I don’t have time for marketing

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A lot of lawyers say that. How about you? 

If you do, does this mean you have more work than you can handle and don’t want any more? You’re good.

Great. Live long and prosper. 

But before you declare yourself “done” with marketing, I want to point out a few ways you can “do” marketing without spending any more time. 

It comes down to things like

  • The words you use to describe your services 
  • How you answer questions asked by clients and prospects
  • The way you dress and the car you drive
  • What you say to a client at his or her first appointment 
  • Your fees and billing practices and how you describe them
  • What you send new clients to describe what happens next and how they can help you get the best results for them 
  • What you send clients at the end of a case or engagement, to make them glad they chose you and more likely to return 
  • What you say (and don’t say) that makes it more likely you will get referrals
  • How you handle a client who is unhappy
  • How you speak to other professionals and centers of influence in your market about your practice, your services, and about yourself. And about their business or practice.
  • What you say and do to differentiate your firm from the competition
  • How often you stay in touch with clients and what you tell them or send them when you do
  • The professionalism of your marketing copy
  • The range of services you provide, and how this compares to what your competition offers 
  • How you accommodate clients who have a special request or need
  • How you turn down a case or client
  • How you handle phone calls and interruptions when a client or prospect is in your office
  • The causes, charities and groups you support 
  • How quickly you respond to inquires and the tone of your response
  • What you do and don’t do on social media
  • Your advertising messages—content, tone, frequency, and offers
  • The energy and enthusiasm you show in person, on stage, and in interviews
  • The quality and content of photos and graphics used in your website and marketing documents
  • The stories you share about your cases and clients
  • How you treat your staff

It’s all marketing. Everything you do is marketing. 

It’s all part of how you inspire confidence in you and your ability to get excellent results for your clients, and it doesn’t take any more time to get it right. 

You may not have time for other kinds of marketing, but surely you have time for these. 

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Writing prompts for a lawyer bio

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At some point, you may want to update the About page on your website or write a bio you can use in your other areas of your marketing. One place to start is to ask ai to provide you with questions or writing prompts you can ask yourself. I asked Copilot for questions a lawyer could use as prompts for writing their bio. Here’s what it gave me:

  • What inspired you to become a lawyer? 
  • What are your areas of expertise and specialization?
  • How long have you been practicing law and where did you get your education and training?
  • What are some of the most challenging or rewarding cases you have handled or been involved in? 
  • How do you approach each case and what are your goals and strategies for achieving the best outcome for your clients?
  • What are some of the values or principles that guide your work as a lawyer?
  • How do you keep up with the latest developments and trends in the legal field?
  • What are some of the skills or qualities that make you a good lawyer?
  • How do you balance your work and personal life and what are some of the hobbies or interests that you enjoy outside of work?
  • How do you cope with the stress or frustration that may arise from your work?
  • How do you communicate with your clients and what are some of the ways that you build trust and rapport with them?
  • How do you handle feedback or criticism from your clients, colleagues, or judges?
  • How do you collaborate with other lawyers or legal professionals in your field or network?
  • How do you deal with ethical dilemmas or conflicts of interest that may arise in your work?
  • How do you measure your success or satisfaction as a lawyer?
  • What are some opportunities or trends that you see or expect in the legal field or your area of specialization?
  • What are some of the goals or aspirations that you have for your career or professional development as a lawyer? 
  • What are some of the things that you would like your potential clients or website visitors to know about you or your law practice? 

Some of these are pretty good. You can use them as is, ask the ai to give you more specific questions relating to your practice areas, or re-write them yourself. You can also ask a friend to “interview” you using these questions as a starting point. Each time you answer a question, or even think about what you might say, it can help you think of additional questions or topics, as well as examples and stories you can use to flesh out your bio. 

This is a quick way to get material and inspiration for writing a bio but it isn’t the only way. You might get better results by simply searching for other attorney’s About pages, seeing what they say and how they say it, and using these as a template for your own. 

If you already have a bio, or About page, you might want to update or rewrite it. Take out the boring or long-winded parts, add fresh stories or examples, add links to sub-pages on your site with articles or case summaries you mention or want to readers to read after they read your bio.

Also consider re-writing in the first person, making your bio more informal and relatable (but still professional), or third person if that works better.

Once you’re done writing or updating your website bio, consider also writing a version that can be used as your introduction in interviews, when you speak publicly, on social profiles, and in your articles and reports. It might also be helpful to create both short and longer versions. 

