“Of course, the old foot-in-the-door technique” (Maxwell Smart, circa 1968)

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If you want people to do something, start by asking for something easier.

Asking followers on social media to Like and share your blog post, for example, makes it more likely they will eventually be willing to sign up for your newsletter. When they subscribe, it makes it more likely that they will eventually watch a replay of your webinar. When they do that, it makes it more likely that they will contact you for a consultation.

Not just because they learned something from your post or newsletter or webinar, but because they’ve become acclimated to complying with your requests.

Start small and eventually, you can ask for—and get—something big.

The thing is, while it’s better if they actually do what you ask, it isn’t always necessary. Just asking makes it more likely that they will eventually do that or something else you request or offer.

Give your clients some of your cards and ask them to hand them out when they talk to someone with a legal question. If you want a colleague to recommend you to their clients, start out by asking them to share the link to your latest blog post.

Whether or not they do that, when you later ask them to introduce you to their accountant, they should be more open to doing that.

You can start by asking for anything. Ask people to recommend a restaurant or a good book, to tell you which of two headlines or titles they prefer, or to fill out your survey.

The more you ask, the more you (eventually) get.

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Simple dimple

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Let’s face it, marketing can be a pain in the behind. There’s a lot to learn (and keep up with), a lot to do (and/or supervise people who do them), expenses, compliance issues, and the cost of our precious time.

Which is why a lot of people hate marketing. Including me.

But we do it because of the results it delivers and the lifestyle this affords.

But there’s marketing and there’s marketing. It’s not all the same. I don’t do anything I really detest and you shouldn’t either.

Because when you force yourself to do something you hate, you resent doing it, cut corners, and get poor results. Not to mention the ill effects of constant stress.

When it comes to marketing (or anything else), it’s always better to do things you enjoy or are at least comfortable enough to continue doing. And if you can’t find strategies out of the tin that fit that description, choose something and find easier ways to do it.

For me, easy means simple. Certain methods may be more profitable, but if it’s not simple, I don’t do them. I’m not willing to pay the price for complexity.

In my practice, as a young (starving) lawyer, that meant focusing on referrals. It was simple. It meant doing good work, treating people right, and staying in touch with everyone.

I could do that. And I did.

Later, I gave my clients handouts (reports, referral cards, etc.) they could share with people, and did some other things to generate even more referrals.

But I always kept it simple.

We have more options for marketing today, but referrals should always be at the top of every lawyer’s list. Your clients and business contacts can send you all the business you can handle, and/or introduce you to people who can.

Once you’ve got referrals squared away, you can add other strategies. A content-rich website or blog and/or a newsletter are also relatively simple.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather write something once a week than go to a weekly meeting.

More good news.

You can build a very successful practice using just one or two effective strategies. Find something that’s simple and appropriate for your practice, temperament, and resources, and once you’ve chosen them, stop looking. At least for now.

Instead, get better at implementing those strategies. They may be all you need.

How to get more referrals from your clients

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Is it worth ‘getting to know’ your clients?

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They hire you. They pay you. They’re happy with your work. But they don’t talk to you again until they have another legal issue.

They have no reason to contact you, but you have a reason to contact them.

Building relationships with your clients is one of the best ways to bring in more clients and cases, increase your income, and expand your network, with less effort or expense than anything else you could do.

Want more referrals? Stay in touch with your clients. Want to know who they know (and could introduce you to)? Stay in touch with your clients.

Have you ever signed up a client, asked them who represented them on their previous case, but they couldn’t remember? They couldn’t remember because their previous attorney didn’t stay in touch with them after they completed their case.

I’ve signed up a lot of clients who would have gone back to their previous attorney if they had remembered their name.

But don’t just stay in touch with your clients, get to know them personally. Find out about their business and personal life. They’ll tell you what you can do to help them.

If you someone needs help with a tax matter, for example, you can send them information and refer them to a tax professional they can trust. If a client tells you their business is struggling, you could introduce them to people (customers, advisors, vendors) who can help.

Things you might not know if you just did the legal work and called it a day.

Is it worth taking your valuable time to do this? As someone who built a big practice primarily through repeat business and referrals, I would say it is.

No matter what kind of practice you have, you’re in the people business. If you want to get to know more people, get to know the ones you already know a little better.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Should you outsource your law firm marketing?

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Hire people and let them do your marketing?

Yes, and no.

You save time by not doing everything yourself. And you get to borrow the skills and knowledge of experts who can do many things faster and better than you. You pay a price for this but if the people you hire are good at what they do, they’ll make you money.

Sounds compelling. So why do I say “yes and no”?

Because there are some things you will always do better than anyone else.

Two things, in particular.

First, a marketing consultant or firm can create articles, presentations, newsletters, and other content for you, and it will be well-researched, grammatically sound, and clearly articulated, but they can’t speak with your voice or your authority, because they don’t have your experiences, your philosophies, or your personality.

