Marketing shouldn’t hurt

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Let me guess, marketing isn’t your favorite thing and if you were being honest, you would admit you’d prefer not to do it.

Ask me how I know.

It’s marketing’s fault, not yours. You can’t be blamed for wanting to “just do your work” and not be smothered by mountains of information and endless lists of things you have to do.

Marketing is vitally important, and it can be challenging, but it shouldn’t hurt.

You should be able to be easy about it, do what you want to do, and do it at a comfortable pace.

Marketing should be an extension of who you are and what you do. It should feel natural, easy almost, and never be something you dread.

And it can be if you focus on the basics.

The basics?

Internally, that means serving your clients well, making sure they know what else you do, and staying in touch with them. It means building relationships and getting to know the people they know.

Repeat business and referrals. Just like Dad used to do it.

What about externally? With people who don’t yet know, like, and trust you?

Also the basics.

Get your name in front of people. It doesn’t matter whether you do that via ads, blogs, networking, public relations, producing content, social media, or anything else—it’s all good.

But whatever you do to get your name in front of people, build a list so you can keep your name in front of them.

You don’t have to do everything. One or two “reaching out” strategies can be enough. Find something you’re good at and enjoy and do that.

And do yourself a favor. Don’t worry about everything the experts tell you is a “must do”. In a perfect world, they might be right, but in the real world, a lot of what they say will simply distract you from the basics.

Unless you want to do more, stick to the basics and keep it simple.

And do something every day.

Make a call, write an article, send an email, learn something, meet someone.

Do what feels right for you. Don’t force yourself to do anything that doesn’t.

And don’t worry about getting everything perfect.

You can be “sloppy” and build a big practice. As long as you get the basics right.

The basics

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Your best market

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Of all the possible markets you could target, one is better than the rest. It’s easier and less expensive to reach this market, and likely to produce the most new business and profits.

People in this market require little or no persuading about the need for your solutions or your ability to deliver them. They are easier to work with, more likely to hire you for other legal matters, and more likely to send you referrals.

What’s more, the names and contact information of everyone in this market are readily available to you.

In fact, you already have them.

Yes, we’re talking about your warm market. People who know you and trust you. They’ve hired you before or know you professionally or personally. If you email, call, or knock on their door, they’ll answer and greet you by name, because they know you.

We should also include the people on your newsletter list, subscribers to your blog, and your social media connections, because while you might not know their name, many of them know yours.

It’s called your warm market, in contrast to your cold market, which includes everyone who doesn’t know you.

It’s much more difficult and expensive to market to the cold market. Yes, the cold market is bigger than your warm market, but that is its only advantage.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop marketing to the cold market and only market to your warm market. Some attorneys can and should do that. Some shouldn’t.

Some should market to both.

The question is, if you do market to both the warm and cold markets, how much of your time and resources should you dedicate to each?

Talk to your partners, accountant, and marketing people. Take a good look at your numbers, market trends, and your goals.

And don’t be afraid of change. Don’t stick with something because you’ve always done it that way or because most of your competition does it that way.

And ask yourself some questions:

If I could get most of my business through repeat business and referrals, would I want to? Or would I always want to keep a hand in the cold market?

Is this the time for me to go all out and build this thing as big as I can as fast as I can? Or am I happy where I am and satisfied with my current rate of growth?

What’s my plan for the next two years? Ten years? What does my gut tell me is right for me now?

I don’t know your numbers or goals or anything else about you but I can offer one piece of advice that worked well for me and countless others.

Focus on your warm market first.

Give your practice a solid foundation of repeat business and referrals before you venture into or expand efforts in the cold market.

Then, no matter what happens in the cold market, you will always have that foundation.

Unless you’re brand new, in which case, all bets are off.

Here’s The Formula

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Walk, don’t run

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You want to get better at marketing (or anything) but you don’t want it to take over your life. You don’t want to spend days or weeks studying and doing what needs to be done.

You don’t have to.

In fact, you’ll learn more and be able to accomplish more if you don’t try to do everything in a short period of time but, instead, do a little every day.

