Just because it’s free doesn’t mean anyone will buy

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You offer a free consultation. A free ebook, report or other download. A free seminar, or even a free introductory service.

But just because it’s free doesn’t mean you’ll get any takers. You have to sell your freebies as much as you do your paid services.

Prospective clients don’t want to load up their hard drives with useless reading material that’s little more than a sales pitch for an attorney’s paid services. Or consult with an attorney who won’t give them any meaningful advice and will only push them to sign up.

And that’s what most prospective clients think about your free offers.

It’s up to you to show them the benefits they get by downloading your report or booking an appointment.

What will they learn? What will they be better able to do? What do they get and why should they trust you?

Give them the details. And tell them how other clients have benefited by downloading your report or speaking to you. Better yet, show them testimonials from those other clients so they can hear it from them, not you.

In the eyes of a prospective client, nothing’s really “free”. You’re asking them to spend their time and/or risk making a mistake.

They’re afraid. They don’t know you. They don’t trust you. And other lawyers offer the same freebies you offer.

Ease their concerns. Show them it’s safe to give you their email address or some of their time and show them how they will better off if they do.

Because just because it’s free doesn’t mean anyone will buy.

Get more clients and increase your income: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Turning down clients for fun and profit

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When you’re a new attorney trying to pay the bills, you take any work that comes your way. At least that’s what I did.

If someone needed help and had a few bucks, I was your guy.

If I didn’t know what to do, I figured it out. It wasn’t as though I was taking time away from other better-paying work. In the early days, there wasn’t any.

So I did what I had to do and (eventually) built a successful practice.

If you’re just starting out, this might be a good plan for you. If you’re not starting out, however, this is not a good plan.

You can’t take “anything”. You have to be selective.

That means turning down work that doesn’t pay well. The small cases and clients, the work that doesn’t align with your vision and goals.

You can’t afford to take the small stuff because it takes time away from the big stuff.

Ah, but what if you’re not that busy? What if your dance card isn’t currently filled with high-paying clients and life-changing cases?

You have two options.

Option one is to take the small case, not for the money necessarily but as a marketing strategy. Help someone with a small case today, tomorrow they may bring you a big case. Help the start-up get going and they may one day have a steady stream of business for you.

The “low-paying” work you do for these clients is an investment in the growth of your practice. You earn less today so you can earn (a lot) more tomorrow.

I’ve done this. I’ve taken small cases that paid little or nothing and was rewarded with some fat, juicy cases down the road.

If you consider this option, the idea is to think in terms of clients, not cases. The case isn’t important, the client is. If it is a client who knows a lot of people, for example, they could send you a lot of business, even if their own case isn’t much to write home about.

Capiche?

Option two is to stick to your guns. Turn down (or refer out) the small stuff or the work that’s not in your primary practice area. When you do that, you can use the time this gives you to focus on marketing and bringing in the types of clients and cases you really want.

I’ve done this too. It was key to my going from “just getting by” to building a big practice.

So, both options work.

What also works is to do a little of both. Turn down most of the “wrong” work but take some of it when it makes sense to do that.

I know, it’s complicated.

Which option is best for you? You might find the answer by looking at a spreadsheet or your bank account. Or by trying it one way and then the other and seeing what works best.

If that sounds even more complicated, you might do what I did.

Stop counting beans and start trusting your gut.

This can help

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The most dangerous number in business

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In business, the most dangerous number is the number one.

If you have one client and they leave or go out of business, you’re in trouble. You want more than one client.

If you have one “price point” or package of services, you have nothing to offer the prospective client who wants something different.

If you have one marketing method and it stops working for you, if you have one target market and it becomes too competitive, what will you do to keep your pipeline full?

You don’t want your entire livelihood to depend on the number one.

Which means, as soon as you have something that’s working for you, start adding the next thing. A second market, marketing strategy, or offer.

But not another practice area. Not unless you’re in a small market.

The bigger the market, the more competition you have, the more you need to specialize, because you can’t compete with everyone on everything.

When you specialize, marketing is easier, cheaper, and more effective. You can stand out from the crowd and become known for what you do best.

Specializing allows you to become the top dog in your field.

That doesn’t mean you must turn away work that’s not your specialty. Take the work if you want to and can handle it. But don’t promote this, promote the “one thing” you do best and want to be known for.

Because when you specialize, one isn’t a dangerous number, it is your friend.

How to choose your specialty

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No, I don’t want more clients

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Last week, I pontificated about the value of limiting the number of clients an attorney takes on to 10, because it allows them to earn more and work less.