Hire others to advise you or assist you if you want to, but don’t delegate all of your content creation to them.

Second, no marketing expert can build personal relationships with your clients and professional contacts for you.

As a professional, this is your most important and valuable job.

Yes, even more important than doing the legal work. You can hire attorneys to do most of that under your supervision, but if you ask those attorneys or anyone else to build relationships for you, the only relationships they build will be between the client and themself.

No matter what kind of practice you have, or want to build, repeat business and referrals are key to your long-term success.

Don’t put that in the hands of anyone else.

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Can you give me some advice?

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When asked this question, most attorneys reply with, “Visa or Mastercard,“ because they’re not in the advice-giving business, they’re in the advice-selling business.

Free consultations are no exception.

You don’t charge the would-be client for a free consultation, but since a preponderance wind up hiring you, you still get paid.

What about free information you provide via a blog or newsletter, video or podcast?

You don’t speak to the viewer or listener about their situation, but they still get your valuable information and opinions. And many who consume said information will hire you or refer business to you.

So you still get paid.

We’re lawyers. We always get paid.

Free advice and free information are effective ways to market legal services. But are they right for you?

Some attorneys want to get paid for their advice and information, besides getting paid for their services. And many attorneys do.

Many attorneys don’t offer free consultations. If you want their advice, you write a check. Some attorneys don’t offer free content. You want to know what they know, you buy their book or course. Or hire them.

What’s the right way to go?

Do the math.

If you get more clients by offering free consultations and/or free information than you would if you didn’t, there’s your answer.

But not always.

It depends on how much time you need to invest to give those consultations or create that information. And it depends on the quality of the clients that result from your efforts.

Some clients are worth more. Bigger cases, more work, repeat business, more referrals, more contacts they can introduce you to, more opportunities they can help you find and exploit.

It’s complicated.

And then there’s the matter of your marketing.

If you have a big back end, you can afford to spend more on the front end. It’s an investment. If you know the value of building a list and staying in touch with it, you’ll be inclined to create more free information, not less.

And then there’s the matter of your gut. What does it tell you?

You shouldn’t do anything just because all the cool kids are doing it, or not do it because they aren’t.

Hey, just some things to think about. And talk to your people about.

If you want to talk to me about it, I take Visa and Mastercard.

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The options paradox

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People say they want a lot of options. But they don’t. Experiments prove this, including a famous one labeled “The Jam Study”.

Researchers set up two tables with fruit jams for purchase. One table had 24 different flavors of jam. The other table had 6.

The table with 24 flavors got 50% more shoppers to visit. But. . . the table with 6 flavors got more sales.

3% of shoppers bought something from the table with 24 options; 30% bought something from the table with just 6 options.

The reason is simple. When confronted with too many choices, people find it difficult to choose. Our brains prefer fewer options because it is easier to decide.

When you’re speaking to a client or prospect about the services you offer, don’t give them too many options. You’ll get fewer sign-ups.

In the calls-to-action in your emails and web pages, don’t include several “asks”. Don’t ask them to download something and share something, fill out a form and Like your post.

Too many options usually gets fewer people to do anything.

So, how many is too many?

You have to test that and find out, but, as a general rule, one or two options is usually best.

One option, “Fill out this form” gives them a choice between getting your report or other incentive (by filling out the form) or getting nothing. They either want the report or they don’t.

Two options, “Service A or Service B” or “Relief from your problem (by hiring you) or continuing to have that problem (by not hiring you)”. Much less to think about.

In marketing, less is (usually) more.

Here’s the formula for getting more clients and increasing your income

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Sorry, you don’t qualify to hire me

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Wouldn’t it be great to be able to pick and choose who can (and can’t) hire you?

It would and you can start doing it immediately.

Decide who you want as a client in terms of demographics, industry or market, and other factors, and don’t accept anyone else. Or, accept them if you want to, but don’t target them.

Invest your time and resources attracting your “ideal” client.

This will necessarily be a small segment of the entire market of people who might need your services. Why limit yourself?

Because it will make your marketing much more effective and your practice more profitable and enjoyable.

You’ll bring in better clients, the kinds you have determined you want to work with, and eliminate ones you don’t.

Many prospective clients will seek you out because they’ve heard about you from people they know and trust. They’ll be pre-sold on you and your services and won’t need a lot of persuading to sign up.

These clients will be able to pay you and will have a lot of work for you (because you targeted clients who do). They’ll also have more referrals for you, people like themselves who are a good fit for you.

Professionals and businesses in your target market will more readily steer people your way, because they’ve also heard about you from people they trust, some of whom will be their existing clients.

Is this starting to sound too good to be true?

Maybe it is. Maybe your message won’t resonate, your reputation won’t precede you, or people won’t trust you or want you anywhere near their clients and contacts.

But maybe they will.

How about finding out?

Start by understanding that “not everyone is your customer” and that you get to choose.

Choose well, my friend. You might be pleasantly surprised and handsomely rewarded.

