Information isn’t advice

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There are those who say we should give away lots of information to show prospective clients how much we know and thus, how much we can do. Others say that we shouldn’t give away our knowledge and experience, that’s what we get paid for.

Who’s right?

Should we deliver “massive value” via a plethora of blog posts and articles and free seminars, to demonstrate our skills (and generate leads), or should we play it close to the vest and make people pay to learn what we know?

Content marketing makes a lot of sense. The information we share does attract prospective clients and shows them we know what we’re doing. It’s also an effective way to attract traffic and generate leads.

And, general information isn’t advice. The client still has to hire us to find out what we think about their specific situation. To the extent the information we give them demonstrates the risks they face and the benefits of hiring us, that information makes it more likely that they will do that.

So, score one for free information.

On the other foot (hey, why should my hand get all the glory?), many top lawyers and other professionals do little or no  “content marketing”. They may do some speaking and publish the occasional paper but they build their practice primarily via their reputation and their contacts.

If you need brain surgery, you hire the surgeon that other doctors recommend, not necessarily the one who has the most videos on YouTube.

If you’re tops in your field you may not have to do any content marketing. For most lawyers, however, giving away information is a simple and effective marketing strategy with no discernable downside because we sell our advice and services and solutions, not information.

Your website is made for content marketing

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My, what a big niche you have

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Recently, I wrote about an interview I read with the founder of a web design studio who spoke about the value of niche marketing. She said what I’ve seen saying since day one.

In response to my post, I heard from an attorney asking for clarification.

“What is considered a niche?” he asked. “Is a practice area enough of a niche? For example, PI? Or do you need to the dog bit attorney or the brain injury attorney, etc?”

I said, “PI is a practice area. Brain injuries MIGHT be a niche. Brain injuries suffered by highly-compensated executives is definitely a niche.”

He came back: “Well, I should be pleased that last year, I started the move from a general practice to a PI practice. I think it will be a great move in the long run.”

I did the same thing early in my practice and it was indeed a great move for me. I told him to, “Niche it down. PI for Hispanic small business, owners, for example. The smaller you get, the easier it is to market.”

He said he was doing that. He focuses on a certain type of tradesperson, mostly from a certain state in Mexico.

Now that’s niching it down.

I don’t know how lucrative his niche will be but that’s not the point. The point is that it is a niche that he can easily dominate and, having done so, leverage his contacts in the niche to build his name in others.

If you want to get big, start by going small.

This will help you choose your niche

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Spray and pray

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According to Wikipedia, “Spray and pray is a derisive term for firing an automatic firearm towards an enemy in long bursts, without making an effort to line up each shot or burst of shots. This is especially prevalent amongst those without benefit of proper training.”

The term is also used in marketing: “. . .an approach to communication, where mass emails, broadcasts or leaflets are dispersed in hopes that everyone in the intended audience has received the message”.

It’s inefficient. And too often, ineffective. You hope your message reaches people who fit the profile of your ideal client,  and while you may find some people who need your help, the odds that they will be an ideal client are slim.

The better approach and one I drone on about incessantly is to select a smaller group–a sub-segment of the larger market (a niche) and fire your bullets at them.

If your ideal client is a business owner who has certain needs and/or attributes, for example, you focus your time and dollars on getting your message in front of them.

But there’s another approach that might work better.

Instead of targeting groups, you target individuals.

Make a list of influential people in your target market and market to them.

Instead of networking at the Chamber of Commerce, for example, you identify 5 or 10 influential people in your target market’s industry or area and find ways to meet them.

Go see them speak and introduce yourself. Go find someone who knows them and see if they can introduce you. 

It takes longer, but what might happen to your practice when you are on a first-name basis with the top dogs in your niche market’s industry?

You don’t need a large network, you need an influential one. You find them with a rifle, not a machine gun.

How to determine your ideal client and target market

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What’s the hardest part of getting more clients?

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I saw this question posted on a Q & A forum: “What’s the hardest part of getting fit?”

A trainer responded: “The hardest part of getting fit is doing it right now“.

He said that you build any habit by starting and the best time to do that is immediately.

Gotta say, I agree.

Waiting for the right time to start, telling yourself you need to get some other things done first, these are just excuses. Ways to procrastinate and avoid doing what you know you have to do.

If you want to get more clients, or better clients, or earn more income, or otherwise improve your bottom line, get on with it. Now.

Unless that’s not what you really want.

Maybe what you really want is to tell yourself (or someone else) that you’re “working on it”. A lot of people say they want to write a book when what they really want is to have written a book. Or they want to be able to say that they’re working on one.

Just keeping it real.