Statistically, your About page is the most visited page on your website, often the first one visited. It’s worth doing the best job you can do, with or without ai assistance. 

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Why did your new client choose you? 

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Wouldn’t it be good to know the reason(s) your clients chose you instead of another lawyer or firm? 

I’ll answer for you: you bet. 

In fact, wouldn’t it be helpful to know why they hired an attorney at all, instead of self-help or doing nothing? And why now, instead of waiting? 

It’s valuable to know this because these are likely the same reasons other clients will hire you. If you know this, you can improve your marketing and get better results.

So, why did they do it? 

Is it how you describe your services? The social proof you provide? Your website and other content that showed them how you think and how you do what you do? 

Maybe it was something you offer that other lawyers don’t, like a “satisfaction guarantee”. Or something every lawyer does but usually doesn’t mention, such as the steps you take to investigate the case, research liability, or construct a demand letter. 

Maybe it’s your reputation in the courtroom. Maybe they like your ads. Maybe they thought you look friendly, or you look tough and they want you on their side.

Or maybe they saw you as a more affordable choice (although that’s not necessarily a good thing). 

It’s also possible they chose you because you don’t do or say things other lawyers do or say.

Happy day, you can find out these things by simply asking.

Talk to your new clients or ask them to fill out a questionnaire. Ask what attracted them, convinced them, or otherwise caused them to make an appointment or fill out a form. 

You can also “ask” what they liked best by examining the number of click-throughs and percentage of forms filled out among the different pages on your website. If you get a high percentage of clicks and opt-ins on a page that describes one aspect of what you do and how you work with your clients, for example, you’ll know to create more content like that. 

Another thing you can do is sit down with folks who resemble your ideal client and ask them to go through your website while you observe them. What page do they go to first? Next? What do they ignore or skim, what do they read completely? 

Do they ask any questions or offer any observations about certain pages or content? Do they make suggestions about what they would like to see or know?

Yes, you can hire experts to do this for you, but you can learn a lot by simply observing. Just as you can learn a lot by talking to or surveying new clients and asking them why they chose you. 

Your clients will tell you. Go ahead and ask.

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Use leverage to get bigger, faster 

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There are a lot of ways to grow your practice. Most involve improving and expanding what you’re already doing. 

Things like: 

  • Improving your SEO
  • Getting more sign-ups for your seminars
  • Getting more subscribers for your newsletter
  • Creating better content or ads
  • Learning how to better use LinkedIn (etc.) 
  • Converting more leads and prospects to clients
  • Getting more repeat business and referrals
  • Promoting your podcast, blog, newsletter, or channel
  • Getting more social media followers
  • Improving your networking or speaking skills
  • And so on

These are all worth considering. Each can help you grow your practice. But that growth is unlikely to be more than “incremental,” meaning single digit. 

That’s not bad, especially if you continue to do them and allow your results to compound. But if you’re looking to do something bigger or quicker, such as doubling or tripling your revenue this year, you should focus on strategies that can create that kind of result. 

One of the best, most leveraged methods for doing that is setting up strategic alliances with other professionals and businesses that sell to or serve your target markets. 

In short, you form a relationship with another lawyer or business professional, they endorse or recommend you and your services to their customers or clients, subscribers or followers, and you do the same for them. 

Because their clients trust them, their recommendations can quickly result in a large number of new clients for you. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or create new infrastructure. Your job is to identify suitable candidates, connect with them and propose an alliance. 

To start, that alliance can be as simple as mentioning each other’s upcoming event or recommending each other’s blog or podcast. As you get to know each other better, this might evolve into full-throated endorsements and referrals. 

You don’t need dozens of strategic alliances partners to make this a very profitable undertaking for you; you only need a few.

To learn how to do this, see my course on Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referrals

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Bad breath  

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If a prospective client doesn’t connect with your presentation or sales material, if they don’t relate to your “style” or approach, if they don’t like what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, it will be difficult for you to convince them to take the next step. 

Which is why you need to do whatever you can to speak to your prospects in a way they understand and accept.

To do that, you need to know as much about them as possible. 

Before the presentation or conversation, do your homework. Research their industry or business, have them fill out a form on your website or in your waiting room, and ask lots of questions to learn about their background and experience, what’s important to them, and what isn’t. 

You want to know how they found you, who referred them, how they know them, and what they told them about you.

