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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Tiny habits — for the win

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I haven’t read BJ Fogg’s best selling book, Tiny Habits, but was intrigued by a quote from it:

“Celebrating a win–no matter how tiny–will quickly lead to more wins”.

Reading the sales page and some reviews told me the premise–that we can effect great change in our lives by making small changes to what we (repeatedly) do–our habits–and when we celebrate our “wins,” it leads to more of the same.

Ostensibly, that’s because it triggers the release of dopamine, causing us to crave more of the same.

We feel good so we repeat the behavior.

Which is, of course, what happens each time we check a task on our list as “done”.

What areas of your life would you like to improve? What are some tiny habits that will help you do that?

If you’re trying to improve your health, tiny habits might include drinking more water, walking 3 days a week, and eating smaller portions of food.

If you’re working on building your practice, your habits might be to write a blog post or newsletter article once a week, check in with 1 professional contact each week, and to smile more when you’re speaking to someone (on camera, etc.)

Okay. You’ve identified some habits you want to develop. How do you celebrate your wins?

A few ideas:

  • Chart them. Every time you do them successfully, note this on your calendar or in an app.
  • Congratulate yourself. Just say, “Well done” or “I did it again”.
  • Write about it in your journal.
  • Share your progress with your spouse or workout partner.

It might help to gamify it. “If I walk around the block 3 times per week for 90 days, I’ll treat myself to a new [toy of your choice].

What tiny habits do you want to develop? And how will you celebrate your wins?

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5 keys to creating a new habit

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Let’s say you want to get in shape. For exercise, you’ve chosen walking. You want to make this a habit and stick with it long enough to see results.

Here are 5 things you can do:

  • Choose a goal you know you can meet

You’re trying to create a new habit, not set any records, so your initial goal should be something you are almost certain you can achieve.

Walk three days a week, for example, for 10 or 15 minutes.

Establish the habit first. Once you’re done that, you can increase your target or goal. That’s how I started my walking habit.

  • Commit to a fixed period of time

Some studies show it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Other studies say it’s 66 days. Choose a period of time, in advance, and commit to it.

  • Make it visible

Put your planned activities on your calendar. Use an app to receive a daily prompt. Put sticky notes on your computer.

Keep the habit in front of your face where you will see it often.

  • Document your progress

Check off each day you complete your activity. You can do this on your calendar or in a “habit-tracking” app.

Once you’ve started, don’t break the chain.

  • Get a workout partner or accountability partner

Find someone who wants to do what you’re planning to do and do it together. Or, check-in at the end of each day or week to share your progress.

Another option is to announce your new habit/goal to someone who will hold you accountable if you don’t stick with it. A spouse, a child, someone at work.

One more thing.

If you find yourself missing a day or breaking the chain, don’t beat yourself up, just start again. I’ve had to do it, more than once.

It’s okay.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, and a good day to start (or re-start) a habit.

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Keystone habits for the win

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Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit,” talked about “keystone habits”. These are habits that tend to lead to other good habits and behaviors.

Exercise is an example of a keystone habit. Duhigg said,

“Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”

Other keystone habits might include meditation or prayer, reading personal development books for 30 minutes daily, writing in a journal, getting more sleep or learning a new skill.

Marketing is a keystone habit. Writing a weekly email to your clients and prospects, for example, can not only bring in more business, it can also improve your presentations, help you develop more content (and better content) for your website, and improve your conversational skills.

You don’t have to change every habit to achieve your goals. Focus on developing a few keystone habits that will allow you to create a wave of successful outcomes in your work or personal life.

Start by identifying one keystone habit and working on it every day. If you’ve chosen well, one small change in what you do or how you do it can cause a trickle-down effect and generate a plethora of positive outcomes.

Keystone habit: teaching clients how to identify your ideal client and refer them

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What’s all the fuss about habits?

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Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Your value isn’t determined by what you know it’s determined by what you do.

