Building your law practice 90 days at a time

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Art Williams was a high school football coach who became a billionaire building an insurance company from scratch. One of the things he taught his organization was the power of short-term bursts of effort. It can be difficult to maintain enthusiasm and stamina for a year, Williams said, “but you can do anything for 90 days.”

Williams built his business with a series of 90-day sprints. He put in all out effort for 90 days, never stopping or slowing down. At the end of 90 days, he was so confident and excited about what he had accomplished, after a short break, he was ready to do it again.

I’ve gone on many 90-day runs in my law practice and businesses. When you get laser-focused and work hard at something every day, momentum builds, your results compound, and you can accomplish amazing results.

Right now, you may spend 15 or 30 minutes a day on marketing. You can accomplish big things that way, if you do it consistently. But imagine what you could accomplish if, for the next 90 days, you went crazy and worked on marketing two solid hours every day. Total immersion, total focus, total effort.

90 days from now will be the beginning of April. It will be here in no time. You have a choice. You can go about your business the way you usually do usual or you can go on a 90-day run.

Where would you like to be 90 days from today?

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3 reasons people avoid estate planning

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Even if don’t handle estate planning, you can probably guess the most common reasons people use to avoid going to the dentist, uh, lawyer. Most people believe they need to do it but many don’t. According to this article, these are the 3 most common excuses:

  • Too busy
  • It’s too complicated and/or expensive
  • Superstition (don’t want to think about dying)

The article offers a few suggestions about things to do if you’re not ready or willing to see a lawyer, such as sharing passwords and a detailed lists of assets and debts, et. al., with loved ones, and using an online service to create a Living Will and/or a Will and Power of Attorney (but isn’t this estate planning?)

Anyway, if you handle estate planning, you probably send clients and prospects a questionnaire or checklist to fill out before their first appointment

Why not use it for people who don’t have an appointment?

Here’s what I mean.

Create a checklist or questionnaire that not only has spaces for them to record information you will need when they do see you, but also explains why that information is important.

In other words, explain the rationale behind estate planning so they can see why they need to do it immediately.

Your questionnaire should also provide some simple things they can do (such as sharing passwords, making a list of assets, etc.). If they do any of these things, they will have begun to think about estate planning, which might make them a bit closer to making an appointment.

Don’t overwhelm them or you might scare them into doing nothing. You might make this a preliminary checklist, to get them started and thinking about their “stuff”. Give them a comprehensive version once they make an appointment.

You should do this even if you don’t do estate planning.

Ask an estate planning friend to provide you with a questionnaire you can send to your clients. Your clients benefit, your friend will get some new clients, and you score points with everyone.

Ready to take a quantum leap in the new year? Here

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No wonder lawyers hate marketing

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I just read the sales page for an upcoming webinar series about creating a “content marketing and SEO Action Plan for 2021”.

It promises to show lawyers how to improve marketing results by improving click-through-rates, using better meta tags, lowering bounce rates, decreasing website load time, and utilizing “social signals,” “topic clusters,” and “page positioning” to get more engagement.

They promise to show us how to use video and podcasts to “enhance your thought leadership and improve your mobile user experience and search rankings”.

And that’s just for starters.

I think I speak for many attorneys when I say, “Hey, we don’t want to learn all this stuff; we just want to practice law.”

Sure, we want to rank higher. We want more people reading our stuff and taking action. But we’re busy, handling important things our clients hired us to do, and being a webmaster isn’t one of them.

So, while we need to have some understanding of the technical aspects of online marketing, we’re probably better off hiring someone to do most of it for us.

But, here’s another thought.

Why not do something simpler. Something that doesn’t require spending great sums to hire people.

Like getting more repeat business and referrals, for example.

Something that doesn’t take a lot of time to learn or do, and usually brings in better clients than you get off the web.

And then, when you’re earning more money than you know what to do with, you can hire someone to improve your website so you can earn even more.

If getting more repeat business and referrals sounds good to you, get my Maximum Referrals course to learn how.

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3 keys to an effective marketing plan

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You want to get more clients and increase your income, right?

You need a plan.

It doesn’t have to be extensive. A page or two is probably enough. But your plan should be specific and address these 3 elements:

(1) Who is your ideal client?

What kinds of legal problems do they have? How big are those problems or cases? How often do they need legal help?

What do they “look” like? Are they small businesses? Individuals? Professionals? Fortune 500? What industry, market, or occupation?

What makes them ideal clients for you? Are they influential in their niche? Can they pay big retainers? Are they easy to work with?

(2) How will you reach them?

Prospective clients are only as good as your ability to communicate with them.

Where will you find your ideal clients? What do they read? Who do they follow? Where do they hang out?

Which tools will you use to communicate with them?

  • Referrals
  • Advertising
  • Search/websites
  • Blogs, articles, speaking
  • Social media/networking
  • Brochures/handouts
  • Joint ventures/marketing alliances
  • Publicity

Will you focus on “warm market”–people you know–or cold market? Will you use “one-step” marketing or “multi-step” (lead generation)?

