If you’d like to “Crush It!”

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I wrote this brief review of “Crush It!” by Gary Vaynerchuck on another blog more than a year ago. My knowledge and use of social media has come a long way since then. I’ll post reviews of other books I’ve read that have more of the “how to’s” but this is the book to read if you want to know “why to”.

I’d heard a lot of good things about “Crush It!” and finally downloaded it (kindle for PC, in case you’re curious). I’m fairly new to the world of social media marketing so I was surprised at how much I already knew and how much I was already doing.

After reading Crush It!, I now know (a) social media marketing is not a passing fad, (b) properly implemented, it’s an incredibly powerful way to build almost any kind of business, and (c) it’s not that complicated. In other words, if you market something on the Internet, or you want to, you need to add social media marketing to your marketing mix and it’s a lot easier than you may have thought.

Now, if you’re looking for a detailed manifesto on social media marketing, this isn’t it. It’s a great story and a compelling look at the power of social media marketing and worth it for that alone. Where it really shines, however, is in driving home the importance of finding your passion, your DNA as Vaynerchuk calls it, and building your brand, and your business, around that.

Vaynerchuk makes you think about who you are and what drives you. If you’re going to “crush” anything, it’s going to have to be something you are passionate about, or you won’t do it enough, or well enough, to cut through the noise and clutter that competes for the eyes and ears of your target market. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you aren’t going to make it; if you do, the journey will be as rewarding as the destination.

A friend of mine often says, “if you do what you love and you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.”  No doubt Gary Vaynerchuk would agree.

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Do you make these mistakes in marketing your law practice?

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There are two mistakes you can make in marketing your law practice and unfortunately, most attorneys are guilty of both.

What are the two mistakes?

  1. Not having a marketing plan, and
  2. Not executing that plan.

As a result, most attorneys don’t do any marketing, at least not with any consistency. Let’s face it, if you don’t have a plan–a list of projects and tasks and a schedule for completing them–any marketing activities you do will be sporadic and isolated. You’ll never generate momentum or sustained growth.

Having a cool web site (or any web site)  may be good for your ego but if you don’t have any traffic to it, that’s all it will be. Traffic doesn’t happen by itself. You need a plan and you need some activity or that traffic will never materialize.

Don’t get down on yourself. The problem isn’t you. It’s not a lack of self-discipline, poor organization, or bad habits. You aren’t lazy and you don’t need to get motivated. What you need is a better plan.

You need a plan that is

  1. Simple (so you can do it), and
  2. A good fit (so you want to do it).

If you want to do something and you believe you can do it, you will do it. You won’t have to force yourself to do things you don’t want to do, you’ll do it because you enjoy it.

In his remarks to the 2005 Stanford graduating class, Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” A friend of mine puts it this way: “When you love what you do and do you what you love you’ll never work another day in your life.”

If you don’t enjoy being a lawyer, common sense says to either change careers or find some aspect of practicing law you do enjoy. That might mean a different practice area, different clients, or a job with a different firm. If you don’t, you’ll never be happy and you’ll never do “great work.” The same can be said for marketing.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to market legal services and you only need one or two. You don’t have to be good at networking AND writing AND seminars AND getting web traffic AND social media AND referrals. Pick something that sounds good to you or feels right. For once in your career, put logic aside and listen to your gut.

Maybe nothing feels right or maybe you don’t know enough yet about the different options. That’s okay. Make no decisions, take a step back and simply learn. Read, observe, see what others are doing. Soak it all in and eventually, you’ll find something that’s a good fit.

And then, you need a plan. We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

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What is Google+ (Google Plus) and do I need it?

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This is another extremely well done video that instructs while it entertains. I am not an early adopter for most new ideas, especially in the social media world, but I think I need to spend some time getting my “Plus” on.

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hC_M6PzXS9g” type=”youtube”]What is Google Plus and do I need it?[/mc]

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Rocket Lawyer, Legal Zoom: How the Online Law Business Affects Your Business

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The success of Legal Zoom, the online legal forms service which advertises heavily on the web and on talk radio, has apparently demonstrated that there is money to made in the low end of the legal services industry. Wherever you find money, you’re sure to find Google, which recently invested in Rocket Lawyer, the newest contender in this growing market.

What does this mean for your practice?

For most lawyers, the answer is “not much”. Online legal services are still small relative to the size of the market and inasmuch as they primarily provide forms and access to inexpensive legal advice, provide no direct competition. Unless of course your practice targets the same lower end of the market and in today’s economic climate, more and more attorneys are doing just that.

I don’t have a crystal ball but here are a few of my predictions:

  • No matter what the economy does, the online legal services industry will continue to grow and continue to take business from attorneys who offer commodity-level services to consumers and small businesses.
  • Attorneys who continue to target the low end will find it harder to compete with the simplicity, speed, and lower costs available online.
  • The attorneys who survive this trend will be those who (a) abandon this market altogether, in favor of higher level services (e.g, “asset protection” vs. “simple Wills”) or offer services where the hands-on advice and ongoing involvement of an attorney is mandated, or (b) get very good, and very creative, at marketing and finding under-served niche markets where they can carve out market share.
  • The growth of online legal services will expand the overall legal services marketplace, ultimately leading to more work for all attorneys. How that work is distributed and at what price points is the multi-billion dollar question.

Never fear competition. Embrace it, learn from it, prepare for it. Competition will make you a better attorney and, in the end, make you more money.

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Checklists every lawyer needs

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In his article in Lawyers USAJim Calloway observes that while most lawyers use lists and checklists in their practice, they don’t use them enough.

I agree.

Checklists can make you a better lawyer and make you more money. Checklists help lawyers

  • Avoid mistakes
  • Save time
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Impress clients
  • Train temps/new hires, open a new office
  • Increase profits

Every practice should have these checklists:

  • How to open a new file (what goes in the file (and where), letters to send, what to give new client to take home, what to send them, what to calendar, etc.; your intake form is a checklist of information to ask the client)
  • How to close a file (final letters/documents, what to remove/give to client, what to scan, archiving, storage, destruct date)
  • Handling leads/inquiries (what to say, what to do, what to offer, what to send, what to track)
  • How to prepare documents (complaints, responses, motions; trusts, agreements, letters, etc.)

If you handle litigation, you need checklists for:

  • Issues/causes of action
  • Possible defenses
  • Preparation of Complaint/Response
  • Discovery (each element)
  • Trial (pre-trial motions, other motions, evidence, witnesses, jury instructions, closing argument)
  • Post-trial (motions, appeals, judgement, liens, bonds, collection)
  • Settlement

For a transactional practice:

  • Information to request
  • Documents to request
  • Documents to prepare
  • Filing/registration fees
  • Timeline
  • Letters to clients
  • Letters to others

As you can see, this is a very broad list, a place to start. Start with the easy and obvious; add more later. Eventually, you  should have checklists for every aspect of your practice.

An additional benefit of creating checklists is that in the process of creating and updating them, you learn so much about what you and how you can do it better. Checklists will never replace you–your experience, your intuition, your quick thinking–but they can make your job a lot easier.

What checklists do you use in your practice? How have they helped you? What checklists will you put on your “to do” list?

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