What’s the best marketing strategy?

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A busy sole practitioner asks, “Of all the possible marketing [strategies]. . . how would you rank them in order of effectiveness or “bang for the buck”?

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know I’m going to put referrals at the top of the list. If I could only do one thing, that’s what I’d do.

That’s what I did to build my practice. That’s what I recommend for every lawyer.

You should also know my second recommendation: email.

Stay in touch with clients and prospects and professional contacts via email. Do it consistently and it will bring you new business, repeat business and. . . referrals.

My third recommendation: write a book. It’s one of the best marketing tools for a professional.

Fourth, advertising. Done right, there’s almost nothing that will allow you to scale faster.

After that? It depends. Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What’s working for me now? What’s worked in the past?
  • Where does my target market hang out? What do they read? Who do they follow?
  • What am I good at? What do I enjoy? Speaking, networking, writing?
  • How much time can I dedicate to marketing?
  • How much money am I prepared to invest?
  • What could I outsource?

He asked about direct mail. Depends on your target market. It can be extremely profitable (like advertising) but you have to get a lot of things right.

He asked whether adding additional content to an already decent website makes sense? It might. How much traffic are you getting now? Are you dominating organic search for your keywords? If you’re doing well, you might work on increasing opt-ins and conversions.

So yeah, it depends.

Look at your numbers and look at what your gut is telling you.

Don’t do something merely because it’s worked for someone else or it looks like it could be profitable. Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t want to do.

Choose something that feels good to you when you think about it and focus on that.

This can help you sort things out

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How to make marketing a habit

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A lawyer wrote and said the things he’s learned from me “really work and I see results in a very short time.”

That’s good.

He mentioned his email newsletter and said, “unfortunately, it is not yet a habit.”

I told him to commit to writing once a week and put it on his calendar.

Simple. But does it solve his problem?

Note, he didn’t say he doesn’t have time or he’s not a good writer or he doesn’t know what to write about. Those are different problems, with different solutions.

As for habits, there are countless books, articles, videos, and courses that explain the psychology and present strategies and much of it is useful.

But no strategy works if you don’t use it.

And keep using it.

Which means making it a habit, which leads us back to where we started.

My advice?

You either want to write a weekly newsletter (or create any other habit) or you don’t.

If you don’t want to do it, you won’t do it. You’ll never start or you’ll start and stop. Or force yourself to do it, be miserable, and then stop.

If you want to do it, however, you’ll do it, and you won’t have to depend on strategies or tricks or willpower.

Much better, yes?

There are many strategies that can help you start, and starting is the most important part. I encourage you to do that. You might find you like it after all.

Try lots of things. And variations. If you don’t want to write a weekly newsletter, write one every other week. Or don’t write a newsletter the way others write newsletters, share your thoughts in a few paragraphs and call it a day.

Give things a reasonable tryout. If they don’t make the cut, bench them and try something else.

The good news is you only need one. You can build a massively successful practice with just one marketing strategy.

Don’t listen to all the goo-roos who say otherwise. Just listen to yourself.

How to build a successful email newsletter

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Does your marketing plan need a tune-up?

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Repeat clients and referrals are your most profitable clients. Your marketing plan should include strategies for:

  • Retention (keeping clients happy, getting more of them to stick with you, and what to do to get them back if they leave)
  • Repeat business (getting existing/former clients to hire you again and/or more often)
  • Up-selling (getting more clients to “buy” your bigger packages/services)
  • Cross-selling (getting clients and prospects to buy your other services (yours and your partner’s)
  • Referrals (getting more clients, prospects, and professional contacts to refer new clients, and getting them to do it more often)

This is where you should focus most of your time and resources.

To a lesser extent, your plan should also include strategies for getting more prospective clients into your pipeline:

  • Traffic (getting more people to visit your web site/blog)
  • Opt-ins (getting more visitors to sign up for your newsletter, etc.)
  • Leads (getting more prospects to call or write or fill out a form
  • Conversions (getting more prospects to take the next step, i.e., ask questions, make an appointment, sign up)
  • Other (e.g., strategies for getting positive reviews and testimonials)

There are lots of things you can do to get more clients and increase your income.

How many of these are in your marketing plan?

