Sorry, you don’t qualify to hire me


Wouldn’t it be great to be able to pick and choose who can (and can’t) hire you?

It would and you can start doing it immediately.

Decide who you want as a client in terms of demographics, industry or market, and other factors, and don’t accept anyone else. Or, accept them if you want to, but don’t target them.

Invest your time and resources attracting your “ideal” client.

This will necessarily be a small segment of the entire market of people who might need your services. Why limit yourself?

Because it will make your marketing much more effective and your practice more profitable and enjoyable.

You’ll bring in better clients, the kinds you have determined you want to work with, and eliminate ones you don’t.

Many prospective clients will seek you out because they’ve heard about you from people they know and trust. They’ll be pre-sold on you and your services and won’t need a lot of persuading to sign up.

These clients will be able to pay you and will have a lot of work for you (because you targeted clients who do). They’ll also have more referrals for you, people like themselves who are a good fit for you.

Professionals and businesses in your target market will more readily steer people your way, because they’ve also heard about you from people they trust, some of whom will be their existing clients.

Is this starting to sound too good to be true?

Maybe it is. Maybe your message won’t resonate, your reputation won’t precede you, or people won’t trust you or want you anywhere near their clients and contacts.

But maybe they will.

How about finding out?

Start by understanding that “not everyone is your customer” and that you get to choose.

Choose well, my friend. You might be pleasantly surprised and handsomely rewarded.

If not, you can always go back to marketing to everyone and taking what you get.

Here’s how to choose your niche market and ideal client


My services are for everyone!


Lawyers, hear me. While it’s true that you can perform your services for anyone with certain legal problems, if you target your marketing to “everyone,” you’re making a mistake.

Not everyone will hear your message, let alone relate to it. Not everyone will be ready, willing, and able to hire you. Not everyone will be able to provide you with repeat business and referrals, which you should know by now are the sine qua non of a successful practice.

When you target everyone, you target no one.

Instead of targeting everyone, define and market to the clients you define as ideal.

You’ll get more clients and better clients when you do.

You may not want to narrow the field, because you don’t want to miss out on someone who might hire you or refer you. But if you’re willing to let go of people who aren’t your ideal, you’ll more than make up for any lost business from the people who are.

Because the narrower you define your target market and ideal client, the easier and more effective (and profitable) your marketing will be.

You’ll get more clients with less effort. You’ll spend less time and less money to find them (actually, have them find you), deliver your message, and convert them into clients.

Those clients will also pay you more because they know you are the one everyone in their niche is hiring and talking about.

More good news.

Targeting an ideal client (instead of “everyone”) doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t reach others. You will. Other people will hear about you and make their way to your door.

Take their money. Tolerate clients who aren’t in your target market.

But don’t target them.

Spend your time and money and tailor your marketing message to a laser-focused ideal client.

Who is your ideal client? That’s what you have to figure out.

To start, ask yourself, “Who is NOT my ideal client?”

I’ll help you start your list:

  • People who don’t live or work in a jurisdiction where I am licensed
  • People who don’t hire lawyers
  • People who don’t have/won’t spend money to hire a lawyer
  • People who are hard to work with, e.g., they’ve previously hired and fired (or been fired by) several lawyers on the same matter
  • People who aren’t married (if you’re a divorce lawyer); yes, they might get married some day, and they might have referrals for you, but we’re looking for your “ideal” client

And go from there. (And yes, “people” includes businesses.)

You can define your ideal client by age, industry or profession, and many other factors.

And you should.

The more specific you are, the more likely you’ll be to be sought after and hired by clients who are a great match for you.

To learn how to choose a target market and ideal client for your practice, pick up a copy of The Attorney Marketing Formula.


Your mind to my mind… your thoughts to my thoughts…


When was the last time you had a mind meld with your clients? And by that I mean, when did you spend time studying your target market and ideal client?

To learn what they want, how they think, and what they already know?

Do you know what they read? Who they listen to? What ideas are roaming around in their head? Do you know how they talk? Are you up-to-date with the legal and non-legal issues in their industry or market?

I ask this because understanding your client is the single most important element in your marketing, and most attorneys spend very little time studying their market and the people in it.

But you should.

It will make your marketing more effective, by allowing you to show your clients, prospects, subscribers and followers, that you understand them.

Other lawyers show them they know the law and can provide solutions to their problems. When you show prospective clients you understand their market, and them, they don’t have to be convinced you can help them, they know it.

When you tell them something, they’re less likely to doubt it. When you offer them something, they’re more likely to accept it. When you ask for their help, they are more likely to comply because they know, like, and trust you and want to help you.

