“New arrivals” might be great prospects for your services

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For obvious reasons, many real estate agents target new arrivals in town, both homeowners and businesses. You might want to do the same.

When someone moves to your city, there’s a good chance they don’t yet have an attorney. If you are first attorney to “greet” them, when they are ready to hire an attorney, you’ll be first in line.

If you handle real estate, family law, estate planning, or immigration, or you represent small businesses, new arrivals are a natural target market.

One way to get your name in front of them to is to create a booklet, guide, or checklist specifically for them. Your guide might provide a list of names and contact information for vendors and government agencies they need to notify of their new address:

  • Banks, PayPal, credit card companies
  • DMV, registrar of voters, TSA Pre
  • Federal, state, local taxing authorities
  • Insurance: health, renters/homeowners, auto, etc.
  • Online retailers, subscriptions, home deliveries, shippers
  • WHOIS (domain names), hosting, email providers

A checklist like this, provided “compliments of” your firm, will make a favorable first impression and provide prospects with an easy way to contact you to get more information.

Make sure you include another offer in your guide, for a report related to your practice area, available for download at your website. This will help you build an email list so you can stay in touch with the new arrivals.

You can advertise your guide or mail it. You can also provide free copies to local merchants, especially real estate agents, moving companies, builders, decorators, and so on, who can provide them to their customers and clients.

New arrivals also need other services–insurance agents, an accountant, landscapers, painters, and so on. You can offset some (or all) of your printing costs by including small ads in your booklet from these local merchants and service providers. Your advertisers may pass out copies of your booklet to their customers and clients.

This is a simple idea that you could put together in a couple of hours. It could bring you a lot of new business. It will also allow you to meet other professionals and business owners in town, giving you an opportunity to show them how you can help them and their clients or customers.

Marketing is simple when you know the formula

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A cost of doing business that pays for itself

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You have overhead. And discretionary expenses. Rent, wages, payroll taxes, equipment, advertising, and everything else, and each has it’s own category in your expense ledger.

Everything except one. Customer service.

Customer service should have its own expense category because it is clearly a cost of doing business and it should be accounted for.

The things you do for your clients–to deliver value, to give them a good experience with your firm, to “take care of them” and make them glad they hired you–has a cost.

Some money and a lot of time.

Money spent on overnighting copies at your expense, remembering birthdays and holidays, and providing extra services free of charge.

Time spent talking to clients about non-billable matters and explaining things you’ve already explained, to make sure the client understands. Time spent training and supervising your staff, to make sure they know why taking care of clients is good for business and so they are well equipped to do it.

There’s also time spent on personal development, to develop the habits and skills that make you better at serving your clients.

Add it all up and it’s a big number. Or it should be because it is a key factor in the success of your practice.

The more you give your clients, the better you care for them, the bigger your practice will grow. Clients who feel respected and appreciated are clients who hire you again and again and sing your praises to others.

Customer service also cuts down on problems. Clients who are well informed and regularly updated, for example, are less likely to call you again or complain to you and to the Bar.

Sometimes, customer service means giving clients the benefit of the doubt when they want more from you than they paid for. Sometimes it means cutting your fee or issuing a refund.

That doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to be taken advantage of or put up with abuse. It means understanding the lifetime value of a client and being willing to sacrifice a dollar today to earn $1000 long term.

Customer service is a cost of doing business. But it more than pays for itself.

Henry Ford said, “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”

Your goal is to earn more income. One of the best ways to do that is to invest in your clients.

The Attorney Marketing Formula is here

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How to make next year your best year ever

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Where do you want your practice to be next year at this time? Wherever that is, the way to get there is to identify and exploit your current “areas of opportunity”.

Areas of opportunity include

(1) weaknesses you can reduce or eliminate;
(2) strengths you can make stronger; and
(3) unexplored or underutilized strategies, techniques, tools, and relationships.

Take some time to examine your practice, and yourself, and look for areas of opportunity you can work on in the coming year.

Here are a few examples:

  • new target markets
  • new practice areas
  • strategic alliances with new business contacts
  • new places to advertise, network, speak and write
  • improving client relations
  • new skills to acquire, hire or outsource
  • eliminating bad habits
  • developing new habits
  • retraining or replacing under-performing employees
  • marketing strategies that work and should be expanded
  • new marketing strategies
  • improving website copy
  • eliminating marketing activities that use too much time
  • giving some employees more responsibilities
  • reducing overhead by cutting expenses, consolidating, negotiating
  • opening satellite offices
  • improving your brand
  • getting more online reviews
  • setting up additional websites to leverage important keywords
  • working fewer hours
  • improving billing and collection methods

There are many more.

