Implementation intention

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In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear describes a British study about building better exercise habits. The participants were divided into 3 groups.

The first group (the control) was asked to track how often they exercised. The second group (the “motivation” group) was asked to track their exercise and given information about the benefits of exercise for reducing the risk of heart disease and improving health.

In addition to the above, the third group was asked to form a plan as to when and where they would exercise over the coming weeks. They were asked to write their plan in the following form: “During the next week, I will exercise at least 20 minutes on (DAYS) at (TIME) IN (LOCATION)”.

The results were remarkable. In the first and second group, roughly 35% exercised at least once per week. In the third group, 91% exercised at least once per week.

What explains the dramatic difference? The third group had a plan.

A plan about what they will do, when and where they will do it. Scientists call this an “implementation intention”.

Clear says that hundreds of studies show that “people who make a specific plan for when and where they would perform a new habit are more likely to follow through.”

“When situation X arises, I will perform response Y,” he says.

Trigger and response.

He says that time and location are keys to using an implementation intention to create a new habit, ostensibly because time and location are effective triggers.

Your mind recognizes, for example, that when it’s 6am and you’re in your den, it is your intention to meditate for 15 minutes, and so you do.

An implementation intention can help you achieve other goals besides starting a new habit.

You want to bring in more clients? What’s your plan? What will do, when and where will you do it?

Write down your plan and look at it often.

“Each weekday at 1pm, I will email 3 clients or professional contacts”. “Every Tuesday, when I’m at my desk, I will write for 30 minutes.” “Each time I close a case, I will call the client the next day to see if they have additional questions and ask them to sign up for my newsletter.”

What do you want? What will you do to get it? When and where will you do it?

How to create a simple marketing plan for your law practice

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Choose one thing as your main thing

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Legal marketing agency executive Jay Harrington recently said, “You don’t need to be on more than one social media platform, nor do you have to do all forms of marketing”. He says, “the more you diversify your approach to marketing, the less effective your marketing may be.”

I agree.

The reason? Focus. You can’t be good at everything and it’s better to be good at one thing than so-so at a lot of things.

The other reason? Time. Many attorneys spend no more a few minutes a day on marketing. Trying to conquer more than one platform or marketing strategy means spreading themselves too thin.

Think of it this way: it’s better to have a good conversation with one person you’d like to know than to broadcast a message to thousands, most of whom aren’t listening.

Even if you have a lot of help and/or a big marketing budget, you should should still concentrate on one or two things, not everything.

Choose one social media platform. Study it and the people who are good at it, learn all you can about it, and then work that platform.

Show up there every day. Add quality content. Engage with key people in your niche. Get your name known, build your list, and use that to build your practice.

It’s far more effective for you to invest a few minutes a day on one platform than to use staff or automation to post links and comments across many.

The same is true for any kind of marketing.

Don’t diversify. Focus. Get good at blogging or advertising, speaking or writing articles, referrals or SEO, social media or podcasting.

One thing, not everything.

You can diversify later, if you want to, but if you focus and get good enough at one thing, you might not have to.

Harrington says the starting point is to ask, “Where is my audience?” Where do they hang out, what do they read, how do they spend their time?

Go where they are, get to know them, and let them get to know you.

Effective marketing starts with a plan. Here’s how to create yours.

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Building a law practice without feeling sleazy

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Many attorneys say they hate the idea of convincing people to hire them. They don’t like being pushy, which is ironic coming from professionals who make their living being pushy.

They can be mighty persuasive when they’re arguing on behalf of a client, but persuading clients to hire them makes them uncomfortable.

And this is completely understandable.

But it misses an important point.

Your job isn’t to convince people to hire you, it is to show them what you can do to help them, and let them decide if they want to hire you.

You don’t convince them, they convince themselves.

You don’t persuade, you show.

If they want and need what you offer, great. If they don’t, you move on. (But stay in touch with them because things change.)

That doesn’t mean you just hang out your shingle and let people figure out how you can help them. It takes more than just saying, “Here’s what I do, sign here.”

You must provide them with effective marketing collateral that makes the case for you.

You let your website show people what you can do for them. You let your blog or articles or newsletter answer their questions and persuade them to take the next step.

Your job isn’t to convince people to hire you. Nobody wants that job. Your job is to find ways to get more people who need your help to find you, and give them everything they need to convince themselves to ask you to take their money.

The next time you feel uncomfortable doing anything in the marketing arena ask yourself, “Am I trying to convince people to do something they don’t want to do?”

