Who loves ‘ya, baby?

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We’re trained to see both sides of an issue and that’s good. It makes us better at our job. But building a successful law practice requires you to stand out from the herd. 

One way to do that is to choose sides on a controversial issue.

Not politics or religion, although you could choose one of these if you’re willing to go all in. No, I’m talking about something less ideological.

Something like reverse mortgages. 

I know someone whose parents got one and were happy until they spent all the proceeds buying things they didn’t need. It made the last few years of their life difficult and they became a burden on their kids who had to help out. 

It would be easy to demonetize reverse mortgages and use stories like this one to write and speak and warn people not to believe the hype.

You could build an entire practice doing that. 

On the other hand, I’m sure there are many people who are perfectly happy with their decision to get a reverse mortgage. They timed it right, they were careful with the money, they got good advice along the way, and they are enjoying their retirement.

You could take that side, too. 

If you adopt the latter view, you could write about how reverse mortgages can be a blessing, network with real estate professionals who specialize in them and build a successful practice as a champion for the industry. 

I don’t know if reverse mortgages are, per se, good or bad. I haven’t looked into it. I’m saying that you can get a lot of mileage out of choosing sides on a controversial issue (e.g., Bitcoin investing) and marketing the hell out of it.

Whatever the issue, choosing sides will make you some enemies.  (If it doesn’t, you haven’t chosen the right issue.) Making enemies is the price you pay to make a name for yourself. 

The other option is to play it safe and have nobody know your name. 

Marketing legal services is easier when you know the formula 

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We love practicing law!

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I got a postcard from a real estate broker team in my area looking for listings. The first thing you read on the postcard is a series of bullet points:

  • We LOVE Real Estate!!!!
  • We LOVE our clients! Thank you for your support over the years.
  • We LOVE listings! We get the most eyes on your property.
  • We LOVE negotiating! We fight hard for your money.
  • We LOVE selling houses! That’s what we do best.

And so on.

Anything wrong with this? Plenty. 

Whether real estate broker or attorney, clients don’t hire you because you like what you do. They hire you because of what you can do for them.

A postcard featuring what YOU like about what you do doesn’t get the job done. Especially when that’s what you lead with. 

In any marketing communications–websites, emails, ads,  postcards, or anything else, you have a few seconds to catch the prospect’s attention and compel them to continue reading. 

Talking about YOURSELF first doesn’t do that. Instead, talk about what’s on the reader’s or listener’s mind, what’s going on in their world (and their head). Talk to them about their problems and desires. Then talk to them about your solutions. 

The bullets on this postcard mention some benefits: “We get the most for your property, We fight hard for your money, We get the most eyes on your property,” but they aren’t “in focus”.

The brokers are in focus–what they love, what they’re good at. 

In addition, the benefits in these bullets are weak and common. You read them and your eyes glaze over. 

Look: 

You have to get the prospect’s attention before they will read the content of your message. You can’t do that by telling them about yourself, you have to talk about them.  

You have to tell prospects what’s in it for them. What benefits do you offer? How can you help them become better off? Quantify and dramatize the benefits; you can’t bore anyone into hiring you. 

And you have to tell prospects why they should choose you instead of anyone else who says the same things. How are you different? Why are you better? What do you offer that others don’t?

Because if you say the same things everyone says, you’re really saying nothing. 

One more thing. Putting a pretty picture and “Happy Valentine’s Day” on the front of the postcard doesn’t help. 

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How do you compete with this?

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Comes this question: What do you do when a prospective client  (who found you through the Internet) tells you they probably won’t hire you because they’ve had free consultations with several of your competitors, suggesting that one of them will get the nod?

If most of your competition offers free consultations, and you don’t, should you change course to stay competitive?

Maybe. 

If you get (or want to get) most of your clients via an Internet search, where prospective clients are given to shopping and comparing fees, you probably need to offer free consultations just to stay in the running. 

On the other hand, if you get (or want to get) most of your clients through referrals, and prospects talk to you because they trust the client or professional who referred them and/or they don’t want to bother shopping around, then maybe not. 

But there is one more option.  

If you do something or offer something most other lawyers don’t do, and you can “sell” that difference to prospective clients, you may not have to make any compromises. 

Do you specialize in a particular area of the law that most lawyers don’t handle, or focus on representing a certain type of client? 

Do you have a better track record you can quantify and point to?  

Do you offer benefits that no one else offers (or no one else promotes?) 

Failing these, if you what you offer is pretty much what everyone else offers, there’s only one other way to beat them–with better marketing. 

You need a stronger on-boarding process, better marketing documents, better follow-up, and better salesmanship. 

When someone takes a look at you, you need to do a better job of selling them on hiring you. 

Start by answering this question: “Why should anyone hire you instead of any other attorney in your field and market?”

If you have a good answer to that question, you’ll know what to do. If you can’t, you’ll know you have some work to do.

Check out my free referral course 

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Apple doesn’t do this, should you?

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You probably recall Apple’s “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads a few years back featuring a nerd (PC) and a cool guy (Mac) telling us why their platform is superior. 

