We love practicing law!

I got a postcard from a real estate broker team in my area looking for listings. The first thing you read on the postcard is a series of bullet points:

  • We LOVE Real Estate!!!!
  • We LOVE our clients! Thank you for your support over the years.
  • We LOVE listings! We get the most eyes on your property.
  • We LOVE negotiating! We fight hard for your money.
  • We LOVE selling houses! That’s what we do best.

And so on.

Anything wrong with this? Plenty. 

Whether real estate broker or attorney, clients don’t hire you because you like what you do. They hire you because of what you can do for them.

A postcard featuring what YOU like about what you do doesn’t get the job done. Especially when that’s what you lead with. 

In any marketing communications–websites, emails, ads,  postcards, or anything else, you have a few seconds to catch the prospect’s attention and compel them to continue reading. 

Talking about YOURSELF first doesn’t do that. Instead, talk about what’s on the reader’s or listener’s mind, what’s going on in their world (and their head). Talk to them about their problems and desires. Then talk to them about your solutions. 

The bullets on this postcard mention some benefits: “We get the most for your property, We fight hard for your money, We get the most eyes on your property,” but they aren’t “in focus”.

The brokers are in focus–what they love, what they’re good at. 

In addition, the benefits in these bullets are weak and common. You read them and your eyes glaze over. 

Look: 

You have to get the prospect’s attention before they will read the content of your message. You can’t do that by telling them about yourself, you have to talk about them.  

You have to tell prospects what’s in it for them. What benefits do you offer? How can you help them become better off? Quantify and dramatize the benefits; you can’t bore anyone into hiring you. 

And you have to tell prospects why they should choose you instead of anyone else who says the same things. How are you different? Why are you better? What do you offer that others don’t?

Because if you say the same things everyone says, you’re really saying nothing. 

One more thing. Putting a pretty picture and “Happy Valentine’s Day” on the front of the postcard doesn’t help. 

Clients with benefits

When I was in law school, I helped the girl I was dating with a couple of legal issues. Don’t get excited, I was under the supervision of a practicing lawyer.

That girl and I got married and have lived happily ever after.

I was thinking, what if I had been licensed at the time I helped her with those matters? Today, in many jurisdictions,  I might be in trouble since dating a client is verboten.

Is that prohibition a good thing? 

In my opinion, it isn’t. I can see how dating a client can lead to trouble but that doesn’t mean it always leads to trouble. So on this issue, I am decidedly libertarian: 

Leave us alone, overseers, and trust that we will usually do the right thing. If we don’t, do what you have to do.

On the other hand, while I don’t like “not dating” as a rule, it makes a lot of sense as a recommendation. A strong one, even, complete with examples of all the things that could go wrong.

Here’s another recommendation: don’t treat your clients like personal friends. 

If you hang out with your clients, if you are overly familiar with them or use coarse language in front of them, or you do a host of other things that might be considered undignified and unprofessional in the eyes of your clients, you run the risk of damaging your reputation. 

Be friendly with clients, but maintain a bit of distance. Let down your hair with them occasionally, but don’t ever let them see you drunk.  

We need our clients to respect us and look up to us, something our friends don’t always do. Especially if we’re sleeping with them.

How to get referrals from other lawyers

I don’t care what you think

Experts say that most of the wealthiest, most successful people in the world don’t care about what other people think of them.

Do you?

When a client tells you what they think you better pay attention. You should listen to your accountant’s advice. When the Bar has an opinion about your behavior, you probably shouldn’t ignore it.

But don’t let family or friends or “tradition” tell you how to lead your life.

What’s that? Sometimes you do? Sometimes you avoid doing things because you’re worried about what friends or colleagues or your jerk of an uncle will think?

No bueno.

The best way to get rid of that fear is to do it anyway.

Mark Twain said, “Do what you fear and the death of fear is certain”.

Pick something you’ve avoided doing and take a chance on yourself. Tounges may wag. You might get some dirty looks. But when the walls don’t come crumbling down, you’ll know unless those people pay your bills, keep you out of trouble, or sleep in your bed, what they think is irrelevant.

Here’s what I think about getting referrals

So much wasted time

David Cassidy died recently. His daughter, from whom he had been estranged, reported that his last words were, “So much wasted time”.

As Christmas approaches, this might be a good time to reflect on that sentiment.

Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Renew ties. Make amends. Hug your kids. Tell them you love them.

It’s also a good time to think about the future. What have you been putting off? What’s on your bucket list? What would you regret not doing if you found that your time was up?

I wish you a happy holiday, a Merry Christmas, and a productive new year.

Bravery has many faces

bravery.jpg