The best marketing you can do right now

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Phones quiet? Not a lot of work coming in? Courts closed?

Now would be a good time to do some marketing.

But what?

The same kind of marketing I nag you about all the time, only now you have time to do it on a bigger scale.

It’s one of the simplest and most effective kind of marketing a lawyer can do.

Get on the blower and blow.

Call your clients (and former clients) to say hello, wish them well, and ask if there’s anything you can do for them.

Works well during good times. Should work like gangbusters now when people are concerned about the future and not too busy to take your call.

Don’t expect to get any work when you call, but don’t be surprised if it does.

Right now, you may learn what your clients want to know so you can get the answers for them and share those answers with your other clients and in your newsletter.

If someone need help with something you don’t do, you can refer them to someone who does, earning Brownie points with the client and the professional or business owner to whom you refer them.

Mostly, you’ll strengthen your relationship with the people who once put bread on your table and who will again.

They’ll appreciate you and remember that you thought about them, and while others wrote to them and wished them well, you were the one who made a personal call.

Mark my words, when things get back to normal and they need legal help or know someone who does, they’ll be calling you.

So, how many clients will you call this week?

How to use a newsletter to build your practice

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Something good about COVID-19

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One good thing about what’s happening right now is that it gives you plenty to write about in your newsletter or on social media. Your clients and subscribers will appreciate hearing from you, especially if they’re staying home from work.

For starters, you could write about what you’re doing to protect yourself, your staff, your clients, and visitors to your office.

One firm sent me an email describing a few things they’re doing, including following social distancing practices in the office, disinfecting after each visit, and conducting appointments via Zoom.

You could summarize and opine about the latest news coming out of DC, your state, and your local community. What’s going on that they might have missed and what do you think about it?

You could offer advice about how to get your money back due to event cancellations.

You could provide advice about estate planning, a topic many people seem to be especially interested in (or need to know about) right now.

(If you don’t do estate planning, ask a fellow lawyer to provide you with information you can pass along to your clients and subscribers.)

More than information, your clients and subscribers want to see that you’re calm, cool, and collected. That you’re prepared but not panicked and that you’re there for them if they need you.

Most of all, they want to hear you say that everything will be okay.

If you don’t have a newsletter, now would be an excellent time to start one.

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Converting clients to advocates

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You want your clients to send you referrals, promote your events, share your content, provide positive reviews, and otherwise help you expand your reach and grow your practice.

You deliver good results and treat your clients with respect, and because you do, some of your clients will advocate on your behalf simply because they like you and want to help you and the people they know.

If you want more clients to do that, however, and do it more often, make it easier for them to do it.

One thing you can do is provide them with tools (hash tags, review templates, sample language for social media posts, emails they can forward to friends, etc.) so they can share their experiences with you.

Another thing you can do is make it easier for them to recognize your ideal client by providing them with a description.

Teach them what a good referral looks like, what they should tell them about you, and the best way to make the referral.

The more you inform and equip your clients to advocate for you, the more likely it is that they will do that.

How to equip your clients to send you more referrals

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80 percent of client relations is just two things

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Ah, client relations. The key to repeat business and referrals.

The key to fewer complaints and better reviews.

The key to lower marketing costs and higher profits.

And 80 percent of it just two simple things.

The first one: be nice.

Treat your clients with respect, do what you said you would do, bill on time, and show them you care about them as individuals and not just as a source of income.

Treat them the way you’d like to be treated if your roles were reversed.

See, I told you it was simple.

The second: stay in touch. Also simple.

While you’re handling the case or matter, keep them informed. Send copies of everything, explain everything, and show them everything you’re doing for them.

Between cases or matters, stay in touch via email at least, to strengthen your relationship and show them what else you can do for them or for people they know.

And, that’s it.

You know what? That’s not 80 percent of client relations; it’s probably 90 percent. Maybe more.

And so simple even a lawyer can do it.

Email is the best way to stay in touch. Here’s how to do it right

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You should read this

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Some people think we shouldn’t tell people what to do. We should give them the options and let them decide.

Tell them what they “could” do, not what they “should” do.

I understand the sentiment but when someone looks to you for advice, they want you to tell them what to do.

When a client hires you to advise him, you can (and should) present different ways to do it, but then, tell him which option is best. They’re paying for your experience and judgment. They want to know what you recommend.

When you tell them, you’re telling them what they “should” do.

Tell your clients what they should do.

(Yes, I’m telling you what you should do. Not what you might do. You can choose to follow my advice or reject it. But at least you know what I recommend.)

