New clients need TLC

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They may be sharp. Sophisticated. Tough as nails. But new clients don’t yet know your wicked ways and could benefit from a little hand holding.

That goes double for clients who aren’t all of the above.

So, you give new clients lots of information, about you and how you work,and about their case and what to expect.

You tell them what’s going to happen, explain what happened, and spell out what will happen next.

And you encourage them to ask lots of questions. But you don’t wait for that, you contact them often and keep them informed.

You show them you’ve done this before and will take good care of them.

But while you want them to know everything they need to know, you don’t want to overwhelm them.

Don’t send them everything all at once.

No firehoses allowed.

One way to slow your roll is to space out your onboarding email sequence so they don’t get everything on day one.

You might send them an introductory email that thanks and welcomes them, gives them some basic information, and makes them feel good about their decision to hire you.

A follow-up email sent in a day or two can provide them with more information, a checklist or timeline, and links to articles on your website they might want to see.

Subsequent emails, over the ensuing days or weeks, can supply more details and resources, and lots of encouragement.

You might want to number the first few emails. If you plan to send them four emails in the first few days or the first week, for example, number them “1 of 4,” “2 of 4, “and so on, so they know what to expect.

Make sure the final email in your initial onboarding sequence explains when they will hear from you again about (a) their case, and (b) other information—about the law, other legal matters they need to know about, how to’s, recommended resources, and more.

You know, your newsletter.

How to use an email newsletter to build a more successful law practice

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Don’t just do something, sit there

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Do the work, bill the client. That’s what brings in the bacon. Or the kale if that’s your thing. Billable work is your bread and butter. (Okay, now I’m getting hungry.)

But your work involves more than dictating, drafting, and negotiating. At least it should.

You need time when you’re not outputting but inputting.

Digesting information you can use to create content (to bring in more business), to better understand and relate to your clients’ industry or niche, and to have something to talk about when you’re not talking about the law.

You also need time to learn about marketing, productivity, technology, and other subjects that help you improve your skills and drive the growth of your practice. And CLE, to make sure you’re at the top of your game.

Building a successful practice requires more than cranking out billable work.

You should embrace the idea of spending time doing no “work” and instead, doing nothing but soaking up information.

Put time for this on your calendar. Blocks of time every day for reading and listening and taking notes, and to ponder what you’ve learned and how you can use it.

It may feel like this you’re goofing off. You may feel guilty watching videos or reading something from me and tell yourself to get back to work. But learning is just as important as doing, because it helps you do what you do better.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System — everything you need, nothing you don’t

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Get more feedback and reviews

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I need new eyeglasses and went for an exam the other day. I was impressed with the thoroughness of the exam and the help the optometrist’s staff provided me with choosing the right options. They took their time, answered all my questions, and dutifully laughed at my dumb jokes.

My original plan was to get the exam at the optometrist’s office and buy the glasses somewhere less retail. But I changed my plan and bought from the optometrist.

I didn’t even negotiate. Bad lawyer.

I bought from them because they did such a good job with me, I felt a little guilty buying elsewhere, and because they made it so easy for me to say yes and be done with it.

Great service and convenience cost me more, but it was worth it.

Your clients will often “pay retail” for the same reasons.

The next day, I got an automated request for a review from the doctor’s office. But as much as I was happy with them and would recommend them, I didn’t respond because the email said the review would automatically be posted online and would include my full name.

No option to provide feedback anonymously, or to provide a review with just my first name and last initial.

So now, the doctor won’t get a review or feedback about what I thought they did right and what they could improve. (I had two small issues I would have “complained” about if I could have responded anonymously, or at least privately.)

Don’t make that mistake.

Ask all your clients for feedback and have it come back to you, not automatically made public.

If the feedback is negative, you don’t want that posted online.

If the feedback is positive, reply to the client, thank them, and ask for permission to post their feedback (review) online, or ask them to do it and give them the link.

And whatever you do, if you want more reviews, give the client the option to provide one without using their full name.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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I don’t know if my marketing is working

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You’re spending money and time engaging in marketing activities, but you don’t know which of those activities are working or to what extent. You’re thinking you’re spending too much on advertising or wasting time on ineffective strategies and you’re thinking about cashing in your chips and looking for a Plan B.

Before you do that, here are some things to think about.

If you’re spending serious money on advertising, you need to track keywords, clicks, leads, clients, and revenue. Software can do most of that for you and you shouldn’t advertise without it. If you don’t know how to interpret the tea leaves, hire someone who does.

You should also ask everyone who calls or comes to see you where they heard about you, which keywords they used to search, and/or who referred them, or you won’t know if what you’re doing is working, or how well.

You need to know if that $1000 ad is showing a profit. If it isn’t, change it or pull it. But before you decide, you need to consider your back end—the lifetime value of a new client.

If you’re good at getting repeat business and referrals, you can actually come out ahead on ads that break even or lose money.

If you’re not doing a lot of advertising, or decide to cut down or move away from that, focus on other marketing strategies that don’t require a lot of money: referrals, networking, blogging, interviews, presentations, and other forms of content marketing.

