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Interviews for the win

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People like to read about people. One of the simplest and most effective ways to market your practice is to interview people in your niche market.

Interview another professional. Interview a business owner or executive, a blogger or YouTuber. Interview one of your business clients. Interview anyone with an interesting story, information or advice pertinent to your niche market.

  • You’ll get content your target market wants to read (and your interviewees provide most of it)
  • You’ll get traffic to your blog, shares of your emails, social media posts or videos
  • You’ll get more subscribers and followers, prospects, and clients, and build your reputation as a leader in your market
  • You’ll have the perfect excuse to reach out to and meet influential people in your niche market
  • And you’ll get some of the people you interview asking to interview you, providing you with additional exposure

Interviews are easy. Ask 5 to ten questions, record and transcribe the interview, and turn it into a blog post or newsletter article. You can even turn an interview into a book. Here’s a book I published based on an interview of another attorney: How to Build a Successful Appellate Practice

Here’s a book I published based on an interview of me: How to Build a Successful Law Practice with Referrals

And here’s my book about how to turn interviews into books: The Easy Way to Write a Book

Interviews are easy. And pay the bills.

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What ‘working smarter’ looks like

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There are lots of ways to work smarter. Targeting niche markets instead of “anyone with a legal problem” is an example. Networking with influential professionals in your target market instead of generic ‘Chamber of Commerce’ attendees is another.

One of the simplest ways to work smarter is to continue doing what’s working and abandon what isn’t.

And also doing what’s working for other lawyers.

No, don’t copy them. Emulate them. Do what they’re doing but do it better.

When I started practicing, there weren’t many examples of lawyers doing things I could emulate. I wasn’t a member of the country club crowd and I didn’t have money to advertise, so I had to get inventive.

I looked at what other self-employed service professionals, salespeople, and business owners were doing for ideas. Much of it didn’t apply but some of it did. Eventually, I found some things that worked and made them my own.

Years ago, a fast food company hired someone to go out and locate profitable sites for new restaurants. His job entailed examining car traffic and foot traffic, retail sales per square foot, rent comparisons and other factors.

But he didn’t do any of that.

All he did was locate all the McDonald’s in town and choose a location across the street. McDonald’s had already done the research and proven the value of the location and he piggybacked on their success.

Working smarter, he did. And so can, you.

You need a marketing plan. This will help

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C’mon in, the water’s fine

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Yesterday, I mentioned that specializing was one of the keys to growing my income and cutting my work to three days. Many attorneys resist the idea of specializing.

Some believe that having more practice areas allows them to earn more overall by having more services to sell to their clients. “Why refer it out when I can do it myself?”

Some think like a professional instead of the owner of a law practice that employs lawyers (including themselves.) Because they can, they think, they should.

And some have a poverty mentality and are afraid to let anything go.

When I decided to specialize, at a time when I was barely surviving, I was scared to death. It was the most counter-intuitive decision I ever made.

But it was also the best decision I ever made.

Yesterday, I got an email from an attorney who agrees. He said,

“When I did that [specialized], I did notice a slight drop in income for about 2 months (it was not that great, and didn’t last long). The drop was only due to not taking every case that came in the door. I referred those to other attorneys doing that specific work, who in turn, would refer my types of matters back. This allowed me to meet the needs of my clients without doing it all myself. I began seeing increased earnings quickly, could concentrate on matters that really interested me, built my referral network, and most importantly worked fewer hours, but billed more.

I know what you’re saying does work. People do have to get off the fence and commit to what they truly want, though.”

Think about joining us. But only if you want to earn more and work less.

Here’s where to start

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Boring is for tunnels, not presentations

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Years ago, I recall reading that the optimal length of a presentation is twenty minutes. Any longer and the audience starts to tune out. If you have more information to cover, after twenty minutes or so, do something different.

Change the subject. Change the speaker. Tell a story. Survey the audience. Do a demo. Stop using slides or start using them.

Do something different to keep viewers or listeners paying attention instead of checking their phones or thinking about the rest of their day.

But that was then. This is now.

I just read an article that says (according to science) our brains get bored after ten minutes (not twenty). It noted that in view of this, at Apple product launch events they change the speaker every ten minutes.

If you do live presentations, videos, or podcasts, you might want to keep this in mind.