Apple captured a lot of market share with this campaign, so why don’t they do anything like it today? 

video, “Why Apple doesn’t talk about competitors” explains why Apple no longer talks about why they are better than the competition. They don’t even acknowledge the existence of competition. 

Ads for Apple’s flagship iPhone don’t compare the iPhone to Android phones, for example, because on specs and price, Android usually comes out better. So Apple positions itself as “number one,” talks about their “magical” products, and markets to their loyal fan base.

Apple’s ads simply compare this year’s model with last year’s model. The new model is faster or has a better camera than the previous generation. 

“They don’t want you to think, ‘Which phone should I buy?'” the video explains, “they want you to think, ‘Which iPhone should I buy?”

Okay, what can we learn from this? 

Should you compare your legal services with those offered by other lawyers? Should you compete on specs?

If you are the big dog in your niche, like Apple, no. What’s to be gained by a feature-by-feature comparison? All you will do is force your smaller competition to point out where they are superior.

If you aren’t the big dog, you have to do what Android does: demonstrate why you offer a better product. You need to give clients reasons to choose you instead of the competition.

How are you better? Faster? Different? 

But you’re not selling a product like a computer or a phone that can be taken apart, examined and benchmarked. So, if you’re not “the best,” don’t fret.

Most people won’t hire you based on how you spec out. Most people will hire you because they know, like, and trust you (or someone who referred them to you). 

And they don’t care whether you use a Mac or a PC.

How to get your clients to send you more referrals

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Who are you and why should I hire you?

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In any competitive market, your number one challenge is to stand out from your competition. After all, you have to get noticed before you can get hired. 

One of the best ways to stand out is to show the market that you are better at what you do than other lawyers in your market. If you can do that, you should. 

But proving you’re better isn’t easy.  

The alternative? Show them you are different. 

Let’s say you handle personal injury cases. Thousands of other attorneys offer the same services. What could you do to stand out?

You might create a blog that’s targeted to a specific type of client–industry, type of business or work, ethnicity, religion, or outside interest (e.g., classic car enthusiasts).

You might create videos of you sitting in front of the camera answering FAQs from prospective clients or telling war stories about some of your interesting cases.  

You might write a book about what to do when you are injured in an accident. 

You don’t have to do anything huge. Just different. Something other attorneys don’t do. Something prospective clients and referral sources will notice and remember. 

When they say, “Oh yeah, you’re the attorney who does those videos,” or “You’re the attorney who wrote that book,” you know you’re doing it right. 

In a competitive market, different is often better than better. It’s certainly a lot easier.  

How to stand out in a competitive market

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Why am I not surprised?

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I just saw an infographic depicting “America’s Most & Least Trusted Professions”. Lawyers ranked near the bottom, just above business executives, car salespeople, and swamp-creatures, aka, members of Congress.

I’ve noted before that lawyers are an easy target. We do everyone’s dirty work and tend to make a lot of enemies, after all. And who doesn’t like a good lawyer joke?

But that doesn’t mean we should accept the world’s collective opprobrium. Neither should we single-handedly attempt to repair the reputation of an entire profession. 

Instead, we should take steps to differentiate ourselves. To show the world that we’re one of the good ones. 

We can do that, we must do that, by going out of our way to foster trust in the eyes of our prospects, clients, and professional contacts. 

This covers a lot of territory, everything from treating people better than they expect (or deserve) to be treated, to displaying the accolades and endorsements of others who vouch for us, to doing charitable work usually associated with good people, and everything in between. 

We should, of course, also refrain from the types of practices we know client’s dislike. Failing to keep clients informed about their case and charging for every little expense and every nanosecond of time are common examples.  

Another way to earn trust is to exceed our clients’ expectations. Giving them extra services, delivering better results, and showering them with the highest level of “customer service” not only goes a long way towards earning trust, but it can also stimulate a heap of positive word of mouth about you. 

In our marketing, we can build trust by showing our market how we are different or better than our competition. This can be as simple as providing more information than most attorneys do, or doing so in an interesting or entertaining matter. 

Finally, one thing we shouldn’t do is deny the fact that lawyers tend to rank low on the trust totem pole. Instead, we should acknowledge this fact and help people understand what to do about it. 

Educate your market about the standard of care, so prospective clients will know what to expect and demand. Teach them what to do when a lawyer doesn’t deliver.

And teach them what to look for when they are looking for a lawyer in your practice area. Give them the questions to ask and the answers they should get.  

Do this, and you will take a big step towards showing the market that you are indeed one of the good ones.

How to build trust and get more repeat business and referrals

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Couldn’t have said it better myself

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I read an interview with Promise Tangerman, the founder of a “boutique graphic and web design studio.” The title of the article in Forbescaught my eye: “The key to success according to this tech founder? Stick to your niche”.

I thought that if you don’t want to listen to me when I pound the table about that very subject, maybe you’ll listen to her. 

Here’s an excerpt:

Karin Eldor (the interviewer): “Why is the concept of focusing on a niche so important to you?” 

Tangeman: When your industry feels flooded with other people doing the exact same thing as you, you have to be different in order to stand out, and you have to stand out in order to get the sale. The number one question I get asked on a daily basis is: “How do I get more customers and clients?” That answer is simple: focus on your business and create a niche for yourself.

