in their inbox also reminds people that you’re still “in business,” ready to help them when they need you or know someone who does.

Contrast that to the lawyer who writes once in a while, or doesn’t write at all.

Yes, building trust is simple. But it’s also easy to mess up.

So don’t do that.

Do what you said you would do and do it consistently.

More ways to build trust: here

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How much is a new client worth to you?

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Over their lifetime, a new client is potentially worth a fortune to you. Their repeat business and referrals will certainly be worth many times what they pay you initially.

At least that’s how you have to look at it.

The “one time” client who pays you $1,000 could come back with bigger matters, or a series of smaller ones. They could refer other clients, tell their contacts about you, share your content, promote your event or blog or channel, or provide a testimonial or positive review, all of which can bring you more business.

Of course those new clients are (statistically) likely to provide you with more of the same.

Your next new client might provide you with enough business to pay your monthly mortgage or your groceries for a year. They might bring you your next multi-million dollar case or client.

Hold on. That’s a new client. An established client, someone who already knows you and your work, may provide you with even more.

When you realize this and embrace it, you know how important it is to make getting and keeping clients your priority.

The time you spend blogging, networking on social media, or writing a newsletter isn’t wasted time, it’s an investment with the potential to provide a massive ROI.

The money you invest in advertising, webinars, or other paid marketing methods, the time you invest in staying in touch with your subscribers and clients, and the resources you devote to hiring and training good staff, are time and money well spent.

So is your investment in personal development. Becoming a better lawyer, a better communicator, and a better marketer is worth it.

Because that’s how you get and keep good clients.

Ready to take a quantum leap in your marketing? Here’s how

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4 lists that can grow your practice

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You want new clients. You want everyone you know to refer clients to you, send traffic to your website, and promote your content and events.

You want introductions to centers of influence in your niche or local market. You want invitations to be interviewed and speak or write for publications that serve your target markets.

You might want help with advertising, website or computer matters, writing, or presenting. You might want help getting organized or learning or troubleshooting computer programs, or recommendations for hardware, apps, or methodologies.

Whatever you want, it should go on a list, the first of four:

  1. WHAT I WANT

List number one will remind you to think about what you want and train yourself to recognize people you know and meet who can provide it.

Keep this list in front of you and look at it often because you get what you focus on.

  1. HOW I CAN HELP

You should also maintain a list of ways you can help your clients and contacts besides your legal services.

What do you know they’d like to know? What skills do you have that can help them? What kinds of introductions and referrals can you give them?

This list will help you become proactive in helping people. When you help your clients and contacts, they’ll help you.

  1. WHAT MY CLIENTS AND CONTACTS WANT

Your clients and contacts want things, too, and their wants and needs should go on another list.

What kinds of clients or customers do your business and professional contacts want? Who would they like to meet? What information would help them, personally or in their business life?

You can use this list to help them get what they want. You’ll know who to refer to them, who to introduce to them, and what kinds of information to send them.

  1. HOW MY CLIENTS AND CONTACTS CAN HELP

This list is a record of what your clients and business contacts can do for you and your other clients and contacts.

What do they know? Who do they know? How can they help people?

These four lists will help you help others. They will help you to be an effective matchmaker, content creator, and business contact.

You’ll be able to do things for your clients and contacts most lawyers don’t do and build the kind of network and practice most lawyers will never have.

When you help others, you get more repeat business and referrals

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Who’s on your ‘top 30’ list?

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Some clients are better than others. They give you more business, send more referrals, and otherwise contribute more than other clients to your bottom line and your success.

The same goes for professional contacts. Some send more referrals, promote your offers, and help you build your list of contacts and subscribers.

I encourage you to go through your list(s) and write down the names of your best clients and professional contacts.

Then, cut this down to 30 names. Your top 30.

Call it ‘My Top 30’ list or ‘My inner circle’. And keep that list in front of you.

These are the people in your professional life with whom you should connect most often and most deeply. Call them, write to them, talk to them, spend time with them, because they contribute the most to your success.

And what we focus on, grows.

Your ‘top 30’ should get more access to you, extra favors from you, more of your time and attention.

Do something special for them. Schedule “call-in days” where they can ask you anything. Give them extra content and/or early access to content. Give them special offers, introduce them to your other contacts, and otherwise make them feel valued and appreciated.

Because, I’m sure, they are.

What if someone “drops out”? They close their business, retire, stop hiring you or sending you referrals? Put them on another list and give their “spot” to someone else.

Your “inner circle” should max out at 30 people because, if you’re doing it right, that’s about all you’ll have time for.

Nurture your inner circle. Take care of them. Because they take care of you.

Do you use Evernote? Get my ebook, “Evernote for Lawyers”

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Thank you (and a challenge)

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Thank you for being a loyal reader of my blog and newsletter and for everything else you do.

Thank for your comments and questions. They help make me better at what I do.

Thank you for your reviews and testimonials. They show other lawyers that “this stuff really works” and encourage them to take a chance on me.

Thank you for sharing my content with colleagues. It helps me build my list and my business.

Thank you for buying my books and courses and hiring me to coach or consult you. Your support helps me continue to do what I do.

So, thank you. I appreciate you and want you to know that.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I’m sure you’re telling your clients and others that you appreciate them. Most people don’t say thank you, and when you do, don’t for a minute think it goes unnoticed.

Which leads to my challenge:

Send a “thank you” email to someone every day.