What’s on your “Later” or “Someday” lists that you should be working on right now? What do you keep moving from “Next” to “Soon”?

The hardest part of getting more clients is starting to get more clients. If that’s what you really want, I suggest you do it today.

This will help

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Start by asking a different question

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How do I get more traffic to my website? More social media followers? More butts in seats at my events? More subscribers to my newsletter? More people booking an appointment?

Those are all good questions. Questions you may want to ask and answer at some point. But asking them first might not get you what you really want. 

Getting more clients is one thing but maybe what you really want are better clients (i.e., with more work, able to pay higher fees, etc.), or bigger cases. Maybe what you really want is a way to increase your income.

Start by asking how you can get those things. It might lead you in a very different direction.

Asking “How can I increase my income?”, for example, might lead you to do things you previously hadn’t considered. 

You may realize that you can increase your income by moving your office to a better location (or opening a second one) or hiring more staff. You may decide to set up a new website, start advertising, or write a book.

Asking “How can I get better clients?” might compel you to find a different target market, network with professionals and influential people in that market, or create a different presentation for the decision makers in that market.

Start with the big picture. The end result. The outcome you really want. Ask yourself how to get that.

You may not need more clients. You may need fewer clients who can write bigger checks. You might not need more traffic to your website. You might need a new website. 

Ask a different question and allow yourself to discover how to get what you really want. 

This will help you figure out what you really want

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I’m good, but don’t take my word for it

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You love getting positive reviews, don’t you? They’re worth their weight in Gold-Pressed Latinum. Same goes for testimonials.

Reviews and testimonials from clients, and endorsements (from other professionals, industry experts, and so on), are some of the most valuable tools you can use for marketing your practice.

If you get them, use them. Let your clients tell prospects how wonderful you are.

The easy way to get more reviews and testimonials is to ask clients to fill out a survey or evaluation form at end of the case. Allow room to “talk” about how they were treated, what they like about the results you got for them, and so on.

You’ll get something you can use.

What’s that? Your state or country or firm won’t let you use testimonials in your marketing?

Sounds like you better move.

No? Okay, don’t fret. You can use something that’s almost as good: success stories.

Write a story about a case or matter. Describe the problem, issues, and obstacles that were presented to you, what you did for the client and the outcome. 

“Recently, a client called me about [problem]. [Add details–costs, pain, obstacles–legal and factual–and, describe the client’s pain and/or frustration.]”

Describe what you did for the client and how happy they were as a result.

Simple.

Okay, sure, if you have to add “results not typical” or other crap you’re required to add, do it.

And then use the hell out of that story.

Prospective clients want to know what you do. They want to hear what it will be like to work with you. They want to know that you know what you’re doing and a success story is much better than you “telling” them that you do.

Success stories should be a staple in your marketing. Write one today and start using it tomorrow.

Next week, you can write a client horror story. You know, about that client who didn’t follow your advice and made things worse.

Good marketing starts with good ideas

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Playing with matches

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Like many boys of my youth, I liked playing with matches. Especially, kitchen matches. I saw adults light them and thought they looked cool. 

I didn’t do anything stupid. I’d light them and blow them out until I got bored and did something else.

Unfortunately, many of the adults I saw lighting matches used them to light a cigar, a pipe, or a cigarette. Sure enough, years later, at various times of my early life, I smoked a pipe, cigars, and cigarettes.

That was a long time ago and I’ve long since quit (although I wouldn’t mind a cigar once in a while).

Anyway, while kids learn many of our bad habits by mimicking adults, we also learn good habits.

As a law clerk and a new attorney, I watched experienced lawyers (the adults) in the office and learned from them.

I listened to how they spoke to other lawyers, how they interacted with their secretaries, how they greeted clients and escorted them to their inner office.

I soaked it all up.

Later, with my own cases, I paid attention to what my opposition said and did, and sought advice from lawyers I knew about strategy or where to go to get some answers.

I learned how to be a lawyer, in part, by being around other lawyers.

I’m sure you did, too.

Unfortunately (for me), when I started practicing, lawyers didn’t do a lot of marketing. Some speaking or networking, sending out holiday cards, and not much else. Nothing I could see or mimic.

So I had to learn it all on my own.

Today, competition demands that lawyers make marketing a priority. Fortunately, there are many more options.

So, if you’re just starting out, or you’re looking to up your game, one of the best things you can do is to find lawyers who are good at marketing and learn from them.

Spend time with them, ask questions, ask for help. Watch and listen and mimic the things they do that work.

Just make sure they don’t smoke. 

