Give your practice a little push

Share

If you’re doing things right, your practice grows primarily by attracting new clients, that is, clients find you, you don’t find them.

They find you online, respond to an ad, someone refers them, or they’ve hired you before and come back when they need you again.

Clients show up and are “pulled” into your legal machine, with very little effort on your part. Once there, you deliver high-quality services (and high-quality service) to keep them happy and ensure they return and refer, and generally speaking, they do.

Sure, you have to do maintenance, making sure your systems are working well, your content is fresh, and you have sufficient resources to do your job. But other than that, you don’t have to do much else to keep your practice running and profitable.

On the other hand, you can’t rely on this dynamic forever. You can’t expect to always be able to attract clients and pull them in, you must also do some pushing.

Clients die or no longer need you. Businesses fold or get bought out. People move away. Clients can no longer afford you or find another attorney who charges less. No matter how well you do your job, there will always be attrition and you need to do something affirmative to keep your funnel (and your bank account) full.

And let’s not ignore the fact that there is a continual wave of competition. New lawyers, better-financed lawyers, and more aggressive lawyers eager to eat your lunch.

Bottom line: you can’t rely on pulling in new business, you have to do some pushing.

Pushing means reaching out to prospective clients and referral sources and centers of influence in your niche market or community. It means trying new strategies, networking with different people, and creating new types of content.

Pushing means expanding on what’s working and eliminating or changing what isn’t. It means continually upgrading your client base, replacing good clients with even better clients. It means never getting complacent and assuming that what was will always be.

The world changes. Make sure you keep up with it.

Give your practice a little push with this

Share

The easy way to stand out from your competition

Share

“Most lawyers offer the same services and deliver the same results. There’s no advantage to hiring anyone in particular so you might as well hire the cheapest one”.

That’s what many clients think, isn’t it? And the client is always right.

Most lawyers look alike and sound alike. Their websites are nearly interchangeable. Swap the name and contact information of lawyer A with lawyer B and you would never know the difference.

That’s also true with ads. Presentations. Podcasts. Videos. Social media posts. Brochures. Newsletters. Articles.

Lawyers wear the same clothing. They have offices on the same street. Their waiting rooms, desks and chairs, and wall adornments all look a movie set.

Welcome to Blandville, where everyone is the same.

If clients can’t perceive any difference between you and your competition, how do you expect them to notice you, remember you, and choose you?

It’s a problem but it is incredibly easy to fix.

There are many ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. Many ways to show clients why you are the better choice.

One of the best ways is also the easiest.

Do this one thing and you will no longer be McLawyer, serving the same (dull) food as everyone else.

The missing element? The magic potion? The easy thing you can do to stand out?

It’s you, my friend.

Your personality is what’s missing from your marketing and your public persona. It’s the one thing no other lawyer has or can copy.

Put your personality, your style, your stories, your opinions on your website and in your emails, articles and presentations. You are unique. There’s only one “you”. Let that uniqueness shine through the boilerplate and the legalese and you will instantly stand out from the masses of legal humanity.

I know this may be tough for you. You play your cards close to your vest. You don’t like to share anything personal. You do good work and expect your work to speak for itself.

It doesn’t. It needs a spokesperson. It needs you.

Give this a whirl. Start with something small. Put a little you into your next email to a client.

Add a P.S. and share something that doesn’t belong in that email. Mention something you did recently or something interesting you saw or read. Ask for their opinion about something other than the subject of your email. Ask if they’ve seen an article you posted on your website. Or if they’re a fan of a program you’ve been binge-watching on Netflix.

Go ahead, try it. You may like it. I know your clients will.

More ways to differentiate yourself found here

Share

Would you Invest $1000 to earn $1500?

Share

Looking for a great investment? One that has the potential to bring you big returns?

I’m talking returns of 50%, 100%, or more. Perhaps a lot more. Over time, you might earn ten or twenty times your initial investment.

What’s that? You put your money in savings, not investments. You don’t like to “gamble”? Well, you might want to re-think that position in this case because the investment I’m talking about is “you”.

Your practice. Your career. Your future.

I know you make a substantial investment each month run your practice. Money to keep the doors open, money to protect yourself from liability, money to help you serve your clients. And money on marketing, to make sure you continue to bring in new clients.

I’m suggesting you consider spending more.

Add another $1,000 per month to your budget, to invest in your practice. If that’s too much, start with less, but start with something because if you invest wisely, that $1,000 or $5,000 or $100, will result in a handsome profit.

What should you invest in? Well, what do you need? What’s working now that might work better? What can you expand?

What could you invest in to attract more clients? What could you invest in that might help you meet new referral sources? Where might you put some dollars to improve your skills or help you deliver a better client experience?

