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Reverse engineering your big goals

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Let’s say you have a two-year goal of having 20 referrals per month coming into your practice from professional contacts.

How do you get there?

You get there by asking yourself, “What has to happen first?” and working backwards until you know what to do today.

Let’s say you estimate that you can achieve this goal by having 20 referral sources who send you an average of one referral per month.

You don’t have that now. What has to happen first?

You figure that to have 20 solid referral sources, you need 60 professionals who tell you they’ll do their best to send you business. You know that some will send you a few, some won’t send any, and some will send you more than a few. You can’t possibly know how it will work out, but you figure (for now) that it will average out to 20 referrals per month. (If it doesn’t, you’ll need to change your numbers, find different referral sources, or re-assess your strategy.)

So, what has to happen first?

To get 60 professionals who have the ability to send you referrals and say they will, you figure that, over time, you need to have conversations with 300. If 80% tell you no, that leaves 60 who say yes.

What has to happen first?

Before you can have those conversations, you need to make a list of candidates. Professionals who seem to have the right client base that would be a good match for you. Let’s say that to find 300 who seem to have the right client base, you need to work your way through a list of 2000.

What has to happen first?

First, you need to do some research and find lists, directories, associations, et al, with names and contact information. You also need to work on a script.

And then, you need to schedule the time to make calls.

And now, you have a plan. And you can start working on that plan.

For help on finding lists and creating scripts, get this

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What to do when you don’t have time for marketing

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Okay, you get it. You know you need to do more marketing. But you don’t have a lot of time.

Two things.

First, there is a lot you can do to market your legal services that don’t require a lot of time. Go back and read my blog posts and see.

Second, if you have more money than time, consider advertising. You don’t have to advertise your services directly. You can advertise and give away (or sell) information (books, reports, videos, etc.) and let those “sell” your services.

Hokay. What if you don’t want to advertise or you aren’t allowed to by your bar association or firm?

I would invest in an assistant (or VAs) or outside consultants/freelancers to help you:

  • Add more/better content to your website so you can get more visitors from search engines
  • Start an email newsletter so you can stay in touch with visitors who aren’t ready to hire you immediately
  • Set up landing pages focused on specific keywords/offers, to increase your opt-in rate
  • Improve web copy to get more visitors to opt-in to your newsletter and call to make an appointment
  • Add additional websites, with content for specific practice areas and/or target markets
  • Create books, reports, videos, and other content to sell or giveaway
  • Keep your website(s) updated with fresh content
  • Reach out to prospective referral sources and centers of influence in your niche, for interviews, guest posts, and cross-promotions
  • Get you interviewed on blogs, podcasts, video channels; book you for speaking engagements
  • Manage follow-ups with prospective clients, networking contacts
  • Stay in touch with former clients
  • Write articles, blog posts, presentations, guest posts (your assistants research, outline, write first drafts, edit, publish)
  • Set up and manage social media marketing campaigns, if you swing that way

You should also allocate funds for:

  • Books, courses, training (for you and staff) on marketing, sales, client relations, and productivity
  • Software to manage communications with clients, prospects, referral sources, bloggers, etc.
  • A bigger office (or second office) and additional staff to handle all of the new business you’re bringing in

What do you do if you don’t have time OR money for marketing? You advertise. Many publications offer credit so you can bring in some paying clients before you have to pay for the ads.

Or you do what many of us did when we were starting out (or struggling): anything you can think of to bring in some business, so you never have that problem again.

Start your marketing with the right formula

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How to help clients find you

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Yesterday, I said your marketing should be focused mostly (or exclusively) on attracting people who are already looking for an attorney, or looking for information about their problem and the available solutions.

How do you do this? How do you help prospective clients find you so you don’t have to find them?

Here are five simple and effective ways to do that:

  1. Set up one or more websites with search-engine friendly content. When someone looks for an attorney, or looks for information, they find your site. When they visit, they see content that helps them understand their situation and their options, and learn how you can help them. If they’re not ready to hire you, they should be encouraged to sign up for your email list to get more information (which allows you to stay in touch with them).
  2. Create free or paid content–books, reports, videos, audios, etc.–that provide solutions and demonstrate your expertise. Distribute paid content via bookstores. Distribute free content via other people’s newsletters and blogs and via social sharing.
  3. Make yourself available for interviews and/or to write guest posts on websites frequented by your ideal client.
  4. Advertise your services and/or your free or paid content in your local or niche markets.
  5. Build a small army of clients and professionals and other “friends of the firm” who know how to recognize your ideal client, how you can help them, and the best way to refer them.

To learn how to create a website that attracts prospective clients, get this. To learn how to get more referrals from your clients, get this. To learn how to get more referrals from lawyers and other professionals, get this.

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Setting up your marketing budget

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Yesterday, I talked about planning what you will do to reach your ideal clients, i.e., connecting with prospective clients directly, via referral sources and other indirect means, or both. I said you should also decide how much time and resources you will dedicate to each method.

In other words, what’s your budget?

