How much is your time really worth?

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On my walk yesterday, I heard a doctor being interviewed on the radio. He was talking about his book. It was a one-hour interview and I wondered how much income he was giving up by not seeing patients during that time. 

When I got home, I checked the books ranking and saw that he was selling a ton of books. I guessed he probably earned $500 to $1,000 for the day. 

Was that a typical day or was there a spike in sales from his appearance on the radio?

Actually, it doesn’t matter. 

The book is clearly getting him a lot of exposure, and that exposure will bring him a lot of patients, and other opportunities to be interviewed. 

Promoting his book allows him to leverage his time and earn far more than he would have earned seeing patients for an hour.  

Which is how attorneys should think about all of their marketing. 

The hour you spend with a prospective referral source, for example, might open doors to an incalculable influx of new clients. Two hours invested in writing content for your website might lead to picking up a new client every month.

No, you don’t know if what you’re doing will work, or how well. You keep doing it, trusting that some things will work well enough to make it all worthwhile. 

In fact, if you keep doing “it” (marketing) long enough and consistently enough, you may eventually reach a tipping point where your practice starts growing at an accelerated rate. 

When that happens, when you’re bringing in more business than you can handle and your income is doubling and tripling, you won’t ask yourself if all that time you spent marketing was worth it.  You’ll ask yourself why you didn’t do more of it. 

The New Year is around the corner. Do you have a  marketing plan?


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Big plans start with small steps

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I did a coaching call with an attorney who is planning to leave the firm where he works and open his own office. He’s been planning this for a few years. 

I remember what it feels like to open your own office and I’m excited for him. He’s got a lot of promise, and a lot planned, and I think he’s going to be very glad he made this move. 

But there was one part of his plan that bothered me and I told him so. His plan called for him to immediately open two offices, followed soon by a third, in different cities many hours driving time from each other.

He has reasons for believing he can succeed in all three locations, and I have no reason to doubt this, but I told him he should start with just one. 

One office, get it going, make it profitable, hire help, and then explore opening office number two. 

Keep it simple. 

Simple means “something you can do”. Something he can do: open one office.

With some experience in opening the first office, some cash flowing and some help helping, he will have the knowledge and wherewithal to open the second office and make it profitable in less time and with less effort.

As for marketing, we talked about his many options, but here again, I suggested that he keep it simple. Other than getting his website up and running, that means continuing to do what he’s been doing to bring in business–an email newsletter. 

It is his primary marketing method and it’s working well for him. I gave him suggestions for expanding and streamlining what he’s doing, leveraging what he already knows and does to get to the next level. Given his experience, I have no doubt that he will do exactly that.

Start where you are with what you have. Good advice for marketing and opening offices. 

Marketing online for attorneys

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How to get more clients like your best clients

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Some clients are better than others. They have more work for you, they are willing to pay higher fees for better service, they treat you well and send you referrals.

Yes?

Ah, but while they may be better, they may not be your best.

Your best clients, your “ideal” clients, match a profile that you have decided is where you want to make your mark.

Your ideal clients have values that align with yours. They have needs and wants that you are better equipped to satisfy than most attorneys because you have more experience with clients like them. They have characteristics–personality, background, lifestyle, income–similar to those that identify your other ideal clients.

Your ideal clients provide you with your highest value and you want more of them. You’ll tolerate clients who don’t fit this profile but you target prospective clients who do.

Or at least you should.

Not just because you want more of them but so that you can appeal to them more effectively in your marketing.

When you try to appeal to everyone based solely on legal need, as most attorneys do, you dilute your message and diminish your results.

If you want your best clients to find you and hire you, focus your marketing so that it speaks exclusively to them. 

Most attorneys are “an inch deep and a mile wide” in their marketing. They aren’t intentional and they don’t focus.

Don’t do that.

To build a practice comprised primarily of your best clients, figure out what your ideal clients look like and show them why you are their ideal attorney.

This will help you create a profile of your ideal client

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No, I guess I can’t handle the truth

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I heard a radio ad for a nutritional supplement. The ad began with, “Studies show the average person needs ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day.”

I don’t know if that’s true but it doesn’t sound true. Or maybe I don’t want to believe it because there’s no way I’m going to eat ten servings of fruits and veggies every day (and I like fruits and veggies).

In marketing, you can’t depend on the truth. Your premise or promise has to have verisimilitude—the appearance of truth or, “the quality of seeming real,” according to Merriam-Webster.

If it doesn’t, it will be rejected, or require a lot more proof than you have or are prepared to offer.

The ad then compounded the problem, claiming their product supplies the nutritional equivalent of 30 servings per day. Maybe it does. But coming on the heels of their first statement, I’m still riding the “I don’t buy it” train.