Here’s a list to help you brainstorm the possibilities:

  • Advertising
  • New employees, virtual assistants; incentives
  • Outside services
  • Second office/better location
  • Signage
  • Furniture and equipment
  • Personal and professional development
  • Software
  • Consultants
  • Networking
  • Websites/content
  • Accounting/financial planning
  • Training courses

As you ponder this list, also consider areas where you might spend less. Where could you eliminate waste? What could you do to free up cash to invest in things that bring you a better return?

What’s that? You don’t have any cash to invest in your practice right now? That’s why you need to take this seriously.

Find the money. Borrow it. Get a line of credit. Sell something.

Remember, you’re not increasing your overhead, you’re investing in your business.

Let me guess, you’re thinking, “What if I do this and it doesn’t work?”

My answer: “What if it does work?” What if you invest $1000 and it brings in an additional $1500? You would want to do it again, right? You’d want to increase your investment so you can increase your profit, yes?

Look, don’t throw money at anything that moves. Be judicious. Reasonable. Careful. Smart.

Sure, there’s risk. You might lose money on the path to earning more. But there’s an even greater risk in doing nothing.

Truth.

You really do have to spend money to make money. Go figure out how you can spend more.

Improve your website 

Share

Getting clients when you’re a new attorney

Share

I got an email from a young lawyer who just completed law school, asking for advice:

“I got a job as a legal marketer for a sole practitioner who has been in business for over 20years.

I am expected to find new clients, set up websites and yet I have not been given the appropriate tools to market this practice and attract clients. Worst part is I don’t earn a salary, only 10% commission for every client I sign. It’s been two months and I haven’t brought anything.

So how do I make this work and attract new clients with no referrals, no tools, no contacts in the legal field?

Please help.

JB

I’ve got news for you JB, you don’t have a job. You have a very bad deal.

Okay, you get an office and someone to answer your phone, I presume. That’s good. That has value. But it’s not worth giving up 90% of the fees on clients you bring in.

Time to re-negotiate.

I would offer to “pay” for the office space by doing work for your landlord, on his existing files. Research, draft documents, meet with clients, do court appearances, that sort of thing. Two hours a day, perhaps, in return for an office or even a desk and access to the conference room is a good deal for both of you.

If he wants your help in marketing HIS practice, he needs to pay you. A salary and/or a reasonable percentage of the fees. Start with 50-50.

Otherwise, if you bring in clients, they’re yours. You get 100% of the fees, unless you choose to associate with your landlord because he has experience and resources you don’t yet have.

If he won’t agree to this, there are other attorneys who will. They have empty space, they need an attorney in the office to do some of their work but don’t want to hire someone. “Time for space” is a good deal for them, and for you.

Okay, what about marketing?

First, consider that your current landlord (or another lawyer or firm with whom you choose to associate) has something valuable you don’t have. They have a reputation. You can use that to get better results in your marketing.

For you, starting out, it might be easier to market this other attorney or firm than to market yourself. Make sure prospective clients and referral sources see you are associated with an experienced firm.

Now, how do you bring in clients?

First, set up a simple website. You need to have something to point to when someone asks what you do and how you can help them or their referrals.

Next, contact (by phone) every attorney you can find and tell them you are available for appearances (for pay) and for overflow. You’ll take cases that are too small for them, for example, or outside their practice area. Ask them to recommend other attorneys who might need your help.

Then, write a “referral letter” that describes what you do (or what the attorney or firm you are marketing does). Explain what you can do for an attorney’s clients when they refer them to you, and why they should. Send this to attorneys you know, and to attorneys you don’t know, and follow up.

Next, write a report that prospective clients would want to read. Things they need to know about their legal problem and the available solutions. Explain why they should contact you to take the next step. Put a form on your website so prospective clients can sign up to get your report. Keep in touch with them via email.

This only scratches the surface but it’s a good place to start. And it will bring in clients.

How to write a referral letter to send to lawyers and other professionals

Share

Quantity or quality?

Share

If you had to choose, would you choose more clients or better clients? Quantity or quality?

There are benefits to having a lot of clients:

  • More opportunities to learn and improve your skills
  • More opportunities to test different approaches and strategies (marketing, client relations, promotions, etc.
  • More clients mean more people contributing to overhead
  • Protection from loss. If you lose a few clients, you’ll have others to fill the gap.
  • More opportunities for repeat business, referrals, and introductions to other professionals
  • More opportunities to grow with small clients who become big clients

On the other hand, more clients mean more risks. More opportunities to make mistakes, more people clamoring for your attention, more people who might be unhappy and file a complaint or leave a bad review. There’s also more competition for smaller clients from the majority of lawyers who focus on them.