You should also tell your newsletter and blog readers and presentation attendees what to do. With less specificity, of course, because you don’t know the specifics of their situation. But if you have recommendations about what someone should do in a given situation, tell them what to do.

I saw an article this morning about this subject in the context of employers and employees. The article said we should tell our staff what they “could” do, not what they “should” do.

Yes, you want to empower your staff to think for themselves and not come to you with every little issue, but if you want your secretary to call someone or email someone or bring you something, telling them what they could do or might do is just silly.

You’re not going to say, “I’m running late for my 2 O’clock with Mr. Jones. You could call him to re-schedule.”

You’re going to tell your secretary to call.

Be nice about it. Say please and thank you. But tell her.

That’s what you should do.

Questions about what to write in a newsletter? Here are the answers

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Your success comes down to this

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One of the biggest misconceptions about an attorney’s success is the idea that their legal services are the most important part of the equation.

They’re not.

Clearly, your services are important. But not the most important factor.

It’s not the outcomes you deliver, either. It’s not the benefits you offer. It’s not value or your reputation or any of the things that make people trust you and have confidence in your ability to help them.

Although these are important, too.

The most important factor in your success is something else, and it’s right under your nose.

It’s you.

Your personality. The way you speak, the way you make people feel about their case and their future.

And how you make them feel about themselves.

It comes down to this:

When you make people feel good, they want you by their side–advising them, protecting them, and working with them.

Before a client buys your services, they buy you.

Thats why you have no competition. Because there is only one you.

I can teach you how to get in front of more people. I can give you things to say and do. I can help you improve what you’re already doing.

The rest is on you.

It starts with your values. What you believe about yourself and your world, what you deem important.

The essence of who you are.

Your values determine your attitude–how you feel about your clients and how committed you are to serving them.

Your attitude affects your activities–your work, sure, but also the way you treat your clients and prospective clients–all of the things that constitute “client relations”.

Your activities determine your results. How people feel about your work and about you.

And how they feel about themselves for choosing you.

It’s all about the relationship

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Video killed the radio star

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Video marketing is big and will no doubt get bigger. But it’s not the only way to get your message in front of prospective clients and, as I’ve said before, it’s not necessarily the best way.

Some reasons:

  • The user needs to take time to watch a video that’s longer than a couple of minutes and many people won’t do that.
  • Not everyone has the ability to watch a video; even if they have their phone with them, they may not have privacy or a good signal.
  • While you can fast-forward (or “scrub”) through a video, it still takes time to watch it and the user may miss something. A document, on the other hand, can be scanned and your message received and understood (an impression) in a few seconds.
  • Viewers may be spoiled by the production value of the videos they usually watch. If you’re not good on camera or don’t want to spend time on editing, etc., if your videos aren’t first-class, prospective clients may conclude that your legal services aren’t, either.
  • It will usually take you more time to produce a video than a written message.

Video do offer advantages in marketing. For one, they give you the ability to help prospective clients get to know and like you before they speak to you.

Videos can play a role on your website and/or social media channels. You can answer FAQs, explain how you work with clients, show visitors where to find articles and resources on your site, and re-purpose or share content from you blog or newsletter.

If you use videos, however, I suggest you also supply a transcript so people can scan your message if they can’t or don’t want to watch your entire production.

Okay, that’s marketing. Videos can also play a role in improving your client relations.

When someone becomes a client, they are more likely to spend time watching a video from you, and more forgiving if your efforts aren’t up to Cecil B. DeMille standards.

How could you use videos to improve client relations? Some ideas:

  • A general video “welcome letter”–welcome to your practice, introduce them to staff, show them your library, conference room, etc.
  • A “personal welcome letter”–use their name, tell them you’ve started on their case, hold up a copy of their file, show them a screen cap of their name in your calendar system, etc.
  • FAQ’s–answer questions new clients typically have about how things work, the steps, what happens when something (bad) happens, etc.
  • Testimonials from other clients. Yes, you’re showing this to clients but testimonials from other happy clients can help attenuate “buyer’s remorse”. (This might be a way you can use testimonials if you are otherwise not allowed to do that in your marketing.)
  • Client ‘training’–getting ready for a depo or court appearance, etc.
  • Updates–here’s what’s happened so far, here’s what’s next.
  • Videos of you speaking (or on a podcast), so they can see they hired the right attorney for the job.

Some things to think about and work on, yes?

Now, I could have recorded this post in a video for you. But would you have watched it?

You would if you had hired me and paid me thousands of dollars.

If you’d like to do that, let me know and I’ll be happy to record it for you.

