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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Calculation fatigue

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That’s the title of an article in this month’s Chess Life magazine. The sub-title is, “The dangers of delving too deeply into one particular variation”.

The article is an examination of a botched game by a strong player, a game that might have been awarded a brilliancy prize but for the player’s errors occasioned by following one idea too far and losing the central theme of the game.

What does this have to do with practicing law? Everything.

Because lawyers (and other very smart people) often do what this Grandmaster did. They focus too much on the details, the minutia of a case or an issue, and sometimes lose a won game.

I’ve done it. I’m sure you can think of times when you’ve done it, getting lost in researching an issue to the nth degree, perhaps, making a big deal about a small point.

You see it during oral argument when the judge or jurors eyes glaze over and you know they’re didn’t follow your last point, or no longer care.

You see it in marketing. You get bogged down in choosing better keywords or creating better funnels, months go by and thousands of dollars have been spent and you find you could have gotten better results with something simpler.

You see it in a lot of websites. A would-be client visits, hoping to learn something about his problem and what you can do to help him and is confronted by a library of information. There’s too much to read, he doesn’t know where to start, so he leaves.

(NB: keep the library but hide it and link to it for those who want more information.)

We see it in presentations where we try to make too many points and leave no stone unturned and we simply confuse the audience (and a confused mind says no).

What should we do? We should periodically stand down from business as usual, put aside all the small stuff and focus on the big picture.

The strategy, not the technique. The main argument, not the “Hail Mary” we throw in just in case.

You started practicing with a few simple ideas and you did okay. If you’ve found yourself getting off track lately, a return to fundamentals might be just what you need to reset and revitalize your practice.

It might even earn you the brilliancy prize.

The Attorney Marketing Formula can help you get back on track

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Here’s your plan

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What if there was a law firm that provided top-notch, added-value legal services instead of the “me-too” services most lawyers offer?

What if there was a law firm that understood what their target market and prospective clients wanted–not just their legal needs but also ways to improve their business or personal life–and worked diligently to provide this?

What if there was a law firm that dedicated time each week to improving their workflow, systems, tools, and other processes?

What if there was a law firm that had highly effective marketing strategies in place that consistently brought them traffic, leads, subscribers, and new clients?

What if there as a law firm that worked hard at making every client feel appreciated so their clients never left them and went out of their way to send them referrals?

Now, what if a law firm like that moved into your area and targeted your clients and future clients?

Don’t let this happen to you.

Don’t wait for other lawyers or firms to pose a threat to your livelihood.

Do something now, to make sure YOU are the one to beat.

Commit (or re-commit) to creating and continually improving superlative marketing and management systems.

And get busy.

Because you never know how many other lawyers or firms are doing this right now. Or reading this right now and are about to get started.

This will help you create a simple but effective marketing plan

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What to do when business is slow

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It happens. You’re not bringing new clients at the same pace as before. You may have lost some clients. Your income is down.

Don’t panic.

Or maybe you should panic if you’re in denial about what’s happening.

Either way, there’s something you can do to turn things around.

Here is a 3-step plan to help you sort things out:

STEP ONE: ASSESS

Take half a day, or several days, to stand down from your daily routine and figure out where you are, how you got there, and what you can do about it.

Start by looking at your numbers. What’s different from before (when things were good)? Where have you lost ground? What’s stopped working?

Look at last year at this time. Do you see any pattern? Is this a seasonal fluctuation that’s gotten worse?

Look at your competition. Are things slow for them, too? If not, what are they doing differently?

What’s still working for you? Where does most of your new business come from? Which sources, which strategies, which markets, which types of cases or clients?

Look at your marketing. What worked before that you’ve stopped doing? What worked before that you’ve changed? Where are you spending less time? Less money?

Look at your target markets. What’s happening to your client’s businesses or industries or niches that might be affecting their need for legal services?

Look at your referral sources. Has their business slowed, too?

Talk to your colleagues. What are they doing that’s working well?

Talk to your employees. What do they see that you might be missing?

STEP TWO: PLAN

Brainstorm your options. Things you can do to get more traffic to your website, more sign-ups for your newsletter, more prospects calling to make an appointment?

What can you do to get more people to take the next step?

What can you do to get more referrals from your current and former clients?

What can you do to get more referrals from your professional contacts?

Where can you meet new referral sources? New prospective clients?

What marketing methods can you start doing again? What new marketing methods can you start doing?

What relationships can you/should you strengthen?

How can you improve your marketing message? Your website? Your lead magnet? Your offers?

What skills do you need to improve? Acquire? What tools do you need to acquire or upgrade?

After you’ve exhausted the possibilities, write a one-page plan. Choose no more than three strategies (for now). Decide on the best one and focus on that first.

STEP THREE: EXECUTE

Get your team on board with your plan and get busy.

Do the things that only you can do and delegate everything else.

Track your results so you can do more of what’s working.

Get help. Get a workout partner. Join a mentoring group. Hire a company or consultant to advise you. Hire a coach.

Keep a journal throughout this process to record what you’re doing and what you will do to prevent future slowdowns.

If you want help, let me know

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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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Taking inventory

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Today is a holiday for a lot of people. If it’s a slow day for you, you might want to spend some time taking inventory of what’s going on in your life.

Reflect on what you’ve worked on recently and how it turned out. Think about what you’re working on now and what you have to do to complete it. Look at the list of tasks and projects you plan to start soon and identify the ones that look most promising.

Look in the digital mirror and tell yourself what you see.

Are you taking massive action to achieve important goals or are you just trying to get through the day?

Yes, you have to draft the documents, make the calls, see the people, and settle the cases. That’s what keeps the wheels turning and the people fed. But if that’s all you do, if you never think beyond what’s on your calendar for today, you make it more difficult to realize your potential.

Jim Rohn said, “A lot of people don’t do well simply because they major in minor things.”

Is that you?

We get paid in proportion to the size and complexity of the problems we solve and the assets we create. If you handle small problems all day, you earn small fees.

If you want to build a multi-million dollar practice, you need to bring in clients with bigger problems.

As you take inventory, consider not only your current caseload or list of clients but the kinds of cases or clients you want attract. Who? How many? How big?

And then ask, What am I doing to attract them?

If you don’t like the answer, you have some work to do.

Start here

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Building your law practice by design, not default

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When you need a new computer and visit a retailer to see what’s available, the sales person (if they’re doing their job) will probably ask you a series of questions:

  1. What will you be doing with it?
  2. Are there any “must have” features?
  3. Anything that’s “good to have but not required?”
  4. What’s your budget?

Your answers will help eliminate from consideration computers that don’t have the power or features you want or need or that cost more than you want to spend. From the remaining options, you can zero in on the right choice.

It seems to me that these questions can also help you make the right decisions about managing and growing your practice.

What type of work do you do or want to do?

What practice areas, niches, target markets, and types of cases or clients?

Start with the big picture. Eliminate what you don’t want so you can focus on what you do want.

Must have features?

You might say, “I don’t want partners, I want a preponderance of my clients to come from referrals, I don’t want to do any paid advertising, and I want to commute no more than 40 minutes to my office.”

Good to have but not required?

You might say, “I would like to able to work from home two days per week, I don’t want any full-time employees, and I would prefer do little or no litigation.”

What’s your budget?

How much time and money are you willing to invest to manage and build your practice?

How much on overhead (dollars and/or percentage of gross)? How much on advertising (if any)? How much time on marketing each week?

There are no right or wrong answers, of course, but thinking these things through can help you zero in on what you need, what you want, and what you’re willing to do.

No high-pressure sales people required.

For a simple marketing plan that really works, go here

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