Well, how about the benefits that come with quality?

  • Bigger cases or clients means higher margins; you earn more per case or client
  • Higher profits allows you to deliver more value to each client, earning their repeat business and referrals
  • Better clients have more work for you; you don’t have to do additional outside marketing to get it
  • Better clients means referrals and introductions to better prospective clients
  • Better clients make it easier to build your reputation and stand out from the crowd
  • Leverage: one client could provide you with ten times the revenue of one new average client
  • Potential for more interesting work

But better clients aren’t all sunshine and lollipops. Lose one big client and your income could drop precipitously. Bigger clients aren’t as easy to replace. Bigger clients can be more demanding and more expensive to serve (more staff, better office, bigger overhead).

So, if the question is quantity or quality, what’s the answer?

How about “both”. How about a quantity of better clients and bigger cases?

That’s the goal. Getting there is a process.

When you’re starting out, you take what you can get. Later, you replace smaller clients with bigger and better ones and reject or refer smaller cases.

Your client mix changes over time as you continually work to increase revenue, lower costs, and increase profits. And it never stops. You never find the perfect balance because as soon as you get to a certain level you’ll want to get to the next one.

The only constant is constant change. Managing that is why you earn the big bucks.

Learn how to choose your target market and ideal client

Share

When your gut argues with your bank account

Share

I remember a client I considered one of my favorites. He brought me a lot of business. He never made any trouble. And he was easy to get along with.

Mike wore a lot of gold jewelry, had expensive clothes, wore strong smelling cologne, talked fast and was always in a hurry. He gambled on sports. And he always had a cold, if you know what I mean.

But that was his business. When the phone rang and Mike was on the line, it made my day.

Soon, things began to change.

I never had any problems with his cases. No accusations of anything funny. But he was either the most accident-prone guy on Earth or something shady was going on.

He called me with another case. I turned it down. There wasn’t anything wrong with it that I could see but when you smell trouble, you’ve got to go with what your gut tells you and my gut was yelling and screaming that Mike was up to no good.

Mike stopped calling. Did he find another attorney? Did the law catch up with him? A drug dealer? A bookie? Did he wrap himself around a telephone pole?

I never found out. He was gone and I was glad.

For awhile, Mike was my favorite client. But he was hardly an ideal client. It was early in my practice and I needed the money but I would never want more “Mikes”. An ideal client is someone who touches all the bases and Mike didn’t make the cut.

As you create a profile for your ideal client, don’t forget to check your gut. Even if your bank account says not to.

Need help creating a profile of your ideal client? Here it is

Share

Lie, cheat, and steal your way to success

Share

It’s corny but true. You can (and should) lie, cheat, and steal your way to success.

Lie in bed at night thinking about what you can do the next day to get more clients and increase your income.

Cheat some time during the day from your other activities and dedicate it to marketing.

Steal the best ideas from other lawyers, and especially from businesses since most lawyers are terrible marketers.

Solid advice because it gets you to focus on marketing and primes you to continually look for ideas you can steal, well, borrow from others.

Let’s talk about that.

We’re talking about finding what others are doing that’s working and emulating it. Using the essence but not the actual words. Modifying what others are doing to suit your practice, market, and style.

Start here: :

  • Set up a swipe file to collect emails, articles, ads, blog posts, and such, that other people are using to promote their practice or business.
  • Subscribe to other lawyers’ email lists and blogs. Do the same for other types of professionals and service businesses.  Copy things you like and also things you don’t like (so you’ll know what to avoid).
  • Study the emails, etc., you like and ask yourself why you liked them. Make notes. Try your hand at writing it differently.
  • With each new email, ad, video, or piece of content, ask yourself why you opened it or why you watched it. What words or images caught your attention?
  • Once you began, what compelled you to continue? What did they promise or imply? What benefits did they offer? How did they get you to read all the way to the end?
  • Pay extra attention to headlines, sub-heads, email subjects and bullet points. Also note calls-to-action. You may not know why they are effective but if they resonate with you, put them in your swipe file and review them again later.
  • Did you buy what they offered? If so, why? If not, why not? What closed the deal for you? What objections did they overcome? Where did they miss the boat?

Go back through your swipe file periodically and ask yourself what you could use or adapt. What ideas, what offers, what words could you use in your marketing?

Keep reading and watching and studying. Train your marketing eye. Study the content and conversations around you, not with the eye of a consumer or colleague but with the eye of a marketer.

You would be amazed at what you can learn, and what you can steal.