10 or 15 minutes a day, but every day.

Put a daily appointment (with yourself) on your calendar, or a recurring task in your task app. Not once a week for an hour, because you might not do that, but you can do 10 minutes a day no matter how busy you are.

In 15 minutes, you can do a lot. You can read a chapter in that book you’ve been meaning to read. You can watch a video or two and take notes about what you learned and what you might do with it.

Not difficult, is it? But if you do it every day, you can make a lot of progress.

What else could you do during your 15-minute ‘appointment’? You could:

  • Write or re-write an email for your autoresponder
  • Outline your new presentation or book
  • Practice your presentation
  • Write a page for your new book
  • Brainstorm ideas for a new lead magnet
  • Edit your work-in-progress
  • Call a few former clients and ask how they’re doing
  • Visit some blogs to get ideas you can use in yours
  • Invite your best referral source to lunch
  • Invite someone you don’t know to coffee
  • Meditate and let your subconscious mind help you with something you’re working on
  • Take a tutorial on a new contact management app
  • Outline an article for your newsletter
  • Jump on social media and see what people are asking
  • Add more keywords to your PPC ad campaigns
  • Call a professional in your niche and introduce yourself
  • Email an author and ask to interview them
  • Draft a survey to send to prospective clients
  • Update a page on your website
  • Email your list and invite them to read your latest article
  • Email your list and invite them to submit questions for your upcoming article
  • Email your list and explain a recent ruling
  • Email your list and tell them a success story about one of your recent cases or clients

Yes?

You can also repeat these. Call a few today, call a few more tomorrow—and so on.

15 minutes. 10 if you’re in a hurry. But do something every day.

What do you think will happen if you do?

Why don’t you find out?

For more ideas for your newsletter. . .

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Focus on what you can control

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With marketing, or anything else, there are things you can control and things you can’t. Do your sanity a favor. Don’t focus on, measure, or worry about things you can’t control.

You can’t control how many prospective clients will book an appointment after they see your presentation or read your email. But you can control how many presentations you do and how many emails you send.

You can’t control how much traffic you’ll get to your blog or how many visitors will share your content. But you can control how many posts you write.

You can’t control how many bloggers will say yes to your offer to write a guest post. But you can control how many you ask.

I know, you want to sign up more clients, get more followers or subscribers, and put more butts in seats. You want to get more referral sources, bring in more six- and seven-figure clients or cases, and live the freak’in dream.

But you can’t control any of that. You can only control what you do, not what you want to happen as a result.

You can ALSO set a results-based goal—to sign up 5 new clients this month, for example—but keep that in the back of your mind.

In the front of your mind, and in your daily or weekly planner, focus on how many ads you’ll run, how many emails you’ll write, or how many people you’ll talk to.

Here are lots of things you can do

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Wait, I’ve got more research to do

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Let’s pick up where we left off yesterday, specifically the “do” part of “learn, do, teach”.

I have a theory that says, “the more you research and plan, the less you do,” because there’s always more to learn and better plans to create.

I know. I am regularly plagued by research-itis and the only cure I’ve found is to put down the books, pick up the axe and start chopping.

Old Abe said he would spend four hours sharpening his axe and one hour chopping down the tree (or something like that) but what he didn’t say was, “When the axe is sharp enough, commence chopping.”

But that’s surely what he did and we should do the same.

When you’re “sharp” enough,“ start the project. Write and send the email, plunk down some cash and run a few ads, get in front of an audience and start presenting—and see what happens.

If you don’t like the results, or you want to improve them, do more research, revise your plan, and resume chopping.

Ah, but how do you know if you know enough to start?

Here’s a rule of thumb that might help you:

If you’ve been thinking about doing something for more than a few days, you probably know enough to commence chopping.

This will help

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What if your clients have no more work for you?

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What would you do if you woke up tomorrow, looked at your client list, and realized it’s shrinking? You have fewer cases and clients than last year. You’re signing up fewer clients, billing less, collecting less, profiting less.