Marketing legal services starts here

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Dancing with lawyers

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You know a lot of lawyers in different practice areas, don’t you? Great. Look through your list and choose a lawyer with a complementary practice to your own.

That means you target the same types of markets or clients–business or consumers, but you don’t compete with each other. You do PI, they handle divorce. You handle small business transactions, they do IP litigation. You do estate planning, they do consumer bankruptcy.

If you don’t have more than a few on your list, you’ll want to find some because you need a dance partner.

And by dance, I mean work together for your mutual benefit.

That means finding out about each other’s practices and promoting each other’s services to your respective clients and contacts.

The simplest way to do that is for both of you to email your clients and prospects and tell them about your dance partner, while they do the same for you.

Simple? Yes. And massively effective.

With a single click, hundreds or thousands of people find out about another lawyer and what they do. They also hear someone they know, like, and trust recommending them.

What will happen? Maybe nothing. Maybe a lot.

Safe to say that eventually, each dance partner will get some new clients. They’ll also get new newsletter subscribers and social media contacts, leading to more business down the road.

You and your dance partner can do webinars or video chats together. You can promote each other’s content (videos, articles, blogs, seminars). You can interview each other or do guest posts for each other.

All of which will lead to more business for both of you.

And. . .

You’re not limited to lawyers. You can also dance with CPAs, insurance brokers, real estate brokers, financial planners–anyone with a client base that complements your own.

You can also dance with business owners, salespeople, consultants, vendors, and others who sell to or advise the kinds of people you represent.

This one strategy could provide you with more business than you can handle. 

Even if you have three left legs and can’t dance to save your life.

More on how to do this

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My son, the author

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After yesterday’s post about why you need to write a book I’ve heard from attorneys who have written and published a book, are in the process of writing a book or are planning to write a book.

Bravo!

Your book can be one of your most valuable marketing tools, if for no other reason than it gives you the ability to tell people that you wrote a book.

Clients will be impressed. They’ll tell people that their lawyer wrote a book. Prospective clients will be more likely to choose you over the attorney who didn’t write a book.

So, yes.

More: 

  • Mention your book in your bio, About page, social media profiles, and introduction (i.e., when you are introduced as a speaker)
  • Give print copies to new clients; they’ll see they made the right decision in choosing you. For extra credit, give them extra copies they can give to their friends.
  • Give copies to professionals and influencers in your niche market; they’ll see you as an authority and be even more comfortable recommending and referring you to their clients and contacts
  • When a prospective client wants to know why they should hire you, don’t explain, don’t try to sell them, just give them a copy of your book and let your book sell you
  • Offer digital copies to people who opt-in to your email list; you’ll get more opt-ins and your opt-ins will be glad they found you
  • Sell the book online and get traffic to your site; pre-sold traffic, traffic that PAID to hear what you say
  • Promote the book on social and let the book promote you; you can say nice things about a book that you might not be comfortable saying about yourself
  • Put the book in your “media kit” and get interviewed on podcasts, video channels, radio and TV shows, blogs, and to get booked as a speaker at local events

You can do all that, and more, even if your book isn’t a best seller.  

Now, if you read yesterday’s post and haven’t started writing a book, or planned to do so, I’ll just say, do it. No really, just do it.

Imagine your name on the cover of your new book. Imagine your mom telling her friends. “Oh, your son’s a lawyer? That’s nice. Did he write a book? Mine did.”

And, if you have written a book, it’s time to write another one. Because being an author is great but being the author of two (or more) books in your field is even better.

Have you taken my free referral course?

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A book is just a bunch of words

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You need to write a book. It’s one of the best things you can do to market your practice.

The odds are, you already know this. The odds are you don’t think you have enough to say to fill a book, or you don’t have the time or talent to write it.  

But you do. Because a book is just a bunch of words and you wrangle words for a living.

One way to write a book is to take things you’ve already written and stitch them together.

Blog posts, articles, white papers, reports–they’re all fodder for a book.

Five or ten chapters, exploring themes related to your work, illustrated with stories and examples from your practice, and congratulations, you have a book. 

Another way to write a book is to sit down and write it. Or record it.

Could you speak about your practice area for an hour? Do it. Speak, record, transcribe, and you’ll have the makings of a book.

Or, have someone interview you for an hour or two. I was interviewed by an attorney and turned that into a book. I interviewed an appellate attorney and turned that into a book.

You can, too.

Your book doesn’t need to be a tome. Your book could be as little as ten or twenty-thousand words. You could crank that out in a few weekends.

You don’t need to be a brilliant writer. You don’t need to have a publisher. And you don’t need to spend months or years turning out a bestseller.

But you do need a book.

How I turn interviews into books

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