Start by spending some time identifying major weaknesses, if any, and patching the dam.

Spend more time identifying and implementing things you’re not doing that could help you grow bigger or faster.

Spend most of your time identifying your strengths and making them stronger. Your strengths got you to your current level and, more than anything, they will get you to the next.

Client referrals are a major area of opportunity

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Here’s a year-end marketing project for you

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Now is a good time to update (or start) your new client welcome kit.

A welcome letter is not enough. You should overnight new clients a comprehensive package of information, instructions, and other materials that not only make the client feel welcome but equip him to help you do your job.

Your kit should answer the new client’s questions about their case and about working with you. This will reduce anxiety, misunderstandings and calls to your office.

The kit will also help you cross-sell your other services, help you build your list, and stimulate more referrals.

What goes the kit? Information.

  • what happens next, and what happens after that
  • instructions — what to do, what to NOT do
  • office hours, appointments, parking, how to contact you and your staff, payment options, what to do in an emergency,
  • answers to FAQs and answers to questions clients often don’t ask but should
  • information about the law and procedure relative to their case or matter
  • how to navigate your website
  • your social media channels and a request to Like and Share your content
  • where to send feedback, reviews, and suggestions
  • what to say and do to make referrals
  • a list of your other services and practice areas
  • your bio, and information about your staff
  • social proof about you and your firm–reviews, testimonials, endorsements, success stories/case histories–to minimize “buyer’s remorse” and provide”talking points” the client can share with partners, superiors, etc.)

And so on.

Your kit should also include a supply of your business cards, copies of reports or books you have penned, brochures, and various “referral devices” they are encouraged to share with friends and contacts.

Include more than you think is necessary. People tend to associate “bulk” with value, so load ’em up. It’s not important that they read everything, it’s important that they see that you are accomplished, organized, professional, and prepared to help them.

You can (and should) selectively share some of the contents of your kit again at a later time, especially when it has been updated. This gives you another excuse to contact them, and another way to remind them that you can help them and the people they know.

You can also use much of this information in your kit for prospective clients. But we’ll save that for early next year.

“Referral devices” bring you more referrals. Here’s how to create them

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Use the familiar to build likeability and trust

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In the first season of the original Star Trek, in an episode entitled The Corbormite Maneuver, the Enterprise crew encounters an alien ship that threatens to destroy them. The pilot of the ship is a bellicose, scary-looking creature who warns the Enterprise of their impending doom.

We later learn that the scary creature displayed on the Enterprise’s view screen is actually a manikin with a synthesized voice. The real pilot is a small childlike alien, played by a young Clint Howard, who maintains the ruse as a way to protect himself.

We like the story because the good guys survive the danger with a ruse of their own. Captain Kirk tells the alien that if he destroys the Enterprise, his own ship would be destroyed, due to the presence of Carbomite within the ship’s hull. There is no such thing but it allows the Captain to buy some time to confront the alien and defuse the threat.

We also look the story because it seems familiar.

Indeed, the same theme was used in The Wizard of Oz, some thirty years earlier. The Wizard is portrayed as powerful and threatening, until we see the man behind the curtain and realize that The Wizard  is actually a gentle white-haired old man.

Familiar themes help moviegoers become more engaged in a story. They are also used in marketing to educate prospects and generate trust.

When a prospective client or referral source sees that they have something in common with you, they are more apt to like and trust you. Your mutual interest also serves as a natural icebreaker.

If you have a small R2-D2 on your desk, for example, prospective clients will see that you are a Star Wars fan. Even if they are not, they might be less intimidated by you, relax, and open up.

Movies and popular culture are just one way to use familiar themes, but it is a good one because they are so well known and because they invoke the emotions of people who remember them. If you are an estate planning attorney, writing about what to do when a loved one has a terminal illness, for example, you could do worse than referencing the 1970’s book and film, “Love Story”.

In your marketing, presentations, and conversations, look for ways to connect with people by using familiar themes, examples, and stories. They can help you show people what you offer and build trust in your ability to deliver.