You have to include the cost of your time, and/or the time of the people you hire to do that or help you do that, but if you do it right, you should see a significant return on that investment.

If you’re still not clear on what’s working and what isn’t, you might stop relying exclusively on bottom line numbers like the number of new clients and the amount of revenue, and consider “leading edge” metrics like email and/or channel subscribers, video views, leads, and appointments.

Because if those numbers are growing, your practice is probably growing—or soon will be.

Yes, who is on your list is important. But all things being equal, if you’re seeing more people watching your videos or listening to your podcast, if your email list is bigger today than it was six months ago, if you’re taking more calls and talking to more prospective clients, you’re doing something right—and you should continue doing it.

But don’t stop looking for ways to do it better.

Quantum Leap Marketing System—when you’re ready to get big, fast

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Onboarding

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There are two key moments in your client’s relationship with you that can make or break that relationship. The day you deliver the outcome or work product and the day they first become your client.

The first day is the most important of the two because it influences everything that happens after that.

New clients are often nervous, worried about their situation, and not yet sure they can trust you or the legal system. You may have met with them or spoken to them before, but everything changes when they write that first check.

Your new client onboarding process is your first and best opportunity to make them feel good about their decision to hire you, set the stage for a successful outcome, and lay the groundwork for repeat business and referrals.

When you do it right, the new client will have more confidence in you, be more hopeful about their situation, know what to expect and what they can do to help you help them.

No pressure.

Okay, there’s pressure. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your onboarding process, and to regularly update and improve it.

Start with a list of goals. What do you want the new client to know, what do you want them to do, and most importantly, how do you want them to feel after they leave your office?

Then, make a list of what you can do to achieve those goals.

What will you tell them about

  • Their case
  • The law
  • The process and time table
  • Contingencies, risks, and options
  • Your office, staff, and resources
  • What happens first, what happens after that
  • What to do if they have questions
  • What you want them to do, and not do
  • What to expect about fees and costs

Will you introduce them to your staff? Give them a tour of your office?

Will you give them or send them (or direct them to download) any forms, checklists, documents—things to read and things to fill out?

And, because relationships can’t be only about the work, what will you ask about them about their personal life, and what will tell them about yours?

You’re not going to give them everything on their first visit—you don’t want to overwhelm them. Figure out what you will do immediately and schedule the rest.

When they leave your office, you want them to feel a sense of relief, knowing that their problem is in good hands. You’ll prove that to them in the weeks and months that follow, but it all starts on day one.

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Pick two?

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I don’t know who first said it, but people are still saying it today. “You can get the work done quickly, you can get it done well, or you can get it done cheaply.” “Pick two,“ they say. “Because you can’t have all three”.

We’ve heard that said about all manner of products and services and undertakings. We may even say it ourselves.

But is it true?

Who says we can’t have all three?

In our world, the practice of law has three areas:

  1. Core legal skills: research, writing, presenting, strategizing, negotiation, etc.,
  2. Managing: hiring, budgeting, supervising, productivity, etc., and
  3. Marketing: bringing in the business, client relations, etc.

Who says they can’t be good at all three?

Clearly, they can. Many lawyers are excellent at all three.

But there are also many successful lawyers who are good at only one of the above.

They may be good at lawyering, all thumbs when it comes to running a practice, and clueless about marketing.

They may be good at running their practice (and making the most of what they have), but only “okay” in the other two areas.

They may be good at marketing but only adequate or reasonably competent at doing the work and running the practice.

So, I’m calling BS on the adage that you can only pick two. I say you can be good at all three. I also say you can be successful when you’re good at only one.

Now, something else they say. They say that we should focus on our strengths and not worry about getting good at everything. They say we can hire our weaknesses. They say we can be good enough at what we’re good at that we can succeed despite our weaknesses.

And to that, I’m going to agree.

Don’t ignore your weaknesses. But don’t spend a lot of time improving them (unless you want to). Get better at what you already do well, and everything else will take care of itself.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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It’s alive!

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My not terribly ancient desktop computer got so slow I stopped using it. I’ve been using my laptop but missed my big monitor and mechanical keyboard.

While I was pondering what to do next, I heard Google is releasing a light-weight operating system, Chrome OS Flex, which can be installed on older Windows and Mac laptops and desktops and convert them into Chromebooks.

Who would want a Chromebook, I thought? Someone who’s current computer is all but useless, for one.

What do I have to lose?

I watched a couple of videos, and within minutes, my old desktop had been reincarnated. And works great. Incredibly fast and fun to use.

If you’ve got a closet full of old machines gathering dust, you might want to do the same thing.

