How to sell your legal services in 15 seconds or less

You’re at a networking function and someone asks you what you do. “If you can’t tell me what you do in 15 seconds, I’m not buying.” So says Carmine Gallo, a communications consultant to some of the world’s biggest companies.

Gallo suggests that whether you’re pitching a product, service, investment, or idea, you should use a “message map” to create a visual display of your idea on a single page.

There are three steps:

Step One. Create a Twitter-friendly headline
Step Two. Support the headline with three key benefits.
Step three. Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples.

You can see this process in more detail, including a short video demonstration, in this post on Forbes.com.

I tried this for The Attorney Marketing Center:

Step One: Headline

The Attorney Marketing Center helps attorneys earn more and work less.

This is the single most important thing I want people to know about my company and blog. In fact, I use “Earn more. Work Less.” as a tag line on the blog.

Step Two: Three benefits

We do this by showing attorneys how to

  • Get more clients,
  • Increase their income, and
  • Get more done in less time

These are three benefits attorneys get when they read the blog, buy my products, or hire me to help them.

Step Three: Supporting points

If I want to elaborate in a presentation or in sales copy, these are some bullet points I would use to prompt me:

  • Get more clients (Referrals, online marketing, niche marketing)
  • Increase income (Better clients, higher fees, repeat business)
  • Get more done (Get organized, effectiveness (doing the right things), efficiency (doing things right)

Now you try it. Create a message map that can be used to tell people what you do in 15 seconds or less. Feel free to post it in the comments.

Save time, reduce anxiety with a DON’T do list

It is said that successful people make up their minds quickly and change their minds slowly, if at all. As someone who often spends waaaay too much time thinking about things, that’s not what I wanted to hear.

But when you’re intelligent, you can see many possible outcomes. Things are rarely black and white and we should never decide anything important without taking time to reflect.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

Actually, what I think happens is that we often do decide quickly, but as human beings with ingrained self-doubts, and as lawyers trained to see both sides, we go back and forth challenging our decisions in an effort to justify them. We’ll go through the motions of trying to find fault, but usually, we’ve already made up our minds.

I don’t think we can’t change the way this works. We can, however, eliminate much of the anxiety and time wasting that occurs by re-thinking and second-guessing our decisions.

One way to do that is with a “don’t do” list.

If you’re married or otherwise monogomous, there are certain things you don’t do. You don’t go to single’s bars for example. In fact, you don’t spend any time thinking about single’s bars. It’s on your mental “don’t do” list. Why not create a similar list for other areas of your life?

For example, as you read this blog, you are presented with many ideas for marketing your legal services. Some ideas you like. Other ideas you have considered and rejected. They’re not for you. And yet you continue thinking about some of those ideas. Even though you have rejected them, you continue reading about them, you download apps, and you talk to other lawyers to see what they think.

I suggest you make a decision and be done with it. Put it on a “don’t do” list.

Open a text file or an Evernote note and start recording a list of things you’re not going to do. Once something is on the list, don’t read about it, don’t think about it, and by all means, don’t worry about it. You considered it and made your decision. Move on.

Your list might include advertising, for example. Your practice area might be one where many attorneys advertise and you’ve thought about it. Make a decision–will you or won’t you?

Maybe “advertising” is too broad. It might be something you can see yourself doing at some point. No problem. It doesn’t go on your list. But perhaps you’ve decided that yellow pages advertising is something you aren’t going to do (or no longer do) and you can put that on your don’t do list.

Maybe you don’t like social media and have decided you’re not going to have anything to do with it. Fine. Think of all the time you’ll save by not reading about it, exploring the different platforms, or actually engaging in it. You should feel good about your decision.

You see an article about lawyers getting clients through Pinterest. Tempting, eh? But you’ve already explored it and put it on your don’t do list. Not for you. So you don’t read the article or ponder the issue (“maybe there’s a new angle to this. . .”). Next subject. . .

On the other hand, social media marketing can produce a lot of business and just because you don’t have time for it right now or you don’t want to do it right now, you might not want to write it off completely. Don’t put it on your list. But if you’re camera shy and you know you don’t want to make youtube videos, put that on your list.

This doesn’t mean you never re-consider your decisions. I do many things today I never saw myself doing a few years ago. People change, technology changes, circumstances change. So, periodically, perhaps every six months or once a year, re-visit your don’t do list and see if there’s anything you want to remove.

