Tooting your horn when your horn needs tooting

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When you win a big case, get an award, or achieve an important milestone, don’t keep it a secret.

Tell people about that great testimonial or endorsement you received. Tell people about the results you obtained for a client.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

Tell you clients and prospects about your accomplishments, because they want to know they are dealing with a lawyer who knows what they’re doing. It validates their decision to hire you or send you referrals, or tips the balance in your favor if they haven’t yet taken that step.

Share your good news, especially if it suggests you’re growing–your new hires, new offices, new clients, new services or new practice areas.

When you write a (new) book, start a video channel, update your website, start a newsletter, or get invited to speak at a prestigious event, let everyone know.

It’s not bragging if it’s true.

And if it’s true, it can help you.

On the other hand, while your clients and business contacts like knowing they work with a lawyer who is smarter than the average bear, nobody really cares that much.

It’s nice, but they’re a lot more concerned about themselves.

So, toot your horn when your horn needs tooting, but don’t lay on the horn.

Because that can get annoying. Maybe even make some people jealous.

How much is too much tooting? I’d focus mostly on the big stuff, the stuff that moves the needle, and the stuff that directly benefits your clients and contacts.

Tell them about cases you win that make new law or receive a lot of press. Tell them about your new office, your new services, or the new content on your website.

But don’t ignore the review you got from a client who thanked you for being so supportive and working hard to help them. Or the new software you installed that makes things easier for you and your clients.

And when you toot, make sure you look good doing it.

Be brief, say you’re honored or thrilled, thank the people who need to be thanked, and move on.

Toot well, my friend.

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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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Is it okay to tell a client, “I don’t know”?

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When we prep a client for a statement or depo we tell them it’s okay to say, “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. It’s safe. A way to keep them from guessing or lying and getting caught.

If you don’t know, you don’t know, so that’s what you should say.

But what if it’s something they should know? Won’t they look bad if they say they don’t?

Sometimes they will.

If the question is, “Where were you seated in the vehicle?” yes. They will look bad if they say they don’t know.

You sign ’em up and you take yo chances.

But what about us? Lawyers who have clients (and spouses) who ask us questions we should be able to answer. Is it okay to tell them you don’t know?

Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s not.

When a client asks, “How much is my case worth?” you better not give them an answer that doesn’t include the words “it depends.” On the other hand, if your spouse asks, “Do you love me” you damn well better have a different answer. And, for the record, if your spouses asks, “How much did you have to drink?” you probably don’t want to say you don’t recall.

But those are easy. What about difficult questions?

When a client asks you about the law, is it okay to say you don’t know? Should you offer an ambiguous “it depends” type of answer, tell them you’re not sure, or admit you don’t have a clue?

If you admit you don’t know something you should know, doesn’t that show weakness?

It’s certainly a good way to show the client you respect them and aren’t trying to bluff your way through an answer. It’s refreshing to hear an attorney provide a straight answer for a change, isn’t it?

Yeah, I know, it depends.

If you don’t know the answer, and you don’t know if you should admit that, I’d suggest going with, “I need to do more research.”

On the other hand, speaking from experience, I can tell you that’s not a good answer when your wife asks you (anything).

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Give people what they want? Maybe

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A YouTuber who “reacts” to musical artists posted a survey on her channel. She asked her subscribers to vote on which artist she should (continue to) react to.

87% chose one artist over the others.

As a result, she’s going to do more reactions to the fan favorite. But she’s also going to react to other artists, “out of fairness” to people who have other preferences.

Is that a good strategy? Or should she stick with what her subscribers overwhelmingly told her they want, because the customer is always right and we are all in the business of serving our customers (or clients)?

Well, if you polled your subscribers and followers, clients and prospects, and asked them what topics they wanted you to write or talk about, or what services they wanted you to provide, would you give them what they want because they want it?

Your answer should be “maybe”. Because the customer (client) isn’t always right.

Steve Jobs put it this way:

“Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!'” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.”

If I write about a marketing method you aren’t interested in, you might tune me out. If I write about it all the time, you might find someone else to read.

On the other hand, you might hear me talk about the benefits of that method and how you can do it effectively, and change your mind.

You might not know what you want until I show it to you.