They’re also more likely to forgive your errors and omissions, less likely to stray, and less likely to second-guess your judgment or your bill.

Knowing your market also makes your marketing easier. In a few minutes, you can dash off a short email or blog post, for example, without having to figure out what to say or how to say it–you already know.

Knowing your market also helps you develop deeper relationships with the professionals and advisors in that market. When they know someone who needs an attorney, they’ll be more likely to give you the referral.

So, what are you waiting for? Start (or re-start) studying your market. The first step is to write down what you know about your target market and ideal client.

Then, start asking questions and getting some answers.

This will help.


How to get more clients like your best clients


Some clients are better than others. They have more work for you, they are willing to pay higher fees for better service, they treat you well and send you referrals.


Ah, but while they may be better, they may not be your best.

Your best clients, your “ideal” clients, match a profile that you have decided is where you want to make your mark.

Your ideal clients have values that align with yours. They have needs and wants that you are better equipped to satisfy than most attorneys because you have more experience with clients like them. They have characteristics–personality, background, lifestyle, income–similar to those that identify your other ideal clients.

Your ideal clients provide you with your highest value and you want more of them. You’ll tolerate clients who don’t fit this profile but you target prospective clients who do.

Or at least you should.

Not just because you want more of them but so that you can appeal to them more effectively in your marketing.

When you try to appeal to everyone based solely on legal need, as most attorneys do, you dilute your message and diminish your results.

If you want your best clients to find you and hire you, focus your marketing so that it speaks exclusively to them. 

Most attorneys are “an inch deep and a mile wide” in their marketing. They aren’t intentional and they don’t focus.

Don’t do that.

To build a practice comprised primarily of your best clients, figure out what your ideal clients look like and show them why you are their ideal attorney.

This will help you create a profile of your ideal client


The simplest way to beat your competition


You’ve heard me pound on the importance of creating a profile of your ideal client. I hope you have files set up for notes, ideas, articles, lists of key websites and blogs, sample emails, and everything else there is to know about them and their world.

Because the more you know about your ideal client, the easier it will be to attract them and show them why they should hire you instead of any other lawyer.

Your file should include information about their background, problems, and goals. It should detail their likely legal issues and the circumstances that precede them. It should note the books and magazines and blogs they read and where they network or hang out online.

You should become an expert on your ideal client and know more about them than any other attorney in your market. When you do, you’ll be able to write to and speak to them using examples, terminology, and stories that resonate with them and show them that you have helped many others like them.

It’s the simplest way to beat your competition.

If you have more than one practice area, you should do the same thing for your ideal client in each practice area. Marketing a divorce practice is very different from marketing a personal injury practice.

You should also set up research files about your referral sources.

This takes time but it makes marketing easier and more effective. Your superior knowledge can help you dominate your niche. Your ideal clients will see you as the best choice. They’ll pay you higher fees, stay with you longer, and recommend you to others.

On the other hand, if you don’t have this knowledge and aren’t aligned with your ideal client, your marketing will be unfocused and look like every other lawyer’s marketing. Instead of creating content that speaks to your ideal client and the people who can refer them, you’ll create generic content that speaks to nobody. Instead of seeking out and networking with the people you want to work with, you’ll waste your time networking with “anyone”.

Jim Rohn said, “If you want to be successful, study success.” I say, “If you want to attract your ideal client, study your ideal client–and the people who can refer them.”

This will help you create a profile of your ideal client


How to compete with bigger firms


You’re a small firm or a solo, competing against bigger firms. They have more employees and bigger budgets. They have more buying power and can advertise for half of what you’ll pay. They have marketing committees and dedicated staff who do marketing-related activities all day long.

How do you compete against them?

You don’t. If you want to win, you have to choose the right battles.

If you have a small team, perhaps just you and an assistant, don’t target big clients who would never consider a small firm. Target smaller clients who not only would consider hiring a sole practitioner or small firm, they prefer it.

As a small firm, you are quicker and more agile. You don’t need committees to make decisions or change course. You make the call and do what needs to be done.

Unlike big firms, you don’t handle “everything”. You’re not adequate at many things, you specialize and are excellent at what you do.

You don’t have a huge staff or rent entire floors so your clients save money when they hire you.

You work closely with your clients and develop a personal relationship with them. When they need you, they can speak to you. You understand their business and industry. You know their staff. You are more than just their lawyer, you are a partner in their success.

Big firms have their strengths. Don’t compete with them. Don’t approach big companies and try to dazzle them with your successes. Even if they are impressed and love you they’re not going to hire you.

