How to grow your law practice by establishing routines

Lifehack has a post today on improving productivity by turning important tasks into routines. The idea is that you are more likely to do something when it’s part of a regular routine, just like you do, for example, every morning when you get ready for work.

How might this be applied to marketing?

We know it’s important to regularly reach out to clients and former clients, via email, regular mail, phone (and possibly, social media). The return on your investment of time, in terms of repeat business and referrals, is tremendous. A few minutes a day spent connecting like this could bring you thousands of dollars in additional revenue every month.

Arguably, there is nothing more important to the growth of your practice.

It’s important, you know it’s important, you WANT to do it, but somehow, you’re not doing it. Life keeps getting in the way.

What if you established a new routine whereby every day at lunchtime, before you eat or before you leave for a lunch meeting, you take ten minutes to connect? You send out ten emails, make three phone calls, or write and mail a handwritten note.

Easy stuff. And because it’s your part of your daily routine, you do it.

At first, you schedule this ten minutes on your calendar. You see it there every day, reminding you to take action. You have an app send you an alarm. Later, when you’ve been doing it for a month or three, when it has become a habit, you won’t need to be reminded. It’s as much a part of lunchtime as eating.

Make a list of marketing activities you do, or know you need to do. Look for ways to make them routine.

Marketing is easy. The hardest part is remembering to do it.

Great advice on starting a new law practice (or growing your old one)

Marketing legal services is simple. A lot of common sense, really. You don’t need a bunch of high tech solutions or a complicated process. What you need are people.

An article in today’s Forbes Magazine tells the story of a Los Angeles lawyer who started her own practice in the summer of 2010 and in less than two years built a successful estate planning practice.

In, How I Got My First Client and You Can Too, attorney Sonia Tatiyants outlines what she did to get her first client and beyond.

She didn’t advertise or build a powerful web site. She didn’t have the money to do that, even if she wanted to. What she did is decidedly low cost and low tech. She began by contacting everyone she knew to announce the opening of her new practice.

It doesn’t get simpler than that.

By the way, if you’re not new, find a reason to contact everyone in your database and remind them that you are still here. Someone on your list needs your services, or they know someone who does.

Tatiyants followed that up by starting a lunch group where she could network with other estate planning attorneys. She also networked with “like minded, driven, entrepreneurial individuals. . .,” who collaborated with her and became a source of referrals.

Taking things a step further, Tatiyants also realizes that her clients can not only send her referrals, they can become a source of business for the professionals in her network. In positioning herself as a “trusted advisor,” her clients and contacts look to her for referrals when they have a problem or need. She refers them to the other lawyers, CPAs, financial planners, and insurance agents in her network.

She also understands the importance of keeping her clients happy. One way she does that by making sure they know what to expect with their case. By managing their expectations, her clients don’t get frustrated with delays or when they get something in the mail.

Finally, she understands that for her practice to continue to grow she needs to put systems in place that will allow others to do administrative tasks so she can focus on the lawyering (and marketing).

Great marketing advice for new lawyers and old. Even lawyers who are very old.

But there’s something she left out of the article that I know every lawyer would like to know. How did she get featured in Forbes magazine?!

The smartest way to grow your law practice

the smartest way to grow your law practiceSo, what’s your plan for growing your practice next year?

Before you take on anything new, there’s something you should do first.

The first thing you should do is make a list of everything you have tried in the past. Go through your calendar, your notes, ask your staff, and write down everything you did that could be called “marketing”.

What meetings did you go to? Whom did you meet for the first time? What did you write? Where did you speak? What did you mail?

Put everything that worked on your list, and everything that didn’t.

It’s easy to identify what worked. If you track where new clients come from (referrals, ads, seminars, web site, social media, etc.), all you have to do is look at your stats. If you don’t track this, go through your new client list and see if you can reconstruct what you were doing just prior to being hired. (And make a note to start tracking every new client from now on.)

It’s not as easy to identify what has not worked, but it’s just as important. Do the best you can with this and in the future, keep a marketing diary and make an entry every day about anything you did that day that could be construed as marketing.

Don’t forget repeat clients. Keeping your clients happy, keeping them informed about the progress of their case, communicating and building a relationship with them, all have marketing implications.

And don’t forget referral sources. Those coffees and lunches, thank you letters and Christmas gifts are also part of your marketing mix.

Also, check your web site stats. Where is your traffic coming from? Which key words are bringing not just clicks but clients.

Making these two lists–what’s worked and what hasn’t–is one of the smartest things you can do in marketing (or anything else you want to improve) and you should do this before you even think about doing anything new.

The reason? The 80/20 principle, which tells us that the best way to achieve more is to, “do more of what worked in the past and less of what didn’t”.

Now that you have your two lists, you can identify the things that have worked for you and do more of them. You’ll find the time for this by cutting down on or eliminating those things that have not worked or haven’t worked as well.

You may find that eliminating things that aren’t working is difficult, especially if you’ve been doing them for awhile. This is common for all of us. Our fears prevent us from letting go or we tell ourselves we just need to get better or do it longer and the results will kick in. If we spent money on something, it’s even harder to let go because we get attached to earning back our investment.

Trust the numbers. Let go of what’s not working, no matter how much time or money you’ve invested.

Yes, sometimes you will let go of something too soon that could have been a big winner for you had you kept going. But what makes more sense, hanging on to things that might work or cutting them out in favor of doing more of what you know works?

If social media hasn’t brought in new business, for example, it could be because you’re doing it wrong and with some training and experience, you’ll get better and you will get lots of news clients, just as many attorneys now do. But our time is limited and if it’s not working for you right now, I’d rather see you put social media aside and do more of what your numbers tell you, unequivocally, has brought in most of your new business last year.

You can go back later and try social media marketing (or whatever) again. I’ve let go of things that weren’t working for me and been successful when I tried them again. But right now, when you’re looking at your plans for the new year, start by doing more of what you know works.

It’s the smartest way to grow your practice.