All the little things you do or don’t do cumulate, compound, and create who you are. They also determine what you achieve.

One author put it this way: “You are at this point in your life because of the way you have treated every ‘today’ for decades. You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.”

If you keep some kind of journal, you might start tracking your habits. Write down the things you do (and fail to do) during the course of your day.

Some habits are good. Some are bad. And some are neither good nor bad, except for the fact that they use time and energy that might be used for something else.

Note your good habits and look for ways to do them more often or for longer periods of time. Look for ways to improve the way you do them and, therefore, the results they bring.

Note your bad habits and look for ways to eliminate them, do them less often, or neutralize them by changing them in some way.

Note your habits that are neither good nor bad. The potential time-wasters. Look for ways to do them less often or for shorter periods of time, and find positive habits to replace them.

Because you are what you repeatedly do.

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Is your cat too thin?

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The last time my daughter was in town she commented on how much weight our cat had lost. My wife and I didn’t see it. Maybe he was a little thinner but not that much.

But we were wrong. Our vet confirmed that the cat had lost too much weight. (Change of food and other measures and he’s back to normal now.)

Why was our daughter able to see that the cat had was too thin and we couldn’t? We couldn’t see his gradual loss of weight because we saw him every day and our daughter didn’t.

We were too close and couldn’t see what was right in front of us.

I want to make the case for periodically taking a step back from your routines and changing up what you do. When you interview a new client, for example, instead of following the same checklist in the same order, mix it up. Ask the questions in a different order or ask different questions.

You may be surprised at what you find.

The same goes for anything you do habitually. Your exercise routine, the way you do research, the way you arrange your desk or the desktop on your computer.

When you always do the same things, and you always do them the same way, you can get stale and miss things.

Change your routines. Change the people you hang out with. Change the way you drive to work.

Change your perspective and you may see things you no longer see (or have never seen).

Your cat’s health may depend on it.

Change your marketing habits

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Sometimes, you’ve got to break the chain

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Routines are a good thing. You always know what you’re going to do and by doing it regularly, you get good at it.

Exercise, taking your vitamins, drinking water–check. Reviewing your todo list and calendar in the evening to prepare for the following day–check. Opening a file, preparing a pleading, posting to your blog–all made easier because your routine helps you do them without a lot of extra thought or effort.

I have an app I use to record my daily walks. I check off the days I’ve done them (and record my steps in another app), because I don’t want to break the chain. (Search: “Seinfeld, don’t break the chain” if you’re not familiar with the concept.)

Last week it was hotter than Hades. Even early in the morning. I missed a day’s walk. Then I missed another.

I broke the friggin chain! (Don’t worry, I started a new one. All is well.)

I’m walking earlier now. BC (before coffee) if you can believe it. I see a different crowd of walkers, runners, and dogs, the light is different, it’s quieter, and I get my walk done early. I seem to have more day.

It’s too soon to tell for certain but walking earlier may be a game changer for me. I probably wouldn’t have done it if the weather hadn’t forced me to.

Anyway, I got to thinking that sometimes, we should intentionally change our routines. Just for the hell of it. A new routine provides fresh stimuli for our brain. It can lead to ideas and improvements. It keeps things fresh.

I’ve never been a morning person. Never started my day without coffee. If I can do this, who knows what I can accomplish.

Do you know any professionals? Here’s how to get them to send you business

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What? You STILL don’t want to do it?

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Yesterday, I talked about coming to grips with doing things you don’t want to do. Like marketing.

Basically, I talked about sneaking up on a task and giving it a big hug, until it feels familiar and you can give it a go. But there’s another way to do things you don’t want to do.

Do them anyway.

Who says you have to feel like it? Who says you have to like it? You have work to do so do it.

You may have legal work you don’t “feel” like doing. You do it anyway because if you don’t, your clients leave you, sue you, and complain about you. You can’t pay your bills. You lose your license. Your home. Your spouse.

There’s no choice here, you do the work.