(3) What will you tell them?

What is your message? What headlines or subject lines will you use? What will you offer? What will you ask them to do (what’s the next step)?

Why should they choose you? What do you offer that other lawyers don’t? What do you do better or differently?

How will you build trust? What testimonials or success stories will you show them? What will you tell them about your capabilities and reputation?

The purpose of your plan isn’t to provide a blueprint of everything you will do, it is to help you think about what you want and what you can do to get it.

It gives you a place to start.

Your plan should be simple to write and simple to do, so you’ll do it.

The Attorney Marketing Formula helps you create a simple marketing plan that will work for you.

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Small and specific

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My ideal client is a sole practitioner, partner or associate in a small firm, who primarily represents consumers or small businesses, handles much of their own marketing, wants more referrals, and wants to start or grow an email list.

I don’t turn away lawyers who don’t fit the profile, nor other types of professionals or small business owners who want to get more clients and increase their income. I just don’t target them.

How about you? Who is your ideal client?

If you don’t know, it’s time to choose one. It will make your marketing more effective and your practice more profitable and satisfying.

Start with a few key characteristics that are meaningful to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Describe their industry, niche or market, where they live or are domiciled, their occupation, clients or customers, friends and/or business contacts.

List the types of legal matters they tend to have, and how much work they may have for you. Do they have ongoing or recurring needs? When they need legal help, how urgently do they need it?

Where do they tend to look to find an attorney? What social media platforms do they favor? What groups or associations do they belong to?

What publications or podcasts do they read or listen to (so you can create content or ads therefor?)

A good place to start is by examining your existing and former clients. Choose ten or twenty of the “best” and create a composite profile.

Include details like how they found you and why you consider them ideal, e.g., they pay well and on time, they don’t micro-manage, they know a lot of people in their industry or local market (referrals, introductions), they have the potential to bring you lots of business, why you like working with them, and so on.

The smaller and more specific your profile, the easier it will be to find and attract your ideal client. You’ll save time and money and get more of the kinds of clients you want.

Later, you can expand the profile or add additional profiles.

I suggest you start (or revise) your ideal client profile immediately, so you can get next year off to a good start.

The Attorney Marketing Formula will help you do that

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The most important marketing metric?

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How do you know your marketing is working? You look at your numbers.

The amount of traffic to your site, the number of new subscribers, the number of leads and conversions, tell you a lot about what you’re doing right.

If you advertise, you track keywords and publications, ad copy, headlines, and offers, so you can do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.

You record the number of new clients you get each month, and where they came from. You track your revenue, and which types of work and which types of clients are producing it.

But there’s one number that is arguably more important than any other: the number of clients who hire you again.

It’s a number many professionals take for granted. They assume that if their client needs them again, for the same or other types of work, they’ll call on them.

But that’s not always true.

There are many reasons why clients don’t return. And when they don’t, you need to find out why.

Some things you can fix. Some you can’t. But you can’t do anything if you don’t know who needs you but doesn’t return, and why.

That’s why you stay in touch with your clients after the initial engagement. That’s why you talk to them, survey them, and build relationships with them.

You want to know what’s going on their life or business and see what you can do to help them, and remind them that you’re just a call away.

Ultimately, if a client needs your help and doesn’t return, there is only one acceptable reason: they can no longer afford you. But you need to know that, too, so you can refer them to an attorney in their price range.

If the work you do typically doesn’t have much return business, e.g., consumer bankruptcy work, your key metric should be referrals.

If a client can refer other clients to you, but doesn’t, you need to find out why so you can do something about it.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System for Attorneys

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Jumanji for Lawyers: Welcome to the Jungle

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Let’s play a game. The “who can build a successful practice quicker” game.

The winner of this game gets to build a successful practice and has bragging rights. They might even get a sequel.

The loser might have to admit they’ve been working too hard.

Here are the rules.

My market consists of 100 fans–people who know, like, and trust me. They’ve either hired me before or know someone who has.

Your market consists of 10,000 random people. Nobody has heard of you.

I have contact information for my 100 fans. I can write to them or call them. When they get a letter or email from me, they read it.

You reach your 10,000 primarily by advertising and you have the wherewithal to do that.

Okay, are you ready? Let’s play!

I send an email to my list, say hello and wish them well. You take out an ad and tell people about your services.

You get a fair number of leads, requests for free advice, people with no case and no money, and a few serious prospects. One person needs your services and has the ability to pay. You get one client but break even because of the cost of your ads.

My list doesn’t need me right now but they appreciate hearing from me.

Next month, you run your ads again and get another client, but don’t earn enough to cover your ad costs.

I send my list another email, along with some information about a subject I think might interest them. A get a few ‘thank you’s,’ a few ask questions, but no business.

In the third month, you get more inquiries and another client. You’re at break even.

I get a repeat client, who pays me enough to cover most of my overhead for the month.

