Another reason to write your own reviews

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Yesterday, I talked about taking the nice things clients say about you, your services, and the way they were treated, putting their words into writing, and asking those clients to post a review at your favorite review site.

You get better reviews that way, and more of them.

But this is based on clients spontaneously thanking you or otherwise saying nice things to you or about you. What if they don’t? Or don’t do it enough?

You can send your clients surveys and ask for their feedback, and you should. You’ll find out what they like but may not say, and what they don’t like (so you can fix it).

But there’s something else you can do.

Sit down, sharpen your pencil, and write the review you would love your clients to write.

Yes, out of thin air.

And make it good.

Even if the things you write in that review aren’t true. Actually, especially if they aren’t true. Because this review isn’t really a review, it’s a wish list. A summary of the things you would like clients to say about you in the future.

Now for the good part. After you write this review, ask yourself, what would I have to do to get my clients to say things like this about me?

And do them.

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Why you should write your own reviews

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Most clients don’t leave reviews, even when they love you. That’s why you should write your own. 

Hold on, I’m not suggesting anything unethical. Here’s what I mean. 

The issue isn’t that clients don’t appreciate your work or the way you take care of them. They do. They tell you that all the time. 

They say thank you. And mean it. They tell you how relieved they are that you got them out of a jam. They say you did a great job, you’re a great lawyer, and they are glad they found you. 

Nice things. The kinds of things you would love for them to say in a review. 

They usually don’t post a review, however, because they’re busy. Or don’t think about it. Or don’t know know how important it is.   

But if you make it easy for them, they will.  

Which is why you should take the words they say to you, or send you in an email, and write the review for them. 

Send them an email, thank them for their kind words, and quote back to them what you heard. And then ask if they would post those words in a review and give them the link to the review site you prefer.

Tell them they can add to or edit what you wrote any way they want to, and can submit it without showing their full name. You can also offer some additional language they could use if they agree with it. Things you know they think or feel but didn’t actually say. 

Make sure they know how important reviews are to a lawyer, and to the people who are looking for a lawyer. And thank them again. 

Not everyone will say yes, but you will get more reviews. And every single one will be good.

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Paying clients for positive reviews

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How much is a good review worth to you? A client who says you helped them, made them feel safe, gave them tremendous value and solved their problems, someone who ssays they recommend you to everyone who needs help?

You’ve gotten great reviews before, so you know how good it feels when they show up. You also know they are worth a small fortune.

They bring you more cases from people searching for a lawyer online. More referrals from professionals who check you out before they refer their clients to you. And they make your other clients feel good about their decision to hire you because they can see that others say you’re the best.

Who wouldn’t love to get more positive reviews? You can’t buy that kind of marketing.

Ah, but you can. You already do.

No, not with cash. Don’t be silly. You pay for positive reviews by giving your clients an incredibly positive experience with you.

You don’t just do the work and deliver the results. You do more. You invest your precious time to serve them, go out of your way to take care of them, surprise and delight them, and build a relationship with them.

When they notice and thank you and say they appreciate what you do for them, there’s only one thing left to do.

Give them the link to the review site you favor and thank them, in advance, for sharing their experience and recommendation.

Okay, one more thing. After they post a review, thank them again.

In writing.

Send them a handwritten note and tell them how much it means to you that they took the time to write that review and say those nice things about you.

You’re not done paying until you do.

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Your practice-building prime directive

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We usually do it when we’re speaking to a prospective client or interviewing a new one. We rarely do it at any other time.

But we should. Because it’s the simplest and most effective way to develop new business and build stronger relationships, which are the essence of building a successful law practice.

Which leads to the prime directive:

Find out what people want, so you can help them get it.

I’m not just talking about their legal needs. I’m talking about everything they might want or need in other areas of their life, because there’s a lot you can do to help people beyond performing your services.

The most obvious is to refer them to other attorneys who handle things you don’t. But you can also:

  • Refer clients or customers to them or promote their business, practice, or cause
  • Provide information—legal, business, consumer, and about their niche or local market
  • Introduce them to people who have information or can help them understand something or do something
  • Recommend tools, books, websites, or ideas
  • Encourage them and give them a shoulder to cry on when things go wrong

Be there for them, for whatever they might need.