What could they have done differently?

They could have said “studies show that 7 out of 10 people don’t eat enough fruits or vegetables each day,” (if that’s true) and then talked about their product.

I’d buy that.

Or they could have said, “If you’re only eating three servings of fruits and vegetables per day, studies show you’re not getting enough of the vitamins and minerals you need. . .”

I’d buy that, too.

And then, I might listen to the what they’re selling.

Tell the truth in your marketing. Unless the truth sounds unbelievable.

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A simple way to stand out in a crowded field

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Look at the typical law firm website.

Boring, isn’t it?

The message is bland. Lacking in personality and energy. Devoid of passion.

It fails to get anyone excited about the solutions offered. Hell, it probably doesn’t even mention solutions (benefits), it probably does what most lawyers’ websites do–provide a list of practice areas and a few bon mots about the attorney.

It’s ineffective. It looks like every other firm’s website. And it is very easy to ignore.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Clients often decide to hire an attorney based on how they feel about them and they make up their minds in the first 60 seconds.

If you want to stand out and get people excited about working with you, you can start by adding a little pizzazz to your website.

Don’t go overboard. Keep it professional. Dignified. Manicured and tailored. But pump some blood into its veins and add some color to its cheeks.

  • Show people the positive side of what you do. Show them how your clients like working with you and are thrilled with the work you do for them.
  • Show them your personal side–your background, your side interests, family, and what you do for fun.
  • Show them the passion you bring to helping your clients–why you do what you do.
  • Show them how your partners and staff love what they do, that your firm is a great place to work.
  • Show them that while you might deal with serious subjects and painful problems, your practice is imbued with a positive spirit, and a productive and happy atmosphere.

Show prospective clients not just how you can help them but that you are passionate about helping them.

Make people feel good about you. Put a little life into your website (and other marketing collateral) and you should see more clients signing up.

You should also feel more excited about coming to work.

How to make your website work for you

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What are your three things?

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“Perhaps the most important personal productivity tool ever discovered is what we call the “Law of Three.” This law says that 90% of all of your results and eventually, your income, come from only three of your daily activities.”

So says Brian Tracy in a post on his blog.

In 80/20 parlance, those three activities are your “vital few”–20% activities that deliver 80% of your results.

And they’re different for everyone.

Tracy used sales managers as an example. He says their three things are recruiting, training and managing.

So, what are your three things?

Of all the things you do in your practice, what three activities create the most value?

Focus on those three things. Do more of them, get better at them, and you should be able to increase your income at an accelerated rate.

You may also find that you can let go of a lot of things that aren’t your top three. This will give you more time (and energy) for your top three activities, allowing you to compound your results.

But don’t stop there.

Once you’ve done this exercise and found your three activities, do the same exercise for each of those three.

If one of your 20% activities is litigation, for example, identify the top three activities that make you better or more successful at it.

If one of your top three activities is marketing (and if it’s not, what’s up wit dat?), make a list of all of the marketing activities you do and from that list, choose your top three.

Which marketing activity brings in the most clients? Which produces your best clients? Which activity do you do best and want to do more?

Focus your marketing on those three things and consider letting go of or doing less of everything else.

You’ll thank me later.

One of my top three: client referrals

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What’s wrong with this email?

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I got an email from someone who calls himself a “wealth manager and financial advisor”. Apparently, we’re connected on LinkedIn because his email begins, “Hi David. We’re connected on LinkedIn. . .”

He said, “I wanted to reach out to you personally and share important information on some of the recent Tax Changes for 2018 for Business Owners. Please enjoy this short video and give us a call if we can better assist you with your Financial and Estate Planning questions.”

What’s wrong with his approach? His email?

Is it that he oddly capitalized “Tax Changes for Business Owners” and “Financial and Estate Planning”?

Is he trying to impress me by making what he does look more important?

Ooh, he doesn’t just handle estate planning, he handles Estate Planning. He must be good.

Is it that he begins by saying, “I wanted to reach out to you personally. . .” and then says, “give US a call if WE can better assist you”?

We? What happened to “I”? Is he a member of the Royal Family?

Okay, these aren’t deal killers. But they aren’t unimportant. Little things make a difference, especially when you’re writing to a professional nit-picker.

I like that he’s offering information that might be valuable to me. (I didn’t watch the video, so I don’t know.) I liked that he didn’t tell me all about himself and his practice. He provided a link to his website under his signature so I could learn more about him and his practice.

I also liked that he mentioned our being connected on LinkedIn so I would know where he got my name and wouldn’t think he was spamming professionals and business owners he finds on the Internet.

But that’s exactly what his email makes it look like he’s doing.