I also said most attorneys won’t do it.

Some attorneys do, however. Appellate attorney Steve Emmert is one of them.

In response to my email, Steve wrote:

(Heh, heh!) I currently have fewer than ten files open. Most of them have seven-digit deltas, of course, so I can still make a living. But you’re absolutely right about this.

This week I took a call from an ad guy at SuperLawyers, in which I’ve been listed for several years, though I’ve never advertised with them. He asked if I’d like to have an extra three or four clients a month. I’m probably the only guy who’s ever told him, “No” in response to that question. I told him that I start getting nervous when I have more than about 12 files open, and three or four more a month would drown me. He really didn’t know what to say.

Who wouldn’t like to be able to tell a sales rep they don’t want any more business?

Steve also shared a story that illustrates the same idea in a different way:

Years ago I attended a brilliant presentation by a guy named Mark Powers, of the legal-consulting firm Atticus. He described his trip to a big firm for an in-house presentation. As soon as the introductions were complete, Powers said, “Now, the first thing I want each of you to do is double your hourly rates.” The ensuing uproar subsided just long enough for one of the partners to stammer, “But, but if we do that, we’ll lose half our clients!”

“Exactly!” a triumphant Powers replied with a smile. He explained to them that if they got the same amount of money for doing half the work, they’d have a better quality of life.

Point, set and match.

I’ve had discussions about raising fees with many attorneys over the years. When I do, I can almost always hear the wheels turning in their head as they wrestle with idea. Sadly, their desire usually loses out to their fear.

Not my friend Steve, however, who figured this out on his own.

I know this because I interviewed him and published a book based on that interview. In it, he shares the secrets to his success, or, as he might describe them, the methods to his madness.

How to Build a Successful Appellate Practice contains valuable practice-building and career-building advice for attorneys in any practice area.

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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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Why will this year be different?

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When you’re making plans for the coming year, the first you should do is review the previous year.

Take 30 minutes and think about what happened last year and what you can do to make this year better.

Tim Ferriss does an annual review by going through his calendar, week by week, and noting everything that was positive and everything that was negative. He uses this information to create a list of what to do more of in the new year, and a list of what NOT to do.

Another method is to go through your calendar, your project and tasks lists, your journal, and anything else you use to manage or document your life, and ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. What worked? What did you do that resulted in progress towards your goals? Which strategies were effective? What did you do well? What are you happy about?
  2. What didn’t work (and why)? What didn’t go well for you? What strategies didn’t bring good results? What disappointed you? And why?
  3. What can you do differently? What did you learn about your situation or yourself that can help you this year? Where can you improve? What do you need to stop doing? What new or better skills can help you?

If you need more prompts, here are some additional questions to ask yourself:

  • What did I discover about myself–my strengths, my challenges, my beliefs, my methods?
  • What did I discover that will help me this year: websites, podcasts, ideas, books, channels, people, methods?
  • What new habits helped me improve? What new habits can benefit me this year? What habits do I want to eliminate?
  • What did I appreciate about last year? (Experiences, opportunities, relationships, etc.) What made me happy? What was I proud of?
  • What kept me up at night? What have I/will I change this year?
  • What goals did I fail to achieve? What will I do differently this year?
  • What will I focus on this year? What are my “activity” goals? What are my “results” goals?
  • What else can I do to make this year better than last year?

To make this a better year, let go of the things you can’t change, your regrets, negative thoughts, and find a few positive things to focus on this year.

You might ask yourself the “focusing question” posed by the authors of The One Thing–“What is the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

If that “one thing” is “improve my marketing,” let me know what I can do to help.

The Attorney Marketing Formula is a good place to start

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5 ways to increase your income

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You probably know (most of) this, but you may not be doing most of it. Sometimes, it helps to have a list in front of you, so here you go:

1. Increase your fees

Many lawyers don’t charge what the market will bear. Increasing your fees is one of the simplest ways to increase your income. 

You may lose some clients along the way. If you don’t, you may not be increasing your fees enough.

The point isn’t how many clients you retain, however, it is how much you earn from the ones who stay and the new ones who come along who don’t know what you used to charge.

2. Increase your average “sale”

Raising your fees does this, of course. You can also do it by increasing the percentage of clients who hire you again, how frequently they do that, and by increasing the number of services the average client “buys”. 

You can also do this by bringing in bigger cases.

3. Bring in more new clients

Improving your marketing, increasing your ad spend, doing more marketing in more channels, will all help you bring more new clients to your door. 