Marketing is easy when you know The Formula

Share

Thinking like a lawyer may be costing you money

Share

On my walk today I saw a car parked in front of a neighbor’s house. On the car door was a magnetic sign advertising, “Pam’s house sitting and pet sitting” business. Attached to the sign was a plastic business card holder which was filled with her cards.

Many lawyers who saw this wouldn’t give it a second thought. They’re busy thinking about their cases and clients and all the work they need to do. Or they would think about whether Pam is bonded and insured. Does she have employees and are they also insured? Does she supervise them? Did the owner of the house put the jewelry in a safe deposit box before they went out of town?

You know, lawyer stuff.

Enlightened lawyers would look at that sign and think about marketing.

No, I’m not suggesting a lawyer put a magnetic sign on their car. But if you’ve trained yourself to think like a business owner as well as a lawyer, seeing that sign might prompt you to start asking yourself about other ways Pam might be building her business.

Does she rely solely on that sign and word of mouth or does she do other kinds of marketing? Does she have a website? Is she listed in business directories? Does she advertise in our community newsletter? Does she distribute flyers?

Does she network with other business owners who might have customers or clients who need her pet sitting services–pet stores, vets, dog groomers, and kennels for example? For house sitting, does she network with real estate agents and travel agents?

Does she have a mailing list? How much repeat business does she get? How about referrals?

Does she know other house and pet sitters and do they cover for each other when one is overbooked? Has she considered expanding her services to include dog walking or pet food delivery?

This is how a business person thinks. Lawyers need to think this way, too because a law practice is also a business.

Ideas are everywhere. You just have to look for them. You might not be able to use many of the ideas you see (like car signs) but ideas you can’t use often lead to ideas you can use.

You know you want them. Here’s how to get more referrals

Share

Following up with leads

Share

My wife visited a real estate website and filled out a form to get some information. As you might expect, an agent called and left a message, offering information, encouraging my wife to call, yada yada. She did the same thing via text.

My wife didn’t respond, so naturally, the calls and texts continued.

A month later, they’re still coming.

My wife thought she would be nice and put the agent out of her misery. She called and politely told her that our plans had changed and we weren’t interested in getting more information.

The agent’s messages had been cheerful and positive. When my wife told her our plans had changed, the agent’s demeanor did a 180. She wasn’t rude or dismissive. More like defeated and unhappy.

When my wife told me the story, she said she would never want to work with an agent who is that moody.

What agent of any experience doesn’t know that leads are a numbers game and that most don’t turn into sales? What agent lets people who say “not interested” (which should be interpreted as “not now”) hear their disappointment?

What a missed opportunity.

A “no” today might be a “yes” tomorrow. Or a referral. Sadly, my wife and others we may assume, won’t contact Miss unhappy pants if and when things change.

Of course, this never happens to most lawyers. That’s because most lawyers don’t follow-up with inquiries and leads, even with people they’ve spoken to. They don’t follow-up at all.

And that’s even worse.

When someone contacts you to ask questions or get information, don’t give up on them if they don’t take the next step. Stay in touch, offer more information, and continue to let them know how you can help.

Should you call or text? Maybe once or twice in the beginning. Have your staff do it. After that, use email and snail mail.

They were interested once. They may be interested again. Follow-up until they buy or die. Or tell you to stop. And no matter what, never let them see you sweat.

They may never buy but they can send you referrals

Share

Priorities for marketing a law practice

Share

Marketing to clients is easier and more profitable than marketing to prospective clients.

It’s easier to get someone who has hired you once to hire you again. It’s easier to get existing clients to buy your more comprehensive and expensive services. It’s easier to get clients to give you referrals.

It’s also easier get clients to promote your events, share your content, provide testimonials and positive reviews, mention you on social, and send traffic to your website.

Clients are easier to “sell” to because they already know, like, and trust you. They are more profitable because you’ve already paid the marketing costs (money, time) to acquire them.

Even if a client has already “purchased” your most expensive (or only) service, they are potentially worth more to you than someone who has never hired you.

Marketing to prospective clients is important, of course. You need to keep the funnel full. But if you want to earn more and grow your practice faster, you should make marketing to clients your number one priority.

You should also do whatever you can to get prospects into the client column. Get them to hire you for something. It doesn’t matter what. You want them in your office, signing papers, handing over a few dollars, seeing you in action.

One way to do this is to offer them an entry level service. Something small and inexpensive. Something that doesn’t require a big commitment.

If you don’t have an entry level service, create one. Break up one of your services into smaller pieces. One document, one hour, one small bundle. Or offer a free consultation, a free document review, or a free second opinion.

Just get them in the door so you can call them a client and start turning them into a lifetime client, a fan, and a referral source.

Marketing is simple when you know The Formula

Share