More ways to build likability and trust

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You only need one

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Let’s say you want to get more referrals from other professionals. Where do you start?

You start by finding one professional who can and will send you business. If you already have one, you start by finding one new one.

Because one is all you need to start.

You only need one because, in the course of finding them, you will acquire the knowledge and skills you need to find more.

You’ll learn where to find them, how to approach them, and how to help them get what they want. You’ll learn how to help them even if you don’t have referrals for them. You’ll learn how to build a relationship, nurture it, and help it to grow.

You’ll go through a lot of candidates to find that one. Many will disappoint you. Some will lie and stab you in the back. But eventually, you’ll find one who is the real deal and soon, that one will turn into two.

You’ll get better at finding good referral sources and developing relationships. And soon, you’ll have a few.

And a few is all you need to build a big practice.

A few good professional referral sources can introduce you to powerful people in your niche or community. Those people will trust you because they trust the person who introduced you. They will open doors for you, introduce you to their colleagues and friends, and eventually, important people will know your name.

Your marketing will be easier. You’ll get bigger results. Better clients. And even more referral sources.

You don’t need to figure out how to build an army, just figure out how to get one recruit. Once you do, the next step will reveal itself to you.

But it all starts with one.

Here’s how you find new professional referral sources

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A confused mind says no

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Most lawyers give prospective clients two choices: hire me or don’t. There are no other options. Too often, the prospect chooses to go elsewhere, wait, or do nothing.

If you want to increase your intake of new clients and maximize your revenue, give people more options to work with you or move your relationship forward.

Here are a few examples:

  • Service A or Service B
  • Service A and Service B (at a small discount, with extra free services or other benefits)
  • Package A or Package B (with different services, features, benefits and price points)
  • Hire me or schedule a free consultation
  • Schedule a free consultation or call me with questions
  • Hire me today or download/review this (web pages, articles, your report, your planning guide, etc.)
  • Attend my free webinar/seminar this week or next month
  • Hire me or follow me (and watch my videos or read my posts)
  • Hire me today or sign up for my newsletter so I can send you valuable information

Give folks more options and you’ll increase the chances that they will choose something that’s good for you.

On the other hand, don’t make the mistake of giving people too many options. If you do that, you run the risk that the prospect won’t be able to choose and will wander (or run) away. It’s called “decision fatigue” and it’s a well-documented phenomenon.

In one study, researchers at Columbia University posed as employees at a grocery store and offered passerby samples of jams. When the researchers used six varities, 30% who tried a sample purchased a jar. When researchers offered 24 varieties, however, only 3% bought something.

Of course, hiring a lawyer is a far more complex, expensive, and intimidating transaction than buying jelly. The risks of overwhelming prospects is much greater.

Offer a few options, not dozens. But give them more options besides “hire me or don’t”.

More

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Marketing is simple

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Yesterday, I told you about the dentist who sent a gift card to old patients (i.e., me) and how you could do something similar to activate old clients and/or get some referrals.

No doubt you loved the idea. You want old clients to hire you again. You want more referrals. You want to get this done.

But. . .

What if your old clients are unable to hire you again, at least right now?

Or, what if you really love this idea and want to scale it up big time.

No problem.

All you need to do is contact other professionals or business owners and ask them if they would like some business. When they say, “Yes I would, kind sir/madam,” you say, “I’m going to send a letter (email) to my clients and former clients, tell them about you, and offer them a $100 [$500, or whatever] discount card [coupon, voucher, etc.] for your services [products]. Would that be okay?”

If it’s not okay, go find someone else who wants a bunch of new clients or customers.

If they say, “I love it, what do you need from me?” work out the details and send your clients an early Christmas gift, courtesy of your new friend.

Your clients will love you for helping them find a professional/business who does good work and for saving them some cash.

Your new friend will love you for helping them bring in new business.

And you’ll love you because your new friend will be obliged to send your offer to their clients or customers.

Hello? McFly? That means you’ll have a bunch of new clients. Quickly. Which means you’ll love me for telling you about this.

And then? And then, go find another professional and make them the same offer.

Note, your offer (or your friend’s offer) doesn’t have to be a discount. It could be a free consultation, an ebook or report, a checklist of important items to keep track of or do (eg., information to collect when they are in an auto collision, an estate planning guide), or anything else folks like your clients would find valuable.