It’s not something you want to think about it but you must. Because anything is possible.

Your business clients might merge, go out of business, or put projects on hold. Your ads might stop producing like they used to. The economy might worsen, referral sources might die or retire, or a better-financed competitor might muscle in on your turf.

Whatever the cause, your reality might be radically different.

What will you do?

Grab a pen, ask yourself some tough questions, and write down some answers.

Yes, do it now, because you need to get out ahead of it.

Look at your numbers and compare them to a few years ago. Look at your goals and ask yourself if your current numbers and rate of growth will help you achieve those goals.

Examine your current sources of business, your marketing channels, your key relationships, and all of your marketing assets.

Examine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Then, make some decisions about what you’re doing.

What needs to go? What needs to be refreshed? What’s working and should be expanded, and what can you do to accomplish that?

Then, look at what you’re not doing.

Look at other markets, practice areas, niches, marketing methods, strategic alliances, and other opportunities that could provide significant upside.

While you’re at it, also look at the expense side of the equation. What could you do to reduce costs, increase profit, and build a war chest to prepare for what’s ahead?

Once you have a plan, start working on it. Never stop working on it. Because your future is what you make it.

The Attorney Marketing Formula will help you create your plan

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I don’t know if my marketing is working

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You’re spending money and time engaging in marketing activities, but you don’t know which of those activities are working or to what extent. You’re thinking you’re spending too much on advertising or wasting time on ineffective strategies and you’re thinking about cashing in your chips and looking for a Plan B.

Before you do that, here are some things to think about.

If you’re spending serious money on advertising, you need to track keywords, clicks, leads, clients, and revenue. Software can do most of that for you and you shouldn’t advertise without it. If you don’t know how to interpret the tea leaves, hire someone who does.

You should also ask everyone who calls or comes to see you where they heard about you, which keywords they used to search, and/or who referred them, or you won’t know if what you’re doing is working, or how well.

You need to know if that $1000 ad is showing a profit. If it isn’t, change it or pull it. But before you decide, you need to consider your back end—the lifetime value of a new client.

If you’re good at getting repeat business and referrals, you can actually come out ahead on ads that break even or lose money.

If you’re not doing a lot of advertising, or decide to cut down or move away from that, focus on other marketing strategies that don’t require a lot of money: referrals, networking, blogging, interviews, presentations, and other forms of content marketing.

You have to include the cost of your time, and/or the time of the people you hire to do that or help you do that, but if you do it right, you should see a significant return on that investment.

If you’re still not clear on what’s working and what isn’t, you might stop relying exclusively on bottom line numbers like the number of new clients and the amount of revenue, and consider “leading edge” metrics like email and/or channel subscribers, video views, leads, and appointments.

Because if those numbers are growing, your practice is probably growing—or soon will be.

Yes, who is on your list is important. But all things being equal, if you’re seeing more people watching your videos or listening to your podcast, if your email list is bigger today than it was six months ago, if you’re taking more calls and talking to more prospective clients, you’re doing something right—and you should continue doing it.

But don’t stop looking for ways to do it better.

Quantum Leap Marketing System—when you’re ready to get big, fast

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Will it work?

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How do you know if your marketing strategy will be effective? Will your article get calls, will your newsletter get subscribers, will your ads bring in leads?

How do you know? You don’t. You don’t know anything until you try it.

So you try lots of things and lots of different versions and you see what works and what doesn’t.

It’s called, “Plan, Do, Review”.

But with so many options available, how do you know what to try?

You read and watch videos. You observe what other lawyers are doing (that’s working), and what other professionals and small business owners do, too. You soak up a lot of ideas and choose one (just one), that you can see yourself doing, and you try it.

You might not stick with that idea and that’s okay. Everything you try has value. You might learn that you have zero aptitude or interest in doing (something) and either cross that off your list, delegate it to someone on your staff or hire someone else and pay them to do it for you.

Maybe you still like the idea, but you need help. You could hire a consultant to guide you, or outsource the entire project.