Every day we are confronted with issues that require a decision. The less time we spend deciding, and the less time we spend re-considering our decisions, the more time we will have to do the things we’ve decided we want to do. A don’t do list can help.

So, what’s on your “don’t do” list? I know, I know, you want more time to think about it.

Why the average law firm doesn’t grow

Over the last couple of posts I talked about legal fees. The average lawyer is paid average fees and they will continue to be paid average fees as long as they don’t do anything to distinguish themselves from other lawyers.

Similarly, the average law firm doesn’t grow. They have approximately the same number of clients today as they had six months ago. Six months from now that number will be approximately the same.

They may see spikes in new business, a rapid influx of new clients here and there, but in the growth department, most law firms aren’t seeing large and steady increases in clients or revenue.

But some firms do see that kind of growth. Every month they see more clients and higher revenue than the previous month. They aren’t churning, they are growing.

What do these lawyers do that average lawyers don’t do?

They provide exceptional service.

When you provide average service, nobody cares. “Yeah, my lawyer was okay–he did the job I paid him for. . .”. Yawn.

When you do more, when you provide clients with exceptional service that surprises and delights them, they’re going to talk about you. “Wow, if you’re looking for an attorney you should definitely call mine. She is absolutely amazing!”

Lawyers who are growing give people something to talk about. They provide exceptional service that makes clients feel that they got more than they paid for. These clients will not only recommend those attorneys, they will often go out of their way to do so.

They’ll talk about them to anyone who will listen. They’ll keep their eyes and ears open, looking for people who need them. They’ll recommend them, send traffic to their web site, and invite people to their next event.

The law of reciprocity says so.

When you give something to someone, there is a psychological compulsion to reciprocate. Give them what they paid for, it’s a fair exchange. Give them more than what they paid for or expected and they will return the favor.

If you want to charge higher fees than other lawyers, or you want to bring in more clients and see your firm grow, it all comes down to service. Average service, average fees and (lack of) growth. Exceptional service, higher fees and steady growth.

Fortunately, since the average attorney provides average service, it doesn’t take much to stand out. A little creativity and effort on your part and you’ll be the one people are talking about.

How to get your clients to support your law practice

My wife and I are continuing to unclutter. Yesterday she brought our daughter’s Irish Dance costumes to her old school to see if they could use them.

The school today is much smaller than it was ten years ago when my daughter attended. My wife noticed that there isn’t room for the parents to congregate inside the school like we used to do. It looked like most parents dropped off their kids.

When the school was bigger, many parents stayed for the class. We spent time together–at the school, during competitions, and eventually, outside the school envirnonment–and we got to know each other and our families. The school became a social incubator and helped foster relationships that still exist today, five or ten years after our children attended.

When we were active at the school, there were competitions and shows and we parents contributed much time and effort building sets, working lights and music, and selling tickets to the shows to our friends and neighbors. Yes, we were supporting our children, but the amount of effort we contributed would not have been anywhere near the same had our social group of parents not been so strong.

Today, I’m sure they don’t get anywhere near the amount of parent involvement we had, simply because the parents don’t know each other as well. As a result, the smaller school is more likely to stay that way.

A business can leverage their customer base by creating a social environment where their customers can build strong ties among themselves and, therefore, also with that business. A law firm can do the same thing.

Most lawyers have a one-to-one private relationship with their clients. They don’t “cross pollinate” their clientèle. Because of privacy issues this is to be expected. Most clients don’t want anyone to know they’ve hired a bankruptcy or criminal defense lawyer. But not all practices are so constricted.

A small business practice, for example, has clients who can benefit from knowing each other. They can refer business, exchange ideas, and recommend vendors. If you hold a monthly event–a mixer, a breakfast or lunch, a seminar series–where your clients regularly come together, they would build a social network of their own. Your clients would benefit and as the organizer of these events, so would you.

When you have strong relationships with your clients, they are much more likely to remain your clients. No other lawyer will get their referrals. And if you need a favor–sending traffic to your web site, promoting your seminar, or distributing your new report–your clients will help. In fact, they’ll probably be more likely to do so because of the added accountability of the social network.

If there’s any way to build a social element into your practice, I suggest you give it a try. If this isn’t appropriate for your clients, you can do the next best thing–organize a breakfast or lunch or other regular social event for your referral sources and friends of the firm.