If you don’t have a marketing plan, start here

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Questions are the answer

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When we have a problem, we’re told not to focus on that problem but to focus on possible solutions. But we can’t do that without spending time thinking about the problem.

More specifically, asking ourself questions.

Questions like, What happened, Why did it happen, Who caused it, Who can help fix it, and especially, What can I do about it?

If the problem is a drop in business and you ask why it happened, right now your answer would no doubt include the shutdown. Many people aren’t doing anything about their legal problems now because they don’t have the money or the presence of mind to deal with them.

Is that a problem you can do something about? I don’t know, but asking THAT question might lead you to some ideas.

Asking the right questions helps us to focus on what we can do, instead of what we can’t do.

Questions like, What can I do to bring in new clients right now? What can I do to lower my expenses or increase my revenue? What can I do to set the stage for the future once things return to a semblance of normalcy?

More.

What can I do or offer that other lawyers can’t or won’t? How can I position myself as the better solution? What can I do beyond my core services to attract and engage my ideal client? How can I become better known to my target market? How can I get more traffic and build my list? Where can I get more marketing ideas?

What if you don’t like the answers? Ask more questions.

Because questions are the answer. And because asking questions is better than stewing in negative thoughts.

Where do you go to find “next level” marketing strategies? Here

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Yesterday is a canceled check

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We’ve all been told it’s important to plan our week and month and year. Maybe our quarter, too.

The problems is, we don’t live our lives weekly or monthly, we live them one day at a time.

Author Kay Lyons Stockham said, “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely.”

Planning your day is simple. Think about your goals and plan activities that move you closer to those goals.

If one of your goals is to increase your income, your plan for the day should include income producing activities.

If you want to grow your network, connect with one new contact every day.

If you want to get more repeat business and referrals, call or email or message three current or former clients each day.

If you want to get more traffic to your blog, write or edit or share new content every day.

Pick a goal you want to accomplish, then break it down into daily activities.

Because how you live your day is how you live your life.

This will help you plan your marketing

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Your post-pandemic plan

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Soon. That’s when the world will return to a semblance of order. The fear and restrictions holding us hostage will subside, the economy will recover, and we will carry on.

But there will be changes.

Changes to what we do and how we do them. So, I suggest the need for a plan.

To create your plan, start by asking yourself a series of questions, to help you think about what you need to do.

Some questions to help you get started:

Your office and staff

  • What do you need to do to make the office germ-free and help clients and staff feel safe? What procedures will you follow? What supplies will you keep in stock?
  • Will you let (require) any employees to continue working from home? How will you equip them? How will you supervise them?
  • What will you do to accommodate clients who still aren’t comfortable coming to your office?
  • What will you do to bring on new employees, or let go of existing ones? What will you outsource?
  • Will you change any of your billing and collection practices?
  • What expenses will you cut?
  • What changes to your office/employee manual will you make?

Your marketing

  • How will you lesson dependence on face-to-face meetings?
  • What changes will you make to your warm market marketing systems (Newsletter, client appreciation, referrals, etc.)?
  • What changes will you make to your cold market marketing efforts (advertising, social media, websites, networking, speaking, etc.)?
  • What changes to your marketing budget do you need to consider?
  • Which practice areas do you want to ramp up? What new practice areas will you add? Which practice areas will you curtail or phase out?
  • Will you run any kind of promotions to celebrate the re-opening of your office?

You should also ask questions and create a plan for your personal life.

As you consider your options, you should also consider that the world, and your practice, won’t return to business as usual overnight. It will likely be many months before we’re fully up to speed and there will no doubt be permanent changes.

So, be prepared to regularly update your plan with new questions and new answers.

Whatever you do, don’t fret about anything. Yes, the world has changed but the fundamentals have not.

And good things are on the horizon.

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3 marketing fundamentals for every attorney

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Marketing can get complicated. Metrics, meta-data, KPIs, keyword strategies, and so much more.

If you’re just starting to market your practice, or you like keeping things simple, there are three essential concepts you need to know:

(1) Your ideal client

Who are your ideal clients? What do they look like, where do they live or work, what are their problems (legal and otherwise), and what solutions or benefits do they need or want?

Where do you find them? How will you communicate with them? How do they typically find an attorney who does what you do?