A niche is when you create a very specific product or service that only appeals to a small group of people. So you’ll create a more focused product, market it to fewer people, and as counterintuitive as it seems, actually make more money.

Eldor: Why do believe creating a niche will help you attract more customers and clients?

Tangeman: For starters, your business will be considered unique, so people will have a reason to talk about you and tell their friends about you. As well, you’ll be viewed as a specialist in the sector of your industry, and therefore you’ll be your specific customer’s first choice. And you’ll have a better, more targeted product, so people will be willing to pay a higher price for it. As a result, you’ll have a higher and faster conversion to sale, because you’ll know exactly where and how to market your product.

Change “product” to services, “customers” to “clients,” “higher prices” to “higher fees” and this could have been written for lawyers. 

So, here I am, standing up and doing the Simon Cowell “slow clap”. Maybe even hitting the golden buzzer. 

Discover
how to choose the right niche for your practice

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Your 30-Day Marketing Challenge

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I keep hearing about 30-Day challenges. For writing, for creating new habits, for getting your home or office organized. Apparently, you challenge yourself to focus for 30 days on something new and efficacious and work your booty off to get it done.

So, how about a 30-day marketing challenge?

Choose an area of your practice you want to improve or grow. Something you can measure like new clients or new subscribers would be good. Then, pick a number: how many in what period of time?

Notice, it’s not “how many in 30 days”? You probably won’t see the bulk of your results until well after 30 days. 

With me? 

Next, what can you do to bring about that result?

I suggest you choose one or two strategies–no more than three–because you’ve got to keep things simple (or you won’t do them). 

Got it? 

Let’s say you want to bring in two new clients per month within 90 days and you’ve chosen networking to find new referral sources as your strategy to do that. 

You can do this in person, online, or both. You can find professionals by showing up at a group (again, in person or online), or by asking your current referral sources (and clients) to introduce you, or both. 

Your plan calls for you to introduce yourself, find out what they do and tell them what you do, and look for ways you can work together. 

That’s a good plan, by the way. Simple, do-able, and likely to produce results. 

Next, set up a schedule. Every day, for the next 30 days, what will you do? Block out 15 minutes or 30 minutes or 60 minutes a day on your calendar to do it. 

You can take this challenge on your own or with a workout or accountability partner. Find someone who wants to take the same challenge or a similar one and help each other. 

You can accomplish a lot with 30-days of sustained effort. All that remains is for you to do it. 

Here you go: Lawyer-to-lawyer referrals

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Here’s your plan

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With a little planning, next year could be your best year ever. 

Start by deciding what you want to improve or expand or what problems or bottlenecks you want to remove. These should be relatively high-level strategies that relate to your long-term goals. 

Things like

  • Entering a new market or niche
  • Developing a new skill or improving an existing skill
  • Offering a new service
  • Finding new referral sources/jv partners
  • Improving your billing and cash flow
  • Starting a newsletter, blog, or video channel
  • Cutting overhead
  • Trying (or increasing) PPC advertising
  • Hiring more employees/outsourcing
  • Streamlining your workflow

There are many more possibilities. 

Make a list and then choose no more than three to five strategies for the year. (If you get them done, you can go back for more).

The next step is to decide what “success” looks like for each strategy. 

What’s the desired outcome? How much/how many? When do you want this to occur? 

It might help to think about why you want this result. What will it help you do, have, or become? How will it materially improve your practice or life?

Write a short description of each desired outcome or goal. 

Once you chosen the what and why, it’s time to consider the how. How will you implement these strategies? How will you achieve these goals?

For each strategy or goal, write down specific action steps.  Make each step as simple as possible. Break up big tasks or projects into small, bite-sized pieces. 

Organize all of your action steps into logical order and add them to your task management system or calendar.

And there’s your plan. 

This will help you create a simple marketing plan

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You’re doing something right

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Where are most of your clients coming from right now? Look at your current client list, tally up the score, and make some notes.

How many were referred by other clients? Which clients referred them? What legal issues? What did the referred client ask? What did the referring client tell them or do?

Describe what happened if you have it in your notes (and start taking notes if you don’t).

How many new clients were referred by other professionals? Write down the names of any and all referral-givers and the types of clients they’re sending your way.

How many clients found you online? What keywords did they search? What articles did they read? Which sites did they visit before finding yours?

How many came in from advertising? Which publications or sites? Which ads? Which keywords? Which headlines? Offers? What was the cost per click/per lead?

How many came from networking, speaking, writing, or other sources? Where? When? What did you say or do that led to them contacting you?

Look at last year’s new clients and cull out the same information. 

Look for patterns. Figure out where most of your clients or cases are coming from. Figure out where your biggest or best clients are coming from. Calculate your highest ROI’s on marketing.

You need to know these things so you can manage and improve your marketing. Tracking numbers will tell you what to repeat and expand, and what to reduce or give up. Keeping notes will help you improve your process and your results.

If you’re getting clients now, you’re doing something right. But you can always do better.

Marketing is easier when you have a plan

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