Strong relationships with your clients and referral sources help you strengthen and grow your practice. When they have strong relationships among themselves, your growth can be accelerated.

You don’t have to be the sponsor of that group, just the organizer. And the best part is you won’t have to listen to accordion music.

What do your clients really want?

Your clients hire you to obtain results. They want a certain outcome, a verdict or settlement, a deliverable. This post points out that results usually come at the end of the engagement and says that, “. . .clients don’t care about results most of the time, they care about the experience they’re having with you right now.”

Clients obviously do care about how they are treated by you and your staff; their experience with you is important to them. But I don’t think you can say they don’t care about results most of the time. They certainly do.

But, next to getting those results, there’s something else they care about.

They want to see that you made the effort.

Clients want to see that you tried. You fought for them. You did the work. If the hoped for results don’t come, most clients will accept this, but only if they know you did your best.

Your clients expect you to treat them politely and keep them informed. They expect you to be fair in your billing. Being treated well is part of the deal, part of what they get when they hire you. But being treated well will never excuse a lack of effort.

There’s two parts to this:

  1. You have to make the effort, and
  2. Your clients need to know you did.

Make sure your clients see your work product and understand everything you do. Paper them, inform them, explain to them. Show them you did everything you could to obtain the results they want. That’s what they’re paying you for.

The best way to deal with things you don’t want to do

In “6 Ways to Tackle Boring or Irritating Tasks,” the author presents common sense tips for handling unpleasant tasks. I use several of these tips myself. For example, when I have to make a call I don’t want to make, instead of thinking about it or putting it off (and thinking about it) I simply grab the phone and dial the number. By doing it as soon as possible I avoid unnecessary anxiety and I get the job done.

It’s like jumping into a cold swimming pool; the more you think about it, the more anxious you become. Dipping your toes in, trying to acclimate yourself to the change in temperature, often makes things worse (and makes you look like a sissy). Jump in and your anxiety and discomfort will soon be behind you (and you’ll look like a stud).

But while these tips are effective, I’ve found that often, the best way to deal with things you don’t want to do is to not do them at all.

You may disagree. You may believe that life is a series of unpleasant tasks and ignoring them means shirking responsibility, self-sabotage, or squandering opportunity. I’ll admit that this is sometimes true, but most of the time, it isn’t. Here’s why:

  • Not everything must be done. I find that not doing things rarely leads to permanent and serious harm or the loss of significant opportunity. The 80/20 principle tells us that “most things don’t matter” (the “trivial many”) and by not doing them, we free ourselves to focus on the “precious few” that do.Ask yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen if this doesn’t get done?” Most of the time the answer will be “not that much” and you can safely cross it off your list.
  • Not everything that must be done must be done by you. Just because something needs to be done doesn’t mean you are the one who must do it. Have an employee do it. Or an outside contractor. Or your partner. Whenever possible, do what you are best at and want to do and delegate everything else.
  • If it must be done and it must be done by you, it doesn’t always have to be done immediately. How many times have you put something on your task list only to find that out later that it no longer needs to be done? The problem worked itself out, someone else took care of it, or it really wasn’t as important as you previously thought. I find that happening to me all the time. Therefore, by not doing some things immediately, by intentionally procrastinating on things I don’t want to do, I safely eliminate many unpleasant tasks.
  • Not everything that must be done, by you, and immediately, must be done completely. The 80/20 principle also tells us that 80 percent of the value of a project, for example, comes from 20% of the tasks that comprise it. Therefore, when you have to do something you don’t want to do, look for ways to curtail it. Do only what is essential and of high value and avoid the rest.

There will always be unpleasant tasks in our lives we must do. A eulogy for a loved one, confronting a child who is going down the wrong path, or creating a household budget to drastically reduce expenses come to mind. But most tasks don’t fall into that category and can be avoided, delegated, deferred or reduced in scope.

The negative feeling you get when facing an unpleasant task are there for a reason. Your aversion to doing something is your subconscious mind (higher self, God, instincts, etc.) trying to protect you.

If you’re staring down a lion and facing death, don’t ignore your fear, run. Do it immediately and as completely as you can. But if you have a call to make, perhaps to a client who is behind in payment, and you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Feel the fear and have your secretary do it.