But sometimes, our subscribers want things we can’t give them. If your readers or clients ask you to write about investing in crypto currencies or precious metals and you don’t know anything about the subject, don’t be too quick to say no and don’t try to fake your way through it.

Think like a marketer, not a lawyer and invite an expert to write a guest post on the subject. Or interview them. Because we really are in the business of serving our customers.

Give people what they want. If you can’t or don’t want to, find someone who can.

How to get more referrals from other lawyers

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Here’s the real reason you should take notes at a client meeting

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Some lawyers write a lot, some jot down key points, but most lawyers take notes when they meet with a client.

Why do it?

To document what was said? To record your thoughts about what was said? To write down additional questions, issues to research, or what to do next?

These are all important. But not the most important reason for taking notes.

The most important reason for taking notes is to let your client see you taking notes.

To show them you’re listening, recording ideas, plotting ways to help them.

You’re not just taking up space in the room, you’re working.

Taking notes is a way to document effort. The client sees that you’re doing what you were paid to do. Win or lose, they see that you tried.

Taking notes is also a way to validate the client. It tells them you value what they say, and, therefore, you value them.

When a lawyer doesn’t take notes, what’s a client to think?

Who knows?

It’s also important to take notes at a deposition, statement, arbitration, or hearing. You want opposing counsel, the adjuster or other parties to see you taking notes. It suggests that you are hearing things you can use to harm their case or enhance yours.

It’s a way of getting in their head, throwing them off their game.

You might think it works the other way around. You intimidate the opposition by not taking notes, showing them you’re not at all concerned about their case. Your nonchalance suggests you don’t see them as a threat, they’re not saying anything worthy of note. It makes them wonder if there’s anything they’re missing.

Which strategy is best? I’ll let you decide. But if my client is in the room, I’m taking lots of notes.

Want to know how to get more referrals? Here’s how

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Assume I’m as dumb as a rock

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I had an eye infection and went to see a doctor. I won’t do my usual rant about not making the patient (client) wait for 40 minutes before you see them, as if their time isn’t important, and if there’s an emergency, to explain that and apologize, because that’s what a professional who cares about people would do.

No. I’ll save that for another day.

Today, I want to address another issue. Making sure your patients (clients) understand you.

The doctor had a lot to tell me about the care and treatment of my eye, including what to do now and what she will have me do later if things don’t clear up. The problem? She delivered this information rapid-fire, with a foreign accent, through a mask, and I didn’t catch most of it.

No problem, I thought. I’m sure she’ll give me some instructions to take home. Maybe a link to a video or two, so I can see what to do and how to do it.

Not so much.

They gave me a list of things to get at the pharmacy, but no instructions about how to use them. No, it’s not obvious, and it’s my eye and I don’t want to wing it. So now, I have to call the doctor’s office and have them explain it to me.

Doctors (and lawyers) need to spell things out. Assume your client (patient) knows nothing, is distracted by their problem, and not able to process and remember all of your information or advice.

Assume they are as dumb as a rock because in that moment, they probably aren’t their usual clear-thinking self.

If you have a new PI client, for example, and you tell them to keep a “pain journal” to document their aches and pains, their sleepless nights, the medications they took, and so on, you may assume that your advice will literally go in one ear and come out the other.

Assume they didn’t hear, didn’t understand, and won’t remember everything you said. Or anything.

Give the client detailed written instructions. Explain what you want them to do, how to do it, and why it is so important to their case. Give them some examples, so they can see how much to record. And have them email you their notes once a week, so you can make sure they’re doing it, and doing it right.

Because your clients depend on you to take care of them. And sometimes, that means assuming they are as dumb as a rock.

Happy clients provide more referrals

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Do your clients know how smart you are?

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My accountant and I recently started using a shared Dropbox folder to exchange documents. I spoke to him the other day about a bunch of things and when we were done, I asked if he wants me to keep everything in that folder, or could I remove them.

Some things I want to put elsewhere. Some things I want to trash.

He said I could do anything I wanted with those documents, they’re all copies.

One reason I asked is that every year he sends me an inch-thick booklet of “literature” to read, information about changes in tax law, recommended record-keeping practices, and various strategies for reducing taxes.