If he had read my profile, he would know I’m an attorney or a professional, not a business owner. Wait, Business Owner. Okay, I’m also a business owner, but he didn’t do anything to personalize his message so it looks like junk mail.

He didn’t mention anything we have in common. He didn’t say anything about my business or website. He didn’t say anything about one of my posts he liked.

Had he done any of those things, I might have watched his video or visited his website. Who knows where that might lead.

But he didn’t. So I deleted his email and will never find out if he’s someone worth talking to about financial planning or how we might work together.

A cautionary tale.

Cold emails (and calls) are a viable way to build a professional practice. Even when you send them to people who aren’t social media connections.

But if you make no effort to personalize your email or connect with the recipient, you’re just wasting electrons.

How to use email to build your practice

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Could you write an email like this?

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I just got off the phone with a young married couple who is having their first child. Josh works in tech sales. Karen does bookkeeping for a company that owns several restaurants. They were referred to me by a financial planner I know from my networking group.

They wanted to get their wills done and see if they could benefit from estate planning strategies they’d heard about from some friends.

We scheduled an appointment and I sent them to a page on my website to fill out a simple questionnaire. I also sent them information about some of the options we would discuss.

If you have questions about your estate planning options, go to [this page]. And, if you would like to talk to me about your situation or make an appointment, give me a call at [number].

— — —
No matter what your practice area, tell your newsletter readers about one of your new clients. Or tell them about an interesting case you have had in the past.

Let them see that people like them, with issues like theirs, are hiring you to help them. It reminds them about what you do and how you can help them.

Let them know that those clients were referred to you, by a client or a fellow professional. It shows them that other people trust you and look to you to help their friends and clients.

Let them know they can get information about their legal issue and your services on your website. And let them know they can call you to talk or to make an appointment.

You can add more if you want to.

You could tell them a few details about the issues in the case and what you did about them. You could add a question or two the client asked you and your answers. You could quote the client at the end of the case, expressing relief or praising you.

Let people hear what you do and how you can help them and more people will hire you. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

How to start an email newsletter

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Too much or not enough?

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Most lawyers present prospective clients with a single option: hire me to do “x” [or don’t].

The problem is, if they don’t want “X” or think it’s too expensive, they have nowhere to go but out the door. If you give them two or three options instead of one, you increase the odds of getting hired.

Right?

Maybe. If you’re not careful, giving them too many options, or the wrong options, can lead to the same result.

Too many options can lead to confusion and indecision. They need to think about it (but don’t). They need to discuss it with someone (who is equally indecisive).

So they do nothing. Or find a lawyer who offers something simpler.

I’m not saying you should stick with one option. Sometimes, that’s the right choice. Sometimes, it’s not.

How do you decide?

There are many factors to consider: the legal issue, deadlines, the stakes, the client’s experience, their budget, how many other attorneys they’ve talked to (or hired before), and more.

It also depends on the quality of your marketing documents and salesmanship.

Most lawyers take the “safe” route. They look at what other lawyers do and copy them. If they all offer one option, they do too.

Some lawyers look at what other lawyers are doing and do the opposite. The masses are almost always wrong, they believe, and even if they’re right, being different is the essence of differentiation.

The smartest bears in the woods admit they don’t know and try different approaches. They offer different groups of prospective clients different options or they offer all clients one option for six months and a different set of options for six months and see what works better.

They might have different packages or price points for clients with different budgets, for new clients (to get them in the door) and returning clients, and for clients in different markets. They also have something to offer to prospective clients who balk at the first option.

They track their numbers and that’s how they know.

What’s that? You want a simpler answer? “Just tell me what to do!”

I just did.

This will help 

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You will always have competition and that’s good

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Are you concerned that there too many attorneys in your market? Don’t be. As long as there is demand for the legal work you perform, it doesn’t matter how many other attorneys there are competing for it.

The reason? Clients buy you before they buy your services, and you are unique. Build relationships with prospective clients and referral sources and you will effectively have no competition.

But hold on. Having competition is good.

It’s good because the existence of competition proves the existence of demand. If the work wasn’t there, the other attorneys would find something else to do.

Having competition is also good because it forces you to find ways to differentiate yourself. When you do, marketing is easier and more effective because you are able to show your market an advantage to choosing you.

Your competitors can also provide a fertile source of ideas. Follow them on social, subscribe to their newsletters, study their ads and blog posts, and discover what they’re doing that you can do better or differently, or discover market segments they have overlooked.

Meet your competition and get to know them. Find out what they need and how you can help them. They can become a source of referrals (conflicts, clients that are too big or too small, etc.) for both of you. And, if you find yourself on the opposite sides of a case, your relationship might help you reach a better resolution.

Don’t worry about the competition. Embrace it.

How to get referrals from your competition

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