If you are, stop doing that. Because that’s not your job.

How to build a website that does the selling for you

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The attorney marketing triad

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There are lots of ways to build a law practice, but if I had to name just three, here’s what I’d choose:

(1) A content-rich website that attracts traffic and persuades visitors to contact me to make an appointment or ask questions and subscribe to my list so I can stay in touch with them.

That website would educate prospective clients about legal problems and solutions, tell them what I do and how I can help them, and prove to them I can deliver what they need and want.

The website would be a digital hub for my practice and my primary presence on the Internet. It would attract prospective clients via search and referral, and it would do most of the “convincing” for me.

(2) Build a list and stay in touch. Most people don’t hire an attorney the first time they visit their website or otherwise encounter them. It may be weeks or months or years before they’re ready to take the next step.

When you have a list, you can stay in touch with prospective clients, remind them of the solutions and benefits you offer, provide additional proof and encouragement, and be in their minds and mailboxes when they’re ready to take the next step.

Your list can also stimulate them to provide referrals (actual clients, traffic to your site, followers on social), and provide reviews and testimonials.

Your list will also generate more repeat business and referrals.

(3) Build relationships. I’d serve my clients’ legal needs and help them with other aspects of their business or personal life. I’d also do that with professional contacts and other centers of influence in my niche or local market.

I’d provide information, introductions, and referrals. I’d promote their business, practice or cause. I’d get to know them on a personal level and help them get to know me.

Because we’re in the people business and the quality of our relationships is a major factor in our success.

If you get these three things right, you may not have to do anything else.

How to build a website that makes your phone ring

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Small and specific

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My ideal client is a sole practitioner, partner or associate in a small firm, who primarily represents consumers or small businesses, handles much of their own marketing, wants more referrals, and wants to start or grow an email list.

I don’t turn away lawyers who don’t fit the profile, nor other types of professionals or small business owners who want to get more clients and increase their income. I just don’t target them.

How about you? Who is your ideal client?

If you don’t know, it’s time to choose one. It will make your marketing more effective and your practice more profitable and satisfying.

Start with a few key characteristics that are meaningful to you. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Describe their industry, niche or market, where they live or are domiciled, their occupation, clients or customers, friends and/or business contacts.

List the types of legal matters they tend to have, and how much work they may have for you. Do they have ongoing or recurring needs? When they need legal help, how urgently do they need it?

Where do they tend to look to find an attorney? What social media platforms do they favor? What groups or associations do they belong to?

What publications or podcasts do they read or listen to (so you can create content or ads therefor?)

A good place to start is by examining your existing and former clients. Choose ten or twenty of the “best” and create a composite profile.

Include details like how they found you and why you consider them ideal, e.g., they pay well and on time, they don’t micro-manage, they know a lot of people in their industry or local market (referrals, introductions), they have the potential to bring you lots of business, why you like working with them, and so on.

The smaller and more specific your profile, the easier it will be to find and attract your ideal client. You’ll save time and money and get more of the kinds of clients you want.

Later, you can expand the profile or add additional profiles.

I suggest you start (or revise) your ideal client profile immediately, so you can get next year off to a good start.

The Attorney Marketing Formula will help you do that

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What about next year?

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Quite a year wasn’t it? As you think about next year and beyond, what will you change?

Virtual meetings are here to stay and no doubt you’ve adapted. But what else will you do?

Take some time this month to explore your options.

Think about the long term. Where do you want your practice to be next year at this time? How about 5 years down the road? You may not know, yet, but ask the questions and let your subconscious mind start working on the answers.

Also ask yourself what you can do in the short term. What can you start working on or investigating right now?

What you can do to adapt your services and/or the ways you deliver them to the changing needs of your clients and target market? What can you do to accommodate people working from home, for example? How could you stand out by tailoring your marketing to first responders or health care workers?

What can you do to attract different types of clients or get a foothold in different niche markets? What business owners or professionals could you introduce yourself to? What new content could you create to attract a new crop of prospective clients?

Explore new marketing methods, or go back to ones you abandoned. If you don’t have a newsletter, start one. If you use email, look into postal mail. If you don’t advertise or do social media, find out what it would take to start.

Take a few hours to explore the future. Read, listen, think, and write down your ideas and questions.

You don’t have to make radical changes but by considering all of your options and asking lots of questions, you may find ways to nuance what you currently do and open doors to new opportunities for growth.

Which is something you should do every year.

Have you read The Attorney Marketing Formula?

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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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