Create a profile of your ideal client and target only them. Tailor your marketing materials and your approach and show them that they are your ideal client and you are their ideal lawyer.

To create a profile of your ideal client, use this


How can I get better clients?


How can I get better clients, you ask. That’s a great question. It’s great because you asked “how” instead of “can I?” Your question acknowledges that (a) there are better clients to be had, and that (b) it is possible for you to attract them.

Instead of making do with the clients you’ve been getting, you’ve opened the door to better ones. And opening that door is the first step.

Your next step is to define what “better clients” mean. Who is your “ideal client?”

Be specific. If you mean bigger cases, bigger retainers, or bigger fees, how big is big? If you mean clients who pay on time, follow your advice and don’t try to micromanage you, write down some examples of actual clients who fit that description.

What about clients who have lots of repeat business for you? What about clients who are influential in your target market(s) and can send you lots of referrals?

Write it all down and think about it for a few days. Edit and add to your list, until it hums.

For each characteristic on your list, write down the benefits. What will bigger cases or better cash flow allow you to do in your practice? How will it add value to your personal life?

Don’t skip this part. It’s important to know how but more important to know why because when you know why, you’ll figure out how.

Imagine what your practice will look like when nearly 100% of your clients fit your ideal. Exciting, isn’t it?

Okay, what’s next?

Next is stating your intention to acquire them. Not your desire, not your goal, your intent.

A goal is an aspiration. Intent is a declaration that something is going to happen. It is a commitment, and it has much more energy than a goal.

What’s that? You say this is your intent? Okay, prove it. Let go of your clients who aren’t ideal.

Not all at once. You don’t have to go cold turkey, although you might want to. “Leap and the net will appear,” and all that.

How about this–start by firing (or non-renewing) one client who doesn’t fit your ideal. One is a place to start, and trust me, after you’ve let go of one, you’ll be itching to let go of more.

Yes, but what do you do to replace them? How do you fill the void you just created?

Nature will take care of some of it for you. Remember, she abhors a vacuum. By making room on your client list for better clients, you just instructed her to fill that void. She will command your reticular activating system (RAS)–look it up–to filter out prospective clients who don’t fit your ideal and make you more aware of those who are.

You’ll notice things, hear things, and be inspired to do things that lead you to those better clients. That’s what happened to me in my practice when I went through this process. It was amazing how quickly the void was filled with “better” clients.

Okay, I know you don’t believe me. Not completely, anyway. It sounds good but you want to hedge your bets by identifying things you can do to make it happen, instead of waiting for it to happen.

But that’s the easy part. You can ask yourself, “Where do I find them?” and “What do I say or do or offer?” and you’ll start getting some answers.

Your RAS will lead you to those answers. You’ll meet other attorneys who have the clients you want to attract and you’ll find out what they’re doing. You’ll stumble upon the perfect blog post or book that will have the answers you seek.

But you had to state your intent, first. Because great things can happen once you commit, but nothing great happens until you do.

Who is your ideal client? Find out here


Do more of what works


Let’s talk about your practice. And get you more clients like your favorite client.

So who is your favorite client? Don’t give this a lot of thought. What’s the first name that comes to mind?

Got it? Okay, now why are they your favorite, or one of your favorites?

Is it their personality? Is it because they pay you lots of money? Is it because they don’t question you or complain?

Maybe all of the above. Maybe something else.

Whatever it is, write it down. In fact, you should probably write down all of this because once we’re done here, you’ll want to do this for your next favorite client. Maybe your top ten.

Now, think about where you met your favorite client or how they found you. What did you do that precipitated their becoming a client?

Were they a referral? Answer your ad? Did you meet them networking? Did they find you online?

Whatever it was that brought you together, you should probably continue doing it. If your ad in a certain journal brought them to your door, no doubt you’d like other clients like him to find you the same way.

If they found you online, what did they search for? What page did they land on? What did they do after that, and what finally convinced them to take the next step and contact you?

Next, it’s time to do a deep dive into your favorite client’s world. Find out what they do and who they know.

The Law of Association says that we tend to be like the people with whom we associate most. Your client’s friends and colleagues, therefore, are likely to have similar attributes, needs, and the ability to pay, and your favorite client can refer them to you.

Find out what your favorite client reads, who he listens to, and where he spends his time. Study him. Become on expert on him. This is valuable intel. Use it in your marketing so you can do more of what’s working, and get more clients like your favorite client.

How to create a profile of your ideal client


Who’s your favorite client?


