I don’t need you

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I want you to hire me, sign up for my list, and tell others about me.

But I don’t need you to do any of that.

I’m doing very well, thank you, and while I work hard to keep my clients happy and coming back to me, I’ll be just fine if they don’t.

That, my friend, is the attitude you should adopt with your clients and prospects and professional contacts. That is the attitude of a successful lawyer and it will attract a lot of new business.

Now, don’t say any of this. You’ll come off as an asshat. This is about your attitude, the attitude of someone who is good at their job and knows it. A lawyer who doesn’t chase business but has business chase them.

Success breeds success, because success is attractive.

What if you’re not quite there? How do you adopt that attitude?

Use your imagination. Literally. See yourself as the person you want to be. Feel what you would feel so you can “act as if”.

And keep doing that until you are that, and more.

The success you seek, the image you want to portray, is first a state a mind, then a state of reality.

When a prospective client meets you, they want to feel like they’ve found the right lawyer for the job. Your confidence and countenance will go a long way to doing that.

But be careful. Don’t overdo it. There’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness.

More than confidence, clients want a lawyer who appreciates them, so don’t forget to take your humility pills and thank your maker for your good fortune.

And thank your clients for choosing you.

Because no matter how good you are, or how successful you are, you couldn’t do it without your clients. And they didn’t have to choose you.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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You’re so vain, you probably think this post is about you

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You want people to know you’re good at what you do. That you’ll work hard for them, advise them, protect them, and help them get what they want, and you know how to do this because you’ve done it for many others.

But it’s hard to talk about yourself without sounding self-centered.

So, what do you do?

For one thing, whenever possible, you let others do the talking.

You share client testimonials and reviews. You share letters of endorsement from other professionals. You share articles written about you, your awards and your victories.

You let others talk about why they hired (or referred) you or wrote about you, and why they would do it again.

Let them tell the world how good you are.

Yes?

What else can you do?

You also share your own writing and recordings, which demonstrate your knowledge and experience. To illustrate your points, you cite examples from your work, showing yourself “in action,” helping people, solving problems, delivering results.

And when you do that, you talk about the client or case or other person in the story, not about yourself.

You’re still in the story. But as the narrator, not the protagonist.

Your reader will understand that you were the driving force in solving the problem and delivering the results. But the story is about your client, so let them have center stage.

You don’t have to avoid using the word “I” or hide behind the stage curtain. Your readers want to know what you think and what you did. And you should tell them.

Just don’t make the story all about you.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Being different without being weird

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You want to stand out. Show people you’re different. Help people remember you and talk about you on social media or to their friends. You’re looking for something you can do that’s different but coming up empty.

Relax. Stop trying so hard.

You don’t have to create your own practice area or provide free pizza in your waiting room. You don’t have to do anything radically different. And you shouldn’t. You’re a lawyer, and people don’t want their lawyer to be weird.

You can be different in little ways.

I just saw a video blogger who ends his videos by telling viewers to like and subscribe, as everyone else does, but then does something I’ve never seen anyone else do. He says not to bother hitting the bell for notifications, “because honestly, you have better things to do than to look out for a notification that I’ve posted a new video”.

Small, but different.

Technically, this is bad marketing. You want your viewers/subscribers/followers to know when there’s new content for them to consume. If they don’t get notified, they may never see that new content, and that’s a lost opportunity for you to connect with them and for them to share your content with others.

On the other hand, this is great marketing.

He shows his followers that he doesn’t slavishly follow the “script” everyone else follows, and that he cares about his viewers and puts himself in their shoes.

A small difference, tiny even, but you can get a lot of mileage out of small differences.

When everyone else looks and sounds and smells the same, you don’t need to do much to stand out.

And hey, if you do serve pizza in your waiting room, don’t put pineapple on it. That’s just weird.

Get more referrals by being more referrable

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Meh

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I watched the Windows 11 “reveal” video and was underwhelmed.

Some nice updates, but nothing special. Nothing game changing.

I like the new aesthetics. I like that the OS runs faster. I like the new “snap” feature. But I didn’t see anything that had the wow factor.

I wanted a killer feature. Something so big and exciting it would persuade Mac folks to consider switching to Windows.

Mac folks, you can stop laughing now.

Alas, Windows 11 doesn’t do anything I can’t already do. It won’t bring me coffee in the morning or tuck me into bed at night.

No killer feature.

What’s your killer feature? In your law practice, I mean.

What’s one thing you do that makes you stand out from other lawyers? Something that differentiates you and helps people remember you?