It’s a lot to read and I’m sure it’s very good but I usually don’t read it.

I always assumed it was canned material, purchased from a service that sells research and recommendations to CPAs to send to their clients. Something he and a thousand other CPAs stick in the envelope (or dropbox folder) they send to clients each year.

Boilerplate. Generic. Boring.

But I was wrong. He told me he writes all of it.

I was impressed (and told him so) and embarrassed that, at best, I only skimmed his good work.

My fault for assuming. His fault for not letting me know he wrote it.

Had I known that, I would have read (some of) it and probably found something I could use. At the very least, I would have been even more impressed at how smart he is and how hard he works for his clients.

So that’s my message to you. If you write or record something, send it to your clients and prospects, even if it’s not completely applicable to their case or situation. And make sure they know you wrote it.

You want them to know that you’re smart, good at your job, and work hard for your clients. You want them to feel good about choosing you as their attorney.

Pretty sure you want that too.

How to write a newsletter that brings in more business

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What could you improve?

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The other day I stopped at a light. On the corner, a building was under construction and I saw a tradesman poised on a beam, doing something with a piece of lumbar. I couldn’t tell what he was doing but I could tell he was doing it purposefully and carefully.

Like he wanted to do it right.

No doubt he’s proud of his work, I thought, and wants to do a good job so he’ll be hired again.

And because he knows his work will be scrutinized by a building inspector.

That’s when I thought about you.

You do your best work because you are a professional and you’re proud of what you do. Like the contractor, you have a client who expects and deserves your best work.

Your client is interested in the results you obtain for him, and wants to know he got his money’s worth, but he won’t “inspect” your work like a building inspector.

So it comes down to you.

From time to time, you might ask yourself a question: “If my work was inspected by the bar, by my insurance carrier, or by another attorney my client hired to get a second opinion, what would they conclude?”

Did I cut any corners? Omit steps? Make mistakes?

A little introspection is good for the soul, and the pocketbook.

But don’t stop there. Don’t focus solely on avoiding mistakes, consider ways to improve what you do well.

At the end of each case or engagement, examine the steps you took and the order in which you took them. Do you see a way to improve your process? To do a better job or get the work done more quickly? To make it easier for you to do that work for the next client?

While you’re at it, examine how you treated the client. Did you make them feel appreciated? Did you make them feel like you gave them their money’s worth?

Ask yourself questions like these and take notes. Write down what you did well and what you could improve.

Because you are your own building inspector. And you don’t want to merely be up to code, you want to be the best you can be.

Ready to take a Quantum Leap in the growth of your practice? This will show you how

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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 to say no without coming off as a jerk

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Your inboxes and ears are filled with requests from clients, friends, family, co-workers, subscribers, people in your social network, and others who want something from you but can’t or won’t hire you.

How do you say no without feeling guilty or appearing to be a jerk?

First, make sure you’re clear about your areas of responsibility, so you can focus on what and who are important. If building stronger relationships with your clients is important to you, giving a client 30 or 60 minutes of your time without charge might be a very good use of your time.

Second, do what you can to manage the expectations of the people in your life. Your new client kit or welcome letter should spell out things like how you bill, when you will respond to calls or emails, and what to do in case of emergency (and what constitutes one).

Make sure your website has answers to FAQs and tell visitors you can’t respond to every comment or request.

If you have partners or work on projects with other people, clarify who handles what, deadlines, and other agreed standards.

Third, understand that you don’t have to respond to every request. You can (and should) ignore spam, and just because someone asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to answer it.

If you feel the need to respond, do it in a way that validates the other person but makes it clear that you can’t drop everything to give them what they want. Respond with one or two sentences, to let them know you’re not ignoring them, but don’t lead them to believe there’s more to come.

Fourth, tell them “not now” instead of no. Tell them you need more information or time to think about what they’re asking, or you’re not sure when you’ll be able to do it because of your other commitments. They may find other ways to get what they need, or realize they no longer need it.

Finally, when you turn someone down, do what you can to direct them to another person or resource that might help. Refer them to another lawyer, give them a website or two, or a book you recommend.

The key is to make people feel that while you can’t help them, you heard them and support them and invite them to contact you again.

How to get your website to bring in more business

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