You want to know the search terms they used to find you, what they read or listened to on your website or elsewhere, and what convinced them to make an appointment.  

Watch their body language. Are they nodding, taking notes, watching and listening, or fidgeting in their seat and looking at the door? 

Get them talking. Ask questions, see if they understand and accept what you’re saying. 

Everyone has a different “buying” style. Some want you to lead with the big picture—the benefits, risks, the timetable, and cost. The details can come later. 

Others want to know everything now. 

Some want to get to know you before they listen to what you offer. They want to see that you understand them (not just their legal matter) and care about helping them, not just the work.

Some want just the facts. Some want to hear about other people you’ve helped. Some want to know what you do, some want to know how you do it.

Some want you to guide them in making a decision. Some want to have a conversation.  

If you have a standard presentation and talk to every prospect the same way, you’ll get some who like your message and hire you on the spot, and some who don’t like you and tell you they have to think about it (but don’t).

Figure out what’s best for each prospective client—and give it to them. 

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How to get great clients

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You may be very good at marketing, write great copy (or hire great copywriters), invest time and money getting more leads, and a host of other things that make your phone ring. 

But as good as that is, there’s something better. Easier. More profitable. And more likely to lead to a steady stream of happy clients who help you build your practice. 

Instead of relying solely on good marketing strategies, target better prospects. 

Better prospects include people who 

  • Know they need a lawyer and don’t even consider doing what needs to be done themself 
  • Have the ability to pay top dollar for top level legal services (yours) and are not only willing to do that, prefer it 
  • Sees you and what you offer as a good match for them. If you’re a sole practitioner with one practice area, for example, they understand how that benefits them and aren’t looking for something else.
  • Doesn’t need permission to hire you, or can usually get that permission
  • Are action-oriented. When they see the need, they don’t hesitate; they put you to work
  • Have a lot of legal work for you—repeat business, big cases (if that’s what you want), or lots of smaller cases, with work you’re good at and enjoy
  • Know other people with similar needs and ability to pay, i.e., they can (and will) send you a lot of referrals, introduce you to people you want to know, and otherwise promote and support you. 
  • Are easy to work with, don’t complain, don’t micromanage, don’t slow-pay, etc. 

Feel free to add other attributes you consider important components of your “ideal” client. Because you should be targeting your ideal client, not “anyone” who has legal work you can handle. 

No matter what kind of marketing you do, or how much you do, targeting your ideal client is the force multiplier. It makes everything easier and better.

You may not always get them. They might have some of the qualities you desire, but not all of them. But if you want your marketing to be easier and more profitable, you should focus more of your resources on this type of client and less (maybe much less) on other types.  

Why wouldn’t you? You can always “tolerate” other types of clients or cases, at least until you’re ready to go “all in” on your ideal. 

Where do you find these dream clients? Primarily, eventually, through referrals. There’s no better way. But there are other ways, and they can lead to a lot of referrals. 

Start with your existing clients. You may only have a few who are “ideal” (or close to it) but if you spend more time with them and do more to help their business grow or personal life prosper, they will lead you to more people like themself.

The Attorney Marketing Formula helps you identify your ideal clients, and get more of them

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Know, like, and trust? 

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It’s often said that clients prefer to hire lawyers they “know, like, and trust,” and that’s true, but something’s missing. The aphorism begins with the statement, “All things being equal…” meaning when the client has a choice of lawyers with the same or similar capabilities, or who offer the same benefits, those clients tend to choose the lawyer they “know, like, and trust”.

You have to be able to solve the client’s problem or help them get something they want. And prospective clients (and the people who refer them) need to believe this. 

In other words, you can’t build a practice on good looks alone. 

Which is why your marketing must begin by telling people what you do and how you can help them, and offer some proof that you can deliver. 

Most lawyers try to do that. Fortunately for you, most don’t do a great job of it. They list their practice areas and note some of their accomplishments, but little else. If you know what you’re doing, you can easily show your target market that you are the better choice.

But at least show them you are a contender. 

And then, help them get to “know, like, and trust you” through your speaking, networking, writing, how you comport yourself when you meet them, and through testimonials and reviews from your happy clients.

Let your clients describe how you made them feel safe, what it was like having you by their side, how you were patient, thorough, fair, and honest.

Let the people who know, like, and trust you tell others why they chose you and recommend that others do the same. 

There’s a formula for that

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How well do you know your target market? 