How much money will you invest this year in advertising, websites, referral marketing, email marketing, and whatever else you intend to use?

One thing you can do is to talk to your accountant. Have them set up a “chart of accounts” for you to include different categories of marketing expenses, and then provide you with an approximation of what to budget for each category. If your accountant represents other attorneys and firms, they will be able to make more informed suggestions.

If you want to put money into pay-per-click advertising for your real estate practice, for example, based on their knowledge of what other clients in your market are spending, they can tell you whether you should budget 00 per month or 00, or if you can get started with just 0.

If nothing more, this will give you a place to start.

You should also create a “time budget”.

How much time will you invest in marketing each week? What will you do during that time? On what days and at what times will you calendar to do those activities?

If your plan calls for joining a new networking group, for example, you’ll want to book the meetings on your calendar. You’ll also want to book time during the week to do other things relative to attending those meetings, e.g., following up with new contacts.

If you don’t know how much time to budget, talk to people who belong to the same or similar groups.

The primary purpose of creating a marketing budget isn’t to limit what you do or how much you will spend, however. The primary purpose is to force you to think about what it will actually take to carry out your plans and how committed you are to doing them.

Without that forethought, you are more likely to waste resources and get poorer results. Or not get started at all.

Here’s how to get more referrals without spending a lot of time

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Who will you invite to the dance this year?

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Goal setting, planning, and all that good stuff. It’s almost time to sharpen your pencil and map out the new year.

When it comes to marketing, once you decide on your target market and ideal client, the next thing to decide is how you will reach them. Will you market to clients directly? Will you target referral sources? Will you do both?

Don’t leave this to chance. Think it through. A few things to consider:

  • Where do you get your clients now? Referrals from clients? Professional referrals? Your website? Advertising? Look at your numbers so you can do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t.
  • What do other lawyers in your practice area do to get their clients that you’re not doing, or not doing enough?
  • What mechanisms can you use to reach your audience, e.g., blogs that accept guest posts, groups where you can speak and/or network?
  • What are you good at and enjoy? Writing, speaking, networking? How can you do more?
  • What are your resources–time, money, knowledge, experience, employees/outside help, friends and professional contacts?
  • What are you unable to do (by your bar or firm)? If you can’t advertise to prospective clients, perhaps you can advertise to referral sources. If you can’t advertise your services, perhaps you can advertise your book or seminar. If you can’t use client testimonials, perhaps you can use professional endorsements.

If you decide to market to both clients and referral sources, you also need to decide how much of your time and resources to allocate to each.

You don’t have to decide everything before the year starts but you should start thinking about these things. They’ll help you get focused and get better results.

Ideal client? Target market? Marketing plan? This is what you need

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Increase your income by focusing on income producing activities

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How much of what you do each day could be considered “income producing activities”?

Client work is income producing. So is marketing which brings in (and keeps) the clients. Everything else is is an expense and should be minimized, delegated, or eliminated.

In my opinion, in an eight-hour day, five hours of client work is a good target. Another hour should be invested in marketing. That leaves two hours that can be used for admin, lunch, and (your choice), more client work or more marketing.

If you have lots of clients, do more work. If you need more clients, do more marketing.

Of course this is just a starting point and your mileage may vary.

Next step: hire (more) assistants so you can do more work and more marketing. After that, hire more lawyers and/or legal assistants and have them do most (or all) of the work. Then, hire people to supervise and assist your team so you can continue to grow, open another office, and have time to spend some of the loot you’re bringing in.

That’s how I built my practice. That’s how I quadrupled my income and cut my work down to three days a week.

Sound like a plan?

This will help you do more income producing activities

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What to do when your practice area dries up?

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This just in: Divorce in U.S. Plunges to 35-Year Low. If you’re a divorce lawyer, what do you do?

Whatever you do, don’t panic. Put down your coloring book, let go of your blankie, and come out of your safe space. Everything is going to be okay.

First, markets ebb and flow. This year might be bad, next year the trend could turn.

Second, no matter what’s going on in the overall divorce “marketplace,” unless and until divorce is outlawed, there will always be enough business available to keep you busy. In fact, there should be enough business available to make you rich.

The same goes for other practice areas.

So don’t worry about “the market”. Just worry about yourself.

It’s like the old joke about you and a friend getting lost in the woods and a bear starts chasing you. You don’t have to outrun the bear, you just need to outrun your friend.

But don’t ignore what’s going on in the market or get complacent. In order to run faster than the other lawyers and stay ahead of the bears, you must continually work to

  • Improve your core lawyering skills
  • Improve your other skills, e.g., writing, speaking, networking, sales, etc.
  • Attract better clients (e.g., more affluent, more “at risk,” better connected, etc.)
  • Run a profitable practice (e.g., manage overhead, hire good employees, improve operations)
  • Look for new target markets
  • Expand and improve your marketing

Do these things no matter what’s going on in the marketplace and you’ll be golden.

Oh, one more thing. Don’t believe everything you read in the news.

Make sure your marketing plan is up to date

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Opening your own law practice: where do you start?