If you also improve your website, follow-up processes, offers, sales skills, and the frequency with which you stay in touch with prospective clients, you will sign up more of them. 

4. Bring in better clients

You want clients who hire you more often, have lots of contacts they can refer or introduce you to, pay their bills on time, and let you do your work without micromanaging. 

How do you attract them? By targeting better target markets and/or ideal clients. Then, once you have them on board, getting them to refer people they know, who are likely to be a lot like themselves.

5. Decrease your overhead/marketing expenses

Building a referral-based practice will do this. So will lowering your cost per lead. You can also do it by improving your productivity, so you get more work done in less time and at lower cost. 

Which of these do you like best? Which ones will you work on first?

This can help you sort everything out

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There’s no such thing as a former client

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Everyone who has ever hired you is still your client.

At least that’s how you should think of them, even if you haven’t done any work for them in ten years.

They’re still clients and you should treat them that way.

Yes, you should give more attention to clients you’re currently working with but don’t ignore the others.

They may have another case some day. They may have referrals. They may promote your video or send traffic to your website. They may know someone who needs help with something one of your referral sources provides. They can help you build your social media following and your email list.

Stay in touch with them. Remind them that you’re still practicing, still available to help them and the people they know.

Do the same thing with prospective clients and professional contacts.

Send them information, keep them informed about what you’re doing, and invite them to stay in touch with you, too.

Because one day, maybe soon, some of your “former” client will wake up and become “current” clients, or do something else that makes you glad you didn’t forget them.

The easiest way to stay in touch with clients and prospects

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The perfect law practice

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If you could design the perfect law practice (perfect for you, that is), what would it look like?

Why not take some time and write it out?

Consider things such as:

  • Where would you have your office(s)?
  • Which practice area(s) would you focus on? Eliminate? Add?
  • How much would you earn?
  • What types of clients or cases would you have? How many?
  • What billing model(s) would you use?
  • Would you work for a big firm? Own the firm? Would you have partners?
  • How many employees would you have?
  • How would you build your practice? What marketing methods would you use?
  • Where would you live? How long would you commute?
  • How many hours would you work per day/week? How many weeks would you take off each year?

Don’t stop there. You’re designing your perfect practice (and life) so make sure you have everything the way you want it.

Once you’ve done this exercise, put it away for a few hours or a day or two, come back to it, add or modify it, and then ask yourself two questions:

1) How much of this do I already have in place?

You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you already have much of what you want, or close to it. If not, you’ll know exactly what needs to change.

2) How do I get from where I am to where I want to go?

Asking this question will help you create a list of things to do, think about, or research. It will also prompt your subconscious mind to start looking for answers.

If you take the time to do this, develop a plan and begin working on it, the impact can be life changing.

This can help you plan your ideal practice

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How to upgrade your client list

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Go through your current client list. Look at the numbers: how much did each client pay you over the last year and over their lifetime?

How much are they likely to pay you in the next few years?

Some clients might not have a lot of work for you but may send you a lot of referrals.

Add this to your numbers.

You should see that some of your clients (and cases) are worth a lot more to you than others.

Let’s call those “high value” clients.

Everyone else is either “average” or “low value”.

Study your numbers. You should see some patterns.

You should see that a large percentage of your total revenue comes from a small percentage of your client list.

Maybe 80/20, maybe a different ratio, but you should find that “a precious few” of your clients and cases bring in a disproportionate amount of your income.

Obviously, you want more of this type of client or case.

One way to get them is to reduce the number of low value clients, and also perhaps many of the “average” clients, to free up your time and other resources so you can focus on attracting more high value clients.

How do you “reduce” the number of low value clients in order to do that?

You could increase your fees. That’s the easiest way to do it. If it doesn’t, keep raising them until it does.

You could ask for bigger retainers. Reject cases with smaller damages. “Fire” clients who slow pay or who are “more trouble than they’re worth”.

I know, the idea makes perfect sense to you but it also makes you nervous. So you’re unlikely to go “cold turkey”. You don’t want to let go of low value clients until you see more high value clients coming your way.

Okay. Go through your list and study the high value clients you identified.

Where did they come from? What marketing methods did you use to attract them? Did they find you through search? Referral? Ads? Did they hear your presentation or meet you at an event?

Who are their colleagues, clients, friends or neighbors? Who do they know who might have legal needs or know people who do?

Then, get busy.

You might not be ready to let go of (all) low value clients just yet but there’s something you can do. You can stop marketing to them.

From this day forward, focus exclusively on marketing to your high value clients.

This will help

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