If you have a client who needs a recommendation for a job or a loan, help them. If you have a client who is interviewing job candidates, tell them about the book you just read that made this easier for you.

But don’t just wait until they ask for your help. Take the lead and find out.

You do that by observing, listening, and asking questions. What are their goals? What (or who) is stopping them? What do they want to get fixed, avoid, or do better?

You may not be able to help them directly, but you might know someone who can, or. . . know someone who knows someone who can.

Be a matchmaker. When you do that, you help 2 people and get credit for making the match.

You won’t always be able to help people, but you will always get points for trying. When folks hear you ask questions about their situation and what they want or need, when they see you pay attention to what they say, ask follow-up questions, and take notes, they’ll know you really want to help them.

Most lawyers don’t do that. You’ll be “the one” when you do.

Yes, you have time to do it. Because this is the stuff of relationship building and the benefits always exceed the cost.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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The simplest path to loyal clients

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How much is a loyal client worth to you? I’m talking about the client who hires you for all their legal work, regularly sends you referrals, shares your content, promotes your events, provides a positive review, and otherwise toots your horn so you don’t have to.

Yeah, they’re worth a fortune.

It makes sense to do everything you can to cement your relationship with all of your clients, because you don’t know who might become your next champion.

Yes?

This week, we talked about doing things that make clients fall in love with you, and avoiding things that push them away. You also know, because I talk about it often, that there are other things you can do for your clients to win their hearts, things that go beyond your legal services.

Like sending them referrals and promoting their business or practice, providing a character reference when they apply for a job, and offering a shoulder to cry on when they suffer a loss.

Because when you give your clients more than they expect (and deserve) you surprise and delight them and show them why you deserve their loyalty.

But there’s something else you can do that’s even easier. Yes, you’ve heard me talk about this before, too. I think the word is “incessantly.”

Stay in touch with them. Because familiarity builds trust and trust is the key component to loyalty.

Keep your name “in their minds and their mailboxes” so they are continually reminded that you’re still doing what you do and can still help them and the people they know.

Send them an article you think they’ll like; it doesn’t have to be written by you.

Send them a pdf of a form or checklist they might find helpful.

Send them answers to questions you are frequently asked by clients and prospects, or people who attend your events.

Recommend a video, website, or app you think they might use.

Send them anything they might find interesting or helpful (or amusing). It almost doesn’t matter what it is, but send them something regularly, so that when they need help or have a question, they think of you and call you (or hit reply), and there you are.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Lose it or use it

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Yesterday, I threw down about what to do to get your clients to fall in love with you. But there are also things you might need to stop doing.

Things you need to “lose,“ because if you don’t, you might use them and drive clients away instead of bringing them closer.

Periodically, we all need to do some self-reflection, to see if we have any habits or ways of conducting ourself that might be due for an overhaul.

Things like:

  • A bad temper
  • Arrogance
  • Being overly aggressive
  • Impatience
  • Bluntness
  • Negative attitude
  • Over-sharing
  • Talking about politics or religion
  • Lack of seriousness (when necessary)
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Being a poor listener

And so much more.

For me, it’s my sense of humor. Sometimes, I come off as insensitive or just plain goofy.

Hey, not everyone appreciates genius.

But here’s the thing. A weakness can also be a strength.

Sometimes my sense of humor bombs. Sometimes it is a great ice-breaker. People love it when you make them laugh.

The other day, at the doctor’s office, I was a big hit. The nurse laughed her head off and told me I was funny.

“Looks aren’t everything,” I said.

Hey, I don’t ever want to lose my habit of “trying” to be funny. It comes in handy in writing, speaking, and networking.

But I do need to watch what I say, when, and to whom, and edit myself before I do something that gets me into trouble.

Nah, that would be no fun. There are nurses out there who need me.