If not, you can always go back to marketing to everyone and taking what you get.

Here’s how to choose your niche market and ideal client

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Maybe you should charge for that free consultation

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People associate value with price. So when you offer something free, like a report or a consultation, they might think it is has less value, or, with a consultation, nothing more than a sales pitch for your services.

If they do, they might decline your offer and never become a prospect. Or they might download your report information but, because it is free, either never get around to reading it or never taking it serious enough to take the next step.

Should you charge for these things instead?

Maybe.

If someone pays hundreds of dollars to consult with you, or even $10 for your book, they are more lkely to read or listen to your information or advice and are thus more likely to sign up as a client.

Paying makes them a better prospect because they pay attention and know more about their problem and your solutions. They also get a sense of what it would be like to have you as their attorney.

But there’s a tradeoff. Fewer people will buy your book than will download a free report. Fewer people will pay to talk to you than will avail themselves of a free consultation.

But maybe that’s a good thing.

You’ll have fewer prospects but probably sign up a higher percentage as paying clients. And those clients are likely to be better clients because they’ve already heard some of your advice and found it valuable enough to pay for more.

On the other hand, a much bigger list of prospects with whom you can stay in touch (via email, letters, social media, etc.) is a very cost-effective way to bring in a lot more business.

For most attorneys, especially those who target consumers and small business clients, I suggest giving away lots of free information and using it to build a list. Best bang for your buck.

I suggest you also write a book and sell it because being an author gives you a level of authority most attorneys don’t have (and you get paid for leads.)

Free consultations aren’t right for every practice. But if you’re in a competitive market where they are common, not only do you probably need to offer them to stay in the running, you should consider making your consultation much more valuable than what other lawyers offer, e.g., more time, more information, and other benefits (a free copy of your book, for example), and promoting the heck out of it.

Just some thoughts to make your life more complicated but also more remunerative.

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Why you should write your own reviews

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Most clients don’t leave reviews, even when they love you. That’s why you should write your own. 

Hold on, I’m not suggesting anything unethical. Here’s what I mean. 

The issue isn’t that clients don’t appreciate your work or the way you take care of them. They do. They tell you that all the time. 

They say thank you. And mean it. They tell you how relieved they are that you got them out of a jam. They say you did a great job, you’re a great lawyer, and they are glad they found you. 

Nice things. The kinds of things you would love for them to say in a review. 

They usually don’t post a review, however, because they’re busy. Or don’t think about it. Or don’t know know how important it is.   

But if you make it easy for them, they will.  

Which is why you should take the words they say to you, or send you in an email, and write the review for them. 

Send them an email, thank them for their kind words, and quote back to them what you heard. And then ask if they would post those words in a review and give them the link to the review site you prefer.

Tell them they can add to or edit what you wrote any way they want to, and can submit it without showing their full name. You can also offer some additional language they could use if they agree with it. Things you know they think or feel but didn’t actually say. 

Make sure they know how important reviews are to a lawyer, and to the people who are looking for a lawyer. And thank them again. 

Not everyone will say yes, but you will get more reviews. And every single one will be good.

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Tell me about yourself

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Everyone’s favorite radio station, we’re told, is WIIFM—“What’s in it for me?” They tell us that prospective clients don’t care about you or what you want; it’s all about them.

So make it about them.

Make your content, offers, stories, and examples about your reader or prospect. Because that’s why they’re reading your article or copy and that’s why they will hire you (or won’t).

Just tell them about your services and benefits. Leave yourself out of the picture.

No, don’t do that. You will always be in the picture because you’re the one who will help them get what they want.

If you don’t tell them about yourself, if your articles and sales pages are only about your services and offers, that’s boring. And generic. And unlikely to persuade anyone to choose you.

(NB: don’t write articles or sales copy that any other attorney could grab and slap their name on.)

If you want clients to hire you instead of any other attorney, tell them about yourself.

Anyway, aside from that, the reality is, people do care about other people and that includes little ‘ol you.

Sure, they care about themselves a lot more, but don’t for a minute think nobody wants to know anything about you.

They do. They want to hear your story. Especially if they’re thinking about hiring you.

They want to hear about your experiences working with other clients. They want to know what you think about things. They want to know where you’ve been and where you are going.

Because they want to see what it would be like having you as their attorney. But they’re interested in you even if they’re not shopping for a lawyer.

Because people are interested in and care about people.

Something else.

If your reader finds your story interesting, if they relate to you, if they feel that in some way they know you, they will be more likely to hire you.

Knowing is the first step. Liking is second. Trusting may take more time, but the more you tell them about yourself, the more likely this is on the way.

Don’t overdo it. Don’t be one of those people who talks incessantly about themselves.

Me, me, me, doesn’t win friends or influence people.

But don’t hide yourself and talk only about your services. Make your articles and copy mostly about them but also about you.

Because if they hire you, it’s going to be about both of you.

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