More ideas for your website

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White space. The final frontier.

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Yesterday, I encouraged you to put more white space in your life. Don’t try to fill every minute with activities–give yourself room to breathe and think and recharge.

Today, I’m encouraging you to do the same thing for your clients.

Especially clients with a stressful legal situation or who aren’t used to working with attorneys.

What can you do to give them more white space?

A few ideas:

When you send documents, don’t weigh them down with everything all at once. Dole it out. A little to start, a little more on another day. Let them know there’s more, but give them time to digest what you’ve already sent.

Preface your message with an executive summary–a few paragraphs that tell them the bottom line–so they don’t have to wade through everything to find out what happened or what you recommend.

Make your documents and correspondence easier to read by using, yes, lots of white space. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, and bullet points, so they can scan and get the gist of the document without having to read every word.

Consider highlighting key words or phrases, with bold or CAPITAL LETTERS, or other visual cues.

Instead of a monthly newsletter covering everything under the sun, break it up and send a shorter newsletter once a week.

You can also add white space in meetings and phone calls. Keep them short, get to the point quickly, and only tell them what’s essential for them to know. Then, tell them where to get additional information if they want it and invite them to ask questions.

In your writing, conversations, and presentations, number your points. Then, as you begin, tell them how many points you’re going to cover.

When you begin with, “There are five reasons I’m recommending you take the offer,” the client knows what to expect and is better able to absorb your message.

When you speak to a client, you can help them relax and feel more confident by letting them hear that you are relaxed and confident. If you’re in person, use body language (eye contact, smiling, relaxed posture).

Give your clients more white space and you will make it easier for them to hear you, trust you, and follow your advice. When you make it easier for them to work with you, they’ll make it easier for you to do a good job for them.

How to write an effective email newsletter

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Should you hug your clients?

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A 2017 study underscores the importance of providing physical contact with infants, especially when they are distressed.

In fact, the study says that cuddling can “actually affect babies at the molecular level, and the effects can last for years.”

So, human touch is important to little humans. What about for grown-ups?

When a client is upset or needs reassurance that everything is going to be okay, I don’t need a scientific study to know that giving them a hug is just what the doctor ordered.

But I also know that in today’s PC climate, hugging a client can get you into a heap of trouble.

If your motherly or father instincts tell you the client needs comforting, I think it’s worth the risk. But I’d probably ask permission, make sure the door is left open, and not hug them too long.

If you’re not sure, there are other things you can do that might be “close enough”.

A pat on the shoulder might do the trick. Or a warm handshake and eye contact that sends them a virtual hug.

You could be a bit more solicitous–asking if they’d like some water, handing them a box of tissues, and offering additional words of comfort.

You could tell them a story about another client who had a similar situation or concern and that everything worked out okay.

Whether physical or verbal or a little bit of both, consider giving your clients a hug when they need it. It could be just what the doctor ordered.

Marketing is everything we do to get and keep good clients

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The four motorcycle riders of the apocalypse

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Early this morning I heard a very loud motorcycle gunning it down our otherwise quiet residential street.

Why so loud? Doesn’t he know people are still asleep?

I thought his indiscretion might be because

  1. He’s late for work.
  2. Force of habit. He’s always pushed the speed limit and continues to do that without thinking.
  3. He’s a jerk. He likes to ride fast, he wants to show off his expensive toy, and he doesn’t care if it bothers anyone.

Anyway, it made me think about the things lawyers sometimes do that might not serve us, doing things too quickly or habitually or just not thinking about others.

The times we rush through a presentation or a meeting because we’re late for something else. When we rush, we might miss something or leave a bad impression on our audience.

Lesson: slow down, leave enough time.

The way we do the same things we’ve always done the same way we’ve always done them. Conducting a deposition, for example, asking the same questions in the same order, without thinking or listening or paying attention to body language.

Lesson: mix things up, try a fresh approach from time to time.

The way we sometimes talk about ourselves too much instead of letting the other person do most of the talking. Not only do we risk coming off as uncaring, we may not get all the information we need to do a good job for our client.

Lesson: talk less, listen more.

So yeah, that’s what I thought.

But wait, there are four horsemen. That’s only three.

Okay, Sherlock.

I asked my wife if she heard the motorcycle this morning and told her what I was planning to write about. I told her the three reasons I thought the guy was gunning it through our street.

She said, “Or, he needed to give it more gas to get up that hill.”

Yeah, didn’t think about that.

Something else lawyers sometimes do, but shouldn’t: thinking we’ve got it all figured out.

If you know you don’t have it all figured out, here’s what you need

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