You need to know this and be able to articulate this, especially since one of the hallmarks of an ideal client is the tendency to refer business.

(2) Why you?

Why should a client choose you instead of any other attorney?

This is your “value proposition” or Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

What do you do or offer that’s different or better? How are clients better off when they choose you?

What’s the “one thing” you want people to know and remember about you?

(3) Professional relationships

One of the best ways to grow your practice is to develop new alliances with centers of influence in your niche.

What strategic relationships do you you need to develop–for referrals, joint ventures, endorsements, introductions and information?

Look at your existing contacts. What do they do, who do they know, how do they–or can they–help you and your clients, and how can you help them?

Knowing these 3 fundamentals, and focusing on them, can go a long way towards helping you grow your practice.

The Attorney Marketing Formula shows you what to do.

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The perfect law practice

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If you could design the perfect law practice (perfect for you, that is), what would it look like?

Why not take some time and write it out?

Consider things such as:

  • Where would you have your office(s)?
  • Which practice area(s) would you focus on? Eliminate? Add?
  • How much would you earn?
  • What types of clients or cases would you have? How many?
  • What billing model(s) would you use?
  • Would you work for a big firm? Own the firm? Would you have partners?
  • How many employees would you have?
  • How would you build your practice? What marketing methods would you use?
  • Where would you live? How long would you commute?
  • How many hours would you work per day/week? How many weeks would you take off each year?

Don’t stop there. You’re designing your perfect practice (and life) so make sure you have everything the way you want it.

Once you’ve done this exercise, put it away for a few hours or a day or two, come back to it, add or modify it, and then ask yourself two questions:

1) How much of this do I already have in place?

You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you already have much of what you want, or close to it. If not, you’ll know exactly what needs to change.

2) How do I get from where I am to where I want to go?

Asking this question will help you create a list of things to do, think about, or research. It will also prompt your subconscious mind to start looking for answers.

If you take the time to do this, develop a plan and begin working on it, the impact can be life changing.

This can help you plan your ideal practice

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Just slip out the back, Jack

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Paul Simon’s song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, is about letting go of over-thinking and fear and getting on with your life. You don’t need 50 ways to do what you’re thinking about, you need one way.

Pick something.

Just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free.

What do you know you need to do that you’ve been putting off?

Let’s pick a subject at random. Oh, I don’t know, how about “marketing”.

There must be 50 ways to get more clients. Pick something.

Don’t get hung up on all the options and the how-tos.

That’s just your fear talking, telling you it doesn’t want to do anything.

There are great things waiting for you on the other side of that fear but you need to take the first step.

You know you need to improve your website. Where do you start?

Maybe you start by looking at what other attorneys are doing with their websites.

Maybe you get a book or a course or talk to someone who knows what they’re doing.

Maybe you print out the main pages from your site and make some notes.

Pick something and do it.

There must be 50 ways to improve your website, 50 ways to get more clients, 50 ways to increase your income.

Pick something and get on with it.

Marketing online for attorneys

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Maybe you need a new box

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“Think different,” Apple used to say in their ads. Today, everybody tells you to “think outside the box”.

Maybe you’ve tried that. You’ve tried coming up with different ways to promote your services but you’ve run out of ideas.

Maybe you need a new box.

Instead of promoting yourself or your services, aka your box, how about promoting something else. Something you don’t promote now. Something that’s not you.

Like a book.

Write and promote a book and let the book promote your services.

With your book in hand, you can do things you may never have considered regarding your services.

Like cold calling someone to tell them about your new book and offering to send them a review copy.

Like advertising your book, maybe even at a discount (egads!)

Like setting up a table at a trade show and selling your book.

Like conducting a contest and giving away copies and cash prizes.

And other things you wouldn’t be caught dead doing as a lawyer.

As an author, you can do these things (or hire someone to do them), because these things are normal in the world of books.

It’s a different box.

So, when people hear about your book, they want to hear more about you.

Bloggers hear about your book and want to interview you.

Event planners hear that you’re an author and want you to speak at their event.

Your book gets reviewed or mentioned and people visit your website to learn more.

People read your book and want to talk to you about their case or issue.

So, there’s your new box. Write a book (it’s a lot easier than you think) and self-publish it (also easier than you think), and start promoting that sucker.

If you want some help, let me know.

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