How well do you know your clients?

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Some lawyers do their best to get to know their clients on a personal level, not just during the pendency of the case or matter, but thereafter.

Some lawyers don’t.

The first group may be described as adopting a “relational” approach to building their practice. The latter group, those who do the work and move onto the next client, are said to take a “transactional” approach.

The advantage of a relational approach is that it tends to lead to long-term relationships, which are more likely to result in repeat business and referrals. The lawyer also may get to know the client’s personal and/or business contacts, leading to additional clients and opportunities.

The disadvantages are that it takes time to build relationships, as well as interpersonal skills and being comfortable with a higher degree of transparency.

The transactional approach avoids those disadvantages, but tends to miss out on some of the advantages.

Bottom line, the transactional approach looks at the short-term—the size of the case or the number of billable hours, while the relational approach focuses on the long-term and the lifetime value of the client.

Is one approach better for you than the other? Or should you consider a hybrid approach, as many lawyers do? Many lawyers adopt a transactional approach with most clients and build relationships with their best ones.

Because there are only so many hours in a day.

I recommend a slightly different approach.

I recommend building relationships with all of your clients, just not all in the same way.

Because there are only so many hours in a day, I recommend staying in touch with all of your clients via email, and investing personal time with your best clients.

You absolutely can build relationships with your clients (and others) via email.

You can and you should.

To learn how, get my course on email marketing for attorneys

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Make this your next project

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Before you do anything to bring in new clients, your next marketing project should be to win back former clients and engage or re-engage prospective clients with whom you’ve lost touch.

Former clients know, like, and trust you. Prospective clients may not trust you yet, but they know who you are and have given you permission to contact them.

Send them one or more emails. Reintroduce yourself and your services to people who can hire you or refer you, immediately or down the road.

It’s one of the most effective marketing strategies you can use.

What do you say to them?

Some clients left because they were unhappy about something. They should probably be called and you should be prepared to apologize and make amends. A surprising number will come back and forget all about their differences.

Most clients don’t have an issue, they simply drifted away. So, hearing from you again, even if you don’t say anything special, may be enough to get them re-engaged.

And, you can write about almost anything. Here are some ideas to grease your wheels:

  • Just checking in/How are you?/Thinking about you (It’s amazing how well this works)
  • It’s time. . . (to update something)
  • Have you moved? (Verify their contact info)
  • Check out this (article, video, post)
  • Happy birthday (or holiday)
  • It’s our anniversary (of working with you)
  • I’d like your opinion about (something)
  • I have a question for you
  • A client success story
  • A client who didn’t (do something and got hurt) story
  • A gift to you (free ebook, training, form, checklist)
  • Let’s connect (your social media channels)
  • I’m sorry (for not staying in touch)
  • News (about you, your services, a legal issue) that can affect them
  • An invitation to an event
  • Yeah, just about anything

A few guidelines:

  • Write from “you,” not “the firm”
  • Be yourself; speak plainly
  • Build on what they already know and value
  • Consider including a special offer
  • Tell them what to do (call to action)
  • Invite them to join or re-join your newsletter (so you can continue to stay in touch)

You invested time and money to bring in these clients and connect with these prospects. What might happen when you connect with them again?

You might find one or two former clients who hire you again or send you a referral.

You might find a handful of prospective clients who decide they’re ready to get started.

And you might find yourself smiling all the way to the bank because you’re bringing in an additional ten or twenty or fifty thousand per month that would have otherwise passed you by.

Why not write a few emails and find out?

Email marketing for attorneys

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A simple way to get more people to trust you

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It’s only logical. If people don’t trust you, they won’t hire you or return to you or refer you.

Or follow your advice.

We show them positive reviews, testimonials, awards, endorsements, and our other bona fides, and share stories about the clients we’ve helped. We write articles and give speeches, filled with proof that we know our stuff.

And it’s all good. But sometimes, it’s not enough.

Because other lawyers say a lot of the same things and because we all seem to tell people nothing but the good stuff. We make ourselves look almost perfect.

And people know we’re not.

If you want more people to trust you, the best thing you can do is admit it.

Tell people you’re not perfect. And then, prove it.

Tell them about one of your flaws, weaknesses, or mistakes.

Careful, though. Not all mistakes are created equal.

Tell them about the time you showed up late to a hearing and got yelled at by the Court. Don’t tell them about the case you lost because you sued the wrong party.

Let them see you do things you know you shouldn’t do. You don’t get enough exercise; you spend too much at the Apple store; you tell your grandkids stupid jokes.

You know, the stuff humans do.

People know you’re not perfect. When you admit it and show them a flaw or two, they’re more likely to trust you.

Probably also like you. Even if they don’t laugh at your stupid jokes.

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You only need a few

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Clients come and go. They pay us for our services and we may never hear from them again, even if they’re thrilled with our work.

They may return, they may refer, but as a whole, they are an unreliable asset. Treat them well, be there when they need you, stay in touch with them, but don’t count on them to do anything more than pay your bill.

Unless they show themselves to be among the precious few clients (and professional contacts) who can truly be described as a fan.

A fan is someone who promotes you, your services, your content, and your events. Someone who is not only willing to send you business but goes out of their way to do that, because they like you and appreciate you and want to help you.

They join your list and read everything you write. They share your content and send traffic to your blog. They praise you publicly, through reviews and testimonials, and privately, by telling people all about you.

When you recognize a fan, pay attention. Remember their name, take their calls, find out all about them and their business, and go out of your way to help them, and not just with legal services. Find out what they want or need in their business or personal life and help them get it.

Give your fans more attention than regular clients and contacts. Invite them into your inner circle and stay close to them.

Because they are your future. They can help your practice not just grow but multiply.

Fans will attract more fans, lead you to opportunities and opportunities to you. They are also a reminder that what you do is important.

Clients come and go. Fans are rare. But you only need a few.

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Wham, bam, see the cashier

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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

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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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