A few points:

  • Chrome OS Flex is still in early development. It is the “dev” version, so many features don’t work yet and/or are buggy.
  • It works on most Windows and Macs with an Intel or fairly recent AMD processor. It doesn’t work on every machine.
  • The OS allows you to install Linux, but it’s not smooth sailing, at least not yet. Install it if you know what you’re doing; if you’re like me, you might want to wait until the full release.
  • You can’t access The Play Store. Hopefully, that will change.
  • You can (and I did) boot the OS from a pen drive, to try it out before you install it.
  • If you install it, it will wipe out your hard drive, so back up everything first. (NB: if you have multiple hard drives on the same machine, it will wipe these, too.)

Without Linux and Android apps, Chrome OS is very limited. You can run web apps and extensions and not much more. That’s fine for many use cases, since most people use a computer for email, watching videos, and other basic functions.

For the rest of us, with apps we depend on that won’t run on a Chromebook, there is a decent workaround.

As soon as I got the machine up and running, I installed the Google Remote Desktop extension, allowing me to run those apps remotely on my laptop.

Anyway, if this sounds like something you’d like to try, YouTube is your friend.

Let me know how it goes.

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A simple way to lose clients

You want to increase your fees. It’s time, you deserve more, but, like many lawyers, you’re nervous about it because you don’t want to lose any clients who can’t or won’t pay more.

Understood.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do it.

The wrong way is to do what a certain app company did not long ago when they wanted to increase their revenue. They alienated a large percentage of their customers by taking away from them a bundle of features those customers were used to getting free and would henceforth have to pay for.

That’s a no.

Don’t take things from customers because when you do, you’re taking away something they already own (even if they got it free).

The company lost a lot of customers, suffered a slew of bad reviews and a loss of good will. Apple told them that they had violated their terms of service and they were forced to reverse course and come up with a different plan.

And that’s the plan I’m going to recommend to you.

Grandfather in existing customers (clients) and charge new customers or clients the higher rate (or make them pay for things your old clients got free.) Who says you have to charge all clients the same rate?

New clients won’t know and old clients won’t care.

You keep your old clients happy, at least until a suitable point in the future when you can justify raising rates for them, too. But whatever you do, don’t take away from any client anything that’s “theirs”.

Get the Check: Stress-Free Legal Billing and Collection

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https://www.attorneymarketing.com/2022/03/04/13297/

Big shots focus on the big picture

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You are a leader. Even if you are a one-person band, you are the guiding force in your practice or career.

You should do what leaders do.

You should spend most of your time and energy focused on big picture strategies that help you achieve your goals.

Most lawyers don’t. Most lawyers spend their days doing client work and mundane tasks, not building for the future.

Leaders lead. They choose the destination, the tactics and tools, and create an atmosphere that attracts and supports others who accompany them.

Leaders focus on

  • Strategic planning
  • Casting vision
  • Creating culture
  • Building relationships
  • Improving reputation
  • Professional development
  • Personal growth

The leader understands that the firm delivers professional services, but is also a business and must be profitable. The leader continually seeks ways to increase revenue and decrease expenses, to ensure the firm’s viability and future growth.

The leader prefers to grow the business by hiring new people, creating new marketing alliances, and expanding into new markets rather than putting in more hours.

Yes, someone has to see the clients, draft the documents, and win the cases. Sometimes the leader does that. Sometimes the leader delegates much of that to their team. Sometimes the leader delegates all of that to their team while they focus on the big picture.

As you look at this list, think about how you spend your time and ask yourself how much of it you spend doing what leaders do.

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Work-work balance?

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The world is coming to realize that working too many hours is counterproductive. You can’t do your best work if you’re always exhausted, or win friends and influence people if you’re always grumpy.

We all need time off. Which is why folks are talking about and starting to implement a shorter work-week.

That might be a problem for those who bill by the hour, which is why I stopped doing that years ago and have urged you to do the same. A lawyer’s value is (should be) measured by the value you create for your clients, not the time it takes you to create it. If you can create that value in a four-day week instead of five (or more), why wouldn’t you?

But there’s more to work-life balance than the number of hours worked. Creating balance can also be achieved by changing how you do what you do.

The CEO of Doist, creator of the Todoist app, manages his time a bit differently:

Amir Salihefendic, CEO of Doist, prides himself on having a nearly empty calendar. “Being in meetings all day long, resolving things via meetings, that’s not really an effective way to scale and grow,” he said. Instead, he’s become a loud evangelist over the last year of the idea that remote and asynchronous work — or async — are the future. Async boils down to this, Salihefendic said: “When you send a message, you don’t expect a response right away.”

So what does a truly async day look like? For Salihefendic:

A couple of hours with his kids in the morning before walking over to a co-working space.

He tries to do deep work all morning, take time in the middle of the day to recharge and then spends the afternoon catching up on messages and the rest.

If there’s something hugely time-sensitive — which Salihefendic bets is true less often than you think — he turns to Telegram, or (gasp) a phone call.

Since nobody expects Salihefendic to be around every second, he said, nothing bad happens when he’s not.

Source: https://www.protocol.com/newsletters/protocol-workplace/remote-work-wars?rebelltitem=6#rebelltitem6

A non-traditional approach may work for some (enlightened) corporations, but would it work for lawyers?

Show of hands: Who wants to find out?

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