Whatever it is, you can set this up quickly and start pulling in business long before Rudolph’s nose starts blinking.

Find someone with a list of customers, clients, prospects, or other contacts who might be a good fit for your services. Show them your discount card (or whatever). Tell them the results you got sending it to your older clients (if you did that), and off you go.

Marketing is simple. Try it, you’ll like it.

Getting more referrals from other professionals made simple

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Dead clients don’t pay your bills

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One of the best sources of new clients is old clients, that is, former clients who haven’t hired you for a while. That’s one reason I repeatedly pound on you about the value of staying in touch.

Anyway, if you haven’t been doing that, or even if you have, there’s something else you can do to “re-activate” lapsed clients.

In the mail yesterday was a letter (remember those?) from a dentist I don’t know but with a return address that sounded vaguely familiar. I’m always curious to see how professionals market themselves so I opened it. Inside was a $100 gift card, good towards any treatment with this dentist.

I don’t live anywhere near his office so why was he mailing this to me? With a quick search online, I figured it out.

It seems that the dentist I went to nearly ten years ago has retired and moved out of state. Before he retired, he took on a young partner, the dentist who send me the gift card. So, basically, my dentist sold out and moved out.

Mystery solved.

Anyway, the gift card is the size of a credit card and made of hard plastic. If you’re using gift cards in your practice, this is a good way to do it. Doesn’t cost you anything unless they use it and if they use it, well, Bob’s your uncle.

So, if you have former clients you’d like to bring back to the mother ship, why not send them a gift card? (The company that produced this card is www.vivaconcepts.com. I don’t know anything about them and don’t endorse them, I just wanted to tell you where you could get some information.)

The letter enclosed with the gift card said that the end of the year is almost upon us and that “now would be a good time to give the gift of a bright holiday smile, and remind you to utilize any unused insurance before it expires.”

Following this, it says, “Enclosed is a gift card for any treatment you may need addressed. You can also give this card to a family member or friend.”

Bingo. Don’t need any dental (or legal) work? You may know someone who does.

It’s called a referral, in case you’re new around here.

Clients can and do give referrals. Here’s how to get more

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Know thy enemy

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I’m like that teacher you hated who always gave homework. Today is no exception.

The bad news? This will be an ongoing project, something you need to do for the rest of your career.

The good news is that it’s not difficult and shouldn’t take up a lot of time. In fact, most of the assignment can be done by a virtual assistant and I won’t mark you down for cheating.

The assignment is to set up files for tracking the activities of your competition. Doing this will provide you with ideas for doing a better job of managing and marketing your services.

If you can identify firms or individual attorneys who regularly compete with you with ad dollars or at networking events, or elsewhere, start with them. Otherwise, pick someone (at random), in your building or at your networking events, who has the same practice areas you do.

Five or ten competitors is enough to start. Once you have identified them, look at their websites, do a search for their name(s), and see what you can find out:

  • What market(s) do they target?
  • Where do they advertise, network, speak, or publish?
  • What is their theme, message, or USP?
  • What kinds of content do they publish on their website(s) or blog(s)?
  • What do they offer prospects to drive traffic to their sites and/or get them to opt-in?
  • How and where do they use social media?
  • Which centers of influence (referral sources, endorsers, publishers, etc.) do they associate with?
  • What services do they offer? What don’t they offer?
  • Which keywords do they appear to target? Which do they seem to overlook?
  • What resources, talents, and connections do they have that you don’t have or are weaker in?
  • What are their weaknesses?
  • Who are their biggest competitors?
  • How do they manage their practice in terms of personnel, equipment, and workflows?

Read their content, save copies of their ads, and make lists of where they speak or write and about what topics.

Don’t obsess over this. Just observe and make notes.

Then, periodically review your notes and look for opportunities to improve your marketing and management based on what your competition is doing:

  • Identify new target markets or market segments
  • Identify categories of referral sources you don’t currently have in your arsenal
  • Look for ways to improve your marketing messages, content, website(s), and external content (e.g., guest posts, comments, social media posts)
  • Examine your strengths and weaknesses relative to the competition; find ways to make your strengths even stronger and eliminate or marginalize your weaknesses
  • Brainstorm ways to exploit your competition’s weaknesses and overcome their strengths
  • Look for ways to improve your workflows, tools, and resources

Keep an eye on your competition. You may learn something you can use.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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