Send a thank you to a new client. You probably already did that; do it again.

Send a thank you to a fellow professional for sending you an article or for sharing your article with their clients.

Send a thank you to a prospective client for considering you as their attorney.

Send a thank you to someone who referred someone to you, even if they didn’t hire you.

Send an email to opposing counsel, thanking them for making your job a little less miserable.

Send a thank you to a personal friend, for being your friend.

Put “thank you” on your daily calendar, to remind yourself to thank someone for something. Train yourself to look for reasons to tell someone you appreciate them.

What will happen when you do?

You’ll make someone feel good about what they’ve done, and about themselves, making it more likely they’ll do it again.

You’ll feel good about yourself for remembering to shine a light on someone’s good deed or ongoing support.

You’ll stand out in a world where most people don’t say thank you, or don’t say it enough.

Imagine waking up, opening your email and waiting inside was a message from someone telling you how much they appreciate you. Imagine what you’ll think about that person.

Make a daily “thank you” email your new habit. You may be surprised by how much it improves your career and your relationships.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Client relations starts before the client hires you

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Everyone touts the importance of excellent client relations, aka “customer service”. And rightly so. 

Making our clients feel appreciated, minding our manners, giving clients more value than they expect, being fair and honest in our fees and billing, keeping clients informed–this is how we build trust, get good reviews, and generate repeat business and referrals. 

We build our reputation and a loyal client following by the way we treat our clients, at least as much as by the outcomes we deliver. And we generally do a good job of it.

But we can do better. 

Because it’s not just how you treat a client after they come to see you, it’s the entirety of the client experience, which begins before you ever speak with them. 

When someone refers a prospective client to you, what do they tell them about you? 

When a prospective client watches your video, reads your article or blog post, or hears you speak, what does your content and delivery tell them about your abilities and experience?

When they visit your website, what do they learn about your services, your experience, and what it will be like to have you as their attorney?

When someone subscribes to your list, what do you send them, tell them, and offer them, and what does that say to them about you?

And when someone contacts you, to ask a question or schedule an appointment, what are they asked, what are they told, and how do you make them feel?

Because your success depends on how you make people feel–about their case or issue and about you.

A successful legal career isn’t a series of transactions so much as a journey, and how many people you can bring with you. 

And that journey begins well before the client’s first appointment, and continues long after their last one.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System for Lawyers

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On-boarding new clients

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Remember your first day of school? You were scared, you didn’t know anybody, and you didn’t know what was going to happen or what was expected of you.

You may have wanted to go home.

To some extent, your new clients feel the same way. They’re nervous about their case, they don’t know you, and they don’t know what’s going to happen.

Part of your job is to alleviate their fears and doubts and make them feel good about their decision to hire you.

You want them to understand what’s about to happen, what to expect from you, and what you expect from them. You want to equip them to work with you, to help you achieve a good outcome for them.

And you want to set the stage for repeat business and referrals.

You need an on-boarding checklist that spells out what you will do, and when, with links to forms, emails, and lists of things you need to do or tell the new client.

Things like:

  • Introduce yourself, your staff, and your partners
  • Learn about their family, their employees, their other advisers
  • Inquire about other possible legal issues
  • Provide information about their case–the law, the procedure, the timetable, and the process you follow
  • Answer their FAQs
  • Orient them to the tools and processes you use to communicate with your clients (and ask them which apps or methods they prefer)
  • Give them a “tour” of your office and/or a virtual tour of your website and the resources available to them
  • Educate them about “what else” you do, ie., other services, practice areas
  • Provide reports, referral cards, etc., they can hand out
  • Provide exemplars of positive reviews you’ve received and links to sites where they can leave one if they’re happy with your work
  • Give them homework, to get them involved in the process
  • Send a thank you note, a welcome gift, and add their birthday to your card list

Your checklist should encompass what you will say and do at their first appointment and thereafter.

Your clients are your most valuable asset. A checklist can ensure you continue to invest in them.

How to create “referral devices” that bring in new business

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What to do when a client complains

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It happens. Someone is unhappy about something. Often, that means that other clients are unhappy about the same issue, they’re just not telling you.

They just leave. Or don’t hire you again.

But you want your clients to tell you about their complaints. Why?

  • So you can fix the problem and avoid giving other clients the same bad experience.
  • So you can keep unhappy clients from telling the world about their bad experience with you on social media, et. al.
  • So you can assess weaknesses in your systems and improve them.
  • So you can build a reputation for listening to your clients and caring about them enough to respond to their needs and concerns.

Getting a complaint from a client also gives you the opportunity to turn that client into a fan.

Studies show that many of the most loyal clients (and sources of referrals) come from clients who previously had a complaint that the attorney addressed to their satisfaction.

So, you want clients to come to you if they have an issue with anything. Encourage them to do that. Provide forms they can fill out. Let them respond anonymously if they prefer.

And, when you get a complaint:

  1. Listen to it; don’t argue or become defensive.
  2. Thank the client for calling the problem to your attention.
  3. Fix it.
  4. Apologize and promise it won’t happen again.
  5. Tell them what you will do/have done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  6. Consider offering something extra to “make it up to them”
  7. Thank them again for telling you and giving you the opportunity to make things right.
  8. Contact them again and make sure everything is okay.

You don’t have to hire expensive consultants to advise you on improving client relations. Your clients will tell you everything you need to know.

How to quickly grow a big(ger) practice

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