Fourth month, you get two new clients and earn a small profit. You’re happy about that and look forward to getting more.

I get another repeat client and one new client, referred to me by someone on my list. I bring in the same amount of fees you do but because I have zero ad expense, I’m pulling ahead of you.

The game continues.

Each month, we both bring in business. Throughout the year, you continue to advertise. Some months are profitable, some months you lose money, but at the end of the year, after paying all of your advertising and related expenses, you’re earning a decent living from your ads. You’re thinking about expanding next year.

I’ve had a good year, too. I’m brought in a lot of repeat business and referrals and grown my list from 100 to 300. I have no ad expenses, my overhead is lower than yours because I don’t need as many employees to handle the work (or to speak to prospects), so I’m netting about the same as you.

After one year, it looks like we’re both doing well. We both get to play again in the sequel.

The lesson is there are different ways to play the game and no reason to limit ourselves to just one.

Advertise if you want to, do anything else you want to do to bring in business, build your list, and stay in touch with everyone.

Thanks for playing.

How to build your practice with a newsletter

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The number one marketing skill for attorneys

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What do you suppose is the most valuable skill for marketing and building a law practice?

If you said, “salesmanship,” you are right.

Learning how to sell your services makes you better at prospecting and lead generation, qualifying prospective clients, presenting, handling objections, and closing.

When you know how to sell, you get more clients and better clients, with less cost and less effort.

Learning how to sell also makes you more effective in the courtroom and the boardroom. You’ll win more cases and close more deals.

Sales skills also help you to write more effective articles and blog posts, driving more traffic to your web pages and sales pages. You’ll get more people contacting you to ask questions or make an appointment.

More people will trust you and want to work with you. More people will want to tell others about you.

When someone questions your capabilities or balks at your fees, you’ll know what to say and do to make them happy and ready to proceed.

When a client has a complaint or questions your judgment, you’ll know how to show them that they are in good hands.

When you speak or network or do an interview, you’ll be more confident, more persuasive, and more attractive to prospects and fellow professionals.

Sales is the uber-skill every attorney needs to learn. So, why do so few attorneys learn it?

Probably because they’re afraid they’ll appear too aggressive, manipulative or hungry for business. They think they’ll come off as less professional or less successful.

“I didn’t go to law school to be a sales person,” they often tell me. But learning how to sell doesn’t make you a sales person. It makes you better at your job.

When I began practicing, I found it difficult to bring in clients and I struggled to pay my bills. Everything changed when I studied marketing and sales and starting using what I had learned.

I encourage you to do the same.

How to use email to sell more of your services

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What about next year?

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Quite a year wasn’t it? As you think about next year and beyond, what will you change?

Virtual meetings are here to stay and no doubt you’ve adapted. But what else will you do?

Take some time this month to explore your options.

Think about the long term. Where do you want your practice to be next year at this time? How about 5 years down the road? You may not know, yet, but ask the questions and let your subconscious mind start working on the answers.

Also ask yourself what you can do in the short term. What can you start working on or investigating right now?

What you can do to adapt your services and/or the ways you deliver them to the changing needs of your clients and target market? What can you do to accommodate people working from home, for example? How could you stand out by tailoring your marketing to first responders or health care workers?

What can you do to attract different types of clients or get a foothold in different niche markets? What business owners or professionals could you introduce yourself to? What new content could you create to attract a new crop of prospective clients?

Explore new marketing methods, or go back to ones you abandoned. If you don’t have a newsletter, start one. If you use email, look into postal mail. If you don’t advertise or do social media, find out what it would take to start.

Take a few hours to explore the future. Read, listen, think, and write down your ideas and questions.

You don’t have to make radical changes but by considering all of your options and asking lots of questions, you may find ways to nuance what you currently do and open doors to new opportunities for growth.

Which is something you should do every year.

Have you read The Attorney Marketing Formula?

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Your services, your firm, or you?

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When you are marketing in the “cold market”–to people who don’t know you–should you market a specific legal service, your capabilities and practice areas, or yourself?

The answer is, you should market what clients want to buy.

When a prospective client has a legal problem or objective, they want (to buy) a solution to that problem or a way to achieve that objective. That’s what you should lead with and feature in your marketing.

Once you have their attention, tell them about your services, experience and capabilities, because these are the resources you use to solve their problem or deliver their objective.

But lead with benefits.

Show them you can solve, prevent, or minimize their problem. Show them they can have the “better future” they desire.

Start with why. Only then should you talk about how.

When you market to your warm market–people who already know you, clients and former clients and business contacts–things are a bit different.

You already have their attention and permission to stay in touch with them. Continue to remind them about the benefits and solutions you offer, different use cases and examples, success stories and testimonials, because they might need your help again or know someone they can refer; and also also tell them about your other services and solutions.

As you continue to stay in touch with clients and prospects and build or strengthen your relationship with them, tell them a bit less about your services and a bit more about you.

Start here: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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