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Don’t show your clients how the sausage is made

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The law is complicated. Your clients hire you because they believe you can wade through that complexity and do things for them they can’t do for themselves.

Most lawyers are adept at making things more complicated than they need to be. And they make a lot of money doing that. But the lawyers who are adept at simplifying things do even better.

Your clients are busy. They’re scared or confused or have other things on their mind. They want to know that you will take care of them. Get the job done. They don’t want to know everything about how you do what you do.

Just like you don’t want to know how your car works, you just want to know that it does.

So, simplify things for them. Explain only as much as they need to know, and no more (unless they ask).

That goes for your bill, too.

Explain what you did, clearly and thoroughly, but keep it simple. Itemize your bill, but don’t bludgeon them with details.

They’re paying you to deliver a delicious sausage sandwich. Tell them the ingredients, but don’t show them how the sausage is made.

How to write a bill that gets paid

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If your accountant managed your law firm

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Remember the last time you called a company about your order, your payment, or your account and what it took to get to the right department? Remember the joy of wading through a phalanx of options and when you didn’t find what you wanted, choosing any option, hitting “0” or shouting out “customer service” so you could talk to a human being?

God forbid you made a mistake and had to start over. 

Who decided this is the right way to treat customers? 

An accountant. Or committee thereof.

Bean counters counted the beans and realized that it was a lot cheaper to use automation than to hire humans to talk to people. No doubt that’s true. But what they didn’t “account” for is how frustrated customers might be battling the automated devil.

Or how much business they would lose when frustrated customers gave up and bought their wares somewhere else. 

They also didn’t think about the other side of the equation. They didn’t consider how much goodwill and loyalty they could engender, and how much additional profit they might derive, by eating the expense of providing some old-fashioned hospitality on the phone. 

I’m not saying automation is bad. Just that management should consider not just the savings, but the cost. 

How much is it worth to ensure that a customer returns to your store? How many new customers might find you when existing customers share their positive experience with you via reviews, social media, and word of mouth?

I’m not just talking about the phone. There are many areas of customer service where a company should consider spending more to make more. 

That goes for law firm, too.

I encourage you to consider spending more to make clients feel welcome and appreciated and giving them an exceptional experience with your firm. Look for “pain points” and areas of friction your clients and prospective clients might experience and put some money on the line to fix them. 

But don’t just fix them. Turn those pain points into your areas of strength.

It might give you a competitive advantage over other firms that listen too much to their bean counters and don’t listen enough to the people who pay them.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Selling legal services, et. al.

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Let’s clear this up once and for all: Lawyers sell legal services.

There, I said it.

It doesn’t make you a salesperson, but you can’t deny the fact that when someone hires you, a sale takes place.

The more of your services you sell, the more you earn. Pure and simple.

But that’s not all you sell.

Clients pay for your legal services, but what they want and expect you to deliver, what they really pay for, are solutions to their problems.

They hire you to get the benefits you deliver.

Get better at selling those solutions and benefits and you will sell more of your services.

Hold on. We’re not done.

You also sell clients the “experience” of working with you. How your clients feel having you in their corner, how you treat them and make them feel appreciated, and everything else under the ‘client relations’ banner.

Do a good job of this and your clients will stick around, return, and tell others. Mess up and they won’t.

It’s all selling.

But before clients can see any of this, before they hire you, there’s something else they buy (and you sell).

Your reputation.

You’re judged by your record of accomplishments and the things people say about you.

Even when your reputation is stellar, you still need to sell it because many clients can’t discern this. To most clients, we all look alike.

It’s called “reputation management” but it’s really just more selling.

I’ve got one more for you. Something else you sell.

You sell information.

About the law, problems and solutions, the how-to’s,—via your articles and posts, reports and books, presentations and other content.

Clients don’t pay for this information but you need to sell them on reading or listening, because this information shows them you know what you’re doing and can deliver the solutions they want.

Get better at selling this information and you get more leads and prospective clients contacting you, pre-sold on hiring you.

In fact, if your information is good enough, it will do most of the selling for you.

Which is why I repeatedly tell you to create a blog and newsletter.

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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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