Quick question: who’s your favorite client?

You know who I mean. The one who pays you big money and hires you more often. The one who sends you lots of referrals, promotes your website, and shares your social media posts. The one who follows your advice and never causes problems.

Bottom line, if you could clone him, you would be one happy camper.

So who is it? What is his or her name?

(I’m going to call him Jim.)

What’s that? You have more than one Jim? Good stuff. You can do this with each of them (and trust me, you’ll want to).

Okay, remember waaaay back where you said you would be happy if you could clone Jim? Let’s see if we can do something like that.

Get Jim on the phone, or you can do this the next time he’s in the office. Tell him he’s one of your favorite clients, that you enjoy working with him and you want to ask him a few questions so you can do a better job for him and your other clients.

Then, interview Jim.

Start off with a few easy questions about his work and family and what he likes to do for fun.

Next, unless you already know, ask him how he went about finding you. Did he find your website? What did he search for? Was he referred? By whom? Did he see an ad, come to a seminar, or meet you at an event?

Then, ask him what he liked best about the work you did for him and how you and your staff treated him.

Write this stuff down. It’s golden.

Once Jim has said some nice things about you, ask him, “What could we do better?”

Next on the list, ask him for the names of a few other professionals he works with and recommends. What does he like best about them? Will he introduce you to them (or would it be okay if you use their name)?

Finally, ask Jim what you can do for him outside of your legal services. What does he need or want? Does he have a problem? Can you send him more business? Help him find a new vendor or employee? Write a college recommendation letter for his oldest? Buy his youngest’s girl scout cookies?

Okay, what have you learned?

You’ve learned how people like your favorite client are finding you. Now you can do more of what’s working and attract more clients like Jim.

You’ve learned what you’re doing well and what you need to improve. This helps you fix anything that needs fixing and do more of what makes you great.

You’ve learned the names of other professionals you can reach out to. You can meet them and start a referral relationship and you also have a high quality professional you can recommend to your other clients.

Finally, you’ve learned what you can do to help Jim. You’ve got something you can do that will make your great relationship with him even better.

Oh yeah, one more thing. When you asked Jim what he liked about you and how you helped him, you can use the nice things he said about you as a testimonial.

After the interview, send Jim a thank you note. Tell him how much you appreciate his help. Maybe enclose a gift card or send a fruit basket.

After that, make sure you continue to let Jim know how important he is to you. Call him, just to say hello. Send him articles he might find helpful or interesting. Give him freebies from time to time. And make sure he hears from you around the holidays, his birthday, and his anniversary.

If you want more clients like Jim, focus on Jim because what we focus on grows.

To learn how to create a profile of your ideal client, get the formula


How well do you know your clients and prospects?


Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

In other words, when there is a close match between what you offer and what your client wants and needs, you don’t need to persuade him to hire you, you need do little more than show up.

Do you know what your clients want? Do you know what keeps them up at night? Do you know what other options they have considered?

Do you know where they live and how much they earn? Do you know what they do for work and what they do on weekends?

You may not know these things if you are like most lawyers who define their target market merely in terms of legal problems. That is, anyone who has a certain legal issue is a potential client. That may be true in a literal sense, but if you stop there, you’ll never achieve the kind of synchronicity that draws clients to you and makes them immediately see you as the best solution.

You need to define your target market in terms of your ideal client. Who is an almost perfect match for you? You need to know your clients and prospects so you can focus your marketing efforts on attracting them.

If I tell you I know lots of clients I can refer to you but I need you to tell me what you are looking for, what would you say? When you can answer this question with specificity, marketing gets a lot easier.

I’ll be able to quickly identify clients who would be a good match for you and I will be able to tell them why they should contact you.

When your ideal client reads something on your website, they will know that they don’t need to look elsewhere, they’ve found the right lawyer.

When you are networking or on social media and someone asks you what you do, you’ll be able to tell them not only what you do but for whom you do it, making it more likely that they will self-identify.

Many lawyers are hesitant to define their ideal client, or publicize it, because they are afraid they won’t attract clients who don’t fit the profile. “If I say my ideal client is in the insurance industry, I won’t attract clients in the transportation field,” they say.

Yes, and that’s the point.

You don’t want to get the scraps in a variety of markets, you want the lion’s share in one market.

Big fish, small(er) pond?

Choose a target market. Define your ideal client. Get to know everything you can about them. And then offer them exactly what you know they want.

When you do, you won’t have to explain why anyone should choose you instead of any other lawyer. Everyone will know.

For help in defining your target market(s) and ideal client, get this.