Want more referrals from other lawyers? This shows you what to do

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12 lists for organizing and managing your practice

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I like lists. They keep me organized, focused, and productive. I use them every day.

Take a gander at this list of lists, to see if there are any you might want to add to your productivity toolkit.

  1. Current Projects. Everything you’re working on (or should be). Having these in one place will keep you from neglecting anything and see if you’ve got too much on your plate and need to offload something.
  2. Next Projects. What do you intend to work on once you’ve completed your current projects? This will help you prepare for those projects, e.g., write down ideas, research, etc., so you can start them without delay.
  3. Ongoing & Recurring Projects. Other projects or responsibilities, e.g., updating your website, networking activities, content creation, client relations activities, your newsletter, preparing reports, etc.
  4. To Do This Week. 3-5 important projects to focus on in the next week to ten days.
  5. To Do Today. Look at your “this week” list, your calendar, your project lists, and elsewhere, and choose 3-5 “MITs” (Most Important Tasks) for the day.
  6. Routines. Checklists of weekly or daily tasks for tidying up, organizing, and planning your work. Examples: weekly review, inbox zero, cleaning up computer files, paying bills, morning and afternoon “startup” and “shut down” routines.
  7. Goals & Dreams. Monthly, quarterly, and annual benchmarks. Long-term goals or vision.
  8. Someday/Maybes. Ideas you’re considering but aren’t yet committed to doing.
  9. What’s Working Now. Questions that prompt you to reflect on what’s working well so you can do more of them.
  10. What’s Not Working Now. Questions that help identify problems, bottlenecks, and poor ROI, so you can eliminate, curtail, delegate, or fix them.
  11. Budget. Track income and expenses to reduce debt, increase profits, manage investments, etc.
  12. Remember. Ideas, quotes, or accomplishments you want to keep in front of you, to stay motivated, focused, and on message.

Do you use any lists that aren’t on this list?

My Evernote for Lawyers ebook

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One of the simplest and most effective ways to build your practice

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I did a marketing consultation last week with an attorney who has an email list and uses it to stay in touch with 1100 clients, prospects and professional contacts.

That’s good.

He writes to them every few weeks or so, when he has news or information to share.

Here’s an expanded version of some of my suggestions:

He built and maintains the list manually. I told him to automate the list building by putting an email sign-up form on his website so visitors could sign themselves up. Offer an incentive–a report or ebook– to encourage them to do that.

You’ll get more subscribers by capturing “first-time/one-time” visitors to your site, many of whom need to hear more before they’ll hire you.

Use the autoresponder function provided by the email service provider to send an automated welcome message, deliver the report, and send them a series of additional messages over time.

Use the “broadcast” function of the email service to send them additional messages.

I suggested emailing on a regular schedule. Aim for weekly. You want subscribers to get used to hearing from you. You want to be “in their minds and their mailboxes” when they need your services and are ready to hire you, or they have a referral.

To write more frequently:

  1. Send shorter emails–a few paragraphs is enough
  2. Send all text emails–don’t bother with HTML, images, etc., just type and send
  3. Don’t limit your subject matter to legal matters. That’s boring for people who don’t currently have those issues. Write about consumer-related topics, personal stories, and anything else.

Make your emails informative and entertaining and use them to build a relationship with your subscribers.

This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to bring in more business.

This will help you create a report and get more subscribers

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Do you deserve a raise?

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Whether you work for yourself or for a firm or other employer there will come a time when you feel compelled to ask for a raise. (Yes, you can ask yourself for a raise.) I encourage you to first do an exercise to prepare for that conversation.

The exercise is simple. Write down all of the reasons you deserve to get paid more than you do now. Not why you “want” a raise or “need” one, why you deserve it.

This will prepare you for the time when the salary conversation takes place or allow you to justify increasing your “draw”.

It will also show you where you need to up your game.

You might note that you’re more qualified or experienced than your competition, you get better results in the courtroom or boardroom, you are regularly singled out by the Bar or your community, and the other usual yardsticks.

But that’s just the foundation.

Your value to your firm might also be measured by how you save your firm money, viz a vie fewer complaints, claims, negative reviews, or lawsuits. You might also make the case that you don’t engage in extravagant spending.

Your value might be extolled in terms of how you get along well with your subordinates and coworkers and how you help them. Note that this means less turnover and greater productivity.