I’ll give you a minute to think about it.

I don’t expect it to be amazing. Just different.

It could be as simple as always having a plate of fresh-baked cookies in your waiting room.

No, that probably won’t persuade anyone to choose you as their attorney. Then again, billions of people are going to upgrade to Windows 11, including me, and their cookies aren’t even fresh.

How to differentiate yourself from other lawyers

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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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The quickest way to build your authority

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Many people assume that because you are an attorney you know what you’re doing. You’ve got a license, you’ve been vetted, you don’t have anything to prove.

Clearly, not everyone feels that way.

Your colleagues, sophisticated clients who want to hire the best of the best, business leaders who can send you referrals, promote you, and open doors for you, usually want to see more.

If you want them to see you as an authority, you can’t rely solely on your license.

To build your authority and achieve “expert” status, you typically need to do the kinds of things experts do–write for authoritative publications, speak to important groups, get invited to corporate boards, and represent top-tier clients.

You start by writing and posting authoritative information on your blog or website, along with success stories of clients you’ve helped.

You write guest articles and posts for blogs and newsletter in your target market.

You get interviewed by smaller publications, podcasts and channels, building your speaking skills, making new connections, and driving additional traffic to your website.

You teach CLE courses, serve as an arbitrator or mediator, join authoritative organizations, do charitable work and volunteer for their committees, and build your contacts and your bio.

And you use your existing contacts to meet other professionals and centers of influence in your niche, building strong relationships with key people who can help you get to the next level.

You can do these things, and you should, but it can take years for these things to bear fruit and, well, you’re in a hurry.

There is something you can do, right now, to dramatically speed up the process.

You can write a book.

Experts write books. You can, too.

You don’t have to wait years to become qualified to do it, or to be asked to do it, You can write it and self-publish it in the next few weeks.

Your book will position you as an authority. (An “author” is, by definition, an “authority”.) People will hire you and refer you and invite you to speak and write and join their group or cause because you wrote a book and other attorneys didn’t.

Writing a book is the quickest way to build your authority, and a smart way to build your practice or career.

Once you’ve written your book, promote it. Give it away, send it to everyone you know and everyone you want to know. Make sure your clients have copies for themselves and to give to friends, offer it to prospective clients, bloggers, editors, meeting planners, and influential people in your niche.

When you talk to someone who wants to know what you do and how you can help them, their clients, or their readers or listeners, stop talking and send them a copy of your book. Your book will tell them everything they need to know.

What to say when someone asks, “What do you do?”

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Marketing legal services, James Bond style

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I recently wrote about the need to look and sound the way prospective clients expect an attorney to look and sound, and at the same time, appear different from other attorneys.

It’s a paradox, and a challenge.

Another challenge in the marketing realm is displaying the right posture.

On the one hand, you want prospective clients to know you want their business. You’re ready to help them, you promise to work hard for them, and you hope they choose you as their attorney.

At the same time, you want them to know that while you want their business, you don’t need their business. You’d love to work with them and help them but it’s fine if they choose someone else.

Thus, the paradox.

The message is that you are extremely busy because you are very good at what you do. Anyone who gets you as their attorney is fortunate.

If you were a restaurant instead of a law office, people would see a parking lot filled with cars and a line outside the door, waiting to get in.

Because you’ve got the best food in town.

In marketing, you want to be like James Bond–calm, cool, collected. Someone everyone wants because they know you will get the job done.

Bond never chased the girl but he always got the girl.

Be like Bond. Let the girl know you want her but make her come to you.

How to get more 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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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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My lawyer is a poophead

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Ah, the joy of getting a bad review. And by joy, I mean blood-boiling anger and massive regret that you ever met, let alone helped that ingrate of a client.

You worked your assimus maximus off for them and they tell the world you’re mean or incompetent or didn’t deliver what you promised.

Hold my beer. 

A negative review isn’t always the kiss of death, but it’s clearly not good for business.

Do you ignore it? Post an apology? Call the client and try to make amends?

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. Your only hope is that the one stinker gets buried on the page by a legion of positive reviews. (So make sure you encourage your happy clients to post a review).

But often, there is something you can do about a bad review and it pays to consider your options.

How to Effectively Address Client Reviews offers advice on handling critical reviews, and what to do with good ones.

My advice? Whatever you do, cool your jets before you write or say anything. And that beer you asked someone to hold for you? Drink it after you respond, not before.

For lawyers: The Quantum Leap Marketing System

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