With marketing, it’s different. Or so we tell ourselves. If we don’t do the work, we don’t lose, we just don’t gain.

Of course, that’s not true. If you don’t do any marketing, eventually you will lose everything.

Fear of loss is powerful. That’s why we do our legal work even when we might not want to. The desire for gain doesn’t motivate us in the same way.

That’s why we have to create habits and routines for marketing, why we have to hold ourselves accountable to others, why we have to block out time on our calendar for marketing (even five minutes a day), and why we have to force ourselves to do it.

But not forever. Eventually, we see that marketing isn’t that bad and it really does work. Eventually, we come to like it.

Or we don’t. But we do it anyway.

Your clients want to send you referrals

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The power of a daily habit

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When I began walking for exercise I usually walked three days a week. Some days, I didn’t feel like it and had to force myself out the door. Some days I simply forgot.

Now I walk six days a week and I do it without thinking about it.

My walks are longer, because I’ve built up my strength, and I enjoy them. Not only are they good for my health, I use the time for thinking, dictating, or listening to podcasts.

Because I walk every day, I don’t have to be reminded to do it or talk myself into it. It’s part of my routine. And I (usually) look forward to it.

I had a similar experience when I started writing a daily email/blog post. Before I wrote daily, I wrote once a week. It was easy to do but what’s easy to do is also easy to not do. Miss a day and it could easily turn into a week. Before you know it, a month has gone by and you’re on your way to not doing it anymore.

Am I saying it’s easier to write every day instead of once a week? Yes.

If you write a newsletter, blog post, or article once a month or once a week you have to plan for it. When the day comes, it’s easy to postpone it. “Hey, I’ve got the whole month”. But do you? Without a deadline, it’s easy to blow it off.

If you write once a week, or every day, it becomes a natural part of your workflow.

So, write shorter pieces but more often. Make it a habit and you’ll get it done.

Whatever it is you’re thinking of doing, whatever habit you want to create, start where you need to start but look for a way to transition to doing it every day. Because every day really is easier.

Are you getting daily referrals

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If your mom managed your law firm

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When we were kids our moms made sure we followed the rules. We ate our peas, did our homework, studied for tests, and told them if we were going to be late for dinner. Our parents wanted to protect us and get a good start in life so they made us follow the rules. Or else.

If your mom managed your law firm, she would do the same thing.

She’d make sure you did your work, calendared every date, filed every document, and billed every client. If a client didn’t pay, she’d be on the phone, reminding them and threatening to call their mom.

No doubt, she’d also make you tidy up your office at the end of the day.

You would be more productive and profitable but nobody wants their mom telling them what to do, or telling everyone embarrassing stories about something we did when we were six.

Besides, we have administrators to do most of the things our mom would do.

The problem is, an administrator does what you tell them to do, not the other way around.

So you need self-discipline. Which is loosely defined as doing things you need to do whether you feel like doing them or not.

Self-discipline means conquering procrastination and developing consistency. Not because your mom made you but because you made yourself.

One way to develop self-discipline is to start small. If you find it difficult to do marketing 15 minutes a day, start with 5 minutes. Or one minute. Or start doing it once a week.

Develop the habit of doing it consistently, first, and go from there.

Another way to develop self-discipline is to first develop it in other areas of your life. If you are undisciplined about following your task management system, start by getting self-disciplined about reading every day or going to bed 30 minutes earlier.

Someone said, “How you do anything is how you do everything,” and if that’s true, when you develop discipline in one area of your life, it helps you become disciplined in others.

A good place to start is with physical activity. Taking a twenty-minute walk three days a week, for example, is easy to do and easy to measure. You’re either doing it or you’re not.

Walking will not only improve your health and give you more energy, it will help you to become more disciplined about doing more cerebral activities like writing, personal development, or marketing.

Walking is also good for getting ideas. Where do you think I got the idea for this post?

Does your website need more content? This will help

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