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One reason I promote niche marketing is because it allows you to get to know your prospective clients on a deeper level. When you do, you get better results in all aspects of your marketing. 

Higher response rate for your offers, better-pulling ads, more leads and inquires, fewer objections, a higher closing ratio, and more repeat business and referrals. With less time and effort and at lower expense. 

Because you know your market and your market knows you.  

Niche marketing means going “deep” in your niche rather than “wide,” as most attorneys do. When you go deep into a niche, you become more familiar with that market and their problems and interests. 

You know what they read, who they listen to, and what’s on their mind. You’re better able to talk to prospective clients, in your articles and other content about things that matter to them, with specificity other attorneys cannot. 

Your stories and examples resonate with them. They see that you already represent people like them and can see why you are a better choice to represent them than attorneys who represent “anyone with a legal issue they are qualified to handle”. 

You can also get to know the influential people in that market, and through them, meet other people who can hire you or refer you, and will often do so simply because the industry leader has introduced or endorsed you. 

It’s possible to do these things when you market to the bigger market, but far easier in a niche. 

Which leads to the one reason many attorneys don’t target niche markets. 

When you focus on a niche market, the medical community, for example, your stories and articles exclude people who don’t belong to that niche. “I don’t want to limit myself,” they say. 

But just because you target one niche doesn’t mean you can’t also target others.  

Yes, it’s more complicated. You’ll probably need more than one website, different content, separate marketing funnels, and so on, to accommodate different niches. But it’s worth it in view of the other benefits, especially if by targeting a niche you’re able to dominate it, which is another benefit of going deep rather than wide. 

Start with one niche. Something you know well and where you already have clients and referral sources. If you want a second niche, you can do that later. 

But you may not need to. You may find that you can make an entire career of targeting a single niche, something I’ve done for more than 30 years.

How to choose the best niche(s) for you

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Are you a better writer or speaker? 

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That’s one question you need to answer if you want to use content to market your practice, but just one. You also need to consider how long you take to produce a piece of content and how often you plan to publish. 

Creating videos and podcasts usually requires more time than writing a newsletter article or blog post. They also require a different set of skills. But you might have those skills and experience and be able to push out a new episode or video quickly.

Or outsource those skills and functions (research, editing, formatting) so you can focus on what you do best.

Also consider your market. Short videos work well in some markets; long articles and reports work better in others. 

How do you choose what to do? It’s different for all of us. Maybe “none of the above” is right for you. 

But don’t reject anything (or choose anything) too quickly. Try different things and give them a bit of time. Something that doesn’t work for you today may be massively successful for you tomorrow. 

But don’t decide solely based on results.

The best thing to do is to choose the method you like best. Because if there’s something you like, you’ll probably stick with it. If you stick with it and turn out a piece of content every week, you’ll bring in more business.

And that’s the point, isn’t it? 

You don’t need to do everything or be great at everything you do. You just need to do something and keep doing it.

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Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do!

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Apparently, Ricky Ricardo never actually said that. And there’s a lot of discussion online about why everyone thinks he did. But while Lucy may not have been called to explain, you are. Lawyers are asked to explain things all the time. 

What does this mean? How does this work? What happens if I do (or don’t)? 

And you prepare answers to these frequently asked questions on your website. They help clients and prospects understand things. And help you save time not having to answer these questions. 

They also help differentiate yourself from other lawyers who post few (or no) FAQs. You look more experienced and knowledgeable and open, and clients like that. 

If you don’t have a robust FAQ page on your site, I suggest you add one post haste. But don’t just answer questions about your office hours and practice areas. Answer questions about the law. 

Explain cases and code sections, procedures and timeliness. Explain what happens when you investigate or research. Explain risks and contingencies, options and opportunities. 

Start with a list of what clients and prospects ask you. Add things you typically find yourself explaining.

In some industries, these are called “explainer docs”. Some professionals and businesses post “explainer videos”. Whatever you call them, they give you a chance to demonstrate (some) of your knowledge and experience and how you help your clients. 

If you have a newsletter or blog, you can bundle up some of the “best of” your content and use these, at least to start.

They can help you sign up more new clients and sell more of your “other” services to your existing and former clients. They are also a tool for generating more referrals as they are shared online or via handouts. 

As you create these, give copies (or links) to your new clients. Hand them out when you do in-person presentations. Keep a supply in the briefcase you bring with you to networking or speaking events. 

And let them ‘splain what you do and how you help people. 

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