You could get a “workout partner,“ another lawyer or business contact or friend who is good at what you’re trying to do, or who is on the same path as you—trying to learn and implement the idea, and help each other.

Maybe you’re doing it, but you need accountability to keep you on course. That workout partner might serve that function, or you might hire a coach.

Maybe you’re doing it, but you want to get better results. You keep reading, take a class or course, and keep at it. In time, you get better and so do your results.

Or maybe you’re not getting any results to speak of but want to keep at it. How do you do that? How do you find the motivation to continue when nothing is happening?

You think about other things you’ve done in your life that were successful but had less than auspicious beginnings. Or think about your goals and why it’s important that you do this.

Or call your mom and cry on her shoulder.

Finally, maybe you’re doing it and getting decent results, but what you’re doing is taking time away from other things you’d like to try. Other things that might get better results or be a better match for you.

What do you do?

You either slow down or pause what you’re doing, to give you time to try the other idea, or you dedicate more time to marketing. Instead of one hour a week, for a while, you do two hours, do both, and find out what works best.

These are your options. This is how you find out if something will work.

This will help you create a simple but effective marketing plan

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Daily commitments for growing your practice

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If marketing is important to you, you might want to create a list of core activities you are committed to doing every day. 3 is a good number. If you get your 3 done for the day, it’s a good day.

Daily is better than weekly because when you do it every day, it’s easier to form a habit.

Now, here’s the key: make them small. Because if they’re not, you won’t have time to do them (or want to do them) and that defeats the purpose.

Put pen to paper and brainstorm small tasks you could do every workday to grow your practice. Keep them general, at least for now, until you see the value of being more specific.

For example, your list might look like this:

  1. Something to get more traffic and grow my list
  2. Work on my current marketing project
  3. Reach out to a client or contact

Traffic and growing your list might mean leaving a comment on an authority blog or submitting a query for a guest post. You might ask your current subscribers or social media contacts to forward your article or the link to your site to someone who might need that information.

Working on your current marketing project might be continuing to write your book, create your presentation, or outline a new podcast episode. You might work on a new lead magnet, a new ad, or updates to your website.

Reaching out to a client or contact could be as simple as sending an email, asking how they are doing or what they’re working on.

It’s not the size of the activity, it’s that you do something every day.

A minute or two, a call or two, a page or two. But every day. Make them a part of your daily routine and see where they take you.

How to use email to do most of your marketing

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Getting traffic old school style

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You want more prospective clients to visit your website, to see what you do and how you can help them. The more who visit, the more clients you get.

You can improve your SEO. You can advertise. Or you can get more traffic with some old school tactics.

Here’s the plan:

Step One: Create Content.

Create 10 or 20 articles that talk about the things prospective clients want to know—their problems, their risks, the law, the procedure, timing, options, and what you can do to help them.

The kinds of things they search for when they are online, or ask you about when they talk to you.

Each article should mention one or more of your services and link to a page that provides more information. That page should tell them how to get their questions answered or get started.

Create an “index” or directory page that links to these articles and post that page throughout your site. You want to help visitors find your content and, once they’ve consumed one article, to see what else you have available.

Step Two: Promote Your Content

Copy your index page, add your website address and contact information, and distribute this in print and digitally:

  • Email it to your clients, ask them to forward it to anyone who might like to see this information
  • Mail it or hand a print copy to clients and former clients (for them and/or to hand out)
  • Send it to referral sources, to give to their friends and clients
  • Put copies in your waiting room; if you have business clients, ask them to put copies in their waiting room
  • Pass them out at your speaking engagements
  • Put it in your new client kit
  • Offer it on your social channels
  • Offer it at the bottom of articles you publish elsewhere
  • Offer it to listeners/viewers when you are interviewed

And so on.

You can also gather up your articles, or the ‘best of’, into a booklet or report, and distribute that. You might offer it as a lead magnet to anyone who opts in to your newsletter, for example.

Old school. Easy to do, zero cost, and highly effective for driving traffic to your site and prospective clients into your loving arms.

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