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Many lawyers ask me how to go about opening their own law practice. At the risk of sounding glib and too clever for my own good, my short answer is “you just do”.

You find a place to park your carcass and see clients and then you go get some.

Okay, let’s see if we can break this down a bit. I will assume that you don’t have a lot of cash, or you don’t want to spend it up front, which is a good plan even if you do have a lot of cash.

You may be able to do most of your work from home initially, but you will need a place to see clients. So the first step is to find someone who will let you use their conference room or a spare office to do that. You can offer to pay them by the hour or a flat monthly fee or you can do appearances or other legal work to pay for it.

You could do this in any office but there are advantages to renting space in an office occupied by attorneys: access to their library, surrounding yourself with colleagues who can help you when you have a question, and the ability to get overflow work.

Which leads to the next step: getting clients.

First, set up a simple website. Get your own domain name (youname.com) and at least a single page site that describes who you are, what you do, and how to contact you.

Put your domain name and email address (firstname@yourname.com) and phone number on everything: business cards, stationery, email signature, social media profiles, etc.

Next, if you worked for a firm before, contact clients you did work for or know and let them know you’ve opened your own office. Call them personally. Don’t pressure them, just let them know your news. Give them your website. Make a note to contact them again in a month or two.

After that, tell everyone else you know that you’re open for business and send them to your website. Don’t send announcements. Nobody reads them. Send letters or emails. Explain why you opened your own office and the services you are now offering.

Call five or ten of these folks a day and ask how they are doing. You’ve got the time, bub. Ask if they got your letter or email. At the end of the call, say what every new real estate agents says: “If you know anyone who needs/is thinking about. . . please send them my way”.

Plant the seed that you’re open for referrals.

Add this: “Also, I know a lot of attorneys in other areas of practice, so if you know someone with ANY legal need, let me know and I’ll refer them to a good attorney”.

One of the best ways to get referrals from other attorneys is to give them referrals.

When they say they will, say thanks and tell them you’ll be sending them some additional information.

Onward.

When I opened my office, I got most of my first clients from other attorneys, so contact every attorney you know and let them know you’re available for overflow and appearances. See Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals to learn more.

Next, write something. A report or ebook that helps people understand problems and solutions. At the end, tell them how you can help them and the people they know.

Then get that report into as many hands as possible, through as many methods as possible. Let the report sell you and your services. See The 30 Day Referral Blitz on how to write an effective report and how to distribute it.

Now what? Now, you explore other ways for marketing yourself and there are many others. Many ways to get your name in front of people, build a list, expand your website and get more traffic, get more referrals, and otherwise bring in business. Once you start getting clients, there are ways to leverage your relationships to bring in even more.

You can expect the early days to be rough going. They were for me. But today, you have the Internet and a lot of other tools for finding clients, and you also have me. Read my blog, get my courses, educate yourself, and take action every day. Focus on marketing and you will make it.

Is it scary? Hell yes. But so is being unemployed and not knowing what to do, or wanting to open your own office and thinking there’s too much to do and you don’t know where to start.

Now you know where to start. And starting is everything.

The keys to building a successful law practice: click here

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Would you rather have more clients or higher-paying clients?

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Yesterday, I did a consultation with a lawyer who has a high-volume/low-fee practice. I asked him, “Would you rather have 50 new $1,000 clients each month or two $25,000 clients?”

I wanted him to upgrade his practice towards the higher end of the client spectrum. You have less overhead, less stress, and less work to do to produce the same income. And you don’t have to compete with everyone and his brother because there is no competition at the top.

I pointed out that he already had a suitable niche market, a certain group of business owners who could provide him with referrals and introductions to other professionals who serve that market.

He said he would need to take CLE classes before he could do this. I suggested that until he was proficient, he could associate with another lawyer who has the experience.

He also said he would need to hire another attorney to handle some of his current caseload, and he’s willing to do that.

So he has a plan.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Niche marketing is smart. Here’s how to do it

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Grow your law practice incrementally

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A journey of a thousand miles may begin with a single step but you can’t stop after just one. Whatever you’re doing now to market your practice, no matter how successful it is, you should always be looking for what’s next.

You don’t need to find The Holy Grail of marketing. Little things can bring in new business and if you do those little things regularly, those little things can add up to big results.

So here’s the plan:

Once a week, find one small way to extend your existing marketing.

Find one new business contact who can tell his clients about you.

Find one new place to run your existing ad.

Find one new keyword to optimize your online content.

Find one new website where you can submit a guest post.

Find one new social media platform where you can post your existing content.

But don’t stop there. Once a month, find one new marketing technique that you’re not doing and start doing it.

If you don’t do public speaking or webinars, for example, maybe it’s time to start. If you don’t have a blog, start working on one. If you have a website, consider setting up another. If you don’t advertise, look at how you might.

To sum up: Once a week, take what’s working and find one new way to extend and expand it. Once a month, find a new way to get your marketing message heard.

Once a year? Take a vacation, bub. You deserve it and now you can afford a nice one.

Do you know the formula for marketing legal services?

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