You might mention how you regularly find and implement new ideas, adopt new resources and methods, and keep your firm on the cutting edge.

Do you do anything extra for the firm, anything not on the job description but that helps your employees, clients, and friends of the firm? Add that to your list.

Write it all down and wherever possible demonstrate how each item makes the firm more profitable because at the end of the day, increased profit is how you best make the case for increasing your pay.

Which leads me to the biggie: You bring in lots of business.

Describe how many clients or cases you bring in each month, the quality of those clients or size of those cases (e.g., lifetime value). Also note how little your rainmaking costs the firm, e.g., most of your new business comes from referrals which take little or no time or money compared to other marketing methods.

Note how you create quality content or presentations that bring web traffic that builds your list and leads to more business.

Note how (and why) you have less client turnover, how you help other lawyers in the firm cross-sell their services, or how you are building a great reputation and following in one or more key target markets.

Write it all down and take a good long look at it. You might see that yes, you truly are entitled to a raise, or you might realize you have work to do.

This is the big one because if you do well in this department, if you regularly bring in lots of business and increase the firm’s bottom line, you can almost ignore the other areas.

Create your marketing plan with this

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It’s hard to tell things apart when everything looks the same

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An app I use is being updated. The developer asked for feedback on the proposed new design. One commenter said:

Please add highlighting or color coding to lists/list items.

I love the simplicity of the design, but viewing everything in black and white with only bold text and CAPS for emphasis is not enough. It’s hard to tell things apart when everything looks the same.

That comment dovetails with what I said yesterday. I said that not all clients are alike and suggested you create profiles for your different types of clients and market segments so you can tailor your marketing to each one.

Guess what? Lawyers aren’t alike, either, but many think we are.

To most prospective clients, we all look alike. We offer the same services, solve the same problems, and provide the same benefits. You are no different than any other lawyer.

As long as they think this way, getting hired is mostly a matter of luck.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to stand out.

Do something or say something your competition doesn’t say or do. Or give them a preview of what it will be like to work with you.

A small difference, a few details, can be enough to help you get noticed, remembered and hired.

How to stand out from your competition

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Not all clients are alike

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You have older clients and younger clients, clients who speak a second language and clients who speak another second language, wealthy clients and middle-class clients, business clients and consumer clients, and different clients for each of your different services.

Each group of clients is different. They need different services, they want different benefits, and they will respond to different offers.

They don’t read the same books or blogs, listen to the same stations or watch the same channels. They live in different parts of town and hang out with different people. They patronize different businesses, insurance and real estate agents, and tax professionals.

Some have to use a credit card or dip into savings to pay your fee. Some can write you a check. Some need lots of legal help, some might not need you ever again.

The point? You need a different strategy for each type of client, each market segment and each service you offer.

Go through your client list for the last few years and look for patterns. Create a profile of your ideal client for each service, for each market segment.

Then, when you write to them or speak to them, when you do a presentation for them, share content with them or advertise to them, you can tailor it to them. Use words and examples that resonate with them. Use stories of clients like them who have had similar issues and benefited by hiring you.

A lot of work? Yes. But it might allow you to double your income, lower your marketing costs, and bring in a better crop of clients.

This will help

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Building your practice by playing with matches

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You can’t build a campfire by trying to ignite big logs. You have to start with kindling–twigs and leaves and small branches. Get the fire going, add some small logs, and when the fire is big enough you add the big logs.

That’s how most of us started our law practice.

Most of us didn’t start by renting a big office and hiring a big staff, we started by finding a desk and a place to see clients and going out and getting a few.

We got some experience, made some contacts, and brought in some income. That’s the kindling. When we had something going, we added some logs. Eventually, we got (or will get) the big office and staff.

And it’s the same way with marketing.

You don’t start with $50,000 a month in ad spends. You start with $200 on some pay-per-click ads and see what you can see.

You set up a one-page website or a landing page and an autoresponder and start building an email list. You invest a couple of hours at a networking function and get your feet wet. You write a couple of articles and put them out into the world.

You start small and build your practice like you build a campfire.

That’s why you can build a thriving practice spending just 15 minutes a day on marketing. Make a few calls, write an article or email, sketch out a script for a video or seminar.

A little bit every day and eventually your practice turns into a bonfire.

How to build an email list from scratch

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